What’s Doing in Moscow
Moscow, which once conjured up a vision of a cold, grey, forbidding city that was inhospitable to tourists, is now a welcoming albeit cold place if the outside temperature is any consideration. The capital of Russia, present-day Moscow is alive and open to visitors in living color.
It’s one of the world’s coldest metropolises, the world’s most populated inland city, and the second largest city in Europe after Istanbul, Turkey, with a population of 11.5 million.
The city is beautiful, particularly at night when the Kremlin towers shine and onion domes sparkle in the crisp winter air. Still, few people smile in public. This has less to do with the cold and apparently more to do with a cultural taboo that discourages smiling at strangers, particularly while at work. (It’s important to note that Russians laugh, smile, and joke with friends, however.)
The city is physically delimited by semicircular ring roads such as the Boulevard Ring and Garden Ring that define the location of the top tourist destinations, best restaurants, major hotels, and leading theaters and entertainment venues.
More than perhaps any other city, Moscow is characterized by its coat checks. No one drags a heavy winter coat into a museum or restaurant and virtually every establishment, be it small or large, provides a coat check at no charge, with no tip expected. This practice extends to the most popular clubs on Red October as well.
WHAT TO DO
Start your visit at the Bolshoi Theatre, one of the most famous theaters in the world, and a look at its lesser-known sibling, the Maly Theater nearby will allow the visitor to brag about seeing the big and small attractions in Moscow (bolshoi is Russian for big, and maly means small). The current Bolshoi Theatre first opened its doors in 1776 and re-opened in 2011 after six years of renovations. The five-tier auditorium, a world-renowned opera and ballet venue, is decorated with gilded stucco, ceiling murals, and a magnificent crystal chandelier. Performances are offered daily, so make sure to enjoy the great acoustics of this landmark theatre.