Moscow - part 1
Moscow Travel Blog› entry 19 of 129 › view all entries
I canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m in the capital of the â€śevil empireâ€ť that I grew up taught to loathe and fear. The bunch of us have been told to look for people at the train station offering up their apartments (for a nominal cost) for us to stay in. It sounds far more interesting than a hotel. Iâ€™m dying to see how the â€śother sideâ€ť lives. We split up into several apartments but end up staying in the same general neighborhood on the East side of town. The flat is spartan with gaudy wallpaper and old-fashioned but effective radiators by the lace-curtained windows. There are guitars and Central Asian rugs hanging on the walls. A faint oder of stale unfiltered tobacco (and which I will forever associate with all things Russian) hangs in the air. Itâ€™s not as thick as I experienced on the train at least.
The exchange rate is 10 rubles to the dollar. Everything is priced in single digits and even kopecs. That means that with a few US dollars in my pocket, I can afford to buy nearly anything.
Iâ€™m most impressed with the underground Metro system. Each station is uniquely designed and almost museum-like. Some have themes, like the battle of
For a tourist, the one bright star was that a McDonaldâ€™s has opened in town - the first in the country. Although the line snakes outside the building and all the way around an adjacent park, it moves relatively fast because there is a bank of 15 cashiers inside. Big Macs, tasting much like back home, cost about a quarter each. Despite the exorbitant prices for a Russian, itâ€™s the best gig in town for me.
We also saw a few ballets at the world famous Bolshoi. Tickets cost the equivalent of a dollar and cavier on bread only a quarter a piece. I truly feel rich here. The Russians really get into their ballet performances and at the end, they stand up and shout â€śBravo!â€ť throwing big bunches of red roses at the performersâ€™ feet.
Also enjoyed the circuses. They are big family attractions and the performers are astounding. Bear tricks, acrobatics, magic tricksâ€¦ Half of the fun is watching the enjoyment of the audiences. Also saw the amazing Fabrige collection at the Kremlin. And as with Mao, I paid a visit to the tomb of Lenin to see his embalmed body and the clockwork precision of the changing of the guards. Everything is on a grandiose scale.