I’m back with a new post on my first visit to Moscow in October 2014!
My thoughts & observations on Moscow
‘Only fools smile without any reason’ – Russian proverb
Had I known this, I probably would not have looked like a fool, smiling at everyone and wondering why inhabitants of Moscow were so cold and unfriendly!
Our tour group arrived at Sheremetyevo International Airport, just northwest of Moscow. Everything looked quite old and unwelcoming. Immigration / border control was horrendous. We queued for a good hour at least to have our passports checked. While waiting, I could hear intense yelling between the Chinese tourists and the Russian officers, who, by the way, could speak Mandarin. I began to think that Russia and China could not possibly be allies. Aside from the immigration process, I noticed that there were more women working at the airport than there were men, which I thought was good. Once we had collected our baggage, the ‘welcoming area’ was, well, rather empty. There was a flower stand and a bouquet vending machine. By the way, did you know that this is the best airport in Europe for quality service? Oh yes, according to the screen on a tourist info stand.
Later, when we talked to some people in St Petersburg about our experience in Moscow, they responded with, ‘They’re from another planet.’
In terms of diversity, I saw one grandmother with her half-Black granddaughter. On the other hand, there were quite a few Chinese, as well as Russian-Chinese mixed children.
Although I did not enjoy Moscow as much as I could have during our 4-day sojourn, I still found beauty in the city. Here are some photos that I took of the interesting architecture and monuments around Moscow:
Things I learned about Moscow / Russia
- A Russian may be late and blame it on traffic. A late foreigner will be considered unfamiliar with customs.
- Starting 1 Jan 2015 (at least what we were told 2014), everyone has a 4-day work week. They start at 10 am and finish at 5 pm. There’s one hour for lunch plus an hour-long tea time at 3 pm. Tardiness is understood as everyone has the same reason: traffic jam.
- License plates are letter ### letter letter. To the side is a box with two or three numbers above the Russian flag ??.
- Once people have 3+ kids, they’re given a plot of land, free education for the children, and free healthcare. The average household salary is $1800US/month.
- There are very few parking spaces and none underground (having been dug up during WWII).
- It is highly unlikely that a plane could crash into a building in the city as none are allowed to fly over the city. If there are, the plane would be shot down before it’s able to do so. (So we were told!)
I will be continuing my posts on Moscow every Sunday so stay tuned for more photos!