I'm traveling to Moscow (and likely St. Petersburg as well)! Tell me all your best resources, materials, and hacks!
I'll be visiting Moscow (and possibly St. Petersburg) from March 14-24. Yes I know it's a shitty time of year weather-wise, but it was the best option for all parties involved given schedules and budget. I and my travel partner are visiting friends who live there who are planning on showing us a good time, but we'll be on our own during the days while they are at work. I picked up a Moscow Lonely Planet already and am getting the visa process started this week.
What I seek here are the hive's best resources that I can check out now to be best prepared for my trip. Things like:
-For studying the basics of the alphabet and language and basic phrases and vocab over the next few months (no Rosetta Stone please as I find it to me more than I need for this trip and also rather cost prohibitive at this time)
-For help while I'm there (translation/pronunciation kinds of things).
-Transit apps (maps, schedules?)
-other fun apps recommending places to go in the surrounding area (similar to Yelp or Not For Tourists) if such a thing exists.
-best brief histories of Russia.
-I'm already reading Anna Karenina, but contemporary travel writing or the like would be appreciated. For example, I loved reading The City of Falling Angels by Berendt
in preparation for my trip to Venice.
-Any local or expat websites to peruse beforehand
-Also, even though it's a crappy time of year to be there, if you know of anything happening during those dates that is not to be missed, please do tell!
I don't really need food or hotel recommendations as most meals will be shared with our hosts and we will be staying with them as well.
Personal details that may or may not be relevant: Two people (m and f, not a couple), early 30s, NYers with the usual cosmopolitan interests, pretty tight budget.
Any other materials or hacks that made your trip easier or enriched are much appreciated!