Friday, April 14, 2006Goodbye Lenin
Moscow was the most amazing place I've ever been. I wish I had an "I heart Moscow" t-shirt to show everyone in the world that Moscow is heart-worthy. I've dreamed my whole life of walking across Red Square, of metros every 30 seconds, of cyrillic alphabets, of 8 lane motorways filled with Ladas, the bright lights, the furs. To arrive at Red Square as the sun was setting on my first day was utterly humbling and awe-inspiring. To think of the amount of history that's taken place in that one square makes you feel so insignificant. I guess the same applies to Berlin - you can only be small in comparison to the concentrations of world international relations that have occured in these places. But I like little more than to be dominated by the world's great cities.
When in Moscow I stayed with one of my best friends from school who is living and studying in Moscow for the year. She speaks Russian which really helped me to get the most out of the trip - she handled the difficult situations and toured me round the world's most used metro (9 million users every day!), built on the principle that it must be beautiful so that the worker's were not miserable in their daily commutes. I could list everything that I did and saw, but you'd be best going to this page if you're interested - it has pictures and titles and descriptions.
Much of Moscow surprised me. I hadn't expected it to be expensive, and it was almost as expensive as London for eating out and "nice" shopping. I had expected the people to poorer, but it was much more mixed than that - poverty was clear to be seen, but much of downtown Moscow seems largely to be a playground of the Elitny, the new rich Muscovites who can afford to frequent the city's many fine institutions. I'd expected to feel a bit scared and to stand out as a "Westerner", but I felt comfortably anonymous. And then there were many things which I hadn't even thought about which surprised me, but I'm glad for it - it'd be boring for every experience to be as you'd expect.
In any case, I'd totally recommend, at some point in your life, to visit Moscow - it's a rush and unlike any place I've ever been before. It safely joins my "Top 5 Cities EVER" which might run like Berlin, London, Moscow, Istanbul, Edinburgh. I'd love to go back at some point, but there's so much else to see. If you are considering flying there I'd recommend German Wings which I flew - it's a German low-cost carrier, and the only low-cost carrier to fly to Moscow from Western Europe. If you book in advance you can get a real bargain. For visas I'd recommend RealRussia who were very efficient with my application.