General impressions, Moscow
Can you believe it - we have beaten both Spain and Greece as budget travelling goes!
Here is what the Backpacker Index says, giving us # 14 - between Bratislava and Prague:
Certainly one of the world’s most important cities, Moscow continues also to be frustrating for many travelers, with relatively few hostels and traveler-friendly budget restaurants. Still, if you can get through the paperwork and find a cheap flight, it’s a fairly cheap place for backpacker-types. Tourist hotels and restaurants can be quite expensive, so even though it’s relatively cheap for backpacker types, Moscow can be a drain for 3-star and above travelers.
Currency: Russian ruble
Cheap/good hostel: TNT Hostel 500/night
Daily Backpacker Index: RUB1488 = US$45.23/day
[ru] Ìîñêâà. Ïîæàëóé, íåò òàêîãî òóðèñòà, êîòîðûé íå çíàë áû îá ýòîì ãîðîäå õîòÿ áû ïîíàñëûøêå. È òî÷íî íåò òàêîãî ÷åëîâåêà, êîòîðûé ïîñåòèâ Ìîñêâó, îñòàëñÿ áû ê íåé ðàâíîäóøíûì. Ìîñêâà çàïîìíèòñÿ ëþáîìó - è â ýòîì å¸ ãëàâíàÿ ïðèìåòà. Ãîðîä ñòîëü ðàçíîïëàíîâûé, ÷òî, íàâåðíîå, è çà ãîä íå ïîëó÷èòñÿ èçó÷èòü åãî ìíîãîâåêîâóþ èñòîðèþ è êóëüòóðíîå íàñëåäèå, ðàâíî êàê è ñîïðèêàñíóòüñÿ ñî âñåìè åãî îñîáåííîñòÿìè, ïðîíèêíóòüñÿ àòìîñôåðîé áûòèÿ, ÷òîáû, â êîíå÷íîì ñ÷¸òå, ïîíÿòü åãî õàðàêòåð. Óçíàâàåìîñòü, íåïðåâçîéä¸ííîñòü, îñíîâàòåëüíîñòü ðåøèòåëüíî âî âñ¸ì - âîò íàèáîëåå ïîäõîäÿùèå äëÿ îïèñàíèÿ Ìîñêâû ñëîâà. Ñëîæíàÿ è ïðîòèâîðå÷èâàÿ èñòîðèÿ íàëîæèëà ñâîé îòïå÷àòîê è íà ãîðîä, è íà åãî æèòåëåé. Íî òåì íå ìåíåå Ìîñêâà îòêðûòà êàæäîìó, êòî ïðîÿâèò ê íåé èñêðåííèé èíòåðåñ. Äëÿ ìåíÿ ýòî ãîðîä ïîäëèííîãî âåëè÷èÿ, óâåðåííî ñìîòðÿùèé â áóäóùåå è íå ïðåäàþùèé çàáâåíèþ ïðîøíîå, ãîðîä òàéí è ëåãåíä. Â èçâåñòíîé ìåðå ÿ ãîâîðþ òàê ïîòîìó, ÷òî ðîäèëñÿ â Ìîñêâå. È êàæäûé, êòî çäåñü âûðîñ, ïîñàäèë äåðåâî, íàø¸ë äðóçåé, âñòåòèë ïåðâóþ ëþáîâü, íàâåðíîå, ðàçäåëèò ìî¸ ìíåíèå. Âåäü ïðè÷àñòíîñòü ê æèçíè ãîðîäà îáÿçûâàåò ê îñîáîìó åãî âîñïðèÿòèþ, ñòðåìëåíèþ ïîääåðæèâàòü ñ íèì ñâÿçü äàæå òîãäà, êîãäà äàâíî óæå æèâåøü â äðóãîé ñòðàíå, èíòåðåñîâàòüñÿ íå òîëüêî èñòîðèåé, íî è åãî ñåãîäíÿøíèì äí¸ì, ïîïóëÿðèçèðîâàòü ïî ìåðå âîçìîæíîñòåé. Áåçóñëîâíî, ÿ ëþáëþ ýòîò ãîðîä. È ÿ çíàþ, êàê ñäåëàòü åãî ëó÷øå! Ïîýòîìó ìîé ñîâåò òóðèñòàì òàêîâ: îáÿçàòåëüíî ïîñåòèòå Ìîñêâó, íî ïîñòàðàéòåñü ïðèíÿòü ãîðîä òàêèì, êàêîâ îí åñòü, è áóäüòå íàñòîé÷èâû â ñòðåìëåíèè óçíàòü äëÿ ñåáÿ íîâîå!
Fondest memory: [ru] Ìîñêâà - ýòî ñâÿçü âðåì¸í, êîòîðîÿ âûðàæåíà â ñòðåìëåíèè ìîñêâè÷åé ñîõðàíèòü è ïðèóìíîæèòü íàñëåäèå ïðåäêîâ. Ïîñòåïåííî ãîðîä ñòàíîâèòñÿ áîëåå îòêðûòûì è ïðèâëåêàòåëüíûì äëÿ òóðèñòîâ. È ÿ ïîëàãàþ, ÷òî áîëåå âñåãî - áëàãîäàðÿ ðåñòàâðàöèè èëè ðåêîíñòðóêöèè áûâøèõ äâîðÿíñêèõ óñàäåá, îáóñòðîéñòâó ìîíàñòûðñêèõ ïîäâîðèé è ãîðîäñêèõ ïàðêîâ. Ðàáîòà ýòà ïîä÷àñ ñîïðÿæåíà ñ î÷åâèäíûìè íåäîñòàòêàìè è îøèáî÷íûìè ðåøåíèÿìè, íî ãëàâíîå, ÷òî ìíîãî îáúåêòîâ áîãàòîãî êóëüòóðíîãî íàñëåäèÿ Ìîñêâû îáðåëè ñåé÷àñ íîâóþ æèçíü. Èç ìàëîèçâåñòíûõ è çàáðîøåííûõ îíè ñòàëè äîñòóïíûìè äëÿ ïîñåùåíèÿ ìîñêâè÷àì è ãîñòÿì ñòîëèöû. Îáíîâë¸ííûå àðõèòåêòóðíîå, ëàíäøàôòíîå è ñàäîâî-ïàðêîâîå óáðàíñòâà Èçìàéëîâà, Êóçüìèíîê, Êóñêîâà, Öàðèöûíà è äðóãèõ èñòîðè÷åñêèõ ìåñòíîñòåé Ìîñêâû òåïåðü âîñïðèíèìàþòñÿ îáùåñòâåííûì ìíåíèåì â íîâîì äëÿ ñåáÿ êà÷åñòâå âèçèòíûõ êàðòî÷åê ãîðîäà.
Favorite thing: you need to get the letter of invitation from there any travel agency who must be approved by ministry of foreign affairs of russia. so, for this i suggest you i-visa . this is approved by mfa. AND ALSO THERE ARE PLENTY OF BUDGET HOTELS WHO MAY ASSIST YOU FOR THIS AS HOTEL COSMOS AND ALSO MANY WEBSITES LIKE WAYTORUSSIA,MYRUSSIANVISA,GOTORUSSIA AND MANY MORE.
Moscow is well worth seeing by night. So a stroll through the city centre of Moscow in darkness is highly recommended.
Not only the illuminated red stars on the top of the Kremlin Towers look fantastic, but also the buildings at Red Square are beautifully illuminated at night.
Apart from that, the city centre bridges over the river Moskva offer panoramic night views of the Kremlin, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as well as the House on the Embankment.
Fondest memory: Manege Square by night
A panoramic view of Moscow can be enjoyed from the Sparrow Hills plateau (Vorobyovy Gory), which is situated just in front of the Moscow State University (MGU).
From here you see the river Moskva River and the Luzhniki Stadium in the forground, the White House and the Kremlin in the middle distance, and some of Stalin's Seven Sisters and the Ostankino TV Tower in the background.
The Sparrow Hills are situated southwest of the city centre. The nearest metro stop is "Vorobyovy Gory" on the red line.
The firm "City Project" (Moscow) is the event agency. It is engaged in the organization of business and tourist trips in Moscow and St.-Petersburg provides following types of service:
1. Selection and booking of hotels meeting requirements of the customer.
2. Supply a transfer from stations and the airports.
3. Supply all spectrums of the necessary services for the organization and carrying out of the business trips which includes planning of the action, realization of rips on a city, the order of necessary transport, the organization of dinners and suppers.
4. Supply the organization cultural and entertaining actions, realization of excursion programs taking into account wishes and requirements of clients.
5. Also we supply the organization of actions (conference, presentation, anniversaries, corporative events, banquets and weddings), which includes creation of the concept of the action and fast track turnkey execution of the action with granting of services in video and photographing.
Fondest memory: Moscow vacation is better than Paris
Don't go to Paris. It is one of the most boring vacations you can imagine. Who cares about the tower. They have one in Las Vegas. It is two times smaller, but you get the idea. Even French are desperate to see the Kremlin. Like the Napoleon for example. He went in a wrong time of the year, but he did get to hang out in the Kremlin. So can you on a Russia vacation.
What's to see in Moscow:
•St. Basil Cathedral
•Cathedral of Christ the Savior
And also I can give you an advice for creative ideas to spend your free time in Moscow.
Not a typical Muscovite, though she was born here, but a very true Russian.
She died yesterday, having celebrated 80 years June 10, 2009.
Her site will hopefully be back, it went down as the whole country rushed there when the news broke out.
Try to find her CD if you want to take home something authentic.
And leave Arbat street alone, please.
Fondest memory: Mp3
The best time for visiting.
Definitely May (forget about occasional showers) and September. If you are a photographer fanatic, and love “postcard views” please come in May or between end-September – first decade of October. You will be rewarded with inexpressible freshness of absolutely everything around in May. You may become like Pushkin after this.
I noticed that the second weekend in October is ultimately the LAST time before the next 6 months of dull, cold and slushy weather.
Fondest memory: Raining. As any other thing our rain is special:). Do not worry, it is also consists of water!
Summer rains are heavy and transient showers. I like thunders. they are simply gorgeous, especially in May. Even Alexander Pushkin loved them and said directly: “I love a thunderstorm in May beginning!”. Other seasons our rains vary between drizzle and sprinkle, and usually incessant. Good time to take some cold...
Just came back from Moscow & St Petersburg last week.It is quite safe in the main touristic areas during day, night times & even at 12.30am doing the metro or walking the main streets.
There are also police & security people around every block.
Ive seen girls walking alone or in groups & seemed pretty safe.One have to take the usual precautions as in every large city.
Seeing just how much Moscow has changed in these last years was a real pleasure. Memories of drab and dismal streets and people were swept away by the sights and sounds of a city reborn. Yes, the traffic is dreadful, and we know there are many problems, but the overall impression is of a city and its people enjoying life, and it's great.
Fondest memory: People everywhere enjoying themselves, busy in their own lives -shopping, eating, drinking (beer on the metro!), families in parks and gardens, people of all ages attending church, sightseeing, crowds of young people heading for a rock concert at the giant sports stadium near Novadavechy, lots more.
Well moscow is many things to different people.
For the uncultured like me, i say to people like me, go and see the museums and the art galleries. hey am not joking.
The kremlin armoury museum is unbelievable, and the jewelry part is drop dead fantastic.
Also the tcherkovsky art gallery is worth a look at.
So do not just look at the gentlemans clubs where girls of negotiable affections work.
Spend time visiting red square, and the areas outside.
Also use the metro in preferance to taxis, and learn some russian .
Also go to the market in Izhmailovo,and do some shopping there for fantastic clothes.
Also dont forget to take your passport, and travel documents with you when you go out.
Me and my Russian g/f got stopped outside the kremlin,and the copper laughed when i lost one of my documents ( my G/F pannicked like hell)..He saw i was on a Uk EEC passport, and bought us a coffee.he spoke good English,and we chatted for about 20mins about football.The police have a job to do protecting us from terrorists, dont be offended if you get asked to see your documents
Fondest memory: i have just many fantastic memories of moscow.
From the friendly girls who charge $100 in the hotel bar, at the izhmailovo beta, and who were happy to chat to me and my girlfriend.
To the fantastic sites we have seen all over the city.its just a fantastic place.
The food is fantastic in the restraunts.
For me there is no culture difference to England,and i would say that it is more like England than any other country in Europe
INCOMING FOREIGN TOURISTS
Country 2004 - 2003 - 2002
01 Poland 353,986 - 956,188 - 979,613
02 Germany 351,099 - 288,551 - 287,255
03 China 283,839 - 203,264 - 266,984
04 Finland 242,816 - 242,075 - 229,863
05 USA 181,721 - 125,553 - 110,079
06 France 141,113 - 118,548 - 80,322
07 Italy 125,397 - 114,443 - 101,675
08 Britain 115,622 - 90,831 - 67,202
09 Ukraine 84,320 - 236,289 - 260,053
10 Estonia 74,165 - 53,884 - 43,936
Total number of tourists 2,860,802 - 3,151,915 - 3,105,563
Visitors from W. Europe are increasing, but this figure is inflated due to businessmen who take toursist visas which are easier to get. Numbers from Poland, Ukraine and some CIS countries are falling due to new Russian visa requirements. Many Chinese visitors are likely suitcase traders and other businessmen rather than genuine tourists. Reasons given for the decline in tourist numbers is often given as corruption, visa problems, poor infrastructure as well as high costs.
Russian visas are very expensive. My last multiple entry visa cost me EUR 800 including invitations, visa and service fees. My last single entry visa cost me EUR 200.
Source: Federal Border Service
Fondest memory: OUTGOING RUSSIAN TOURISTS
Country 2004 - 2003 - 2002
01 Turkey 1,445,815 - 1,038,593 - 690,098
02 China 941,032 - 687,521 - 617,130
03 Egypt 586,375 - 368,405 - 239,712
04 Finland 377,067 - 327,246 - 406,236
05 Poland 322,030 - 422,003 - 635,451
06 Germany 255,954 - 278,094 - 208,977
07 Spain 190,891 - 227,870 - 227,870
08 UAE 175,187 - 145,796 - 172,558
09 Italy 156,093 - 118,981 - 149,710
10 France 138,459 - 112,149 - 87,363
Total number of tourists 6,557,116 - 5,678,447 - 5,051,305
More and more Russian tourists are traveling. Although visa restrictions play an important role in where Russians take their vacation, as incomes increase they are being welcomed farther afield than ever before.
Cyprus slapped visa restrictions on Russian tourists in 2004 and the resulting visits plummetted. Since then Cyprus has hired additional staff for their embassy and consulates in Russia and reduced the time needed to get a tourist visa to one day. There is now no cost for the visa either.
Source: Federal Border Service
Kruchchoyovki blocks are those horribly unaesthetic concrete apartment buildings that you see all over Russia, the former Soviet Union, and many satelite country cities, such as Prague, Budapest and Bratislava, too. They are named after Nikita Kruschev who saw them as a low-cost way to house workers and alleviate a housing shortage.
Moscow has over 13.000 of these 5-9-12-17 & 21 story buildings, which were built between the 1950s and 70s. They are mainly small, one, two and three-bedroom apartments with tiny bathrooms and closet-sized kitchens. Without almost any maintenance since they were built, they are now mostly very shabby and in need of serious repairs. Cooking and the odors from neighboring apartments often permeate the hallways, stairwells and creaking elevators.
However, after the disolution of the USSR, many long-time residents were given these apartments, and they remain many families largest form of private equity. Be it ever so humble there is no place like home, and at least they do not have to pay rent.
On the positive side are that they all generally have a common area or a park near or around them, so at least the residents have some green space and a sense of community connected to their dreary apartments.
Fondest memory: In areas of the former USSR where there are earthquake dangers, these pre-fabricated apartment buildings can also be death-traps as they tend to cave-in, especially if the foundation is poor and not earthquake resistant.
However, cheap, affordable housing is still very much in demand. Moscow had an official population of over 11.2 mio in 2004, up from 8.7 mio in 1999, and a much larger unofficial population, as migrants from all over the former Soviet Union and from Russia's regions flock to Moscow for work or study. Replacing all these antiquated, and sub-standard buildings will take decades. And, in decades, we will likely still see many standing unfortunately.
So, what can a tourist really learn about the country they are visiting? A short term stay of less than 2-weeks really only gives you a glimpse of a country. You do not understand the country, its history or its people. You only have a general impression.
I lived in the Ukraine for one year and then in Moscow for another 7-months. I work for a Russian company, and have many Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian colleagues. I have been doing business in the area for years, and have even read quite a bit about its history. Yet, what do I understand about Russia and Russians? Not that much really.
It is a difficult country to come to terms with. There are many anomalies and contradictions inherent in Russia and its people. Also, even in the space of a few years, previous perceptions can later appear woefully out of date.
Also, the (mostly liberal) Press in the West further muddies the waters by often painting inaccurate portraits of life in Russia. The demonstrations recently by seniors who have lost their Soviet era benefits in kind are not liberal. They do not want democracy. They want their benefits back. They are not so much interested in reform. They're concerned about the price of bread. Like in Soviet times, they want the state to take care of them. To pretend otherwise is just to fool yourself.
I don't know what I decided to write this? Perhaps a cautionary note for all VTers who write glib tips and travel pages about countries they barely know? Or perhaps that I have also been guilty of pretending to write from a position of knowing when all I had really was a glimpse of the true picture?
Fondest memory: This photograph was originally taken by Reuters, but then used by the Moscow Times, and just recently showed up in the Economist. I thought what the heck, I'll use it too.
There has been no solution put forward to solve the impasse over the monetisation of social benefits, although initial blame has been heaped on the doorstep of the parliament and the regional authorities by Mr. Putin perhaps indicating that he is preparing a partial backdown.
However, officials are insisting that due to higher than expected oil & gas prices that Russia may be able to afford extra benefits without dipping into its oil stabilization fund, a prospect that had deeply unnerved markets.
Fondest memory: Pensions which average R2000 ($72) per month would cost the government about $3.6 billion this year. A proposed increase of R240 per month is not likely to placate upset seniors, disabled workers and the police and military that face losing access to free medical care, public transport, and subsidized housing.