10 Things I Love about Moscow Right NowPosted: February 27, 2013
Sometimes I long for a holiday away from Moscow; getting around the city can take forever, the pollution is really bad, and you may see nary a smile all day. But most of the time I love it here. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in Russia, but there’s reason that this is my third visit–there’s something so energizing and new about this city, even after all this time. Anyway, here are ten things that I’ve been loving recently.
1. Our new cat:
He is terribly cute, with black and brown stripes, little foldy ears and big, big eyes. In fact, he reminds me a lot of this guy:
It’ll still be a while before all the ice melts, but the sun has been shining all day long, and it has been a low of -5 or so. Bliss! Spring also means Women’s Day (which means chocolate) and Maslenitsa (Shrovetide), a time for blini.
3. The Theatre:
There are about a million different theatres here, many of them extremely good. I didn’t realize how good until I read this list. What’s more, my Russian is finally getting good enough to go to the theatre and enjoy it. In the past month I’ve been to the Mali Teatr, the Stanislavsky, and will be going to the Arts Studio Theatre this weekend. There’s really no reason not to–tickets can be as cheap as 400 roubles.
4. Luxe Living:
The wealth is palpable: you can easily pay $6 for a latte and $1000 for an iphone. There’s a club with a swimming pool on the top floor. There’s VIP coat check at almost every theatre. I don’t like paying the extravagant prices, but I do find the contrasts fascinating: seeing a giant Coffee Mania alongside crumbling cheburechnayas; driving a brand new Lexus while living in a tiny one-bedroom flat. Even English classes are a sign of privilege, which means you can make teaching here a very viable option if you’re smart about it.
5. Easy Traveling:
Easyjet has started flying the London-Moscow route, which means that I just bought a round-trip ticket for a grand total of $225. As more and more Russians have the income to fly abroad, the prices are decreasing and the competition is increasing. Luckily, inner-city transportation has also stayed great. When I leave Russia, I know that marshrutki, shared taxis that go all around the city, will have a special place in my heart. I use public transport every day, and the metro is fast, reliable, and beautiful to look at. Love love love.
6. Fashion Watching:
For pure people watching, no place will ever beat New York. But for watching the women of fashion, Moscow takes the cake. It’s still cold enough to watch women in their beautiful floor-length furs, amazing heels, and tiny Burberry clutches. I may get weird looks for wearing pink lipstick, but my highest heels would never get a second glance.
7. 24/7 Everything:
The working hours of this city are unreal; in my area alone the number of 24-hour shops amount to the following: four supermarkets, two pharmacies, and at least four coffee shops. Further afield you can find 24-hour favourites Respublika (a bookstore), the Sandunovsky Baths and classics like Cafe Pushkin and Starlite Diner, not to mention the countless 24-hour flower shops.
8. The Lack of Tourists:
For such an enormous city, I don’t hear tourist’s voices too often. Maybe I’m oblivious, but I don’t hear a lot of different languages on the street or in the metro, and when I hear English, my ears prick up. That means that there are people in this vast area who have never heard an English-speaker before. That means that you become a kind of special commodity to Russians, and, likewise, there can be quite the bond between foreigners. There are events at almost all the embassies to celebrate this sameness abroad, and you can get in touch with Moscow Interacts or Internations if that’s your thing.
9. New Finds Every Day:
In my experience, in Moscow it can be difficult to escape your comfort zone and check out new restaurants, bars, or openings: there’s no Yelp, no BlogTo, and no Sunday Times supplement. I have found a couple of good tools, though: Cozy Moscow and The Village have been big helps. In print, there’s Element, Time Out Moscow, and The Moscow News.
10. The People:
Recently, I’ve encountered some enormously helpful Muscovites. For instance, the other day I was trying to help a young Italian girl on the metro and, while chatting, I thought we may have missed her stop. To our rescue came about four different Russians, all wanting to help her and speak English. In that same vein, all the Russians I teach are lovely: when you meet Russians in their homes and get to know them, they will feed you with their nicest food, their crunchiest cookies, and their top tea. And look out for the treats you’ll get on your birthday!
That’s all, folks! Have a lovely week!