Really? No, I was not looking for the doll in Moscow. It was seen everywhere and it was hard to avoid seeing them. Well, I went to Moscow for 3 times on different season for company business trip for the sake of firefighting. Though the unfamiliar impression of Russia might freak you out to travel here, it turned out a not so bad experience of traveling here. I get the feeling of totally unfamiliar language, cultures, and foods over Moscow.
Getting Russia visa is a very expensive and complicated process, luckily, it was paid by the company! My multiple entry 1 year visa cost around USD $400 and it needs official reference from the guarantor in Russia.
I was travelling alone in Moscow. It is quite safe to travel alone and no one will bother to talk to you. Security is heavily deployed at every entrance of shopping malls, one needs to go through the metal detector gate and have belongings in bag checked.
Metro is the main transport that one can travel around Moscow without getting trapped in the horrible traffic in center Moscow. The fee per trip has now increased to 55 Rubble and payable with credit cards at some station. One problem taking the metro is that there is no English in their signboards, so make sure you have a Russian version metro map. Then use your brain power to find the matching symbols to find your way to the destination. It was an enjoyable puzzle that I managed to solve every time. The Moscow metro station has retained their heritage of sculptures and they are just wonderful.
You can take taxi within the city but beware of scam that ask for unreasonal price. I always use Russian apps to book for taxi. It is call Yandex Taxi, a local Internet service company. Make sure you buy a prepaid SIM to register an account. It is safe and driver will bring you to your destination as selected in the booking without trying hard to translate.
The only places I visited was the Red Square, Alexander Garden, Kremlin, Basil Church and GUM shopping mall. They are located just beside each other!
Red square is a huge city square in center Moscow. It is always crowded with many tourists and host some special events. I usually get down on Arbatskaya station and walk towards right.
Alexander Garden is the public garden behind the Kremlin. At the end of the garden, it leads to the entry of Kremlin museum. There is ticket office for Kremlin Armoury Chamber and Palace excursion tour. Kremlin Armoury Chanmber is a museum showing artifacts, armor, silverwares and other historical pieces.
GUM is a shopping mall right in the red square. There are many branded shops over there and most of them has very limited space. It is a great place to chill especially when outside is -20 degree Celsius!
Last but not least, you must not miss the chance to visit the infamous Saint Basil’s Cathedral, symbolic icon from the 8-bits Tetris game we played. The story behind the cathedral is very interesting which Ivan The Terrible order to build the cathedral to commemorate the conquer of Kazan and Astrakhan. It consist of 11 churches into a single building with different story behind each of them.
Russian traditional food somehow doesn’t look like western food, it is more like eastern food instead. The most common Russian food is – the dumpling. Yes, the dumpling with soup. It is exactly like the dumpling soup in Korea!
The most popular soup of Russia – borscht soup, a red soup with vege, carrots and potato. The locals like to have the soup with cream.
There are some cheap food yet rich of nutrition that can be found in the food court of shopping mall. Usually you just need to point the dish you want and pay for them. Salad will be weighted and pay for it. The chicken potato soup tasted really good.
Well, travelling to Moscow can be challenging but can be turning out as a fruitful journey when you are able to be just fine staying there. Do experience the winter in Moscow, it can surprise you in many ways.