Two days in Moscow

I was in Moscow this week for the Champions League final, but we won’t talk about the result, suffice to say I’m an All Blacks fan and I was in Cardiff for our quarterfinal loss. So I’m familiar with the feeling. I also watched the Community Shield at the start of the season where Chelsea lost on penalties to ManU. So the football season has been nicely bookended with the matching results. Argh!

Moscow…

  • The traffic is terrible! If you think the M25 is bad it has nothing on Moscow. Five lanes of solid slow moving vehicles. Even the hard shoulder gets used. The hard shoulder is also a place to stop and have a kip, these conflicting uses causes some problems.
  • The Metro is fantastic & cheap. Chandeliers in stations!
  • Tip: if you’re travelling by car allow LOTS of time or get a black Audi and a flashing blue light or use the Metro.
  • The mini skirt never went out of fashion in Moscow. Not a complaint just an observation.
  • One meal of pickled vegetables is probably enough. 
  • The Kremlin isn’t a single building it’s a complex. Lubyanka is a single building.
  • The churches in the Kremlin are awesome.
  • The Kremlin is closed on Thursday.
  • Russian trucks have a registration plate like you would expect but they also have it in BIG numbers on the tailgate or canopy. It must be really easy to be a CSI in Moscow. Not that anyone would consider making a getaway in a vehicle of any sort given the traffic.
  • It also seems to be mandatory to have a cracked windscreen and a picture of a scantily clad woman painted on the cab of your truck.
  • Political correctness hasn’t reached Moscow yet.
  • You can smoke in restaurants & Football stadiums.
  • The tower blocks look derelict & run down. I wondered why anyone would chose to live in them. Then I realized they had no choice.
  • Shopping. It’s easy to find and buy all the major international brands. We saw an IKEA. We found it hard to find Russian stuff other than the tat people hawk you on the streets.
  • They’re either bus stops that added shops or the other way around. Either way this little booze, newspaper and fag selling kiosks attached to bus stops seem like a good idea.
  • The beer was cheap; most everything else wasn’t.
  • The Red Army’s reaction to possible crowd violence was OTT. I’ve never seen so many soldiers in one place. Maybe as many as two for every fan. They had so many that they didn’t use barriers to block traffic they just erected a wall of soldiers. We even had a couple of police cars sitting outside our hotel on the outskirts of Moscow for two days. We woke up on the last day to find them gone.
  • Moscow seems a green and leafy city; if gridlocked.
  • We did see big rats and vagrant dogs.
  • When we looked lost people were willing to help and had enough of my language to guide and advise. 
  • When it rains it really rains.
  • A bloke asleep in his truck with his head on the steering wheel immediately inside the gates of the Kremlin was one of the funniest sites. Surely that is the one place you don’t want to be doing that especially if you want to avoid being dragged off to a cell somewhere.

Overall we really enjoyed ourselves and will return with en familie en tow. Did I mention the traffic? Photos in my Flickr stream.

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