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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo
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    No climate, just bad weather

    by Muscovite Updated Apr 1, 2014

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    It’s mid-April 2011, for God’s sake, and it snows cats and dogs!
    And atmospheric pressure 713 mm, all-time record.
    No wonder Yuri Gagarin chose to seek escape in space 50 years ago this day.

    It's a trend!
    - Same weather April 2014. Talk about global warming...

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    New Russian Toilet

    by Muscovite Updated Jan 30, 2014

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    Some three – four years ago the city authorities promised to introduce a ‘new generation’ public toilet -et voilà! They were immediately nicknamed ‘golden toilets’ – because of their dull yellow colour, but much more because of the huge public investment– a good billion roubles!

    This solid structure can frighten away any vandal, and a needy Muscovite, too. I have seen these new ‘double-room’ public toilets next to metro stations, in parks and gardens, but I have never ever seen anyone getting in or out, not even approaching them. Russians prefer personal service and regard anything automatic with suspicion. What indeed, if this self-opening door would actually keep closed, for you to spend the night there? Your mobile will be of no use with these thick iron walls!

    However, just the other day I walked along the Maiden Field boulevard – a nice quiet place, just off the busy Garden Ring. The mighty cubicle stands there, right in the middle. And I saw someone’s receipt left hanging out of the payment machine.

    The procedure is pretty complicated – first you buy the entrance card, the fare depends on entrance numbers:
    1 entrance – 40 roubles
    2 entrances – 60 roubles
    3 entrances – 90 roubles
    4 entrances – 150 roubles
    Note: you can only pay with 10 roubles’ coins!
    Then you press the card against the validator and get in. ten minutes later you are supposed to be out. Hopefully.
    The ‘nature castle’ speaks English, too – they say...

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Moveable feasts

    by Muscovite Written May 5, 2012

    No wonder Old Hem was so popular in the old Soviet Union, you will hardly ever bump into a ‘moveable feast’ elsewhere, while here they come in legions!

    Watch this:
    May 1, the Labour Day, is a holiday
    May 9, the Victory Day, is a holiday
    Saturdays and Sundays are days-off
    Question: when do approach an office in Russia not to see a closed door in front of your nose?

    Simple! You move days-off before and after, so that folks could go to their ‘dachas’ in the country, and see what you’ve got!

    Good to know your dates before you set out for a trip.

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    ALWAYS CARRY ADEQUATE TRAVEL INSURANCE

    by DennyP Written Dec 24, 2011

    TRAVEL INSURANCE
    .. One of the first things that I organise when getting ready for a trip is " Travel Insurance" I usually include a few different clauses that obviously cost a little extra but I feel well worth the cost. The main one is the medical side ..in case of accident for doctor and Hospital cover or the worst scenario being repatriation. I make sure that this is included as I have seen some travellers foolishly with many medical problems of cost etc created by an accident, just a simple accident created by too much alcohol.
    Obviously depending where your travels take you the costs of the insurance vary. Usually medical costs are horrendous and sometimes the medical and hospital services are just not there. Also not only medical if you are visiting dangerous areas they automatically create larger costs for your insurance. I am not a thrill seeker and don't jump off bridges or out of aeroplanes ,and try and keep my costs to a minimum. I also travel budget and understand that a lot of travellers say that they cannot afford travel insurance..
    I also know what its like to be robbed and in a foriegn place with little money on hand.
    As the say: DONT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Days of going wild

    by Muscovite Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ‘Days of’ should really be ‘days off’ for anyone who is not into mass folly.

    We have ‘Days of’ for practically any trade and profession – doctors, postmen, sailors and even us, linguists. May 27, for example, is the Day of Librarians, while May 28 is the Day of Border Guards. Feel the difference?

    Librarians, for some reason, spend their holiday at their working place, quietly and to the readers’ advantage.

    No such nonsense for our brave Border Guards. They would pump themselves with beer and splash all the fountains in the Gorky park and nearby. They think they all look like Anita Ekberg, or what?

    Photo: courtesy http://www.ogoniok.com/5049/7/

    But that’s a modest and quiet holidaying compared with what the place suffers when Airborne Troopers get loose - that’s August 02. Beware.

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    stray cat strut

    by MrBill Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    That cute little kitten you see on the street may not be very clean. That friendly dog looking for a few hand-outs with his big, begging eyes may be more than hungry. As compelling as showing a little compassion may be, lot's of street animals, left to fend for themselves, can be dirty or worse carrying fleas or other diseases.

    In the worst case, some of these animals have come into direct contact with wild foxes who might be transmitting rabies, espeically in out-lying areas or near parks & riverbanks where wild dogs, cats, rats & foxes may cohabitate.

    Authorities report up to 40.000 stray dogs in the Moscow area alone and they in turn come into contact with other domestic animals and hence their owners or passerbies, too.

    At the very least, unclean dogs & cats may simply be dirty. I had a severe allergic reaction the other day to a kitten I was petting. Although it has a home, he plays on the street and comes into contact with other cats, and I reacted very strongly to his cat dander most likely? In any case, my eye was completely swollen shut the next day and I needed to take anti-histamines for several days until the swelling went down. Now, I am much more careful.

    What to do? If you must, leave food out for that stray you feel so sorry for. However, this will more than likely encourage her to have more offspring that will also live on the streets. It is perhaps better to make a donation to the local SPCA for the sterilization of stray animals. This is very expensive for local authorities to carry out, but much more humane than gathering them up and having them put down.

    Please find below the links for some humane societies which have programs operating in Russia.

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  • Pyotr_Pushkin's Profile Photo

    Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies

    by Pyotr_Pushkin Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Let me start by saying that Moscow is full of dogs. Lots and lots of stray dogs, for that matter and lots of lovely white fluffy snow.

    Incidentally, I should tell you now that with all this snow over the last six months Liz and I have become the William Tells of Moscow, regularly shooting out targets 100s of yards away with a snowball. But all this snow over the last six months - something like six feet of it - has presented the State with a big question - where do we dump it all? The answer? In the wee courtyard down the road from us where, incidentally, everyone walks their dogs of course!

    This courtyard is piled high with mountains of snow and with all the melting recently, we've noticed that the outer fluffy brilliant white layer of the snow has started to change. Looking a little closer, I realised that horrifyingly, it has changed to reveal six months of canine bowel movements. Frozen and forgotten, but now thawing to reveal mysterious ancient 'fossils'.   

    Making snowballs in this courtyard was nearly my second mistake.
    _____________

    I should add that cats are also to be found everywhere in Moscow. We see kittens being sold by trades-people in the metro, usually peeking their tiny heads out from under scarves or paper bags. At first this seems cruel but each kitten comes with a certificate (apparently) and they generally look in pretty good shape. I suspect though that they also come with lots of unknown bacteria and a 7 foot guarantee (step away seven feet and the guarantee expires!).

    We spotted a sale at a market yesterday of a tiny but gorgeous kitten that looked a little like the one pictured adjacent, but cuter and less like Mr Tinkles.... Anyway, a crowd of envious on-lookers, with us, all "oh-ed and agh-ed" as she and her young daughter made up their minds. It didn't take long and soon the little kitten had a new owner and was tucked inside a big fur coat as they made their way to her new home.

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  • kris-t's Profile Photo

    Toothache

    by kris-t Updated Jan 8, 2011

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    If you need help go to "Zdorovoe pokolenie" (Lesteva st, metro Shabolovskaya). The best service for whole family (better than in Canada) with a reasonable price.

    High quality materials only - you'll never get amalgam there.

    Any doctor there (Pugacheva, Borcova etc) is good but we recommend Aref'eva Tatyana.

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    Moscow weather -winter

    by kris-t Updated Jan 8, 2011

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    Last few years Moscow's winters were more as european than as russian but sometimes weather remains you where you are :) This winter (2010-2011) present us some really cold weeks till -32 C (-22F) and icy rains and we got some problems with that - transport, electricity etc.

    But nature is especially beautiful in winter time... After al winter is a wonderful time for touring Russia. It will give you the opportunity to feel the beauty of Russian winter.

    And... In winter like that you can easy understand why fur-caps and fur-coats are so popular in Russia.

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  • kris-t's Profile Photo

    Paratroopers

    by kris-t Updated Dec 19, 2010

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    :) 02 Aug every year paratroopers selebraite theire day... Sometime they are "a little bit" drunk, sometimes - "a little bit" agressive... Be carefull and don't visit Park of culter (theire usial place to meet) this day pls :)

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Very DAREing guests of the country

    by Muscovite Updated Mar 17, 2010

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    The market economy surely liberates the creative energy of an individual.

    Shut behind the Iron Curtain, we used to have a very airbrushed image of the outer world here – what with Sophia Loren or Gerard Philipe gracing the red carpet at our film festivals, or Paul Scofield drawing in crowds of Moscow theatre-goers, or Charles Aznavour singing for his native Armenia, which was part of the USSR in those days.

    Now see who is bearing the torch of democracy and human rights these days
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1119622/Miss-Dare-150-000-lawyer-told-stop-putting-porn-net.html

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  • Internet: Be careful with Western Newspaper/Radio

    by flyer31 Updated Aug 28, 2009

    If you want to have good access to your Emails, better take care not to read Western newspaper by Internet. I read German Spiegel in a hostel, and on next morning Email was very disturbed. I started browsing in English Pravda, then Emails worked again, but I got an Emails with a bad joke about 007 from a friend, and another one concerning German Election, which clearly was interrupting the Email transfer for some minutes. On the last evening I dared to hear German radio SWR3, which ran quite well during music, but was then disturbed heavily during news about a German Nuclear power plant and some Terrorist news - also a Eastern German youngster radio like radio Sputnik did then not run any more. On the next morning my Internet access in the hostel was dead (but for sure not from the hostel people, they were very nice - there came a Russian language error message from the Moscow Wifi company Beeline - I am frightened I maybe killed the internet access for the complete hostel).

    I had to to go to McDonalds to get my Emails - for God sake they have free Internet in all the McDonalds in the city. Usually I am not a McDonalds fan, but at the end of old Arbat street near Smolenskaya Metro and at Tretyakovskaya metro there are very comfortable McDonalds with very nice coffee shops, where you get great Russian cake and great European style coffee, and WiFi for free.

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    Poplar flyer warning from a local

    by AVKTRAVELLER Written Jun 5, 2009

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    It seems nobody mentioned here about flyer, I mean poplar blossoms since the end of May and till mid-July. It looks very beautiful and funny, when you walk along the streets sown with dry cotton snow. It is everywhere! Unfortunately many people suffer from allergy caused by this snow.
    Many years ago Soviet authorities planted the trees along streets and roads to make air cleaner and fresher. And it has worked. But they did not know that Soviet people may have allergy like any others.
    Typical effects are epiphora, eyes irritating, sneezing.
    Your usual antihistamine will help.

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Public bathrooms

    by Muscovite Updated May 28, 2009

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    Your worst choice is narrow blue stalls; one stall is usually occupied by the cashier, entrance 10 roubles (mind the inflation!). Railway stations and airports are not much healthier, usually the same fee.

    Try museums or cinemas. Toilets are free and well attended. The one at the Manege, raised from ashes just a year ago made me remember 19th century Russian classics: "Fire had done her a lot of good". 'Her' - that's Moscow, all but built anew after Napoleons retreat.

    Cafes, even less so restaurants – I am not sure, you'll spend a lot of time trying to locate the necessary facility. The good exception is the McDonald's, bless their heart and investment portfolio. Fast food and teamwork is not my cup of tea, same as coffee in paper cups, but I must give it to them, they make a traveller's life much easier with a clear WC sign.

    There used to be public bathrooms managed by the city near central metro stations. Most of them have been converted into cafes or sweetshops. No joke, especially in –30 C frost. There are two left at the Kremlin.
    1) Standing in the Kutafya tower, face the Kremlin. Turn left, down the stairs, turn right – you will find a bathroom under the bridge connecting the Kutafia tower and the Troiskaya tower (the one with the clock). Careful, steep steps. Open all day round. Free. Reasonably clean. No toilet paper.
    2) The Kutafya tower, again face the Kremlin. Turn right, down the stairs into the Alexander Gardens, past the metro entrance, about 50 meters ahead – you will see a bathroom in the 'cellar' on your right. Open 8.00 – 18.00 (maybe 17.00 in winter). Free. Reasonably clean. Toilet paper and even paper towels in the morning, the supply does not last long, though.

    There used to be two more sort of 'showcase quality' public bathrooms on either side of the Red Square – on at the Saviour Tower, (the one you see on TV), the other next to the Museum of History. I have not been there for quite some time – you tell me how they work now.

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  • sakuyaini's Profile Photo

    Carry your passport with you all the time!

    by sakuyaini Written Nov 10, 2007

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    You can be stopped by a police even when you are just walking on the street. They will ask for your passport. Make sure you have a registration (the hotel will register you, and will give you a paper with registration along with your passport). I got stopped by a police once, as we got off the train station.

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