During school vacation two weeks ago, Katya and I had a sunny morning to ourselves. Talia was working with the child psychologist at our home, so it was best that we leave the apartment. We decided to take the trolleybus to Katya's favorite café. When we first moved here in 2004, we relied on the trolleybus to take us most places. If it didn't go near a certain area, we pretty much didn't go there. I couldn't easily handle the double stroller up and down the subway escalators and we didn't have a car. While Katya was almost four, she couldn't handle walking long distances in the summer heat--and I couldn't handle her whining once tired.
One day, we happened upon a gem of a café: Konfael. Little did we know what wonders awaited! The first week in Moscow had been quite difficult for all of us; Katya clung to our discovery, calling the café her "secret," asking to go there from time to time when the going got tough. While Natalia has been there a few times, I've tried to respect Katya's desire to have a special spot that's "just hers" when she has one-on-one time with me and Chris (or her visiting grandparents--more on that later).
Katya and I had planned to take the trolley to the café, but then we got stuck in a bad traffic jam. When car accidents occur in Moscow, the vehicles are required to stay put until the police finish their reports. This idiotic practice often leads to miles and miles of backed up traffic and is maddening!
We chose to ditch the trolley, walked a ways, and then took the subway. Katya was most impatient to move quickly, so I wasn't able to take more carefully composed photos. I managed to get these as we quickly moved through the Arbatskaya station. The tall cream ceilings and chandeliers are absolutely beautiful! As I've written before, each station of the Moscow subway system is unique; the elegance of this particular station always makes me imagine ladies in their gowns returning from the ballet long before I was born...
Once we arrived at the café, Katya quickly ordered her "usual": crêpes with a cherry and raspberry coulis and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
When my dad visited us in 2005, Katya ventured to the cafe on her own with him. She was quite proud of herself... While my dad tried to figure out the menu, she went to the bathroom. A little while later, their food magically appeared.
My dad was a bit confused--and Katya informed him that she had "taken care of it" all when she saw the waitress in the bathroom, even ordering his coffee. She then charmed him into letting her buy all kinds of chocolate...
When my dad visited the next time, he was quite brave about exploring the city on his own. One day he realized that he was near the café--and went in to fetch a surprise for the girls. We all chuckled later on--he had a bought a lovely chocolate postcard that wished the girls well on their wedding day! Here are some other examples of the unique creations one can find at this shop:
Katya loves the soccer ball since the dads of a few of her classmates are famous "futbolisti." She also thinks the thermometer would be a great "pick-me-up" whenever she or Natalia are ill--cool idea, no? The dachshund's for you, Mom--but only visually! We're not about to spend $100 on chocolate... The colored pencils are a favorite of ours that we've given as gifts to friends in the USA; they're delicious! You can learn much more about this shop by reading the post I wrote after the Moscow "Salon du Chocolat" Chocolate Festival in December (check it out... there's even a model wearing nothing but a painted on chocolate dress...).
Katya then begged for some encyclopedias. We're waiting for Chris's next trip to
It's wonderful to see how she devours them, telling me all kinds of interesting facts about famous artists (Leonardo da Vinci is her favorite) and places on earth. The Magic Tree House books truly set her "on fire," she has wanted to learn more about all of the important historical places and people that the author expertly weaves into her stories. Katya finished all 36 of those books in three weeks! It was a sad, sad day when she read the last page of book #36... (Last week we received the latest book--#37--but we're not giving it to her until her behavior significantly improves in certain areas...) If anyone has series to recommend for Katya, I'd greatly appreciate it! She has now also finished all of the Nancy Drew Notebook series, but didn't like it nearly as much as the Magic Tree House. She wants books with historical or non-fiction information woven into them, stories that entertain while also teaching her something.
The little black and white book designed to look like a bag is mine: the Russian version of Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. The other little book is more poetry for Katya by Grigorii Oster, the author for whom I translated in college and whose writing is delightfully funny.