Firstly, getting into the country is no mean feat.
Expect 20+ hours on the visa entry forms. Then a trip to one of the following visa application centres for your finger prints:
- NEW YORK
- SAN FRANCISCO
However, once you have the visa pretty much all the hard work is done!
When you arrive at the airport, expect a long wait to get through passport control, and when it is your turn to go up be prepared for some suspicious looking stares.
We organised a taxi to pick us up from the airport which was by far the simplest option. The cost was around $100 for the round trip per car, which considering the journey takes an hour and a half, isn’t too bad.
Driving yourself is a no go unless you have a death wish. Seven lane highways with no markings only leads to one thing… chaos!
Accommodation wise, the centre of Moscow is pricey, you could be anywhere in the city within minutes but expect to pay for the privilege.
I would recommend staying in a new development slightly out of town called Moscow City, they are marketing it as the new financial district with modern high rises and swanky apartments.
The area is fully reachable by metro and it takes around 30 minutes to get into the centre of the city. The metro however is pretty difficult if you are not fluent in Russian with English translations only present on the floor. Taxi’s were our favourite option cheap and no getting lost!
That being said, the metro stations are gorgeous!
Once in the centre of Moscow, the one thing you will notice is how beautiful all the building are. The Bolshi Theatre and The Christ the Saviour Cathedral are just two of them.
Undoubtedly a compulsory trip to The Red Square is recommended. In my opinion some of the more beautiful buildings in Moscow are in this square alone.
You will also find St Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square. Stunningly beautiful inside and out
Bordering the Red Square is the Kremlin. There is a lot of history within these walls.
Historically The Kremlin was used when Moscow was getting attacked so everyone from the city piled into the area until the threat had gone.
Nowadays it houses Putin’s office and houses soldiers. A lot of the buildings are churches that are roofed in pure gold.
Changing of the guard is at 11am where you will see the Russian soldiers and horses in full uniform.
Food in Moscow is top notch too. Not the Eastern European luke-warm meals that I imagined.
If you want a bit of a fancy night I would recommend CitySpace, a bar in the south of the city with great views of the Moskva River. The steak is amazing, and the cocktails aren’t too shabby either.
A must is to try their local delicacies.
Go to a small restaurant, they may not have an English menu, but they will help you pick. Vereniki is nice, they are like dumplings with different fillings, we tried the mushroom and potato ones and the meat ones but they also come with fish and other fillings . The local juice drink Mors comes in a variety of flavours but raspberry was my favourite.
Also, go to the Gum Shopping Centre just off the Red Square, in there you will find an amazing chocolate shop that do vodka filled chocolates that are to die for!
Russian wines are also worth a try. Russia isn’t famous for its wine nor do they have a great deal of variety but they are tasty.
There are a lot of restaurants that cater for western tastes, pasta dishes and burgers are easily found if you are a picky eater.
If you stay in one of the larger chain hotels you’ll find that they offer a buffet breakfast with a choice ranging from continental meat selection to bacon and waffles.
A night trip around the city is a must. Some fabulous sights to be seen.
We also took a trip to a vodka museum which is located within the Izmalova market. The market is a colourful complex on the Serebryanka river bank which sells arts, souvenirs and crafts. The museum details the history of vodka and there is a tasting at the end too.
All in all Moscow is a once in a lifetime trip with so much history, things to do and places to see.
We went for 3 days but there is definitely enough to do for a week at least!