I’m featured on Teaching Traveling!

I’m famous! OK, not exactly, but I’m honored to be interviewed for Teaching Traveling–a blog focused on teaching professionals who want to use travel experiences to enrich not only their lives but their classrooms. The entire article can be found here.

Putting this article together has really given me a chance to review the last three and a half years of wandering. While I’m happy with my choices, from a financial standpoint I’ve made some mistakes. For example, I basically paid to work in Russia, because the exchange rate was so bad, and fell sharply after I’d agreed to go. If I didn’t have money in the States to fall back on, I’d be in trouble! (And the fact that my first retirement starts in less than 2 years gives me a margin of safety, too.) I put away a lot of money before I started this new life, and I’ve had to use some of it, too. Most of my expenses are actually between jobs or setting set up for a new job. (And my hiking excursions don’t pay at all, but what’s the point of a traveling life if you can’t do some exploring?) Most people need to make enough money while traveling to cover all their expenses. That’s not been my experience. My teaching jobs only cover day to day expenses while in country. I dip into savings to get from one country to another, adventures between jobs, and setting up in a new country. Not everyone can do that. In the article, I briefly explore ways I could make more money while traveling.

One more thing I really should have added to the article is that you need to be comfortable being alone for long periods of time in order to enjoy this kind of life. I spend most of my time at a school being the “new” teacher. I’ve never taken a job that lasts more than a year. Making friends gets harder when you get older. Sometimes just as I’m really meeting people, it’s time to leave.

Here’s the text of the article (but it has some of my photos, too, which I won’t add here):

Let’s meet Beth Robinette of WanderForLife, a woman from Atlanta, GA, who is currently living and teaching in Mexico. Beth, tell us about yourself.

Beth: I’m 58 (58? How did that happen?) and originally from the mid-west. I was in my 40’s before I traveled outside the US, but I quickly got hooked. At this point, I’ve been to over 30 countries. I even had to get a new passport a couple years ago — not because the time limit was up, but because I had run out of pages! So far, I’ve lived and taught English in 5 countries outside of the US.

I’m a person who likes to change her life up every decade or so. I get bored easily. I’m in my third major career. First I worked in radio/TV, mostly as on-air talent in news and weather. It it didn’t pay well because I worked in small markets. Let’s just say that Jane Pauley wasn’t looking over her shoulder, afraid I’d take her job. I was dependable, but not major market material. It was interesting work, but also depressing. “News” is all bad news.

At 30, I went back to college and got a degree in Chemical Engineering, mostly so I could support myself “in a manner in which I hoped to become accustomed.” It let me get a pension and a retirement portfolio (which I’ll need someday). I also saved money to take “early retirement” to the current “job” I have now: international English Teacher. The pay is much worse, but I have a rich life!

T: Love it! Tell us more about your travels. 

B: I left my cubicle job in February of 2014. First I hiked 1,405 miles of the Appalachian Trail (that’s only about 2/3’s of the trail). Then, I began teaching English internationally.

I started in Vietnam for 5 months — and got to see Ankor Wat in Cambodia during a border run to renew my visa. I lived in Istanbul, Turkey for a year (with side trips to Athens, Paris and Belgrade). Istanbul is an amazing city with enough history to keep you busy for a lifetime, but it might not be the best option at the moment due to current events. It was a good time go… and to leave.

Next I did a one month volunteer job in Valencia, Spain, before hiking 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago, an old pilgrim’s trail that takes you across Spain, east to west. Then I took a two month summer job in Nahodka, Russia with a side trip to Moscow.

Right now, I’m living in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I’ve managed to see several nearby towns and am surprised at the diversity in the culture. I’ve had to join the gym because the food is so good! In July, my one-year work visa will expire, so I’ve already made plans to move and work in Arequipa, Peru. Machu Picchu is on my list to see while I’m there!

TT: I am so inspired by your adventures. How do you find your travel opportunities? 

B: I’m mostly looking for work — not just travel opportunities. I have a job placement agency, through the school where I got my TEFL certification, but they’ve not been as helpful as I’d like. I usually find my own jobs, often through the internet. I also ask other teachers about their past schools.

TT: Brilliant. How did you find the money to fund your travel? 

B: I work in the countries I live in, but find that a teacher’s salary will only cover my day to day living expenses — rent, food and transportation around town. Not much more. I put away a lot of money before I started this adventure. I frequently need to dip into my savings to fund side trips, flights and get established in a new country. I also keep travel insurance, and my salary doesn’t cover this, either. I’m essentially a volunteer with room and board.

If I had not been able to save money before I left, I would have focused on countries that pay better — the Middle East (especially Saudi Arabia), South Korea and some parts of China. Unfortunately, these countries are not attractive to me personally and/or it’s difficult to get a work visa in these places if you are over “a certain age.”

I’d also seriously consider an English teaching position with The Peace Corps, since the do pay minimally and help you financially with transitioning back to the States. I may still do this, in fact. (NOTE: Consider this a hint!)

I could also make more of an attempt to monetize my blog, write more and promote my e-books, or find travel writing assignments. It’s difficult for most people to totally fund their travels through these methods, but they can help substantially.

Something I’ve been trying here in Mexico is being a live-in tutor (not an au pair). I live with a family and teach them English in exchange for room and board. I work evenings and weekends at a school for money. My salary goes a long way since I have few expenses now.

This situation is working out extremely well, but I’ve been lucky to find an amazing family. To make this successful, you have to have clear boundaries and responsibilities. Without these, you may think you are there to teach English and they think you are a combination maid/babysitter/cook.

(NOTE: for those who read my blog, you’ll notice that this didn’t end so well. )

TT: Interesting! Did you have a mentor or role model to help make your travels happen?

B: I have to say that the lack of role models was an issue for me. I probably put away a much larger nest egg to fall back on than I would have if I’d had someone else’s example to follow. Plus, my family was NOT happy about my career choice. It would have been nice to have someone I could point to and say they had done this successfully. I had to figure it out on my own. And I’ve made mistakes.

The biggest thing is that what I thought would be difficult, wasn’t. Sure, I get lost and I have translation issues. Of course all the food and the culture is foreign to me. Yes, I had to learn how to teach, and each school has different priorities and schedules. But that’s not what has been difficult. You can figure those things out.

What’s been the most difficult is, in my experience, all schools have stretched the truth. (NOTE: When I wrote this I used the word “lie” instead of “stretched the truth.”) Just because you’re promised a year contract, a minimum of hours, regular pay schedule, holiday pay… the rules may be different once you get there. Be emotionally prepared for that. This isn’t your home country, so you aren’t in a position to sue or even complain much. You have to decide if you can live with the changes or not. You can (respectfully) complain, but that’s no guarantee anything will change. You may not be able to count on them for much assistance, either. If they will pick you up at the airport, show you where the school is, orient you to their teaching program and help arrange a reasonable living situation, that’s solid. Any more is gravy.

TT: That’s frustrating! What tips do you have for potential English teachers abroad to deal with shifting school promises and situations?

B: To mitigate the situation, I suggest:

1. Before taking a job, get the email address of someone who has worked at the school for several months. Preferably talk to someone in your age group (at my age, I’m not interested in the night life or dating scene). Ask them how it really is at the school. Specifically ask about pay/hours/living situation/curriculum. Also ask about the number of unpaid hours you’re expected to work. Lesson prep and grading is never paid, but if there are weekly meetings, massive paperwork, office hours and extensive “training” that’s unpaid, you should re-consider. In theory, your placement company (if you have one) should help you with this, but mine is not very reliable and I suspect others are even worse.

2. Decide what’s most important to you. Don’t complain about everything. Pick your battles. Only sit down with the manager/owner for things that are really important. For example, when I moved to Mexico, getting Spanish training was very important to me. I was less concerned when I didn’t get the number of teaching hours I was initially promised or that holidays weren’t paid (though they were promised). When I didn’t get the Spanish classes I was promised, I sat down with the owner and explained the situation. I got the classes.

3. Learn to be self-sufficient and remind yourself that this is an adventure. Remember that you are probably seen as a commodity by the school — a resource that won’t be here long, so they won’t put a lot of time and energy into you. You’re on your own. Besides, if everything went smoothly, you’d have no great stories to tell later. Great stories almost always start with things going wrong.

4. On the other hand, you need resources and it’s important to make new friends. I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of help from my students. This can help them practice their English speaking skills, so it’s good for them as well. I often set up an hour at a coffee shop nearby once a week where I tell my students I’m open for free conversation. I come prepared with questions about the culture, things I want to find and know. If I need a new apartment or a second hand bike, I ask for their help. I learn a lot and they get a benefit too. If you do this, you’ll often get invited to parties, family meals, day trips or cultural events.

5. Learn to live within your means. I’ve got a blog post on How to Live Frugally as you travel. It’s very common for schools to pay a day or two late. Have back up money/credit cards/ATM cards. I’ve made it a rule that if I’m not paid for 4 days after a payday, I won’t teach. I don’t say it as a threat, but I tell them this the first time I’m not paid on time. I had to do this in Turkey and it kept them paying me, where other teachers would end up being owed lots of money because they were afraid to speak up.

6. Have “walking away” money and a Plan B. If they simply stop paying you or they don’t get you the work visa they promised (a problem I had in Vietnam), you may have to leave.  So far, Vietnam is the only school I left before the end of my contract, but I came close in Russia. On arrival, the hours were double what I’d been promised and the schedule was very different from what we’d agreed to. I was willing to give on the schedule (though I was very unhappy about it), but not the total hours since I was being paid a flat fee for the summer. I said that this wasn’t what we’d agreed to.

Their response was that the situation had changed. I simply said that I was sorry this wasn’t going to work out, and I’d just get a taxi to the airport and leave right then.  Since they had a full schedule of classes starting in 3 days and they’d promised a native English speaker to teach, they re-negotiated my pay. I was never able to trust them again, of course, but I’d made the situation something I could live with for the summer. I wasn’t that great at work negotiations when I started this, but I’ve gotten a lot of practice.

7. Be blameless. Always be on time and prepared for class. Do a little extra. Be nice to the staff. Be positive, especially when speaking about your school to students or potential students. If something goes wrong, you need to be above reproach. I was just in a situation where a large amount of money was missing and I was a suspect. There’s nothing worse than being accused of a crime when you’re a foreigner and don’t speak the language well! I was terrified! I was able to demonstrate that I didn’t take the money, partly because I had always been reliable and honest.

Random thoughts on Moscow

The Kremlin Embankment of the Moscow River.
The Kremlin Embankment of the Moscow River.

Just a few unique items of observation in my two months here.

Applause, Applause: In Russia, when the pilot makes a successful landing, the passengers applaud. No idea what happens if it’s a bad landing and I am not interested in finding out.

Toilet seat: The seat is always up. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Ladies room. It doesn’t matter if a women used the toilet just before you. The seat will be up.

Glasses: I found sunglasses to be especially difficult to find here. I could go to a specialty store where they only sold expensive sunglasses, but I won’t pay that much for something I’ll lose, break or leave behind. In fact, I’ve never seen so many expensive stores in all my life.

Photos: All over the world, I’ve offered to help people take photos. It seems like a kindness to help out a group of people so that everyone can be in the picture. I look (and am) harmless, so I’m seldom turned down. People simply smile, hand me their camera and pose. When I am turned down, it’s usually with kindness and gratitude. Not so in Russia. Offer to take a photo for a Russian couple and they look at you like you are a thief. A man actually made a threatening gesture at me this week and I’m pretty sure he called me an impolite name.

Commerce: Capitalism is done differently here, or maybe they just don’t have the hang of it. Tour buses have no ads or sign posts to make it easier for a tourist to find them. You almost have to chase them down. Store clerks are indifferent to your presence. I hate shopping, so I hate it when a sales person won’t let me browse, but I don’t want to beg you to take my money, either. There must be a happy medium.

Annoyances: There’s lots of little things that I find annoying here. For example, the audio guide on the tour bus has 8 languages, but it jumps back to Russian every few minutes. People are constantly mixing up left and right, even in recorded or printed messages, even among folks who speak English very well. I don’t understand this, but I finally got folks to show me directions rather than tell me.

Language, and not in a good way: in Moscow I’ve seen more T-shirts with the f-word than everywhere else I’ve traveled combined. And other shirts say rude things that indicate that the wearer does not care about anyone else. I’ve seen THREE different women wearing shirts with the words “F@ck your girlfriend.” These appear to be worn by Russians, though I can’t be sure (they weren’t Asian tourists). I have no idea if these people know what the shirts say.

Barricades: There’s lost of construction, so there are many barricades up which makes walking difficult. What surprises me is how few baricades or signs there are in tourist places, like the Kremlin or Red Square. There are lots of places you aren’t supposed to go, but they typically post a few security personnel with whistles to keep you out.  You don’t know you’re breaking the rules until you’ve already done it. Having security scold me is just one more thing that makes me feel unwelcome.

Metal Detectors: They are everywhere, but most places don’t use them. At the underground mall, GUM department store and numerous places, they are operational, but The security offices pay no attention as they go off. At the metro, they are turned off, but you have to walk through or around them. Where they are used, like the Kremlin or Lenin’s Tomb, they slow everything down. There were only about 50 people in front of me at the Kremlin, but it took 45 minutes to enter. The whole time, I was standing outside in the rain.

Assorted photos of Moscow

View of the Moscow River from a bridge on the edge of the Kremlin. In the center of the photo in the far distance is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
View of the Moscow River from a bridge on the edge of the Kremlin. In the center of the photo in the far distance is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

As always, I took a LOT of photos. Here are some random ones, mostly of buildings.

Former KGB office. Many political prisoners were held here in the Lubyanka Building. Although the Soviet secret police changed its name many times, its headquarters remained in this building. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubyanka_Building
Former KGB office. Many political prisoners were held here in the Lubyanka Building. Although the Soviet secret police changed its name many times, its headquarters remained in this building.

This is one of the “seven sisters,” skyscrapers built across the city. There were supposed to be 8 of them, but the last was never built. This one can be seen from a bridge across the Moscow River, near the Kremlin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sisters_(Moscow)
This is one of the “seven sisters,” skyscrapers built across the city. There were supposed to be 8 of them, but the last was never built. This one can be seen from a bridge across the Moscow River, near the Kremlin.
There are little chapels and full churches everywhere. I assume most are Russian or Eastern Orthodox. This one is near the Polytechnic Museum (closed for renovations) and is fondly referred to as “the bell” since it’s made of cast iron. It’s to commemorate the war with Turkey in the late 19th Century.
There are little chapels and full churches everywhere. I assume most are Russian or Eastern Orthodox. This one is near the Polytechnic Museum (closed for renovations) and is fondly referred to as “the bell” since it’s made of cast iron. It’s to commemorate the war with Turkey in the late 19th Century.
One of the Seven Sisters. Each of the skyscrapers has a counterpart in NYC since the architects went there to study the structures. Stalin also insisted that all of the Seven Sisters be given a spire, in order to distinguish them from their American counterpart.
One of the Seven Sisters. Each of the skyscrapers has a counterpart in NYC since the architects went there to study the structures. Stalin also insisted that all of the Seven Sisters be given a spire, in order to distinguish them from their American counterpart.

Moscow, July 17, 2016, 54

This is a canal, built to save the city center from spring floods. You can see the statue of Peter the Great in the background.
This is a canal, built to save the city center from spring floods. You can see the statue of Peter the Great in the background.
Unusual statue in a park near the canal. It’s called Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_Are_the_Victims_of_Adult_Vices
Unusual statue in a park near the canal. It’s called Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices.
A wedding party.
A wedding party.
Did I mention construction was everywhere? It was difficult to walk in some areas and impossible to take photos in others.
Did I mention construction was everywhere? It was difficult to walk in some areas and impossible to take photos in others.
This is the statue of Peter the Great. It's huge, 98 meters tall and the 8th largest in the world. It’s a fairly recent addition to the city and not terribly popular. According to the Audio guide, it was built originally to commemorate Christopher Columbus, but no one in the US or Italy was interested in purchasing it. The artist finally changed the head and gave the massive sculpture to Moscow. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Great_Statue
This is the statue of Peter the Great. It’s huge, 98 meters tall and the 8th largest in the world. It’s a fairly recent addition to the city and not terribly popular. According to the Audio guide, it was built originally to commemorate Christopher Columbus, but no one in the US or Italy was interested in purchasing it. The artist finally changed the head and gave the massive sculpture to Moscow.
I don’t know anything about this building, just thought it was lovely. It’s on a pedestrian street near the financial district.
I don’t know anything about this building, just thought it was lovely. It’s on a pedestrian street near the financial district.
Churches and chapels are everywhere. I’ve not seen a synagogue or mosque at all.
Churches and chapels are everywhere. I’ve not seen a synagogue or mosque at all.
Russian Olympic Committee Headquarters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Olympic_Committee
Russian Olympic Committee Headquarters
The former Olympic weightlifting arena used in 1980. It looked in disrepair. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izmailovo_Sports_Palace
The former Olympic weightlifting arena used in 1980. It looked in disrepair.
Another 1980 Olympic venue. That was the one we boycotted, right?
Another 1980 Olympic venue. That was the one we boycotted, right?

Moscow, July 17, 2016, 75

Cathedral of Christ the Savior, located on the Moscow River. It is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world at 103 meters. This is actually a new construction the replicates an older one that was torn down. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. The original church was the scene of the 1882 world premiere of the 1812 Overture composed by Tchaikovsky, which became internationally famous. This first church was destroyed in 1931 on Stalin's orders. In it's place was supposed to be a colossal Palace of the Soviets. Construction started in 1937, but was never built completed. It was even the site of a swimming pool for awhile! This church was completed in 2000. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Christ_the_Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Savior, located on the Moscow River. It is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world at 103 meters.
This is actually a new construction the replicates an older one that was torn down. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build. The original church was the scene of the 1882 world premiere of the 1812 Overture composed by Tchaikovsky, which became internationally famous.
This first church was destroyed in 1931 on Stalin’s orders. In it’s place was supposed to be a colossal Palace of the Soviets. Construction started in 1937, but was never built completed. It was even the site of a swimming pool for awhile! This church was completed in 2000. It was a very long walk here just to find that you can’t go inside.

Moscow Metro

The metro was not only beautiful, but clean, safe and cheap.
The metro was not only beautiful, but clean, safe and cheap.

Yes, I honestly took a tour of the Moscow Metro. The stations–all 200 of them–are each unique. Some of the older ones have marble and semi-precious stones. I toured only 7 of them, but are pretty impressed. My guide, Elena, also pointed out many of the places were are with Stalin’s image had been removed, a process called “de-Stalinization.”

The first stations were built in the 1930’s but those built just after WWII are the most elaborate. Oh, and there’s free wifi. Seriously, this is the cleanest metro I’ve ever seen–that includes Tokyo.

Moscow, July 19, 2016, 15 Moscow, July 19, 2016, 16 Moscow, July 19, 2016, 18

I saw a lot of metal detectors. None of them were working.
I saw a lot of metal detectors. None of them were working.

Moscow, July 19, 2016, 21 Moscow, July 19, 2016, 23 Moscow, July 19, 2016, 25

Ceiling art. That's Lenin, but it used to have Stalin and Lenin.
Ceiling art. That’s Lenin, but it used to have Stalin and Lenin.

Moscow, July 19, 2016, 30

Each stained glass panel is unique.
Each stained glass panel is unique.
This used to have an image of Stalin. It was removed and the doves added instead.
This used to have an image of Stalin. It was removed and the doves added instead.

Moscow, July 19, 2016, 34

Ceiling art
Ceiling art
Ceiling art
Ceiling art

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Here's one of the reasons that taking the metro is challenging: There's no English.
Here’s one of the reasons that taking the metro is challenging: There’s no English.

Alexander Park, Moscow

It is beautifully landscaped with lots of shade trees and benches.
It is beautifully landscaped with lots of shade trees and benches.

I really enjoyed walking through this park and wanted to share the photos. Alexander Gardens are located along the length of the western Kremlin wall for 865 meters (2,838 ft) between Manege Square and the Kremlin.

From Wikipedia: "Towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame brought from the Field of Mars in Leningrad. Created in 1967, it contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War at the kilometer 41 marker of Leningradskoe Shosse, the nearest point the forces of Nazi Germany penetrated towards Moscow. Post Number One, where the honor sentinels stand on guard, used to be located in front of Lenin's Mausoleum, but was moved to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier in the 1990s. "
From Wikipedia: “Towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame brought from the Field of Mars in Leningrad. Created in 1967, it contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War at the kilometer 41 marker of Leningradskoe Shosse, the nearest point the forces of Nazi Germany penetrated towards Moscow. Post Number One, where the honor sentinels stand on guard, used to be located in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum, but was moved to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier in the 1990s. “
Close up, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Eternal Flame.
Close up, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Eternal Flame. I got to see the changing of the guards, though I wasn’t close enough to photograph it. Surprised by the amount of goose stepping they did.
This is another day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is not part of the changing of the guards. This is the "redressing" of the guards. The goose stepping guy rearranges their clothing for them after the changing of the guards and periodically wipes the sweat from their faces.
This is another day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is not part of the changing of the guards. This is the “redressing” of the guards. The goose stepping guy rearranges their clothing for them after the changing of the guards and periodically wipes the sweat from their faces.
In the center is a grotto built underneath the Middle Arsenal Tower. It was constructed in 1841, Is rocks are rubble from buildings destroyed during the French occupation of Moscow in 1812.
In the center is a grotto built underneath the Middle Arsenal Tower. It was constructed in 1841, Its rocks are rubble from buildings destroyed during the French occupation of Moscow in 1812.
From Wikipedia: "In front of the grotto is an obelisk erected on July 10 1914, a year after the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated. The monument made of granite from Finland listed all of the Romanov Tsars and had the coats of arms of the (Russian) provinces. Four years later, the dynasty was gone, and the Bolsheviks (per Lenin’s directive on Monumental propaganda) removed the imperial eagle, and re-carved the monument with a list of 19 socialist and communist philosophers and political leaders, personally approved by Lenin. Originally in the Lower Garden, it was relocated to its present location in 1966. There is discussion to remove Lenin's and reinstall an obelisk duplicating the original."
From Wikipedia: “In front of the grotto is an obelisk erected on July 10 1914, a year after the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty was celebrated. The monument made of granite from Finland listed all of the Romanov Tsars and had the coats of arms of the (Russian) provinces. Four years later, the dynasty was gone, and the Bolsheviks (per Lenin’s directive on Monumental propaganda) removed the imperial eagle, and re-carved the monument with a list of 19 socialist and communist philosophers and political leaders, personally approved by Lenin. Originally in the Lower Garden, it was relocated to its present location in 1966. There is discussion to remove Lenin’s and reinstall an obelisk duplicating the original.”

Moscow, July 16, 2016, 13 Moscow, July 16, 2016, 19

Information plaque in the park. There's more English than you'd expect. Though the vast majority of foreign tourists I see are Chinese, the only language besides Russian is usually English.
Information plaque in the park. There’s more English than you’d expect. Though the vast majority of foreign tourists I see are Chinese, the second language is English.
Statue of Alexander I. He ordered the construction of the garden after the Napoleonic Wars.
Statue of Alexander I. He ordered the construction of the garden after the Napoleonic Wars, It was one of the first urban parks in Moscow. While walking in the park I overhead an American tourist say, “Oh, Napoleon!” No. Definitely not. You might want to learn a little history.
This park is built on the site for a former river which is now underground, but this "simulates" the river. According to Wikipedia: "Another innovation is the former river-bed of the Neglinnaya River, which has become a popular attraction for Muscovites and tourists alike, especially on sultry summer days. The course of the river (which now really flows underground) is imitated by a rivulet dotted with fountains and statues of Russian fairy-tale characters, as sculpted by Zurab Tsereteli."
This park is built on the site for a former river which is now underground, but this “simulates” the river. According to Wikipedia: “Another innovation is the former river-bed of the Neglinnaya River, which has become a popular attraction for Muscovites and tourists alike, especially on sultry summer days. The course of the river (which now really flows underground) is imitated by a rivulet dotted with fountains and statues of Russian fairy-tale characters, as sculpted by Zurab Tsereteli.”

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Technically, this is adjacent to Alexander Park. Manege Square is a large pedestrian open space
Technically, this is adjacent to Alexander Park. Manege Square is a large pedestrian open space

Moscow, July 18, 2016, 64