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Embrace Moscow crazy

The Muscovites’ love of all that is brash and flash is something that cannot be denied.

The Muscovites’ love of all that is brash and flash is something that cannot be denied.

Long forced to keep a low profile under Soviet rule, Moscow is now a place bursting with quirky and sometimes crazy things to see and do.

Here are the top five:

1. The heart of history
The Kremlin and Red Square form a historical hub from which the rest of the city (streets, shops, sidewalks) seems to effortlessly emanate. Venture into both and soak in the Russia of past years.

2. Kitsch is Cool
Muscovites love anything with a theme, the more bizarre the better. Dine like a Ukrainian peasant herder at Shinok. Decorated like a farmhouse, the dining room features haystacks and chicken coops and live barn animals.

3. Bring on the Ballet
Ballet, the epitome of elegance is best experienced at the Bolschoi Theatre (www.bolshoi.ru). The greatest ballet in the world the performances here, such as the Nutcracker, are mesmerizing.

4. Vodka Vapours
Whether they were built as a nationwide hangover cure or not Moscow’s bathhouses are the perfect way to clear the mind and jump-start the body. Sandunovskiye (www.sanduny.ru) is the most reputable bathhouse in town.

5. Fur coats, big bears and dainty dolls

Izmailovo Market is the ultimate destination for any cheap, extravagant, quirky or traditional item you’re after.

The entrance, two impressive dancing bears (carved out of wood), reflects Moscow’s love for all that is lavish and luxurious.

The wooden stalls stock anything from the iconic Matryoshka doll and flame-amber trinkets to fur capes, hats and stoles — a necessity when fighting off the biting cold.

Don’t forget to haggle over the price tag — the extra rubles in your pocket will buy you a well-deserved hot drink for afterwards.

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