A week in Moscow
Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
58Trip End Jun 01, 2011
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Where I stayed
Home from Home Hostel, Arbat, Moscow
Apparently Moscow occupies No. 1 spot as the most expensive and most unfriendly city in the world. Maybe these are old polls, the city has and continues to change at a pace, and that was certainly not our experience during our week there. Just as the guidebook said, it was 'a treat and a challenge' exploring Moscow.
The treats: our city centre hostel located in Arbat - equivalent of 40 pounds a night for a private room and probably the largest bed we've ever slept in. The hostel was a little rough round the edges, but the staff, the location and price made up for all its failings, and then some.
Packed with historically significant and architecturally magnificent sights, the city constantly impressed us, from the grey cobbled expanse of Red Square with its kaleidoscopic icon of Russia, St Basil's Cathedral, the imposing and awe-inspiring Kremlin, the Byzantine cathedrals scattered throughout the city, gold domes shining like beacons, Stalin's gigantic neoclassical skyscrapers - the Seven Sisters, the mighty metro - incredible in terms of design and punctuality, and for Phil the sheer number of killer heels, tiny dresses and some of the longest legs ever seen
In terms of challenges: It was seriously hot, 30'C plus, which took some acclimatising to and wow, what a tongue twister of a language! We mastered a few words that sometimes raised a smile, sometimes not. Most locals expected us to speak Russian with an attitude of 'you are in my country, you use my language'. You can't say fairer than that! We became adept at reading the place names in Cyrillic in the metro and sign language seemed to get us quite a long way. We had a lot of fun, generally people were pretty patient, but I'd definitely recommend a short course in Russian before a visit. And after our escapade with a Russian fur hat we seriously wished we'd taken our own advice!
I'd promised my father a hat, so we spent an entertaining day shopping, with Phil being my hat model (a pretty big ask in 30'C+ heat!) Hat purchased, we returned to the hostel to enquire about post. The kind hostel staff wrote us a note in Russian outlining our wish to have the hat delivered to the UK. We tried two post offices, each time we queued for 40 minutes, reached the desk, produced the note, only to be pointed out of the building and away
So, after an amazing week in Moscow, with a few ups and a few downs (the tap water definitely didn't agree with us!) we're now looking ahead to our Trans-Siberian-Mongolian railway journey
We'll next report in in Beijing as we're travelling low-tech (unlike many travellers here) and will be incommunicado en route.
Da svidaniya for now, Nickie & Phil XX