Sitting here in the airport terminal in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, waiting for my flight to London Heathrow before another long journey to York again.
I believe Moscow and Russia on a whole, is probably the most secret and least understood big city, big country, ever. Before coming here, especially because I hardly prepared for my trip here, I knew next to nothing on what they had here, what it was like, what to expect.
The four days spent here, must have been one of the most eye opening experience so far for me. I walked on roads paved almost a thousand years ago, in places that held such huge significance to so many Russians, seen many gothic styled buildings related to Stalin’s rule – also known as the Stalin buildings – which were impressive, seen many of their sights, and so much art – did you know they had so much art spanning almost a thousand years? O traversed time within their complex metro system, with their tracks many many, many meters down underground, causing escalator rides to last minutes, not just a few seconds. The interior was stupendously extravagant, decadently decorated, with marble, huge chandeliers, beautiful lights, especially the red line, the oldest, built during soviet times, and many stations bearing symbols of their rule. It amazes how they did it all. However, the roads and the main streets aren’t like what you see in most of the rest of Europe, nothing much here is. Cars are crazy, walking on streets are a little scary, paths aren’t always well paved, but overall, it wasn’t terrible. I guess I won’t say any place is terrible – unless it really is – but different because every city is different and it isn’t fair to compare one to another because there isn’t one singular dimension you can score it, can you? So if they are not so good on the cleanliness like back home – which is crazy clean, so almost all other places lose already – but they have such rich history, what’s the score now?
Something else I never knew was how religious this country is. Maybe not outwardly so, but the number of cathedrals within sight at any point in time, to me at least, in Moscow, always numbered above 2. And within the city, you’ll always catch a glimpse of beautiful domes representing flames, light, in gold or in a myriad colours, even without similar beliefs as the orthodox Christians, I understand the attraction to these buildings and the beauty that they are.
Whilst I was here alone (sort of), I would not recommend a single non Russian female to come, unless they are conversant in Russian and brave. In retrospect, I’m amazed by my foolhardiness and naivety that I would have been fine here. Thankfully for Svetlana, my ever present precious friend who brought me around and translated and was my voice in communication. Without her, there was no way I could get around, or even find my hostel in the first place. Close to nothing here is written in English, apart from brand names, and only some menus (let’s say 2/9 places we went to) have English translations. I can now read most of the Russian alphabet, which according to Sveta is so easy, only 33 letters! Apart from my illiteracy and muteness in Moscow, I think I found this place extremely charming and the people here are really quite nice. I kind of made friends with the security guard at the corner grocery store near my hostel, and that’s another story altogether. And the hostel guys were really helpful and nice! People we met in restaurants and stores were friendly – if you spoke the language, which we did, thanks to Sveta, spasiba! Harasho! (thank you/ very good) – even giving us full discounts on my countless souvenirs because of our chit chatting and smiles and intensity in choosing them, at least that’s what I’m choosing to believe.
Moscow, I would really recommend, but how to do it I have nothing to offer – get a Russian friend? Or learn the language and get a hold of a good map of the entire Moscow, be alert and maybe you’ll be able to do it yourselves! I’m quite endeared to this secret city, and I do want to come back, for friends, for the sights, for it’s beauty.