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Rick Wianecki/My Shot

Ksenia’s Moscow

Today’s I Heart My City comes from Intelligent Travel reader Ksenia Ryabukhina. Ksenia was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and still calls the city home today. Check out her insider tips to the city, then tell us what you love about Moscow in the comments section below.

Moscow is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Red Square. Although it is one of the most famous sites in Moscow, it always gives visitors a unique impression. In the warm summer mornings when the sunlight is gentle, or on a frosty December evening when the square is beautifully decorated, you can sense the centuries of history that this place has witnessed.

When I crave cold cocktails from fresh fruit in summer I always go to Café Ludi Kak Ludi. Cheap prices mean it’s hard to get a table in the evening.

To escape the crowds I head to the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment. There is an amazing view from one of the Stalinist skyscrapers of the bridges across the Yauza and Moscow Rivers. Here you can feel that you’re alone in the big city.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in Krasnaya Presnya Park. In summer families play badminton on the park’s small islands.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with one of the many sculptures in the Ploshchad Revolyutsii metro station. There are 72 sculptures here, some depicting the glory of Soviet days. You will see sculptures of soldiers, farmers, athletes, writers, aviators, and industrial workers. People always rub different sculptures because it is believed to bring luck.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from restaurants and cafés with Russian cuisine it has to be pelmeni with meat. Pelmeni is a traditional Russian meal–balls of meat (or of any other filling) wrapped in a thin dough and then boiled.

Locals know to skip Old and New Arbat Streets and check out the district named Kitay-Gorod instead. Although Old Arbat is a beautiful street and it is a must-see place in Moscow, Kitay-Gorod is not overrun with tourists and shows more of a true Moscow. There are 18th- and 19th-century buildings and many old beautiful churches in the labyrinth of narrow streets. Check out every street and corner between Solyanka Street, Maroseyka Street, and Pokrovsky Boulevard.

Photo ops in my city include views upon the Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and the best vantage points are bridges on the Moscow River.

The most random thing about my city is its multicultural atmosphere. Soviet-style cafés serve chiburekki, a national dish of the Crimean Tatar (also a popular snack in Tajikistan.) The most beloved soup in Russia, borscht, is originally a Ukrainian meal. All the cars and clothes that you will see around will be from Europe or the U.S.

My favorite walking route starts from the Embankment under the Crimean bridge near Gorky Park (Park Kulturi) and heads to the Vorobievy Hills. In summer evenings you can see many romantic couples on this route as well as bikers, in-lane skaters, and joggers.

For a night of dancing, go to Masterskaya. It’s a small club in an old building with stylish interiors. You will feel as if it is a party only for friends and you’re one of them. Or, for live music, check out Proekt OGI.

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Ice Skating, Red Square (Photo: Micah Roseman/My Shot)

In the winter you should go ice skating. There are many skating rinks in the center, for example on the Chistoprudnii Boulevard, on the Red Square, and in Sokolniki Park. This is the best winter activity in Moscow.

In the spring you should go beyond the tourist sites to the heart of the city. Boulevards and streets are all bright from the melting snow, and Moscow citizens start smiling again after a long, cold winter.

In the summer you should take a rest from the heat in one of the city’s numerous parks. There is a beach in the city center near the Crimean Bridge, and there are a couple of beaches on the Moscow River. One beach, Strogino, has beach volleyball, wind-surfing, and other activities.

In the fall you should take long walks on the river embankments or on the boulevard circle, where red and yellow leaves are falling on the streets.

Don’t miss the Maslenitsa festival in late winter. This pancake week is a Russian religious and folk holiday. You can try tasty pancakes, called blini, in Sokolniki Park, on Vasilyevsky Spusk near the Kremlin, in Izmaylovski Park, and in many other places. The festival includes funny winter snow games and samples of various types of toppings for pancakes. The last day of Maslenitsa is Forgiveness Sunday, when everybody asks one another forgiveness.

The best way to see my city is from May to September and only by foot. But you can ask Moscow citizens to drive you through the center at night when it is beautifully illuminated.

The best book about my city is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Bulgakov satirically describes real places in Moscow and fills them with mysterious events. Many Russians of all ages consider this book as their favorite.

Tell us what you love about Moscow. Leave the details in the comments section below.

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Photo: Rick Wianecki/My Shot