When I arrived in Moscow, it was 1986 and this was the heart of the Soviet Union. It was a bit scary as this was as far behind the Iron Curtain as you could be. The Cyrillic alphabet could was daunting enough and the Russian language a complete mystery. Being a group of Americans and Canadians, we were a bit apprehensive. I was on a guided tour with our main, and constant, tour guide from Austria. When our group arrived at the hotel, we check in and went to bed. So far so good. The next morning we were motioned onto a bus and the driver spoke Russian. We at least knew that he was taking us to the Official (meaning only in Soviet times) Tourist City Guide Bureau to collect our Moscow City Guide. OK I made up the name, but that's the way it worked then.
Our Austrian guide was in the office a very long time. He finally came onto the bus and he explained that they had run out of English speaking guides already. He said they were trying to find some other way of accommodating us.
We went off to Red Square and stopped as we had been told the guide would meet us there. Off the bus we came and a lady approached our guide and said something.
OK! Said our Austrian guide. This lady is a German speaking guide so I will translate!
So in the middle of Red Square we were receiving all the information when I realised!
* A Russian
* Speaking German
* To an Austrian
* Speaking English
* To Americans and
* To Canadians!
En las calles de Moscú conviven las estatuas de distintos personajes que vivieron momentos históricos muy distintos, políticos , escritores , militares , obreros,astronautas, artistas, bailarines, zares... pero que todos continúan en sus calles lo cual no deja de ser una muestra de convivencia y respeto a su historia
On the streets of Moscow are living statues of various characters who lived in very different historical moments, politicians, writers, soldiers, workers, astronauts, artists, dancers, czars ... but they all continue on the streets and this is an example of coexistence and respect for their history
To answer my own question:
No, there was not Hot spot along the way.
But I did purchase Small wirless card at the station for 1400 R. It work of of cell network. so the speed were from 14.4 kb and up. (but over all did the job)
Had service most of the trip.
BUT!, when I purchased the card i was told in included 5 GB of useage. But it was not. so I ran out after about 20 minutes. About half way thou the trip I say the some of the kiosk along the tracks sold refill card. So I was able to purchase more minutes.
VT has got competition (maybe):
A call-centre for tourists starts functioning in Moscow today (that’s October 25, 2011)
Said to speak (and hopefully understand) Russian and English.
Appears to be free of charge.
Go try it?
Ok, at first the visa application for US citizens looks complicated and outright intrusive asking very, very personal questions. They want an invitation from a hotel and detailed information about your trip. Western hotel such as the Hilton, Marriott and other high end hotels will fax you an invitation but usually you must pay at least one nights deposit in order for them to send you an invitation.
Instead of going thru all that we went thru a travel company that specializes with Russian visa. The cost was $130 for the visa, $30 for the invitation and $30 for there service and $20 for FEDEX back to your house.
The company is called Travel visa Pro they have 4 different offices all over the states there web site is www.travelvisapro.com
Processing time for the visa was 10 days ...
Highly recommend this service doing it on your own is almost impossible ... Travel Visa pro takes care of everything all you have to do is send your passport in and they take care of the rest,
Hopes this helps ....
If you have safety concerns, you can check up the Interior, too, they speak English, German, Spanish and Arabic.
Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation Public Liaison Office
Tel: + 7 (495) 667-22-21
Sadovaya-Sukharevskaya St. 11, Moscow (click here to locate it on the map)
Nearest Underground stations are Sukharevskaya and Tsvetnoi Boulevard.
By the time you arrive they may have changed their revolutionary name 'militia' to the no-nonsense 'police'.
Every other question about Moscow starts with safety concerns based on shadowy grounds
People in Russia are often literate and read 'Frommers, Fodors, and various other travel magazines', as a VT member had put it, but know better than to believe everything they write - this country, or any other, for that matter.
This is the official site of the Moscow Mayor's office - in English
And this is their page for foreign tourists - English, too
Got a concern? Apply here:
Committee for Tourism of Moscow City
Moscow, 103012, Russia,
Before I went to Moscow, I bought a city map with place names both written with Cyrillic letters and in English.
The city map was a big help when I walked around in Moscow or travelled by the Metro.
When Moscow's crowded streets and manic traffic get too much for you and the thought of another onion dome, museum hall or historic building has you beat, a walk along the the Boulevard Ring (Bulvarnoe Koltso) might be just the revival shot you need.
Referred to as Bulvar by the locals, it's not actually a complete ring but is more like a horseshoe formed by a chain of 10 boulevards beginning and ending at the northern bank of the Moskva River . They were laid out in the early 19th century and follow the lines of the city's 16th century stone fortress wall. Moscow's aristocracy built their mansions along the boulevards and the gardens quickly became the place to see and be seen as the city's high society folk turned it into their favourite promenade either on foot, on horseback or in an open carriage.
It's still the city's favourite place for a walk, and young women on ponies offer horse rides to children - carriages are harder to spot these days.
Beginning at Gogolevsky bulvar (named in honour of 19th-century writer Nikolai Gogol), next to the spanking new white and gold Cathedral of Christ the Savior (and exact replica of the one Stalin demolished) and ending at Yauzsky bulvar will take you a couple of hours and through page after page of Moscow's history. This secton is presided over by a statue of Gogol and artists' stands of art works for sale add colour.
Gogol gets a plinth on Nikitsky bulvar too, in a much more sombre mood - the square here is the junction of Arbat and New Arbat streets.
Keep on walking and you'll come to Tverskoi bulvar, the first to be built and home to an ancient willow tree reputed to be 300 years old. Café Pushkin at No 26 is a faihful reproduction of one of the boulevard's aristocratic mansions with a rooftop terrace that gives you a great view.
Pushkin presides over the square named for him at Strastnoy Bulvar - he's looking pensive up there on his plinth.
Petrovsky bulvar still has lots of its original 19th century buildings and the convent of the Nativity of Our Lady that gave Rozhdestvensky bulvar its name is still standing too.
Chistoprudny bulvar comes after Sretensky bulvar and has a very pretty pond and open air art exhibitions are often staged here but this boulevard is very popular with beer-drinking youths so you might not want to hang around too long.
The Ring ends with Yauza bulvar and the the eastern end of Moskvoretskaya Embankment on the Moskva River.
Starting from the Kremlin and heading north, Tverskaya is the Main Street of Moscow. Stay on it and keep on going, after 700 km you'll get to St. Petersburg but for this tip we'll take a shorter walk, from Mayakovskaya metro station back down the hill to the Kremlin. If you've taken the metro to get to the starting point of the walk, be sure to look up at the ceiling of the station before you leave, the mosaic panels and light fittings are some of the features that earned Mayakovskaya the epiphet of the "most beautiful" of all Moscow's stunning metro stations. Next door to the station, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall plays host to some 300 musical recitals each year.
Before you reach Pushkinskaya (Pushkin Square - where Tverskaya crosses the Boulevard Ring) with its melancholy statue of Russia's favourite poet, over on the right hand side of the street you'll pass a handsome red and white building hung with banners. Once the city's English Club, in Soviet times it became the Revolution Museum. Nowadays it houses the Museum of Contemporary History and is the place to come to check out a vast collection of Bolshevik memorabilia, including Lenin's armoured car which is parked in the forecourt.
Also on the right, and also handsome and red and white, but with not a banner or a hammer and sickle in sight, is the classical edifice that is the office of the Mayor of Moscow. Built for the city's governor-general in the late 1700s, its pediment once more displays a golden image of St George (the patron saint of Moscow) and his Dragon. Down at street level, set into the wall of a nearby building, you'll find a bas-relief portrait of Lenin (photo 5), one of only a handful to survive the post-Soviet purge of images of the heroes of the Revolution.
Across the road from the Mayor's Office, the statue of the equestrian knight is Yury Dolgoruky, the 12th century Prince of the Rus, credited with being the founder of Moscow.
By now you'll certainly have noticed the plethora of exclusive shops that line Tverskaya, making it one of the world's most expensive shopping streets. Believe me - it wasn't like that the first time I came to Moscow, back in 1971. Just about the only survivor from those days is the Yeliseyev Grocery Store at No 14. The lavish decor pre-dates the Revolution - it opened in 1902 - but for the 70 years of Soviet rule only the Party elite had any idea of what lay behind the doors.
You'll find plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way, but the grande dame of the bunch has to be the Hotel National right at the end of the street, opposite the Kremlin. A coffee here will set you back a bunch (maybe as much as $15 - a vodka or a beer will be cheaper) but you'll be sipping it in the company of the ghosts of the the city's Imperial and Revolutionary past who have slept and eaten here since the doors opened in 1903.
The tomb of the unknown soldier is just outside the Kremlin walls and through the gates which lie next to the line to see Lenin's Tomb. The Russian soldiers who guard here stand perfectly still, like at most such memorials.
Fondest memory: There is a changing of the guard here, though I didn't actually get to see it. There is also an eternal flame for remembrance.
If you are a foreigner visiting Moscow for the first time and you need help for anything, check out the following website: http://www.russiangirlfriday.com/.
Russian Girl Friday, aka Olesya, offers a wide range of services for travellers. In anticipation of our train travels in Russia, we contacted Olesya to have her buy our train tickets (which can be a confusing and frustrating experience for first-time tourists to Russia) to Petrozavodsk, Kem' and Saint-Petersburg.
Olesya was very professional and always quick to respond: for every train trip our journey, she gave us all possible train schedules and ticket prices. When we had made our choices, we had to take a leap of faith, as payment for the tickets had to be sent by cash transfer (Western Union). While it is never recommended to send cash payments to people you don't know, we can personally vouch that Olesya is trustworthy.
Once we were in Moscow, we called Olesya, who arranged for us to meet with her brother in front of our apartment building to receive our tickets. Having her phone number with us was also reassuring, since we knew we had someone to call if something went wrong or if we needed anything else.
I've always been one of those who prefer „Plastic Money“ and therefore I travel with minimal cash or T-Cheques.
Here is my tip on getting Money on a cheap and safe way in Moscow...
During my stay I picked up cash at the CitiBank ATM on Tverskaya Street. If you have a Bank Card from CitiBank you can withdraw Money in Rubles or USD without any fees based on daily rates.
There is no easier way to get money.
PS - I don't work for CitiBank, I am just a satisfied customer:-)
I was amused to find out that russian Cyrillic expresses foreigner words transcriptionaly - meaning you write words the same way how you pronunce them.
So here it comes: "Makdonalds" (McDonalds) or "If rosche" (Yves Rocher) :-) It must be very difficult for Russians to learn how to write in English or French.
Anyway if you want a cheap good tasty snack, don´t go to the "Makdonalds", there are many little stands on the streets selling delicious "kartoschki" - big baked potatoes in tinfoil with filling by your choice - butter, cheese, sausage, onion and other typical russian - "I don´t know how it is called" - stuff... yummy!
And some more pictures from Moscow
1.-3. The Red square
4. Still life: "Tualet"- Toilet (I thought for a second she had forgotten to close the door...)
5. Culture - for classical music you do not have to go to a theatre there are musicians playing quite well on the streets or in the subway. I was very impressed by the quality.
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