I flew to Moscow for just two days, so I had no opportunity to see many places, especially it was a business trip. But these two days were enough to understand a little Moscow and Russians.
The flight from Warsaw to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport was normal. We landed as planned and went on luggage. Previously, however, we had to go through passport control. People who were checking passports and visas had stone faces, and it looked like they probably never smile in their lives. As you probably know, there are many pages in the passport for visas and stamps. But what did officer when my colleague gave him the passports stamped with US visa? Put his stamp above the American…
From the Sheremetyevo airport to the city center you can get in two ways: by taxi or public transport. The taxi is more convenient, but you need to remember that the minimum expense is 1,500 rubles. And it’s almost sure that you will spend some time in traffic jams, and these are much higher in Moscow than in most of the European cities. The second way is the more economical way to travel. You have to take Aeroexpress train that will take you from the airport (it operates not only on the Sheremetyevo airport but also from Domodedovo and Vnukovo) to the subway station Biełoruskaja. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes, the train is new and clean, and in railway wagons, the sale of drinks and snacks is carried out. You also have a free Wi-Fi (works without reservations). In general, you fell more like in the West than in the East.
Once we get on the subway, all becomes even easier. Because the metro in Moscow is an extremely convenient way to travel. There are 12 lines. 11 lines are crossing Moscow from east to west and from north to south. In the middle, there is a line that runs in a circle. This combination of lines makes getting from one point to another very easy and fast. And it’s tough to get lost on the subway. Also, the stations have been designed to ensure everyone that we are in the country that’s great and wealthy (though you can argue with that). I was impressed on Kievskaya, and this was for two reasons. Firstly, it is one of the most decorated stations in Moscow and it’ss a tourist attraction. Secondly, the motive on the walls which can be seen on the mosaics is the history of Ukraine and … the friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples. Yeah, well… You know…
Of course, the subway is also equipped with free Wifi that works without reservations, and which is used by many travelers. By the way, the metro ride is an exciting experience research – so it turns out that the residents of Moscow – less not surprised – love iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S4. Kindle it’s not so popular, I saw it only once.
And if you want to understand Russia, you should go to the Red Square. It’s a Russia in a nutshell, and it is here that the easiest way to understand it. At least in part.
First of all, everything is large, not to say exhausting (although the Red Square, in reality, is less than what at least I imagined seeing on television). Secondly, with every step you take you can see the signs of the great and powerful Russia, which everyone is afraid – from the Lenin mausoleum to the boards commemorating the great battles of World War II. Thirdly, the Slavic soul needs entertainment, and it will be found at the Red Square. Big icerink in the middle during the winter. Icerink surrounded with the stalls where you can buy souvenirs (mandatory Matryoshka) and try Russian food (e.g., pancakes stuffed with meat or cheese, chicken broth, which taste so great outside in cold). There is also a huge department store (known as GUM or Gławnyj Uniwiersalnyj Magazin), where there are all known brands. It has to be one of the favorite destinations of wealthy Russians.
Yes, Red Square is Russia in a nutshell.
Did I mention that in Russia everything is great? Well, just look at the buildings of Mail.ru look like. I had the opportunity to see the construction from the inside. Suffice to say that on the ground floor there is a playing field…
And what about Russians? Just friendly and helpful. At least, I had the good fortune to meet only such a people. But there’s only one problem. If you do not know even a little Russian (I do) it will not be easy. And so I think that will amaze people who come to the World Cup to Russia with the hope that they can communicate in English. I do not know how many people in Russia speaks English, but I know that finding a person using that language is difficult. It may also be that some Russians speaks English but just does not want to use it. (And not just on the street, but also in companies) It’s a bit like Paris or Rome, although there is much easier to find someone who speaks English.
Moscow also seems to be a safe city, at least, it was my impression. There are many police officers on the streets, and it looks that people are respecting them. A policeman can enter the street and stop the car for inspection, quite unexpectedly. And it looks that he even doesn’t think that car won’t stop or will run through him.
And it is true that you must be very careful when you cross the street as a pedestrian because the green light won’t secure you from being hit by the car. As long as you’re not a policeman. Not that it was a rule, but it happened to me at least twice to avoid close contact with a black BMW. That is their climate.
I mentioned about cars. Undoubtedly, many Moscow inhabitants love the car in black, many of them loves models with tinted windows, although the word “tinted” does not reflect reality. Many Moscow residents love BMWs and Mercedes and Lexus and Maybachs. More BMW (and I do not mean thirty years old models) I have seen only in Munich.
The stay in Moscow was short; it lasted only two days in which most of the time I spent on business meetings. I certainly would be happy to visit Moscow in private, because this is the extraordinary city, and ordinary Russians are cool people. On the other hand, dI will never fly to Moscow with Aeroflot.
The return journey was a nightmare. We reached Warsaw 10 minutes before time, and it was the last good news. The pilot instead landing approaches began to fly over Warsaw. After about 30 minutes, he said that due to the fog, we can not land, and we have to wait to improve the weather conditions. It was hard to believe because through the plane’s window I saw moving cars on the streets. It looks like that weather information is a simple a fake and probably aircraft has technical problems. After some time, however, the pilot announced that due to the continuing bad weather he decided that we fly to another airport, and specifically to Berlin at Schonefeld. What? Why to Berlin? After all, in Poland there are some airports that accept us without any problem, that’s even Poznan on the route if the pilot loves western direction so much. Also, we were convinced that it was fake, but when 40 minutes later we saw a characteristic television tower we believed that we are in Berlin.
After landing, the crew told us to take only documents and leave the luggage on board. At the airport, we received boarding passes, and that’s it. After 1.5 hours of waiting for -nobody-knows-what, we were invited to the plane, and a few moments later we again flew to Warsaw. After several minutes, the pilot announced that after 25 minutes we will land. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Instead, for 2 hours we were flying over Warsaw, without the slightest information from the pilots. I had the impression that the pilots just turned the autopilot mode, and they went to sleep. In the end, however, the captain spoke and said that he will fly another 30 minutes and if conditions do not improve … we go back to Berlin.
It was apparent that the conditions won’t improve. What’s more, to everyone on board it seemed obvious that the whole flight from Berlin already was meaningless, because the fog does not disappear just like that of a hand. And certainly not at the Okecie airport. In the end, somewhere around 3 am we landed at the airport Schonefeld, which was already inactive. I mean closed. And again, nobody knows anything. The Aeroflot information was also not informed. What we learned that at some point there was news that the plane will fly to Warsaw … about 14:00. We gave it up and returned to Warsaw by… train. The total return from Moscow to Warsaw took us 23 hours. Try to imagine how you can feel after so many hours of traveling, without being able to refresh even… In the evening I received my luggage at Okecie airport and the trip could be considered as complete.
Despite the return, which took as much as a flight to New York and back, the trip to Moscow was quite successful, and I’m willing to visit the capital of Russia again. Ordinary Russians are great, they were just unlucky to a government. And unfortunately for hundreds of years …