I started off in Munich at around 10 in the morning and arrived on time in Moscow SVO at 2 in the afternoon. Immigration went smoothly, my visa for two days, which I was one of the few to actually get from the Munich Embassy itself, was accepted and officially entered Russia for the first time. First things first, I got Internet. 12Gb on 4G speed for a mere 7$. Taking the Aeroport Express directly to Belaruskia, I made my way to my “high-level” hostel (http://hostelhl.ru), located in the Moscow’s business district on the 43rd floor of one the “Empire” tower.
The whole district is apparently under constructions for more than 10 years and getting to the hostel from the underground takes up to 15 hours, because many paths are blocked and the security at the tower is also rather slow. But the view is great! I made some friends, but fairly soon went on my way to meet my friend who then gave me a quick tour of Moscow’s center. After only 90 or so minutes we were already sitting at the dinner table. It does not take much to see most of the big attractions of Moscow! Apparently 80% of the Russian GDP is made in Moscow, so what I saw on that day was the top of the top.
Another interesting observation was that Moscow was the first city I have been to that does not offer ANY English advice regarding how to use the subway system.
The dinner was good, the traditional food I got was heavy as expected and it also does taste just like you expect Russian food to taste like. We got an early night, to get some rest before touring some more attractions the next day.
My hostel offered breakfast and I definitely took advantage of it. There was also some sweet rice based oatmeal like dish wish I ate three bowls of. Some jam-sandwich and cake was there as well and a hot tea all together made a good start into the day.
First, we started with the “fake” kremlin. It is a white-painted replica of the Kremlin in the far north of Moscow. There were many sellers of all kinds of touristy goods there, but there were not annoying at as you usually experience in Asia. Although the fake Kremlin was impressive, it was still really just fake, so we continued to the Russian Space Museum. I enjoyed the visit quite a lot as I have only been to Space Museums that have worshipped the Western conquering of space and not so much the Russian side. This museum instead focused primarily on the Russian space exploration, offering a quite different, or really opposite, picture of the race for space. I highly recommend the museum. Definitely worth a visit for increasing your historic and cultural understanding. We followed up with lunch at a buffet like restaurant near the real Kremlin. Afterwards, we witnessed a celebration ceremony by the far left communist party right in front of the Kremlin. We also wanted to visit another famous church, but unfortunately, due to overcrowding, the area had been blocked off. Instead, we got some city bikes and cycled through a park as well as along the river, eventually visiting another smaller church. Funnily enough, the way the locals prayed to their catholic (?) goods in this golden church very much reminded me of the way the Chinese were praying to their Golden Budda in Hangzhou. Speaking off, in the evening we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant apparently highly frequented by Chinese diplomat officials and expats. Eventually, we ended up back at Studentskaya packing to leave and had a pizza and tea in the mall next to the main train station of Moscow. After leaving my friends to their travels to St. Petersburg, I went back to my hostel.
Once again, I had a full breakfast and then immediately got on a city bike to cycle for about two hours into Moscow City centre. There I visited the Arcade museum, a collection of not just digital, but also analog Arcade games from long time ago in the Soviet era. As historical artefact, these machines told quite some stories about Russia back in the 20th century. Afterwards, I left for SVO Airport. I checked in early, had a sandwich and then almost missed my flight as my Laptop had not adjusted its timezone!
All in all, although short in length, my visit to Moscow was a thorough experience. Moscow is definitely a unique city, but due to its climate and development, not really attractive for any expats that can also choose to live in a more sunny and hospitable city.