I loved the anticipation of traveling to Moscow, because in such a short time it has, from an outsider’s perspective, been so many things and attached to so many stereotypes. First I think of War and Peace and beautiful Tsarist architecture, then of Communist Era concrete and furry hats, then of post-soviet black markets and drunken Boris Yeltsin, and the present I imagine rich oil barons opening clubs where tall blond woman party until dawn and vodka flows down ice luges. There is a little of all of this in Moscow, which is a huge sprawling city that is the economic, cultural, social, and educational hub of Russia. Amazing history, amazing food and drink, and amazing partying. (And there’s a place you can pay to fly around in a MIG! Too expensive for me, but really, who says the fall of the Red Army and the subsequent “we think we have all of our nukes accounted for, why? You have money?” attitude was all bad?)
Naturally, the first place to see in Moscow is the Red Square and Moscow tours
is a good way to go about seeing it properly. Red Square is pretty cool, and is more than just one of those things you have to see because you are there. St. Basil’s Cathedral is even more impressive then it looks in Tetris and the turrets look strangely delicious. The Kremlin is a pretty imposing sight. Lenin’s tomb is just beyond creepy and sort of sad, but powerful. Especially now in the post-soviet era it’s totally unclear what the point is, and the fact that it now serves as a tourist attraction seems both kind of funny and horribly ironic. You could spend all day in Red Square and not get bored at all. If you’re into art at all you have to visit the Pushkin museum, which has a great collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masters from all over. The Tretyakov gallery is also good, and almost all Russian.
Food can be pricy in Moscow, and the mid-level stuff is still pretty expensive by most standards. Remember, this is a very rich city and the rich here have ridiculous tastes. I stuck with the ethnic stuff, and I found out that I love Azerbaijani food. I also drank alot of vodka, but that was nothing new. Going out here is just ridiculous, and I’m not going to get into it too much because everywhere is crazy and filled with beautiful people (women) dancing to ridiculous techno music. It’s exactly what you would think it would be like, and depending on you’re taste in entertainment that can be really awesome or kind of intimidating. I found that for me it started with the latter and quickly became the former. Just don’t plan to see Red Square after a night/morning out.