As we reach the two-weeks-left stage, it seems appropriate to share some comments and advice on what to be sure to do in Moscow for those who are coming on the program in future semesters. Especially if you are coming for the summer program, it is important to make time to go do/see what interests you since there is so little time and it flies by so quickly! Here are my top 10 things to be sure to do in Moscow:
1. See Lenin. Yes, it is worth it – he even glows slightly. Be sure to cut in line (which is fine in Russian culture) so that you don’t have to wait for hours and be sure that you do not bring water bottles or cameras with you. Also, it is free.
2. Go to a play or ballet or opera or concert. If you are concerned about price, at many theaters you can get discounted student tickets the day of the performance.
3. Eat Georgian food. This is the most delicious cuisine I’ve had so far and it is good comfort food! The barbeque kebabs are very filling and the bread is wonderful. Georgian wine is also famous and the semi-sweet red wine is a good one to get a bottle or pitcher to share at table.
4. Do bargain for prices of souvenirs. No doubt you will soon learn of the open air souvenir market at Izmailovsky Park. The market has a good selection and everything is all in one place but the prices are still very high! You should definitely bargain for lower prices – especially if you are buying more than one thing, owners of stalls are more willing to give you a lower price. It is not at all rude and you should not hesitate to ask for a lower price! Your purchases are that much more enjoyable when you’ve worked for them and used your Russian to get a good deal.
5. Take a moment and hang out in a park. While Moscow is a huge, busy city and there are an overwhelming number of things you can do, going to Gorky Park, Victory Park or along the Moscow riverbank is a nice way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
6. Go to Red Square at night. With GUM all lit up and without so many hundreds of tourists, it really is (though it sounds cliché) magical.
7. Take advantage of your tutor and invite him/her along to socialize. Your tutor is great to practice Russian with and even help with homework but, of our group, the people getting the most out of their tutor experience are those who aren’t afraid of inviting them to anything and everything. For instance, you could go to Babochki Café where you pay by how much time you spend at the cafe, not how much food and drink you consume. When you come in, you are handed a clock and are allowed to have as much toast, tea, coffee and cookies (and more) as you’d like. When you’re ready to go, you pay according to how much time you spent at the cafe – this is a nice low-key place to hang out, talk and play board games.
8. Eat the ice cream. It is creamier than in the United States and so delicious!
9. Get outside of the city. You will have an opportunity to do this with the whole group when you go to Tula and Tolstoy’s estate and it is beautiful. However, you can also go to other closer places on your own like the gorgeous Arkhangelskoye estate (twelve miles outside of Moscow) which is a good place to spend the day and have a picnic.
10. Find a location from which you can see all of Moscow. You can go to the observation deck a Moscow State University or you may have the opportunity when you go on the excursion to Christ the Savior Cathedral but find a place where you can see a view of Moscow from up high. It makes for great pictures but also you just get a better sense of the city overall in terms of size and the variety of its makeup (e.g. an ancient church next to a modern skyscraper).
By: Victoria Hallinan
Term: Summer 2012