Getting ready for Russia: I remember falling in line at the Russian embassy very early in the morning to be able to submit my husband´s passport and the requirements they needed to apply for a visa. If by any chance you did not get to the window before 12, you would come back the next day and try again. They checked all the requirements and told us to come back on the 14th after 11am. I am getting excited. This is going to be my first time in the country.
GOT IT! Today has been a tiring day. I went home and fetched my husband so he can drive us to Oslo to get our passports from the Russian visa centre. Finally, we got our visa.Even though it is my first time to Russia, I do not want to plan anything. I would have loved to go to the Bolshoi Theatre and watch a ballet or opera but my husband would NEVER go with me. It would take a lot of vodka shots to get him to the opera.
Flying Aeroflot: This is my first time to fly Aeroflot Russian Airlines. We got wonderful service from the check-in counter until the time we landed in Moscow. Of course, I expected wonderful reception from my colleagues at the counter and at the gate (yes, I know everyone). As usual, Scandinavian Airlines ground handling were all smiles not only to us but to all the passengers going on the night flight to Moscow. Since I also work at the counter and at the gate on this flight, most of the cabin attendants and pilots of Aeroflot has been very friendly. May I say that the cabin attendants on the flight that we took were very nice and professional, even when teased by some passengers. We were served food (and beverages. No alcohol served on this flight. I saw some passengers putting out their vodka bottles though, even though it is not allowed.
Arriving at Sheremetyevo Airport: The line to the passport control went fast, maximum of 10 minutes. The immigration officer scanned my visa and all my passport details came up on his screen. including my picture.
The Russian Metro: The metro is easy to understand. It is coded with colours. The only thing you should do is to memorise or write down which station you are getting off and find out which color the line is. The metro is the easiest way and the cheapest way to get around Moscow.
Smoking or Non-smoking: I do not think I have ever been asked whether I wanted to sit on a no-smoking area or smoking area in a restaurant or bar. We found one which is located right beside The State Tretyakov Gallery. I thought it was very strange that the name of the restaurant is PECTOPAH (this means restaurant). The restaurant is cozy, comfortable and clean. The smoking area does not smell like an old ashtray at all. The prices were not that bad either, to be in Moscow. We paid 1790 RUB (300 NOK) for the a glass of 0,5L dark beer, 1 glass of 150ml bubbly, the food and coffee.
Taking a taxi in Moscow: Taxis in Moscow do not run by the meter. You have to make a deal with the driver before you get in the cab. We tried doing it the old fashion way by hailing a cab on the streets but we were always over charged. I called the taxi company we should have used from the first day, Welcome Taxi.
- 400 RUB for 20 min and 16 RUB per minute thereafter
- 400 RUB per hour (minimum 2 hours)
- Additional 200 RUB for an English speaking driver.
- 1800 RUB one way Airport transfer
Buildings of Moscow: The 7 sisters of Stalin. While going around the city, I thought that I saw a building that looked like another building somewhere else. One of them is the University of Moscow at Sparrow Point. The other sisters are Radisson Royal Hotel, the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hotel Leningradskaya, Kotelinichskaya, Kudrinskaya. People´s Commesariat of Heavy Industry. The 8th sister was never built.
Night Out: The pub was not that bad. People can smoke inside and as usual, it did not smell like an old ashtray in the pub. We ordered beer and cheese roll with bacon (yummy!), recommended by the bartender. We left before the live band started.
To Russia with Love: I did not expect Moscow to be as I have seen. I thought it would be gray, gloomy place with a lot of culture. Even if I was not able to see the opera or a ballet at Bolshoi theatre like I wished, I was so satisfied just going around the city on my first visit to Russia. 4 days and three nights in this city is definitely not enough.
Leaving Moscow: With a heavy heart, I left Moscow. I have posted again and again how much I love the city, its people, and the food. I hope to come back again.