More on Moscow
Moscow Travel Blog› entry 17 of 31 › view all entries
Contrary to popular opinion, I actually thought Moscow is prettier with a mix of European and traditional Russian architecture, including onion-domed churches. The wealth as seen in the fortress or Kremlin has to be seen to be believed ... no wonder the peasants revolted and it is easy for one not to have sympathy for the royalty of that time. If they had spent a fraction of their extravagance on their people, they may have still be on the throne today.
However, the communist era did have their own version of extravagance as evidenced in the Metros of Moscow. Marble, stained glass, gold, brass, chandeliers ... each station with a theme sometimes according to its name, and still beautifully kept unlike in London.
Rather than telling you all about the bricks and mortar we saw, let us talk about the unique things we experienced.
- We attended a cultural show and saw a large bunch of children with the distinct orphanage look, accompanied by a couple of Russian women, and being doted on by a handful of Americans. Could not work out if the Americans had bought the orphans an excursion to the show, or if this was part of their "selection" process or if they had already been adopted. The children were pretty clingy ... quite sad really.
- Entrances to sites around Russia are at American prices. You can easily pay about USD40 to enter all sections of a palace or the Kremlin. Local prices are a fraction of that, and we should have tried as there are plenty of Asian Russians. At one church, Kim jokingly said that he was a student and the woman (without a sense of humour) charged accordingly at about half the normal foreigner rate!
- Our hotel in Moscow, the Izmailovsky Park consists of 5 blocks x 30 storeys x 40 rooms per storey! Despite quite remote from the city it took only 15 minutes by metro from a station located within the hotel complex. But the amazing thing about the place is the market! Largest we have ever seen! Many ordinary Muscovites are extremely well-dressed and this was very obviously where they shop. While Moscow was not on the Old Silk Road, it is certainly on the New Polyester (or Leather, Vinyl, Cotton) Freeway! It is amazing how cheap, fashionable the shoes and clothes were ... and they certainly look expensive when well co-ordinated on them. No need to speak Russian here when shopping ... Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean will also do.
Today we bid "Das Vidanya" to Moscow (accompanied by a traditional up and down wave, rather than the modern side-to-side). It appears we have made it safely ... when we arrived in St P, we were given a 64 page book called "Safe St Petersburg". If we had paid attention to the book, we would have stayed in the hotel for the whole duration! While we felt no more unsafe than in any other big city, there seems to be an undercurrent of danger ... security guards at doors of many buildings, private bodyguards, and in Moscow continual checking of our passports on the street (even though that is more for bribe-taking if we did not have them on us). But as I have said before one often does not feel unsafe until it is too late.
I recommend April-May if you are planning a trip to Moscow and St P. The weather was great (an element of luck) and spring growth was out in Moscow. Just takes a bit of getting used to seeing so many sullen people, especially after the Middle East.