First time I visited Moscow I was just a baby. Big City overwhelmed me, I remember insane amount of people and trying to keep up with my mum, she had this plastic bag with her (very fancy at that time, trust me) with “baton” (something like a fat Russian baguette) in it, so I kept my focus on it, because I was really scared to get lost. We only spend half a day in Moscow, since we were transferring from one train to another. Needless to say I didn’t like Moscow back then, it didn’t help that from my point of you I could only see legs and butts of passing by people, which is not that exciting, the amount of people was also overwhelming and they covered up all of the pretty stuff that you might see around, also train stations are not the best places in particular, so that’s that.
Last time I came to Moscow was about 10 year ago, although no longer a baby, but rather a formed adult, I was still overwhelmed, everyone seemed to be always in a rush, aggravated and downright rude, I took care of my business, rolled my eyes and got the hell out.
So this time around when I took my recent trip to Moscow, I was not expecting anything, having lived in NYC for the past 7 + years I knew that crowds won’t overwhelm me, people rushing somewhere is my jam now, and I can personally speed walked past anyone on a sidewalk any time a day, sarcastic is a new black, so I was prepared to handle any type of rudeness that way.
But when I got to Moscow this time, I was pleasantly surprised, I have discovered that it is in fact - beautiful, something I managed to missed during my “baton” chasing before
Moscow met me with the sea of green, I never knew how many parks it has and everything was blooming, so truly a great time of the year to visit (late May) although I got lucky, because just a week before my visit it snowed, because Russia…
If you want to visit parks you might want to start with Muzeon Park of Arts (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/muzeon) located outside of Krymsky Val building and shared by the modern art division of Tretyakov Gallery and Central House of Artist, it is an open space scuplture garden where you can stroll down look around and enjoy the view of Moscow river, Kremlin etc…
There’s plenty of things to do and you can take one of the designated lanes for bicycles and rollerblades and zip down to Gorky Central Park which moves onto Neskuchny Garden ( http://park-gorkogo.com/en/ns) which according to the web site is advertised as a home of romantic lanes and friendly squirrels, “Neskuchny” literally means not boring, so I am guessing the squirrels are also fun…
And if you feel like you still have some energy to explore, you can follow down the Moscow River and go to Vorobyovy gory (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/vg) where you can find an observation deck with the view of Moscow, it is also a hot spot for the biker community, so you can walk around and look at variety of custom made and not so much motorcycles.
Take a moment to appreciate Main Building of Moscow State University - it is indeed monumental.
Monumental is the world that was on my mind pretty much the whole time I was in Moscow. I have gotten so used to narrow streets of Manhattan and that everything is growing only vertically here, that I was shocked by the amount of space Moscow have, forget narrow streets, it is all about width, size does matter. I think it hit me most of all when I returned to the Red Square (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/545) an adult now, standing in a middle of it, you couldn't help but feel the magnitude of where you are at, you feel the power and strength, you also feel suddenly very small and insignificant, but I guess that was one of the points of it too… Unique is the other world that comes to mind, because this architecture reflects authentic Russian style…
Fun fact the name “Red Square” does not reflect colour (Kremlin used to be white at some point) but rather reflects old Russian world “krasniy” meaning beautiful, which it is.
Another thing worth mentioning is Moscow Subway (Metro). I have travelled around a world a bit and I can honestly say that Moscow subway is one of the most beautiful in the world.
It is also truly reliable, unlike NYC subway, trains in Moscow do not suffer from identity crises, you know when B suddenly decides it wants to run like Q today, or express train last minute start making local stops, but always manages to skip yours… and while usual past time when waiting on your train in NYC includes deciding the level of cuteness among subway rats, you won’t have this opportunity in Moscow, lack of rats is one of the reasons and also trains are coming every 2 minutes (2 minutes people!) and you can see a little countdown clock, so you know exactly when the next train is coming, pretty neat, huh.
Now regarding the rudeness, I might have been extremely lucky this time around but everything I met was extremely polite, I had a number of random pleasant encounters in different places, this might have something to do with the fact that tips are not mandatory in here (again hello NYC), so servers in a restaurants are interested in providing you with the nice experience, but I also had pleasant encounters with people where tips were not involved whatsoever, I tried to get my nails done at one of the salons, but they didn’t have an opening, nevertheless they helped me remove my chipped up nail polish and insisted on me staying over for tea/coffee, who does that??
Couple of other things that stood out to me:
the amount of flower shops, everywhere you look you will find one, or two, it seems like the entire nation is concerned with getting/giving flowers, to understand how important flowers are in this culture you need to know that at some point the was a service that would provide giant flower bouquets for rent, so the girls could take pic with it and post on social media, for some extra money you could also get a luxury brands shopping bags, I mean …
the amount of foreign currency exchange places and amount of foreigners (two might be somehow connected)
Uber is super active and so it Gett, Gett was especially surprising…
the construction - seems like the whole centre is under construction, which leads to infamous traffic … also it might take some time to realize where the hell you can cross the street if you are walking or taking subway
church’s and mosque’s domes are insanely shinny regardless of there sizes even small ones are all dressed up.
feminism is not as widely promoted, so man still think you need there help and not afraid to offer it, which I gladly accepted, because my bags were heavy and I am a delicate flower, but if I am being serious it was curious to see gender roles in action in Russia, which is still very really traditional in many ways.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that it took me some years and traveling all over the world to finally appreciate Moscow, to see it in another light and I am quite happy I was able to. Sometimes beautiful, exciting, unique things are right there and you are missing it, because you are starring at the “baton” picking out of plastic bag…
If you would like to see more images of Moscow Metro please go here - dailym.ai/1WjFPNb
Happy returning to Motherland.