Moscow's gay scene isn't very visible, but it's still there. This is a fairly large club on three floors (dancefloor, restaurant/bar, pub-like bar) with a great outdoor bar/area - surprising as it may seem, Moscow has good hot summers!
Attracts a mixed crowd from 18 to 80 (but most seem to be in their 20s). Not great music (like most clubs in Moscow) but good fun. They have two big drag shows of an evening, cute go-go boys and it's busy till very late on Friday and Saturday.
Tri Obeziany, bldg. 1, 11 Nastavnicheskiy Pereulok;
Open 10pm - 7am, Monday to Sunday.
The nicest thing I can say about Zen Coffee House near Byelorussky Train Station is that you'll never have to wait in line there. That's because even though there is room for at least 50 people, I've never seen more than half a dozen customers in the place. I suspect that's because their coffee is overpriced, even by Moscow standards. Another reason may be the unfriendly atmosphere. I recently saw a man come in to pick up one of the free newspapers that are on display by the entrance. The manager came from behind the counter and in a loud voice chewed him out, saying that these were for paying customers only. The reality is that in Moscow you can go into virtually any establishment that caters to foreigners and grab a paper and no one will blink an eye. But don't try it at Zen Coffee Shop unless you also want a free lecture.
Right across the street from Byelorussky Train Station
Worth pausing for a moment if you’re passing. You may remember the TV news images of this government building being bombarded during an attempted coup. In front of the building, Boris Yeltsin climbed atop a tank and pleaded with the army to side with the government.
Krasnopresnenskaya naberezhnaya 2; nearest metro: Krasnopresnenskaya
On my recent trip, the Pushkin Museum was a haven in this hectic, expensive and, for the most part, ugly city. Best of all is the collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Kandinsky and the usual suspects. On the other hand, there is far more to see from this period in St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum.
Postal address: 121019, Moscow, 12 Volkhonka St; nearest metro: Kropotkinskaya; http://www/museum.ru/gmii/
Dining in Moscow needn't be expensive - though wine almost invariably is - here are three good value bars/restaurants frequented by the young and attractive of Moscow:
Suzy Wong serves excellent cocktails and sushi in a New York-style setting, (11 Ulitsa Tiumra Frunze, nearest metro: Park Kultury).
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is open 24 hours and has great breakfasts and pizzas, (24 Ulitsa Bolshaya Lubyanka nearest metro: Lubyanka).
My favourite - Ugni is also open 24 hours and serves excellent steamed fish, borsch and good value wine, (8 Malaya Sucharevskaya Ploschad, nearest metro: Sukharevskaya).
Tretyakovskaya is a magnificent gallery of Russian art (both in artists and subject matter). There are some fantastic paintings and sculptures dealing with several different parts of Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar cultures. A great way to spend an afternoon and enlighten yourself.
Metro to Tretyakovskaya and walk down Bolshiy Tolmachevskiy Per. Take your first right (towards the river) and you'll walk past the entrance
These are recreation areas outside Moscow.
In winter you can ski or snowboard, ride a snowmobile, drive in a sledge or toboggan, parachute or even go ballooning. In summer there’s bikes, motorcycles, swimming and sunbathing to enjoy.
Moreover, you’ll enjoy the scenery of Russian forests and hills. Get yourself a bunch of wildflowers and breathe fresh air.
Bring it from Moscow and share it with your friends.
Some local brands of Russian vodka, such as Russky Standard have a very special taste infused by rye and other natural ingredients.
Caviar is also a very special Russian treat: try it with black bread and butter.
Get it at Duty Free in Sheremetyevo or Domodedovo or in Eliseevsky supermarket on Tverskaya (nearest metro: Tverskaya)
One very important and cool thing about Moscow: instead of getting a taxi you can hail any car and they will stop to give you a lift for money. It usually costs about 100R (£2) for a 10-15 minute ride, while a trip from one end of the city to another will cost about 250R (£5). The prices might go up if they see you are a foreigner (but now that you know the market average you'll just refuse, won't you?) and during the night it might be 50% higher.
Oh yes and be careful - check out the driver before getting into the car. Single women should never get in to cars on their own. All lifts are taken at your own risk. If you don't like the driver, just give a ridiculous price like 20R (40p) and he'll shout “Ohuel!” and drive away.
Another tip: if you don't like the driver smoking, just tell him you have an allergy, it always works and it’s a good conversation starter as well.
This is a perfect example of a Russian art house movie. Set back in the 50s in a small Russian village it tells a story of a woman whose life was affected by the war and by mundane harvest work.
The way it's filmed is very interesting, because it's so calm and gentle and at the same time quite hard and sad to watch. It manages to transmit "Russianness" in the way it's filmed.
Propaganda is one of the very first clubs in Moscow, and is still the best for those who are looking not only to get drunk and dance, but also to hear nice music, meet interesting people, and, well, dance.
The music is quality downtempo, nu-jazz, house by local DJs and at least twice a week they invite a big name from UK or US. So if you're into NinjaTunes, Jazzanova, Grand Central kind of stuff, this is the place to go.
During the day and until 11pm they have tables all around the place and serve nice inexpensive food. After 11, it's party time, the tables get moved towards the walls and people start dancing, usually until 4 or 5am.
Bolshoi Zlatoustinskiy Pereulok 15; nearest metro: Kitai Gorod; Tel: 095 924 5732; www.propagandamoscow.com
An outdoor museum with many old buildings and churches, some of which have been moved here from elsewhere in Russia. Most are currently covered by scaffolding, but should be ready by the summer of 2006.
Excellent view of the Moskva River, pleasant river voyages in the summer. Nearby are lots of little places with shashlyk and beer at reasonable prices, but be prepared for long lines.
Nearest metro: Kolomenskaya, exit head of train, go left, then right. When you reach the surface and see the Orbit Cinema, you're in the right place. Keep going straight ahead to the park
If you're adventurous enough to go outside the centre of town, try Long John Silver's restaurant. I recommend the wiener schnitzel – the portion is huge, enough for two. There’s a big plus in the summer: you can sit outside and enjoy the restaurant's own private zoo, complete with ducks, turkeys, rabbits and chickens. Those animals able to jump over the high fence will join you at your table. But they're very well mannered.
Otherwise you can look at the people entering and leaving the metro. There’s live music in the evenings and important football events are televised.
Nearest metro: Kaschirskaya, leave from the head of the train and exit right
Take The Scorpions' advice and follow the Moskva down to Gorky Park. Basically a big theme park, it's a bit rubbish, but there's a ferris wheel with a great view of the city. That's if you can keep your eyes open and ignore the dodgy looking Soviet engineering and the even dodgier looking guy who's operating it.
Get off the metro at Park Kultury station (Russians know it as Culture Park) and head for the impressive entry gates. After you’ve been on the wheel, go to Krimsky bridge and head for Sculpture Park, off Krimsky Val. This is where the Russian government decided to house the majority of Soviet era statues after 1991, and there are some wonderfully evocative works on show. They're all here - Lenin, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Brezhnev. A great place to wander, imagine or just get a few obligatory 'communism shots'. There's a small entry fee, and look out for the hideous/amazing statue of Peter the Great by the river.
Park Kultury Metro (on the brown ring / red line)
You're in a cold, smelly suburban train full of drunken youths going back to the outskirts. There's no escape and so you need a train seller. They come one after another advertising their wares in powerful voices no earplugs can fight off. These guys can feed you (crisps, nuts, dried squid), get you drunk (beer and alcopops), keep you warm (socks and mittens) and educated (everything from neo-nazi newspapers to bibles and Readers Digest).
What do you mean you don't need a new hoover/microwave/home theatre? Okay, but luck will have it that your mobile's battery expires or your MP3 player packs up. Or you will need one of 30,000 titles in music or film or software. All of them can be found here.
Two-thirds are still fakes or pirated copies no matter what fancy banners may say. Still, the place offers the most complete selection of Russian music and films, latest Hollywood releases, should you miss home or peculiar tunes.
Bagrationovskaya metro, then walk. Check out the large food market on the way
A huge electronics market, Gorbushka is the place to get CDs, DVDs, and anything electrical, from iPods to TVs, in Moscow. Piracy is not illegal in Russia - the government itself reportedly uses pirated software on their computers.
Pirated CDs go for about 100 roubles, and MP3 CDs are common and cheap here. DVDs are about 100 to 300 roubles depending on the release, and you can find some real bargains if you shop around.
Go to Bagrationovskaya metro (four stops west from Kievskaya metro on the light blue line) and follow the crowds and big red signs
This is the "open grave" of the great Vladimir Ulyanov himself and it lies on the magnificent Red Square where all the greats of communism have been honoured. Lenin was the original revolutionary and gigantic statues of him abound everywhere, such is his iconic, saviour-like status.
The tomb itself is protects by the old red guard: a number of sullen-looking kite-hatted soldiers who order you to stop talking and remove hands from pockets.
Vladimir was looking very poorly when I saw him, his yellowing skin glistening under the halo of a single spotlight. He wears a permanent grimace of dark intensity and his double-breasted jacket is carefully kept in place by waxy, folded hands.
I took all this in as we all filed past, non-stop, hastened in our progress by the surly, threatening troops. We were clearly not considered true devotees and Lenin wasn't just a museum piece to be gazed at by a bunch of shallow, cashed-up unbelievers.
Of course you must go and see, just for a unique taste of modern Russia's recent, imposing past.
It's on Red Square, up from St Basil's, in front of the impressive Kremlin walls. You'll have to queue, though, but it's worth it
If you want to see the most beautiful part of the city, get on the special tram labelled Annyshka. It goes from the Chistye Prudy (Clear Ponds) metro station and down the Bulvarnoye Koltso (Ring Boulevard). A nice way of spending free-time in summer as well as in winter.
Nearest metro: Chistye Prudy - just in front of the metro entrance
An enormous exhibition park, built to demonstrate the riches of the Soviet state. Filled with lots of huge Stalinist buildings, gigantic statues and grandiose water fountains. Within the park there are still sound speakers along the footpaths - probably used for pumping propaganda during communist times. Creepily, they now pump classical music.
The park is situated opposite the impressive Hotel Cosmos, built for the 1980 Olympics.
Must be seen if you want to get a feel of Stalinist Moscow.
Nearest metro: VDNKh metro station, one of the exits leads into the park
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