An adorable hostel awash with tiny cool details and cute things. I stayed at Friends on Griboedova, but they have some other location in the center as well – somewhere near Nevsky prospect and on Vosstania street. The one on Griboedova is clean, cosy and very comfortable. The staff are really friendly, they just act as friends – no wonder, since they work at “Friends hostel”. Yes, the famous TV show has something to do with the interior design – brick walls, board games, bicycles and homely atmosphere. Staff speak very good English and they help you very good. They have dorms and privates. Shared bathrooms, of course. Lots of biscuits, free tea & WIFI. I really recommend Friends hostel to anyone.
Set up in 1970s and designed in a typically Soviet manner of the time, this is now one of the main event spaces in Moscow. Non/fiction Book Fair, Art Salon, Antique Salon, Moscow Design Week - this is just a scoop of the events to attend. Adjacent exhibition space is dedicated to contemporary art. The CHA also hosts exhibitions, most recently that of a great Russian Impressionist painter Konstantin Korovin. Altogether, the CHA tend to specialise in Art, Literature, and Design.
There is a friendly cafe on the ground floor, and a museum park of contemporary sculpture nearby and across the Krymsky Bridge is the famous Gorky Park.
ulitsa Krymskiy Val, 10/14, город Москва, Russia, 119049
+7 499 238 9634
Closed Mondays, open Tue to Sun 11am to 8pm.
Easily reached by Oktyabrskaya and Park Kultury metro stations.
Google map: bit.ly/RxcCLz
A journey through the hidden beauties of the Russian and Mongolian countryside, witness the harsh lives of smugglers and vagrants, taste simple cuisine, listen to stories around you from the rich and poor alike, yet create your own tale as you travel through a compelling experience.
While most people opt for the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Beijing, traveling east to west on the lesser known The Baikal-Amur Mainline or BAM route takes you through some of the least visited towns in the world. The lack of foreign visitors means you are treated like a 'celebrity' by your carriage companions who want to hear all about daily life in your country. This trainline passes through Severobaikalsk at the Northern tip of the magnificent Lake Baikal. A fascinating and unique trip.
You can’t go wrong with Colin Thubron, and I’d put "In Siberia" at the top of the list. As one reviewer said about the region, these “are places that you would not wish to visit in your wildest dreams”. But one such place, Krasnoyarsk, was the destination of a group of British teachers (myself among them) on a British Council sponsored visit. On the flight to Moscow I seem to recall almost everyone in the group of eight sitting reading their Thubron and it provided us with a cultural and spiritual context for the trip that made the experience all the more profound.
Penguin Books, isbn: 0-140-26860-X
Housed in an imposing looking building, this museum will tell you a lot about the natural and social history of the area. It includes everything from local rock samples to wooden church architecture to Soviet propaganda posters and has a particularly interesting room devoted to clothing and artifacts of the Sami people who inhabit an area stretching from here through to northern Finland and Norway. It's all very well presented, though you won't find any English explications.
Lenin Prospekt 90
+7 (815) 242-2679
Russian churches are usually at least picturesque, at most spectacular and this one fits into the former category. It is also probably at the most picturesque location in town, with views across the city and harbour and being adjacent to a memorial lighthouse, set in a small park. The interior is very decorative too, in the Russian Orthodox style with the usual babushka hovering around and making sure all is in order.
Ulitsa Geroev Severomortsev
This is a 35.5 metre high statue of a World War Two Russian soldier, erected in 1974, complete with suitably large wreaths placed at its seven-metre base. It towers impressively above the surrounding landscape and is another reminder that if the Russians are going to have one, it's usually a big 'un.
Path leading from Ulitsa Aleksandrova
My husband and I did two bicycle tours of St Petersburg with Viktor and couldn't have been happier. We went out to Pushkin and saw everything EXCEPT Catherine's palace - fantastic gardens, bushland, history and then a city tour of St P the next day. It was great riding and exciting to ride the roads and footpaths of St P. Viktor also knows his stuff and can answer all your questions, great English.
This flea market located in St Petersburg, Russia, is a hidden gem and should not be missed by tourists and locals alike. You can buy almost anything here, from Soviet antiques (though beware of fakes) to electrical goods, at rock-bottom prices. Haggling is a must and it's possible to pick up books and items of clothing for as little as 10 pence. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, it's still worth the visit just to see the stalls (and old ladies with blankets covered in items on the floor), which extend as far as the eye can see.
Come out of Udel'naya metro station, turn right and walk through the normal market stalls (this is NOT the flea market). Then turn left and cross over the train track, turn right and pass between the other 'halls' of shops until you reach the flea market.
Google map: bit.ly/isnWyH
"Moscow Greater" is one of the best think I have faced in my trips. To be sincere I was a little doubting in asking for the help of "Moscow Greater" and when I applied online I didn't took it seriously, but I really appreciated your being correct and interesting in showing us Mockba :)
Instead of specially trained guides, it’s the inhabitants of the Russian capital themselves who operate the walking tours of the “other” Moscow’s lanes and alleys. They show guests their personal Moscow, the one they know and love… the one that no guide book, even the most detailed, can reveal to tourists.
For sure I'll recommend your "Moscow Greater" to all my friends, because you are Great :)
Thank you and hope to meet again.
Best regards, Orieta
Photo Museum/gallery in one of the loveliest bits of Moscow. Inside I've never seen a boring photo. Sometimes a little subversive, always entertaining, so well composed it's like Eisenstein himself curates. Often they have photos showing what it's like outside Moscow, which show the awesome beauty, and often desolation of the country. There's always a couple of exhibitions, generally a historical or landscape alongside a celeb-focused or art shoot. In a small-ish space, a lot of variety. Cheap to get in too! Price varies, but generally around £5 mark.
Cheap but excellent baked potato outlet on the slopes of Alpika Service, Krasnaya Polyana's longest piste. 150 roubles-about 3GBP will get you a potato and a drink. It's not just cheese and ham either - hot dog sausage in mustard, smoked salmon, russian salad are some of the 20 toppings on offer. You can point to which you want as all are made up in front of you. And they mash the potato interior INTO the sauce. Cool. More toppings = higher price. You can get coffee, cold drinks, even a beer, so this is easily european skiing's most democratic snackplace.
Bottom of Alpika Service slope, very near where you go through the gate to get on the lift. Green hut.
I would like to recommend taking a private tour from Tatiana.
My wife and I visited in summer (2010) and were very pleased with Tatiana's services. With her we entered the museums quickly bypassing the public queue. She is knowledgeable - but doesn't show off by inundating you with endless historical facts and figures as some guides have a tendency to do. We feel she struck a good balance between historical information and interesting stories/anecdotes.
You also have the chance to visit places more off the beaten path. For example as a contrast to the grand palaces Tatiana took us to the former private apartment of a communist leader Kirov. We really enjoyed this visit. I doubt that large groups go there, and think it would be difficult to do independently unless you speak Russian.
Snow is part of Russia's job description. It's all about wrapping up in a big coat, an enormous hat and exploring a place which looks familiar and feels completely alien. St Petersburg gives you bling into the bargain, which makes it just right for a Christmas escape. Better still, with the Russian Christmas falling in January, everything is open on our Christmas day. Head for the Hermitage for an epic world art trawl in all the grandeur you could possibly want, the Russian Museum for Russian painting, sculpture and decorative art, the Museum of Political History for a leap back into Russia's Communist era and Gostinny Dvor to take the retail pulse of the city. On my last day, I discovered Rosphoto, a small photography gallery tucked away amongst apartments and offices – well worth the search.
The best city to visit in winter is St Petersburg, Russia. People enthuse about the White Nights in midsummer, but winter is the time when the sky really is white (or pink or orange or purple) at night from the reflected snow lying on the ground. The combination of pinky skies and light-blue Baroque and yellow Neoclassical architecture under a blanket of white snow (which hides all the dirt you would otherwise see in other seasons) makes for a truly magical sight. The theatre season is in full swing, so this is the best time to catch a world-class opera or ballet at the Mariinsky every night, when prices are at their most reasonable (no festivals to inflate the prices). That nip of vodka or tea round the samovar is all the more welcome when it is freezing outside. The summer residence of Peterhof is actually best visited in winter, when the fountains are switched off and there are no crowds at all in the gardens – only you and the silent pavilions next to the frozen sea, a white blanket extending as far as the eye can see, to the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Rainer Maria Rilke was so entranced when he saw the Grand Palace in winter that he exclaimed: "Das ist ja das Schloss der Winterkönigin!"
At 540m tall this rocket shaped tower is a staggering relic from Russia's communist past and a breathtaking way to begin to understand the size and magnificence of Moscow. I visited in December, it was -20ºc but perched way above the clouds the views are stunning and sun was beating down into the observation deck at the top of the tower.
Who says that a beach needs to be by the sea? The beaches on the mystical Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal provided me with some of the most beautiful views and enjoyable moments of any backpacking trips I have taken.
Staying at Nikita's Homestead I met many other backpackers railing their way across Russia, as well as groups of schoolchildren on their summer vacations; ate large quantities of Baikal's native fish 'omul' and spent many hours on the beaches attempting to brave the lake's freezing waters or watching the sunset with a few beers. As a result of the hectic journey every traveller must endure to reach the island, six hours from the nearest train station, an oasis of relaxation and calm is created.
The owners are incredibly welcoming and have almost single-handedly created the tourist industry on the island. To any backpacker travelling across Russia I thoroughly recommend a visit to the island.
Nikita's Homestead www.olkhon.info/en/
Nearest rail station is Irkutsk (80 hours from Moscow) and from there take a six-hour marshrutka taxi and a ferry from Khuzir to reach the island (almost inaccessible during months when the ice is melting or forming).
Google map: tinyurl.com/348wldl
St. Petersburg is surprisingly easy to get around in on a bike (and nobody minds if you cycle on the sidewalks). Cycling along the Neva in the light rain on a white night is something I'll never forget. Nearby destinations like Pushkin are full of nice trails. It's a great way to beat the crowds in the summer.
The MS Volga Dream is a luxury cruise boat that sails between Moscow and St Petersburg. The experience onboard is genuinely luxurious with amazing food, spacious cabins and beautiful decor. This is a great way to discover the beauty of the Russian countryside along with some ancient villages and islands, which you visit along the way. The cruise takes six days but you should really combine it with a couple of days in both Moscow and St Petersburg.
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