Moscow, you’re too kind!
‘People ask me, why are you going to Russia? Well, we should go to Russia before it comes to us right?’ Said my Siberian – now Russian walking tour guide.
I arrived in Moscow at 6am, took the Aeroexpress from the airport and arrived in Moscow city in 40 minutes. The airport clearance was pretty quick and there were clear signs in English so it was easy.
My small nightmare began when I had to lug my luggage to find the metro station. There were no English words at all to the train stations I was going to and as I needed to transfer stations, I needed to go up and down steps to find the metro I wanted to ride on to my hotel. Enter the super helpful man who helped me carry up my luggage when he saw me struggling and also, he pointed me to the right direction for my transfer. Tip for Moscow Metro: When taking the metro, look on the floor for English words, signs and the exit and not above like we usually do, because everything will be in Russian on top.
The moscovites may look really unfriendly, but they’re really kind souls who are really helpful and will go out of your way to help you. One helped me carry my luggage, one came up to me and helped me find the right direction and the very strong Moscow policemen even held me up when I missed a step and fell.
What I loved about Moscow was the metro stations. You can tell from their metro they really put effort in making it a very well run, efficient and beautiful place for commuters. The brain child of Joseph Stalin, he wanted to show the world and the people how wonderful industrialization and communism can be. The result? Beautiful metro stations in different styles that are nothing short of GRAND! My favourites are below.
You can buy the Troika card (50 rubles deposit) and it’s a stored value card and makes your ride only 35 rubles instead of 55 rubles if you buy it per trip. You can stay as long as you want once you’re in. I did a few stops at a go to take photos before I got off at my destination. You can also get the money back when u leave Moscow but I forgot so if you’re heading to Russia, drop me an email I’ll give you mine!
Of course, the Red Square is super beautiful in the day time and also at night. It rained when we were there so we took shelter in GUM shopping mall which was so beautiful. There is also a toilet, which cost 30rubles. I suspect the mall makes all their money from toilet entry and ice cream 😂 You should enter the Kremlin and also the St Basil Cathedral and you can skip the queue by going straight to the machines that sell tickets, they’re hardly used.
I also like the Bolshoi theatre and it’s a short walk from Red Square. The other huge mall TSUM is nearby.
I also highly recommend the moscow free walking tour. Book yours at http://moscowfreetour.com/
The guides work on tips and are very passionate about moscow. Our guide was from Siberia originally and she was funny and gave good tips on times to go to the Kremlin, which is 3pm onwards. It’s closed on Thursdays so please plan your trip well. You can buy tickets online.
On my first day, I went to Gorky Park as sun helps with jet lag and it was a beautiful sunny day when I arrived. I took a short nap on the rattan XXL deck chairs and there is a Garage museum in it which is pretty cool and the flowers were in full bloom.
I stayed at Novotel Kievskaya and it was super convenient and about SG$120 per night. There are nice restaurants, shopping center and supermarket right across it. I also stayed 1 night at Ibis which is the same building, at SG$90 per night. Smaller room but same great location!
The restaurants nearby that I tried and was good was Cafe Odessa Mama just 10 mins walk in a park when u turn left and left again and across the junction behind Macdonald’s. There’s also a 24 hour supermarket near there. The other cafe beside it was Khachapuri (Ukrainskiy Blvd, 7 Moscow 121059 Russia) and it was also good.
My favourite place to eat was Lepim i Varim (Stoleshnikov Lane, 9/1 Moscow 107031 Russia), it had very nice borsch soup and very nice dumplings and it’s just off the very hip Tverskaya street, 15 minutes walk from red square.
Cafe Pushkin is worth a go because it’s very beautiful inside but it was my most expensive meal here. It’s 24 hours and I had lunch. I made a reservation but you can pretty much walk in as it wasn’t crowded. It’s about 20 minutes walk from red square.
For Russian visa for Singaporeans, you need to go to VFS on Cecil street to apply for the visa. You also need an invitation from the hotel you are staying at for the submission for your entire duration in Russia. You need to submit your passport and about $170 and you will get it after a week.
Next year if you have the FIFA tickets 2018, you don’t need a visa. And I’m sure there will be more English signs everywhere for tourists. Oh! Their metro also tells you the next station in English from June 2017 onwards in preparation of tourists. (Lucky me!)
Moscow is really gearing up for FIFA 2018 and they’re making the whole city beautiful for July 2018 so a lot of construction is going on. But it was still really beautiful. Moscow is like her people. People perceived them to be cold, unfriendly and rough but if you look deeper and stay here for a few days, you will realize deep deep down, they are beautiful kind souls.
I had an amazing time in Mosow and my next stop is St Petersburg on the Grand Express! After all, how can you go to Russia and not take the Transiberian railroad which is the longest railway line ever built?