So here I am, with my first post on this brand new blog, writing about one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever visited.
Moscow was at the top of my must-see list, together with Bucharest which I’ll visit in October, and I can finally tick it off!
Why did I fall in love with Moscow?
My Love Story With Moscow
My love story with Moscow begins 6 years ago, when the novel Metro 2033 has been published in Italy.
The novel is about a post-apocalyptic Moscow destroyed by nuclear explosions. The few lucky citizens of Moscow who were in the metro during the explosions were able to survive and live in the metro for years, fighting against monsters, hanger and thirst, and diseases.
Artyom, a young guy, travels around the whole metro to save the population from the Dark Ones.
Anyway, I don’t want to spoiler the book here. If you didn’t read it, shame on you! Go and read it now.
The novel describes in details the metro of Moscow, and a bit of the city too. When I read the novel for the first time, I was fascinated by this amazing thing that is the metro in Moscow. Could it really be this amazing? Well, my friend, it is.
Now that I’ve been in Moscow and that I’ve seen the metro in this city, I can say being 100% sure that it is beautiful over any measure. I tried to see all the stations mentioned in the book, but there are so many, and I was not able to.
I visited all the stations on the brown line, the ring, the richest stations in the book. And also in reality, they seem to be the best looking ones.
The metro is not the only thing that ties me to Moscow. I have friends here and I kept contacts with them for many years from when we met. I really wanted to meet them again, and I was finally able to! And we had so much fun.
There’s one last thing. Moscow is not New York. You are in a capital, but it does not look like that. New York is a mess, there are people around at any time, any day. Moscow is quiet. Not quiet like a small unknown village, but it’s not chaotic. You can walk everywhere without problems, you have everything you might need, but still, at night, everything is quiet, like if the city itself is sleeping. Coming from a small town in Italy, this is very important to me.
I hate the fact that I don’t have everything I’d like to have in my city, but it’s the quiet. Moscow, like only a few other capitals, has both things. It’s quiet, and has everything.
Getting Into Russia
Getting into Russia is not easy like it seems. The VISA is complicated and expensive.
There are companies that specialize in making VISAs for you. I’d suggest you to contact one in your country, and let them do their job.
They will charge you an additional fee, but if in your city there’s not a Russian embassy, you will probably need to get tickets for the trains to go where there is one or drive (2 round-trips in total), and the money spent for the tickets or for the gas would be the same that you give to the company for their service.
So, just let them do everything for you.
The VISA is the only thing worth to mention. For the flights, I don’t think there’s any problem with them. I flown with Aeroflot and it was a safe and good flight. They served snacks, drinks and a meal, which sucks like with any other airline, but there’s one at least.
Attractions and Sight-Seeing
Obviously the metro is not the only thing to see in Moscow, even if I think is one of the best things that the city has to offer.
The Kremlin is there, with its red stars and the cathedrals. I didn’t have a chance to visit the Kremlin itself inside, but I entered inside the walls and visited the cathedrals and the Tsar Cannon and Bell.
Another thing that I liked a lot, is the Park Kolomenskoye. I went here to see the garden, and at some point I just followed the wrong path and got lost. I have never been so happy to get lost somewhere. The park is amazing. I started following random paths and walked for about two hours in the park, walking through the apple’s trees field, across the river and seeing the various churches and palaces inside of it.
It’s huge, believe me, huge. After two hours of walking I had to come back, but there was another half of the park still to explore.
These are the things that I think are absolutely worth seeing if you go to Moscow. There are other things as well. I’d suggest you to take a look at the guides on Trip Advisor, they were very helpful to me.
Restaurants and Pubs
I tried many restaurants during my stay.
The best dinner I had was at the Grand Cafe Dr. Zhivago. A friend brought me here for a dinner. She booked in advance, and luckily she did! The restaurant is always full, even if it’s open 24hrs. The food here was very good and the waiters were kind.
The restaurant itself looks very cool and old style, but elegant. I’d definitely suggest you to book a table and have a meal here. Everything they serve is Russian, so if you are searching for a Russian meal, here is where you need to go.
Other restaurants worth mentioning are:
– Torro Grill, close to the Paveletskaya metro station, very easy to reach;
– Zinger Grill, on Arbat Street;
– Jon Joli, also near the Paveletskaya stations and easy to reach;
– Let’s Rock, right in the city center.
How To Move Around
As you probably guess, I loved to spend much of my time in the metro. It’s the easiest way to move around. You can go anywhere in this awesome city by metro.
The ticket costs 50 RUB for one ride. You can get the ticket at the automatic machines in each station, for a single or double ride.
Otherwise, if you plan to use the metro a lot, you can get a TROIKA card. Just go at the ticket counter, those with the word “KACCA” on them, say “TROIKA” and give them 250/300 RUB. The card costs 50 RUB, but you can charge it with more money to have multiple rides available. 300 RUB on the card are about 7/8 rides. You can re-charge the card at the yellow machines in the stations.
The metro is messy around 8/9am and 6pm, because people go or get out from work. Also it’s not a good idea to use the metro if you carry a luggage from/to the airport.
In terms of airports, I can only speak for the SVO. Depending on where is your hotel, you might want to use the trains or Uber. There’s a train named AEROEXPRESS that goes from SVO to the Belorusskaya metro station. This station is on the brown line, the circle, and it’s a node with the green line. From there is very easy to get anywhere else.
If you prefer to not use the train and the metro, as I did when I arrived here, avoid the taxi at all costs. They are expensive and they will try to scam you. Order a Uber.
Uber in Moscow is ridiculously cheap. From SVO to the Paveletskaya I paid about 850 RUB. For any ride in the city I paid between 200 and 500 RUB.
If you don’t speak Russian, you will have a hard time at the beginning in Moscow. In Russia about 90% of the population does not speak English.
It would be a good idea to learn at least the most common and useful things, and the cyrillic alphabet. If you know it, you can easily move using the metro and find things on the map without translating with your smartphone every 2 seconds.
I found it very useful to read the names of the metro stations in Russian comparing them to their English name. That way, you can quickly learn what the cyrillic letters compare in English, and start reading everything easily.
I’m writing this post from my hotel room, before to go to sleep early to catch my flight tomorrow morning. I’d love to stay here more, to meet my friends again, and to fall in love again and again with the city. But sadly, I have to go back to Italy.
I hope to come back next year and explore the city again, see new things, and make new friends, and hopefully, learn more Russian!
If you are thinking to visit Moscow, please don’t hesitate. Go and visit it. It’s one of the best cities I’ve ever seen, and I suggest to everyone to go here at least once in your life.