Russia in a nutshell.
Bigger, uglier, messier, and livelier than St. Pete, Moscow is classic Russia – a mix of nouveaux riches in sports cars and street hustlers looking for wallets. For starters, make a beeline for Red Square, a site of marches and executions over its centuries, to see Vladimir Lenin resting in his mausoleum, St. Basil’s famed multi-colored onion domes and the Kremlin next door. To the east is the KGB Museum (you have to make arrangements to visit) and to the west is the open-air art market along Old Arbat, Moscow’s most famous street. Walk along the curling Moscow River, starting from Gorky Park’s clanking rides and the Azerbaijani hookah-pipe lounges to the Stalinesque monument of Moscow State University on the hilltop. Otherwise get around farther-flung sites (the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, the Novodevichy Convent, the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet performances) by the superb metro -- many of the stations are artworks in themselves (most notably, the frightening bronze soldiers in the Revolution Square stop). Moscow’s prices are soaring -- even old commie-era dumps start at $70.