Never dull and a world full of opportunities. Would this be the first thing you’d think about when I mention I’ve been to Moscow in Russia? Many people picture a gray mass, a dangerous environment and a developing city at most – but nothing is less true.
Moscow is a city with about fifteen million inhabitants, which makes it one of the major capitals in the world. There are thriving business areas, plenty of touristic attractions and there is an excellent night life for those who cannot sleep at night. So what is it that distinguishes Moscow from other major capitals in the world?
Firstly, the Russian culture has so much more to offer than people think. Russians may seem cold at first and many people associate winter and its’ feelings with Russians. However, once you get to know them, Russians are amongst the warmest cultures you may have experienced. Friends are loyal and make time for you whenever they can. Regarding family, the people are incredibly involved in each other’s well-being. You’ll never leave with an empty belly or without having had a drink and a toast to your health. Don’t put the empty bottle back on the table, however, as that brings bad luck – Russians are known to be very superstitious.
Secondly, the architecture in Moscow offers visitors an entirely different perspective. Whether you go to Arbat street, visit the Russian orthodox cathedrals or visit the older parts of the city center around Lubyanka and Chistye Prudy, there is an authentic feeling you will not experience anywhere else in the world. The subway system is top-notch as well, getting you anywhere in the city within about 15 to 30 minutes. Interesting to mention is that one can find more of the Russian culture below the ground; people pet the dog’s nose at Ploshchad Revolyutsii for a dose of good luck in their lives. Additionally, the many parks allow for leisure time in beautiful areas. Gorki Park is the most famous park, and it appears in music too, most widely known is the song by The Scorpions. Arbat street always offers live music on the streets as musicians are allowed to play in the open air.
The many art galleries and museums allow to take a peek in the Russian history. It is advised to bring a Russian native speaker, however, to communicate and translate things on the go. Many places still do not offer service or information in English – but there is a solution: Google translation offers a conversation mode which allows you to converse directly in Russian-English and the other way around.
Lastly, the different cuisines that are to be found in Moscow are just excellent. Whereas Russian cuisine is very wide by itself, the blend of cultures in the city allow you to find the best of neighboring countries as well. Eastern Europeans as well as Caucasians venture to Moscow to show the best of their cuisine in many restaurants and bars and therefore there is an amazing choice of places to go out for food. Russians love spending time at the table, and this is where you get to know them best. A recommendation? Everybody loves Georgian food!
By Chiel van Ewijk, Honours IBS fasttrack student of University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.