Learning russian at university for one year. I managed it to visit Russia 20 years later in 2010. As a preparation I read the book „User Manual Russia“. At the beginning the author wrote something like „if you want to survive there, forget everything you have learned or know, otherwise you are dead“. Then I asked a russian travel agency to organize the visa for me and booked a flight and hotel.
Already liked the flight. When the pilot announced that we were crossing the border to the russian federation he sounded quite majestetic.
Nearly arrived in Moscow many passengers refused to stay seated, until the plane achieved the parking position, saying russians wouldn‘t like instructions. At the customs the authorities were sitting behind their desks listening to techno music and nearly ignoring the people. Then we went to the train direction city center, which was a bit faster than walking speed.
First of all I noticed that they like luxury. Next to my hotel near bolshoi theatre was a luxury shopping center and a first class department store. Then I started discovering the city, which is quite easy to orientate, because it is organized in circles. Since the indication in the amazingly beautiful subway is just in kyrillic and they don‘t use symbols for estethical reasons, it is helpful to be able to read russian.
Of course my first way went to the red square and the surrounding areas. Of course the feeling standing there is different than watching it on movies or TV. The spacy square, the impressive castles of the Kremlin, the coloured Basilius church, the huge department store and this small good frequented orthodox Kasaner church, with the corresponding highly diverse clientel.
In the first evening I went to a canadian film festival. The movie was in sanscrit, the subtitles in english and there was a live translation into russian. Outside they were dancing Pogo at the underground station. The next day I went to the russian fashion week, taking place in an old trading house and was watching the latest trends in clothing. One day later I went to the millionair fair, taking place in a old manège next to the Kremlin and was admiring cars and helicopters. Then I went to the building site of Moscow City to get an idea of the biggest city development project in Europe. Accidentially the biggest advertising fair of the country was taking place one day later, so I went there, to get an overview of the state of the art in this area. To get an understanding of the rich history of the country, I went to the historical museum on day later. The museum of modern art gave me an impression of the contemporary cultural scene in Russia.
Apart from this events I explored the major parts of the city: Tverskaya, the major shopping avenue and its surroundings, Arbat, the pedestrianized area with the Tolstoy museum and tourist shops and the boulevards with their parks and cafes. Not to forget the Patriarch bridge, a major catwalk for known and yet unknown russian supermodels. By the way, I had the impression, that they walk different than everywhere else in the world, with the legs and knees a meter in front of the upright torso.
The evenings I mostly spent in the nightlife districts near Tverskaya or Nikitskaya. First I was a bit irritated by the many cars with dark windows and running motors standing everywhere in the city, but got used to it. Probably they were doing whatever business there. I was amazed that many bars were open 24 hours, but were already empty short after midnight. Also liked the new postindustrialized area on the other side of the river with nice bars and restaurants. I have seen the first robotic home assistants there. Obviously the bar and restaurant scene is very dynamic.
All together an astonishing city with many surprises, not on the radar of many europe tourists.
Did not make so many photos. The few I made are here.