<p>I just used every frequent flier mile that H and I had and redeemed them to visit D2, who is spending the semester in Moscow. Her program keeps her busy all day with only Sunday off. H and I figure we'll be on our own most of the time. I'm studying guide books and a Russian/English Dictionary. We'll be there for 10 days over Thanksgiving. Will probably take a train to St. Petersburg for 4 days and then back to Moscow. I'd welcome any suggestions or advice on must see places or anything else related to travel in Russia.</p>
<p>Do you have your visas? It's something of a pain to get a Russian visa -- and I would highly recommend using a visa service despite the extra cost, unless you live very near a consulate and don't mind spending a long time in line. (There's no real difficulty in getting it, its just that there is a rather convoluted set of requirements for the paperwork -- with Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks, you need to take care of that right away).</p>
<p>Go on a self-directed tour of the subway stations in Moscow. The guidebook I used had a route that featured the most lavishly decorated stations and it was an unusual and fun way to pass the time, especially good for a cold or rainy day. You could probably find a "tour route" on the internet as well.</p>
<p>I memorized the cyrillic alphabet on the plane ride over and am glad I did. It made things easier.</p>
<p>You have more time than you need to see Moscow. You might want to day trip to one of the nearby "Golden Ring" towns, like Sergiyev Posad, to fill the time. There's only about 2 hours worth of stuff to see there, but it's good stuff.</p>
<p>In Moscow, I highly recommend visiting the Tretiakov Gallery and the Kremlin Armory, and in Saint Petersburg, of course, the Hermitage and the Russian Museum were my two favorites. If you can get tickets to any performances of the Mariinsky Ballet (aka Kirov Ballet), that would be incredible. You can find their schedule here Mariinsky</a> theatre.</p>
<p>I second everyone who says get your visas early. Russian Consulates are closed on the Russian as well as the US holidays, and there are plenty of holidays in November. Also, make sure that the visas let you visit both Moscow and Saint Petersburg.</p>
<p>I am going to assume you already have the visa. And the kind that will let you travel while there, correct?
Dress warm. I can't stress that enough. If you are going to be there in winter, streets of Moscow will be perpetually covered in snow. Forget about driving (which is a nightmare), use subway- lkie someone already mentioned the stations are the work of art.
When you are shopping on the streets or in the markets - bargain! Or better yet ask someone local to buy those things for you.
Eat with the locals if you can. Be prepared to drink some vodka :)
Must see restaurants are Pushkin (on Tverskaya) and Central House of Writers (on Povarskaya). The interiors are incredible. Yolki -Palki will serve you a country fair. The nices of those (it is a chain) is located also near Tverskaya (on Bolshaya Dmitrovka).
Make sure you try zakuski (that is what goes with vodka!).
Moskva is huge, but most things worth seeing are in the central district.
St. Petersburg (Leningrad) is one of the most beautiful cities in the workd. It is called Venice of the north. Unfortunately in winter your day will be almost non existent. The time to visit St.Petersburg is June.
On a practicial note - once you arrive in Moscow make a copy of you travel documents including a visa. Always carry this with you. Do not show your passport when stopped by the police (chances are you will be, especially near the Red Square), show them photocopies. They can take it away! They can always find something wrong with it and demand money. Do not stress, that is how they supplement their income. But be prepared. The best quide I found that explains those little "strange" situations is the Lonely Planet.
If you would like to see the ballet or opera performance at the Bolshoy, ask your daughter to purchase the tickets now.
Have fun! Russia is a vast country and Moskva just a small part of it. In it's cental location it is a gem though. People are very warm and friendly. They LOVE music :)
Oh, and memorizing the cyrylic alphabet will help you immensly. Otherwise those signs make mo sense at all!</p>
<p>Bromfield, is your family OK?</p>
<p>I saw this on the evening news, and now I'm worried.</p>
<p>BB--got home last night--jet-lagged, but fine. We were on one of the overnight, express trains from Moscow to St. Petersburg the day before the bombing. Saw news of the incident on the CNN International station and felt very lucky. We had a wonderful visit and did much sight seeing. We walked/took metro everywhere. (I actually lost weight, despite sampling Tibetan, Uzbek, and Azerbaijani cuisine.) D is having a great experience and loves her program. We met her roommate and a number of her friends and took them all out to dinner. It was one of the highlights of the trip.</p>
<p>Bromfield, I was so happy to see your posts. I'm glad that your family is safe and that you had a wonderful time. Now you know why those Russian beauties are so thin :) I strongly recommend re-visiting Saint Petersburg in late June - their "white nights" with the beautifully illuminated bridges are unforgettable.</p>
<p>Definately, Hermitage (St. Petersburg) and there are a lot other very well kept / restored places around the city where zars used to live. Unfortunately, it is too cold to see city of fountains - Petergoff, as this is most memorable place, but it is needs to be in a summer. Be careful, do not flash your credit cards too much, stay with some tourists group.</p>
<p>We spent the better part of two days at the Hermitage. We definitely plan to go back to St. Petersburg. My new son-in-law was born there and immigrated to the US with his parents when he was 6--he also spent the spring semester of his junior year at the St. Petersburg State University; he was a great guide.</p>
<p>Next time go in a summer and visit Petergoff - City of fountains.</p>