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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Brighton Beach ~ Little Odessa

I have been wanting to write about this place for a long time. Mainly because I love it and perhaps you may too. This place is Brighton Beach, New York or also unofficially known to the area as Little Odessa, which is just down the street from the famous Coney Island. It is a place that I find interesting and very much appreciate. Little Odessa gives me a glimpse on my husband's Russian culture.

Now my Mother in law will tell you to not think that this place at all resembles the real Russia. It is a little dirty with the subway tracks overhead and the subway cars rolling by at certain intervals. I have no basis on comparison since I have never been over to Russia, so I will have to agree with her on that. After all there are no St. Petersburg Castles or beautiful churches with domes.

Instead what you see are beautiful little shops with Russian antiques, books, clothing, toys and best of all food. What is more amazing is that these shops are mostly in Russian, so for me who speaks so little Russian let alone read it, I have no idea what store I am about to approach until I look inside. I find that quite fun. Mostly everyone (as expected) is Russian and you can really tell from the faces and people on the street that Russia is so diverse with their people who may look very European, Asian or more middle eastern. I also found that in each store, the workers will typically talk to you first in Russian, but all workers I have found do speak English. Street vendors sell not hot dogs or corn dogs, but have authentic Russian cuisine that will just will rapture your taste buds. I am for one a picky eater, but will devour shashlyk (Russian kabob), pirozhki (stuffed rolls of meat, cheese or potato) and blini any day. Often these foods that will easily fill you up and cost a mere fraction of what a typical McDonalds meal will cost. Worth it? I think so.

I also love strolling the streets for the next new item to add to my household. On this particular trip, I had to see if they sold table and chairs for my little guy. I had seen a set on a show about Russian children and wondered if I could get lucky and see something like that for a fraction of the online cost. I was in luck. Now words can't described the beautiful khokhloma painted furniture, so I had to provide some pictures.

To understand the true beauty of it, I had to show a image of the top.

Guess what this beautifully painted child's furniture cost? $40 was all it took. Obviously I had to buy little chairs that matched, but the fraction of the cost was unbelievable. However, if you love this piece, they do sell them online for a bit more at a Russian online store. I'd love to provide a cheaper website, but with all my research that is what I have.

Now if you want to get off the busy street, all you have to do is walk down a block until you get to the ocean. As you go off the path of the main markets, old apartment buildings with little old Russian ladies sitting out in front is quite common. I am sure they all love to see people passing by and I am sure they all love to comment on them to each other. Old ladies love to talk you know. Little Odessa does have a small board walk with Russian restaurants lining them. The beach is okay, but you also have to understand it is New York...don't take off your shoes.

In all I would say if you are ever in New York then experience Brooklyn as well. Brighton Beach is certainly one of a kind. Where else can you find a place like this? Only in New York.

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