"Mother Russia" Top 5 Page for this destination Moscow by MrBill
Moscow Travel Guide: 4,071 reviews and 9,282 photos
I lived in Moscow between September 2003 and May 2004. However, I have also been there on business very many times. I work for a Russian company in Cyprus as well.
I have mostly visited Moscow on business or as someone who lives there. I have tried to give a general impression of the city and what is like to live there as a foreigner. In general, my tips are for someone who is trying to get from point A to point B in heavy traffic and on a tight schedule. Of course, if you are there on holidays, I hope the tips will help you just the same.
I have to add one caveat. I am sometimes brutally honest when talking about Moscow and some of the things that I did not like that also happened to me. I think to be forewarned is to be prepared. Naturally, if you speak Russian and have Russian friends to help you get around, some of these nasty surprises may not happen to you at all. Then you will be pleasantly surprised.
Also, things do change rather quickly in Moscow, so while I try to keep my pages updated with each visit, some information does become dated. Still, I hope you will find my experience illuminating when planning your trip to live, study or just visit.
Enjoy one of the most exciting cities anywhere. Poka.
These pages have been a work in progress starting from when I first moved there in September 2003 up to now. I have left some of my original pages there sort of like a diary. I hope you can get a sense for some of the problems and challenges I first experienced. I think it goes without saying that you learn about a city on a different level when you live there, as opposed to when you only visit as a tourist. I try to provide you with a field guide to Moscow by the seat of your pants. That is how I experienced it. This is life, not a guided tour.
What can I say, traffic in Moscow fascinates me. Of course, it is maddening when you are stuck in it. When your flight is in an hour and nothing is moving. However, at the same time the resilliance and resourcefulness of Russian drivers amazes me.
First of all, I live near the intersection of Zubovsky and Smolensky streets. I counted 8-lanes going in each direction, which alone makes it one large road. The length of a football field to get across. However, on any given morning or evening, you will see at least 10-lanes of traffic lined up at the stop light. Lanes are more of a concept than a reality when you drive in Moscow. There are plans to make the 'Garden Ring' into a one-way street. That would be something to see? 18-lanes of traffic all going in the same direction! Pity the novice driver stuck in the middle lane who finds out too late they have to either exit left or right!
Now, there is too much traffic in Moscow, that is number one. Secondly, once winter arrives, rush hour traffic will extend from morning till night, as vehicles crawl along. However, Moscow traffic never seems to grind to a halt. Drivers are extremely aggressive, however, at the last minute, someone always seems to make way, avoiding accidents and gridlock. I am constantly terrified we are going to smash into the car to the left, the car to the right, the car in front, or all all three at the same time. Like in a funnel. However, time and again I am relieved that it does not happen with the regularity that one might expect.
However, when they do smash them up, it is usually a good one. The morning news is full of head on collisions. I can only explain the apparent paradox like this. When the lanes are full, everyone competes, but fairly for their own space. When the roads are empty, everyone wants to drive as fast as possible - autobahn speeds - and then when they meet at an intersection, for example, they are going way too fast to avoid one another, which does not happen at slower speeds during rush hour. The more expensive the car, the more important the driver, and the less likely they are to give way. When two big egos meet, there is only room for one and bamm!
I am glad I do not have to drive. When my driver picks me up at the airport, I always bring him a bottle of something, to say thanks for getting me from here to there safely. And, for knowing every back alley and side street in between.
Drive safely, or better yet, take the Metro.
- Pros:non-stop action & friendly people
- Cons:out-moded airport, visa hassles & traffic
- In a nutshell:Picadilly Circle meets Russian Orthodox
Thank goodness for the variety of Ukraine, Uzbek and other regional food dishes in Moscow from the former USSR... more travel advice
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