Introducing Moscow

Sunlight glints off the golden domes and catches your eye. The ancient, patchwork-patterned church is right in front of you, but you almost miss it because you are walking with your head down, shielding your face from the wind and employing all efforts to avoid slipping on hidden patches of ice. A steely-eyed babushka, laden with a heavy fur coat and an oversized shopping bag, still manages to negotiate the precarious pathway faster than your inexperienced feet. You navigate around a pair of...

Petrovsky District

Who could be surprised by the plethora of dining options in this smart shopping district The range of prices, cuisines and themes is vast. Food in Moscow does not come much simpler or cheaper than at Pel-meshka, while Gallery represents the other end of the scale. Happily, Petrovsky District includes just about everything in between, as well as some interesting and innovating themed restaurants. So if window-shopping and people-watching works up your appetite, you 11 find a restaurant to sate...

Peter the Great the Spurned Capital

Peter I, known as 'the Great for his commanding frame (reaching over 2m) and equally commanding victory over the Swedes, dragged Russia kicking and screaming into modern Europe. Born to Tsar Alexey s second wife in 1672, Peter spent much of his youth in royal residences in the Moscow countryside, organising his playmates in war games. Energetic and inquisitive, he was eager to learn about the outside world. As a boy, he spent hours in Moscow s European district as a young man, he spent months...

Sleeping Eating

Golden Gate Hotel ( 323 116 www.golden-gate .ru Bolshaya Moskovskaya ul 17 s d with breakfast R1800 2300 h restaurant noon-midnight meals R200-400) There are 14 spacious rooms, with large windows overlooking the activity on the main street - or a central courtyard if you prefer. The attached restaurant is among the town's best, and popular with tour groups. Hotel Vladimir ( 323 042 tour gtk.elcom.ru Bolshaya Moskovskaya ul 74 s d with bathroom & breakfast from R950 1300, r with shared...

Swimming

Public pools are difficult places to take the plunge if you are a foreigner because attendants insist on a Russian doctor's certificate of your good health before they 11 let you in. Fortunately, the pools generally have somebody on hand who can issue the certificate on the spot (for a small fee). 246 1344 Turchaninov per 1 3 admission R350 h 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 8am-7pm Sun m Park Kultury Boasting eight lanes and heated to a pleasant 29 C, this 50m open-air pool is an ideal place for swimming...

Golden Ring

The Golden Ring is the circle of ancient towns northeast of Moscow - so called for its wealth of architectural and artistic riches. Some of these spots are accessible from Moscow by day trip. But, if you have a few days to spare, it's worth leaving behind the big-city bustle to immerse yourself in the age-old allure of the Golden Ring. The most visited destination in the Golden Ring is Sergiev Posad (pi94), for its accessibility from Moscow and for its atmosphere of history and holiness. If...

Transport

International fares fluctuate dramatically, depending on the season, economy and other factors. Russian domestic fares tend to be more stable. Some domestic fares and schedules appear in the boxed text, opposite. For general information on international airfares, as well as some tips for budget travellers, see www.waytorussia.net transport international air.html. The former Soviet state airline, Aeroflot, has been decentralised into hundreds of smaller airlines ('baby-flots'), most with a...

Food

Seventy years of mistreatment by the Soviets has given Russian cuisine a bad rap. Now, many restaurants in Moscow allow the diner to experience Russian food as it is meant to be -exquisite haute-russe masterpieces once served at banquets and balls, as well as tasty and filling meals that have for centuries been prepared in peasant kitchens with garden ingredients. Options for dining out during the Soviet period were so limited that Russians hardly ever did it. They might have taken lunch at the...

Sleeping

Hotel Rizopolozheskaya ( 24 314 ul Lenina s d with breakfast R620 1000) Suzdal's cheapest place to stay, housed in the decrepit Monastery of the Deposition. Hotel Sokol (Hotel Falcon 20 088 www.hotel-sokol .ru Torgovaya pi 2A s d with breakfast from R1300 2200) This is an attractive new hotel ideally located opposite the trading arcades. Its 40 rooms are simply decorated and fully equipped with new wooden furniture and modern bathrooms. The elegant, bi-level restaurant is also recommended....

Taxi

Almost any car in Moscow can be a taxi, so get on the street and stick your arm out. Many private cars cruise around as unofficial taxis, known as 'gypsy cabs', and other drivers will often take you if they're going in the same direction. Expect to pay R100 to R150 for a ride around the city centre. Official taxis - recognisable by their chequerboard logo on the side and or a small green light in the windscreen - charge about the same. No driver uses a meter (even if the cab has one), and few...

Classical Music

MOSCOW INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF MUSIC Map p255 7301011 www.mmdm.ru Kosmodamianskaya nab 52 8 tickets R60-600 m Paveletskaya This new venue opened in 2003 in a graceful, modern, glass building. It has three halls, including Svetlanov Hall, which holds the largest organ in Russia. Needless to say, organ concerts held here are impressive. This is the usual venue for performances by the National Philharmonic of Russia 730 3778 www.nfor.ru, in Russian , a privately financed and highly lauded...

Kitay Gorod

Although the streets immediately east of Red Square do not contain many eateries, Kitay Gorod boasts its fair share of culinary choices. Head into the less explored area on the east side of Staraya ploshchad. It is a refined residential area with dining to match the clientele, plus a few extravagant, themed restaurants just for fun. 921 8117 Nikolskaya ul 10 2 meals R800-1000 h 24hr m Lubyanka The revolution lives on at this popular, divey bar. The walls are covered with revolutionary graffiti...

Pop Rock

Moscow is not Russia s top spot for homegrown bands, but the capital is nonetheless chock full of places to hear music. Live bands and DJs travel from other parts of Russia and all over Europe to play in this metropolis. For more information about Moscow s hottest acts, see p26. Tickets are usually available at the venue s box office in the hours leading up to the show. For big names, look for advertisements in element or in the Moscow Times, tickets for these events can be bought in advance....

Detour Plyos Iijiec

Plyos is a tranquil town of wooden houses and hilly streets winding down to the Volga waterfront, hallway between Ivanovo and Kostroma. Though fortified from the 15th century, Plyos' renown stems from its role as a late -19th-century artists' retreat. Isaac Levitan, Russia's most celebrated landscape artist, found inspiration here in the summers of 1888 to 1890. The playwright Chekhov commented that Plyos'put a smile in Levitan's paintings'. During the three summers he lived here, Levitan...

Drinking Clubbing

There is not one area of Moscow where bars and pubs are clustered indeed, the whole city is now littered with such establishments, with more opening eveiy day. Traditionally, ulitsa Arbat is a prime spot for the caf scene, especially as it is closed to automobile traffic. Likewise, the newer and trendier Kamergersky pereulok is pedestrian-only, which makes it a hot spot for strollers and drinkers. In summer, these walkways are crowded with guests who clamour for a seat at the sidewalk caf s....

Cinema

Russian - or rather Soviet - cinema first flourished shortly after the revolution. Sergei Eisenstein s Battleship Potemkin 1925 remains one of the landmarks of world cinema, famous for its Odessa Steps sequence recreated in many other films, most notably Brian de Palma s The Untouchables. Charlie Chaplin described Battleship Potemkin as 'the best film in the world . It and scores of other films marked the output of Moscow s film studios, the most active in the country during the 20th century....

Chistye Prudy

Pondside dining is certainly an option in this neighbourhood known as 'Clean Ponds . Choose the plush French affair for a special occasion, or the crazy, crowded Annyushka tram restaurant for a kick. In summer, take 'pondside to a new level at the trendy Tent. Other options in the area are diverse, including one of the capital s few vegetarian-only restaurants. Chistoprudny bul cover R20, mains R150-200 h 2pm-midnight m Chistye Prudy Annyushka is actually a tram that circles the Chistye Prudy....

Barrikadnaya

Loud, crowded Kudrinskaya ploshchad might seem an unlikely spot for a pleasant dining experience, but you will be surprised. The shiny new shopping centre, Novinsky Passage, is home to several touted eateries elegant houses on the quiet streets east of the Garden Ring offer an exquisite atmosphere for sharing a meal and the World Trade Centre, further south, has its own strip of extravagant themed restaurants featuring excellent cooking. All this, plus it has one of Moscow s favourite expat...

Arbat District

Ulitsa Arbat practically introduced the pavement caf to Moscow. Considering that, the selection of restaurants in the Arbat today is mildly disappointing although there is no shortage of caf s . That said, strollers and shoppers have options to ease their hunger, whether on ulitsa Arbat itself or tucked into the surrounding streets. Novy Arbat ulitsa, to the north, is lined with decent Russian chain restaurants that offer dependably tasty and hearty food. 291 6538 ul Arbat 27 47 meals R200-400...

Natural Attractions

For outdoor activities for all seasons - from swimming to skiing - you can t beat the lakes district northwest of Moscow. Resorts such as Zavidovo p203 and Istra p203 are beautifully located and easily reached from Moscow. You can go for a day, but will want to stay longer. Providing a unique variation on the nature theme, the Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Reserve p207 will delight animal-lovers of all ages. For a truly Russian experience, see the boxed text, above. High up the slope from the...

Sights Information

Assumption Cathedral Goritsky Monastery admission R40 h 10am-6pm May-Oct, 9am-5pm Nov-Apr Botik Museum 22 788 Podgornaya ul admission R40 h 10am-5pmTue-Sun Goritsky Monastery 38100 http museum .pereslavl.ru admission R50 h 10am-6pm May-Oct, 9am-5pm Nov-Apr Nikitsky Monastery admission free h 10am-5pm Sberbank Rostovskaya ul 27 h 9am-7pm Mon-Sat Exchange facility in the lobby of Hotel Pereslavl. Yartelekom Service Centre 31 595 Rostovskaya ul 20 Internet per hr R50 Has Internet and telephone...