It occurred to me that every blogger has an obligatory "places to go in Moscow" post. Part of the reason I haven't done one is because I'm not much of a "going-out" person. Though I love hanging out with friends and enjoy seeing new places, I'm pretty introverted and am just as content to hang out with a blank Word document and a season of House, MD. Nonetheless, I do manage to leave the house sometimes, and here's what I've collected. Metro stations are in parentheses, using Cyrillic lettering.
- Atlantis Karaoke (Чертаного). I've visited a couple of times with friends. It's a little difficult to find, but when you get there, it's a really great time - even with the 2000r cover charge. The food is okay, the decor lovely (the chairs are comfy!), but best of all is their enormous catalogue of Russian and international pop songs.
- It's a cliche, but go skating at Gorky Park (Октябрскаяа). It's really one of the best winter experiences to be had. Lit up in eerie blue and full of odd turns, it's worth the sore ankles you have for days after. Where else can you drink mulled wine in the middle of a park? I blogged about it before, so for more details go here.
- If you need to get caught up on your literature, head up to Dom Knigi (several locations, but I prefer the one near Арбатская). Literally translating to "House of Books", the store does indeed have thousands of books, but also tons of gifts, maps, educational resources, music, DVDs, and stationery. It is also a nice place to purchase the elusive postcard, of which Moscow has surprisingly few. You can get lost there for an entire afternoon. Best of all, their stock comes in several languages, making it a haven for us dumb expats. (Though I must admit, one of my nerdier habits is to go around photographing famous book titles in Russian.) There's a blog post here.
- The Wooden Doors Anti-Cafe (Лубяанка) is much more suited to my style than a night on the town. A nice, relaxed place to hang out, it offers many different kinds of tea, as well as huge baskets of cookies. Additional food and drink is available at the counter. For this you pay an hourly fee, rather than springing for each item - the point of the recent "anti-cafe" movement. The couches are comfortable, the atmosphere homey, but best of all are the board games. The cafe offers a wide selection, both in Russian and in English. Board game cafes are not a new thing, but Wooden Doors does it very well.
- My top museum in the city is the Tolstoy Literary Museum (Кропоткинскаяа). Just steps away from the Pushkin Literary Museum (interesting, but much less appealing to me), it is believed to be the oldest literary memorial museum in the world - it was founded in 1911, just one year after Tolstoy's death. It's a little low on personal artifacts, since the majority are housed at Yasnaya Polyana (his estate near Tula). However, this is made up for by the huge volume of items related to his writing. We have the requisite scribbled notes, but there are also pieces from his personal library, original editions, and a lot of paraphernalia detailing his literary influence. This includes excerpts from operas and films based on his work, old costumes either dating from the era or lifted from stage and screen, and what essentially amounts to War and Peace fanart. There are rooms dedicated specifically to Anna Karenina and War and Peace, as well as exhibits related to his other works. It is also notable for a large collection of Tolstoy portraits and photographs. A few personal items are included, such as Sofiya Tolstoy's wedding gloves, but in this museum his work is the star. He is my favourite author, so perhaps I'm a tad biased, but it is a highlight for any fan of Russian literature. Blog post here.
- Mybar (Театралнаяа) is an excellent hangout for any expat. It's kind of a hole in the wall, filled with the ubiquitous cigarette smoke of Moscow nightlife and dark enough that you don't notice the wear and tear, but hey, they've got great wings. It's somewhat of a haunt among my school's teachers.
- For a nice dinner, you can check out Guria (Парк Културы), which offers incredible Georgian food for a very decent price. Try their Khachapuri, which is basically a giant pie/pancake stuffed with any kind of filling - I'm partial to their cheese and bean varieties. Georgian is the one culinary type that might be difficult to replicate in Canada, and I'm already in mourning.
Off the top of my head, these are some nice places to explore in the city. I think this is comprehensive enough to appeal to different interests and sensibilities, though it's only a tiny starter. Moscow is the biggest city in Europe, and offers an enormous variety of things to do. Get out and explore!