This visit makes it my sixth trip to Moscow, yet, in many ways, the city is still a mystery to me. Since I usually go out with Mitya and/or his friends and family, I don't pay attention to our route and I don't have a clear sense of where everything is. I know where his parents' apartment is in relation to the city center (i.e., Red Square), Novodevichy Monastery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, and Christ the Savior Cathedral (and the relation of each of these to the other), but for almost everything else, I would be at a loss to locate on a map.
At the same time, though, I do feel like I've seen the main sights in Moscow: Red Square (which includes GUM, the Kremlin, and St. Basil's Cathedral, pictured above), all the main museums and a few secondary ones, Russian writers' homes (Bulgakov and Tolstoy), Novodevichy Monastery, Arbat Street, Christ the Savior Cathedral, Izmailovo Flea Market (although it's not the one I visit to find things for Misha the Bear), Moscow State University, etc., etc., etc. (I haven't been to the Bolshoi yet though! It's on my list.) So, what to do when I've seen almost everything?
Well, my approach was to experience Moscow like a local would - or basically, as if I were actually living there. I looked for events and festivals that I could be interested in, and searched for recommended restaurants and cafes. The resources I used to find events/cafes/restaurants were Spotted by Locals Moscow and the Moscow Times. We were also told by Mitya's friends and family about several events as well. Some of the things we ended up doing were:
1) Going to a craft fair at ArtPlay, a former tea factory that has now been converted into an art exhibition space. I loved the space, too, it was like a mini-city. I was also able to check out Svoya Polka, one of the first secondhand and handmade shops in Russia.
2) Going to a food festival at the Museum of Moscow. They've been popular in the US for about 7-8 years now, but they are just starting to gain traction in Russia.
3) Participating in the Moscow "Bike Parade". Last Sunday, they opened up several lanes of the Garden Ring to cyclists. It was a lot of fun, although I hated the hills under the bridges!
4) Checking out the museums on Museum Night (this one was at the Multimedia Art Museum).
5) I love theater, but haven't seen a play in ages, since I left NYC. So Mitya graciously accompanied me to the Pushkin Theater to see Chekhov's "Cherry Orchard" play.
6) This isn't new, but I do love checking out my favorite flea market on the outskirts of Moscow every time I'm here.
7) We also discovered a new, good, and cheap Georgian restaurant: Vay me!