Showing Moscow To Your Foreign Friend

15.12.2015
.

It is a common experience for anyone that has lived abroad for a longer period of time, friends and/or family coming over and hoping to see and experience the life you have been excitingly posting about on your Facebook, Instagram or other social media. When it comes to Moscow there are several places that I consider after living here for 1,5 years important to show around and it might be helpful to those living in Moscow and facing the struggle of showing what Moscow has to offer.

The heart of Moscow is without any doubt the Red Square and the Kremlin. Therefore it is important for those who are staying for a shorter period of time to take your guests to these places. The ticket office of the Kremlin located next to the bridge in the Alexander’s garden should be visited in weekends before 9:30 and in the summer preferably at 9 because of the enormous crowds. In the winter period it is possible to come at any time. It is recommended to go to both the Armory (where the treasures of Tsarist Russia are stored) as well as to visit the beautiful churches of the Kremlin where for instance Ivan the Terrible is buried. It would take you around 2-3 hours to visit all the places but it gives a good insight of Russia’s centre of power as well as that it is a magnificent sight. After your tour at the Kremlin it is time to walk around over the Red Square, take a peak at St Basils church, Lenin’s Mausoleum (check opening times) and Gum. For lunch I personally recommend going to the Stalovaja at the third floor of Gum so you not only grasp the beautiful mall itself but also have a first introduction to Russian food. 

For an afternoon there are many different options you can try out, you can go for a walk towards the Bolshoi theatre (if you want to arrange tickets for a performance make sure you book them well in advance) and walk alongside Tsum and up north to what I call the ‘green ring’ and alongside Tverskaja boulevard towards Arbatskaja where you can not only get some nice souvenirs (if you have more time I would recommend visit Izmailova Kremlin for souvenirs, but this is for the short time visitors) and see street performers and artists. Also in most of the restaurants along side Arbatskaja they have English menus and in some cases English speaking staff. In the evening after you have ate something at Arbatskaja I would recommend to walk towards the Christ the Saviour Cathedral and cross the Patriarchal bridge where on bars as ICON, Strelka, Rolling Stones and Gipsy are located to finish of a full but rewarding day. 

Moscow is a city that due its largeness seems impenetrable in one day, but while visiting the things that were mentioned you get a good glance at what Moscow makes an interesting city. Moscow is an energetic metropolis where more than 13 million people, eat, sleep and live day-in day-out. 

But a one-day visit to Moscow is rather limited and therefore here are some other tips that are well worth to try: A bout tour on the Moskva river in summer is not only a quick way to see all the beautiful sights, but is also very relaxing. In winter you can take the tour by night and see the illumination of the city. As for Musea, often people would refer to the Tretyakovsky gallery or the Pushkin museum but my personal favourite would be the victory museum at Park Pobedi. The thing is that especially for people from the West we are well aware of great artists from all around the world, but when it comes to history and especially the role the Soviets played in the WWII there is often less known about it. The Victory museum has a magnificent memorial and victory hall, which is impressive and the museum also leads you along side the greatest battles of the Eastern front which will help you better understand the Soviet side during the war. The stories of the greatest battles of the Eastern front which are portrayed in diorama’s are available in English. Another lesser-known museum that is located nearby Tsym is the Soviet Arcade museum where you can enjoy some fun with your friends while experiencing old-school Soviet entertainment! After playing the Soviet Arcade museum you can immediately visit one of the visiting students favourite bar; Kamchatka, which on Fridays and Saturdays is always crowded with Russians and foreigners and the price for half a litre of beer does not exceed 120 ruble, which is less than 2 euro. 

A final recommendation is regarding Moscow its most famous park: Gorky Park. While Gorky Park has both in winter and summer many things to offer, the park itself is comparable to New York’s Central Park, a green spot in the centre of a metropolis. But if you are interested in big soviet sculptures, making a picture with one of the many standing Lenin statues and want to get a good grasp of Soviet prestigious architecture you should visit Park VDNH in the north on the orange line. Also this park has both in summer and winter a lot to offer and even includes over 30 Museums. 

Moscow can enchant you for years and despite the fact I have been living in this enchantment for 1,5 years, I still discover new places every week. Of course the best way to experience this enchantment to the fullest is to come and study in Moscow for a while, but in case you do not have that chance I hope these tips will help you make your stay in Moscow even more fun!

Photo: Stas Mikrukov/RS