Karlie Tucker
Karlie Tucker

Metro Roulette

A Less Dangerous Alternative to
Russian Roulette

Written by Karlie Tucker, a Virginia Tech Junior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011

On of my favorite aspects of my time here in Moscow is a spin-off of an iconic Russian past time, which I fondly refer to as Metro Roulette. While the possibility of bodily harm has been removed, there is still a large probability for adventure.

Perhaps it is important to explain the premise of Metro Roulette, the main method by which I explore Moscow. With Metro Roulette a metro line and station are chosen at random and the surrounding area is traversed with no destination in mind and no objectives. This method of exploration has led to the discovery of different areas of the city than I would have otherwise found. From the southern limits of Moscow, to areas within the ring, one of my favorite areas so far is Kitai Gorod.

I visited Kitai Gorod earlier this week with Katie Moore. We have tried to make it a habit of getting out of the hostel and seeing the real Moscow, the

The streets of Kitai Gorod
Enlarge this photo
The streets of Kitai Gorod are older, more quaint, and brighter than the rest of Moscow.

one away from the eyes and travels of our fellow tourists. This venturesomeness caused us to stumble upon Kitai Gorod. Kitai Gorod is perhaps the most beautiful area of Moscow I have uncovered so far. While Red Square is awe-inspiring, the quiet streets of Kitai offer up a different version of Moscow.

It was interesting seeing such a historic area. Many of the buildings are of a different era than the remainder of Moscow. Kitai is a historic area of the city with beautiful architecture, bold buildings and quaint streets that seem so far removed from the rest of Moscow. Here even the pace seems slower, life is calmer and cleaner. It is mainly a business district now, housing large banks and shops, however small cathedrals dot the streets and add to the homey, lived-in feel of the area. Two of the most beautiful churches in Moscow are located here, St. Nicholas at Nikitniki and St. Nicholas the Great Cross, both built during the mid to late 1600s. Like many churches, the Great Cross was destroyed  under

A cathedrals on the streets of Kitai Gorod
Enlarge this photo
One of the cathedrals that line the streets of Kitai Gorod.

Soviet rule but has since been rebuilt. Most of the area around Kitai was destroyed from 1930 to  1960, with only those buildings deemed historic left standing. This led to one of the highest concentrations of medieval churches in Moscow, and one of the most breathtaking street-scapes in the city.

Perhaps it was the weather, which was by far the best we have had since arriving in Moscow, or perhaps it was the fact that we “discovered” Kitai Gorod, but I find it to be the most beautiful and breathtaking area of Moscow, with a different atmosphere than the rest of the city.

Also in this Issue...

  • The Many Applications of Agriculture by Katie Moore
    "I have always been extremely interested in the inner workings of different cultures and I have always hoped to attain a job that encompasses those values (and involves a lot of traveling!). Who would have thought that agriculture would present so many opportunities in international relations? I certainly did not."
  • Confessions of a Coffee Addict in Moscow by Marie Vogler
    "It has gotten to the point where when we get to the counter he asks us, "Coffee?" And I, of course, always say yes. Then we take our coffee and sit down in the booth by the window and watch Moscow go by as we curl our cold fingers around a warm cup o' joe. I don't even have to load up on sugar and cream! I still do, of course, but that's strictly out of habit…"
  • Tough Travels by Shelli Danjean
    "Here, you need to set aside a substantial amount of time to go anywhere. Unless you are going to the Apteka across the street, there is no "quick run to the store". Even then you have to face five flights of steps, the slick ice, and speeding cars. You have to put your life in danger just for a loaf of bread!"

Confessions of a Coffee Addict in Moscow

Written by Marie Vogler, a Virginia Tech Senior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011

Marie Vogler
Marie Vogler

Anybody who knows me knows that I like coffee. In fact, I don’t like coffee—I love it. My enjoyment of it has snowballed into a full-blown 4 to 5 cup-a-day coffee addiction. To me, no matter what time of day or what kind of coffee, it is always a treat, especially when I can share a cup or two with friends. Unfortunately, I learned pretty quickly that Russia doesn’t love coffee as much as I do.

Before we arrived in Moscow, I had been warned that Russia hasn’t quite matched the U.S. as a coffee culture. In other words, good coffee is somewhat hard to come by here. The universally overpriced coffeehouse Starbucks costs a premium in Moscow—somewhere around $8 for a medium latte, steep even for them. Even the McDonald’s coffee here (which I actually prefer to Starbucks —no joke!) costs a lot more than home. In preparation for this, I tried to wean myself off of the drink, or at least dramatically cut back my caffeine intake before I came. When I arrived,

Dance party at our favorite coffeehouse
Enlarge this photo
Dance party at our favorite coffeehouse!

there was a samovar for heating up hot water for tea but not a coffee pot in sight. Russians drink tea regularly throughout the day, as evidenced by the presence in each room of the traditional samovars. Whenever Maksim comes by the hostel, he always requests black tea to go with the cake he often brings. Russians never seem to rush their meals or their drinks. Drinking tea is no exception—tea, to them, I suppose is like coffee to me: always a treat. So I resigned myself to becoming a tea-drinker.

The coffeehouse near our hostel
Enlarge this photo
The coffeehouse near our hostel

I think I’ve had more tea in the last couple of months than I’ve had in the last 21 years. Really, it’s been kind of fun learning about different teas and discovering that if you add a little honey, it’s a great drink in the evening after dinner. I now regularly consume 2-3 cups of tea a day. By the time I get back home, I will likely have another hot drink addiction on my hands!

But it hasn’t been a completely coffee-less semester. I’ve been feeding my addiction through freeze-dried coffee loaded down with sugar and cream—despite the taste, it hasn’t stopped me from indulging in my slightly more diversified coffee drinking habits.  So I was delighted to discover a little coffee shop near our hostel that serves “real” coffee—coffee  Americano, lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. Our group goes there quite frequently and has decided to establish ourselves as regulars. The server is very patient with us as we attempt to order and tries to speak to us in his little English. It has gotten to the point where when we get to the counter he asks us, “Coffee?” And I, of course, always say yes. Then we take our coffee and sit down in the booth by the window and watch Moscow go by as we curl our cold fingers around a warm cup o’ joe. I don’t even have to load up on sugar and cream! I still do, of course, but that’s strictly out of habit…

Though it might be a trivial thing, it has made Moscow seem more like home. Something about having a hot cup in my hand makes me appreciate the fact that I’m here so far away from home and its many comforts and yet I can still enjoy my favorite drink. Coffee, even if it is freeze-dried, is still a treat. Turns out, the smallest comforts make the biggest difference. Whether I’m drinking tea or coffee, I can always enjoy a cup with some of the Americans or Russians. I think the company makes the experience all the more enjoyable—a real treat, in fact.


back to top