Moscow Calling: Tips for the Trip
Fresh from a week in the capital of Russia, I've learned a few things, even though I'm fairly familiar with the city.
My first tip: Use the subway. Travelers unfamiliar with the city should study a map of the system on the way over and hop on it as frequently as possible once they hit the ground. The reason? Traffic is so thick that above-ground commuters get clogged up for hours just trying to get from their hotel to dinner or to the airport. The metro system is well-organized. and at around 40 cents a fare, it's pretty cheap and safe. And many of the stations have spectacular displays of art and sculpure. But for a traveler unfamiliar with the city -- and the Russian language -- the system can be daunting. Fortunately, I used to ride the metro daily for the four years I lived in Moscow in the late 1980s. But, with a little work, even first time visitors can get a hang of the system.
A few other suggestions:
1. Souvenir buyers looking for Matroshka dolls, KGB badges and other Russian originals should head to Izmailovsky Park on a Sunday and ask for the "Vernissage" section. Otherwise, you'll spend the whole day looking around at cheap shoes imported from China.
2. Non-Russian speakers should have the hotel concierge write out the name and address of wherever they are headed in English and Cyrillic. That way if they get lost you can just show the note to someone.
3. Take a good guidebook explaining what is where in Moscow's Tretyakovsky Gallery, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and other major art museums. They have excellent collections but are not at all well labeled. Go in cold and you can easily get lost between the icons and the Perestroika era painters.
Any travelers have tips to share about Russia or other places in Eastern Europe?
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Posted by: Former Resident | October 25, 2007 12:52 PM
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