Arriving in Moscow, I was expecting to see a soviet city of grey and concrete. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was completely wrong about everything including the weather.
Staying with an exchange, I was treated to on-the-ground knowledge of where to go, when, what to eat and other customs. Russia is not an easy place for non-Russian speakers, the majority of the population do not speak any English so making an effort to use common phrases is very well received.
I was staying in Yaroslavsky district, in the outer band of Moscow. As it was a working trip, there wasn’t a lot of time to explore during the day, having said that – it was a pretty packed schedule of site seeing on Day 1.
Day one was about sight seeing, as much of the city as I could. We started with the Kremlin and Red Square, where the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral is before walking alongside the Moscow River to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the Museum of Pushkin – where an excellent Rembrandt exhibition was on show as well as a visiting renaissance collection of Michaelangelo, Rafael and Donatello.
Moscow is an incredibly interesting city and coming from my small city, it was a fascinating change of pace and certainly an eye-opener to their way of life. Travelling everyday we used public transport, going from VDNH station, I thought driving in Dubai was bad but nothing tested my patience like driving in Moscow. It was common for a 5km journey to take up to 2 hours.
A couple of things to remember when visiting Moscow in September:
1. Traffic is bad, walk when possible or take the metro stations – some of which are very beautiful
2. Never underestimate how cold it can get in early September (3c)
3. It’s all about soup
Some pics of the city …
Surprisingly, I was really impressed with the local flavours. I had been a bit worried that I was just going to be on a liquid diet of Vodka and soup – with a few potatoes thrown in, and quite clearly I didn’t really know anything about the national cuisine. One of the first soups I tried in Moscow was Borscht, a very tasty soup made from beetroot, originating from Georgia.
A very traditional thing to eat is Kinkhali, meat dumplings made of suet which contain a gravy or soup. These should be eaten in a particular way to prevent the gravy from exploding all over your face – I was pleased that this was explained to me before I bit into one – and are served with an assortment of sauces, sour cream, garlic, spicy or pomegranate. The first restaurant that I tried this dish in we accompanied this with fruit tea.
One evening after work, I was introduced to a restaurant named Odessa, a traditional Russian restaurant – actually it’s Ukranian by origin but as there is so much of a cross over in cuisine between these two countries recipes have been adopted in Russia and they consider them to be theirs. I tried Beef ‘tushonka’ with fried potatoes, similar to chips. Something for the ‘bucket list’, this was the first and only time that I had Vodka in Russia. Unlike the normal spirit-mixer combo that I’ve had before, this time it was a shot straight up. The plum infusion was a very effective way of warming up on a particularly cold evening. We finished up with pancakes with cottage cheese in a sweet syrup served with sweetened cream.
Walking through the promenades
On a particularly chilly evening, we took a walk around one of the inner circle avenues that unites all of the boulevards which was absolutely stunning. For those who are interested in architecture, this is a great city to walk around and explore.
One of the most memorable evenings was going to watch a performance in the Bolshoi, one of the most famous opera and ballet theatres in the world, both the interior and exteriors of this magnificent building were hallowing.
More out and about sights and some street art
To round up, I would seriously recommend a visit to this amazing city, additional places that I didn’t have time to talk about were Gorky Park, a little wine bar called ‘ I Like Wine’ (win) and White Rabbit restaurant – which had fantastic views, see below.