Moscow, Russia

 out of 8  reviews

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 out of 8 reviews
Things To Do
Adventure
History
Affordability
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Local Food
Romance
Nightlife
Traveling While Black

8 Reviews

  1. author
    Little Wanderer
    14 May 2020
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    Traveling While Black

    I had a less than 24-hour layover in Moscow and I must say it is such a beautiful city. Unlike common believe, Russians aren’t racist, they are just cold (sometimes), but it is simply cultural. However, they are not used to seeing black people so they might be surprised or simply curious, but nothing bad. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, from where I took an Uber to the red square (approx. 15 minutes ride which cost 6 dollars) and surrounding areas. Best time to go there is definitely during the end of year holidays: the Xmas lights are mind blowing.

  2. author
    Fabolous_boy220
    26 Oct 2019
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    Traveling While Black
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    Traveling While Black

    Moscow is a very surprising destination because if you rely on what Russia’s TV shows nobody would go there so now I prefer go for myself and make my own opinion, And I felt safe people are not smiling but not bad, it’s the mentality of the country, a good advice to leave in the winter the tickets are cheaper

  3. author
    Weaventures
    30 Jul 2019
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    Traveling While Black
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    Traveling While Black

    My wife and I have been leaving and working in Moscow as expats for the past 2 months and it has been amazing! We have more exposure to Moscow than most people and we love the city. Before traveling, we all have preconceived notions and unconscious biases that we developed from watching TV or absorbed from the media. Go ahead and throw those out of the window. Muscovites (Moscow citizens) are just people. They work, have families, like to have fun, etc. I do agree that as POC, we received many passing looks and stares; especially on the metro. But this stemmed more from curiosity than racism. Of course, people will look at you if you are different. The crazy thing is we received more intense looks in Nairobi, Kenya than we do daily in Moscow. We have not experienced any prejudice or unfair treatment. English is not a priority here so the language barrier is evident. We were surprised that the people were so willing to try to help us even though often they could not understand us. About half or less of the restaurants will English versions of their menus but don’t assume that they will speak English though. Music-wise, there are many bars and venues that play American hip-hop, R&B, top hits, etc. The Russian hip hop and R&B artists are interesting so give them a listen. There are also a couple of Latin bars available. Most black people you will see in the city are African students or immigrants. They make up about 1% of the population. Overall, we believe that Moscow is a MUST visit. As stated earlier, you will have to throw your preconceived notions away and get out of your comfort zone. Relax, take a couple of shots of vodka, and have a good time!!!

  4. author
    leaux
    12 Feb 2019
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    Traveling While Black

    Moscow was one of the most beautiful and festive cities I had the pleasure of visiting. Especially in the winter, there are lights shopping markets, street food Completely different from how one would imagine it. This one is long so hang in there, an account of what I did. My story here starts off a bit sketch but definitely comes together as you will read.

    I flew into Sheremetyevo (SVO) airport around 1520 on the 30th of December an hour earlier than expected. SVO is one of three main airports that service Moscow, along with DME and and VKO. This one being in the middle for distance to the city at 30 kilometers. Upon arrival the first stop is customs and immigration. This process took 30 or so minutes due to the high volume of Chinese tourist groups arriving on the same flight. Remember when I said my trip started off sketch? Well, once I was at the window the woman accepting my passport looked at me with such astonishment as if she had just seen a ghost. I handed her my passport to which she flips back and forth three to four times, tugging at my photograph and my visa pages as if they were fake. THERE IS NO VISA ON ARRIVAL HERE, so be sure to take care of the visa requirements prior to entering the country or you will be turned away at your own expense. She then scanned my passport three separate times, for what reason I don’t know. I watched her with the customer before to see if there would be any differences and all of these checks were new and honestly I don’t know if it was because I am brown or because I am from the states. Anyways, after being at the window service area for a while she finally let me proceed to the baggage area. I recovered my bag and proceeded to the currency exchange of course because I need money! I had about 1100 HKD and 640 USD on me and the rate the attendant was trying to give was not even close to the current exchange rate, so of course I declined to exchange at the airport. I checked on my phone at the window and told her no on the spot. Luckily, I had sprint which virtually works everywhere and I was able to check. They do sell sim cards at the airport however, I don’t recall seeing any prior to that first currency exchange window. I then proceeded to the Aeroexpress machine. This machine provides tickets for the Aeroexpress train to the city, it runs every thirty minutes from the airport up until midnight. The ticket costs 500 rubles (7ish USD), it has comfortable seating, racks for big bags and an attendant to bring snacks and drinks through the cabins. Two stops but if going to the city you will take the second stop at Belorussky station. I do not recommend taking a taxi to the city from the airport, the ride on the train is 35 minutes or so and you cannot beat that price.

    Upon arrival at Belorussky station, you must walk around the outside of the building. There is a walkway and if you follow the others walking from the train its no problem. If you cant read Russian like me, you will only recognize Subway and Burger King, although there are quite a few restaurants in the area of the station. I got to the front of the building and attempted my first ride in a taxi… and here is where it got tricky , not many drivers in Moscow speak English, so it would be best if you knew at least how to pronounce your destination in the language (this should be a thing everywhere). So I got into the taxi and the driver showed me the price 1500 rubles (21-23USD), I must have not looked all the way at the phone when he showed me the price. My hotel was literally maybe a twenty or so minute walk BUT I didn’t want to walk that far with my luggage. It was about five or six minutes by car, so of course I took that option. We took off and rode past two little kebab shops on the right of the car, it dawned on me then that the price wasn’t right. Could it be because I saw food? It had to be. I asked the driver to stop and let me out because I didn’t understand the price. I offered him 200 rubles in exchange for his time and exited the cab. I walked back to the kebab shops of course and ordered two chicken kebabs for 240 rubles from the one closest to the train station. Kebab in Russian almost looks like it does in English, so it’s very easy to distinguish. After they came off of the grill, I walked back to the station and tried to hail another taxi with a fair price but again, a lot of drivers did not speak English. Did I mention there is “Uber” in Moscow? Well not the actual Uber but its like a Russian version that uses the same app. It informs you of the differences when you opt to use it BUT you wont be able to if you don’t speak Russian. The driver will call you to pick you up when they arrive and if they don’t understand you, they will hang up, no question. This process took about 20 more minutes, until one car pulls up and the drivers asks am I waiting on someone. Dimitri from Siberia, who has lived in Moscow for two years is the driver. At last I am now about to head to the hotel for 500 rubles, a very fair price. During the ride Dimitri offered to stop and take pictures if I desired as I marveled at the architecture through the window. I declined after waiting outside for that time with my travel clothes on in -5C weather with a decent amount of wind. I think it was fair to say I was almost an iceberg.

    I arrived at the hotel Marriott Novy Arbat on Arbat street, not to be confused with old Arbat street. I checked in on the app earlier, so all I had to do was show up, show my passport and sign a quick form before I was off to my room. Did I mention my room had been upgraded from the standard room to a superior suite with the city view? It was like a little apartment without the kitchen. I usually use airbnb but because you need an invitation to enter the Russian Federation (I will cover visa and invitation at the end), I just opted for the hotel. It worked out in my favor with the upgrade and superb hotel services might I add. SO, after about 30 or so hours of travel, coming from Japan, I decided to call it a night after eating my kebabs. In the morning I ordered room service for breakfast before starting out on my day. I ordered everything I required through the app, so I didn’t have to worry about the language barrier. I am also a person that thoroughly dislikes talking on the phone, so the Marriott app is golden while staying at the hotel

    I set off down to old Arbat street, where the markets WOULD be if it wasn’t winter. It was like a ghost town during the day, only some shops open as I walked through. I wasn’t hungry or in need of souvenirs at the moment so I proceeded all the way to the end of the street where I saw a representative for the City Sightseeing hop on hop off tour bus. I entered the bus for 1900 rubles (27 USD) the price for two days. The tour has two routes with a combined 30 plus stops. The first stop was the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. I think at that point, reality finally set in that I was really in Moscow. The bus stayed there for about five minutes while we all listened to the recording, it proceeded to the real reason I came to Moscow in the first place. RED SQUARE! It has been a dream of mine since I can remember, to see the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed aka St. Basil’s Cathedral. And my what a sight it was to see in person. Literally filled with chills and it wasn’t because of the cold weather. Red Square was originally meant to be the main marketplace of Moscow, it has served as a site for public and official ceremonies since it came to be. I exited the bus to go take pictures of course, where I was approached at least three times by Russians wishing to practice their English and/or take pictures. So while there may be a rumor circulating about Russians being rude or not liking people such as myself, I experienced none of that outside of passport control. Everyone was decent and quite helpful. After Red Square I walked over to the floating bridge in Zaryadye Park. This 70 meter bridge has no support and can support an estimated 3000 to 4000 people at any given time. It extends over the embankment of the Moscow river and you are able to see quite a bit from there, including what I was told to be a Russian skyscraper. It didn’t look to be that tall from where I was standing though. Walking back through the park, I was approached by more Russians wishing to take pictures, I actually caught this on film one time. The urban park is located adjacent to Red Square first opened September 9th 2017. Home to of course the floating bridge, media center, ice cave, concert hall, “flight over Moscow” and two amphitheaters. I stood on a rock facing Red Square and took some more pictures with it in the backdrop BUT you really never know what you’re going to get when you ask a stranger to take your photo. This time it was not so good. I got back onto the tour bus and rode around for an entire loop before exiting back at Red Square and walking into the GUM shopping center, pronounced GOOM, to warm up and eat. It was reopened in 1953 as a department store, representing over 100 brands today. I walked around for a bit and decided it was time to head back to my room and take a nap before the New Year’s Eve festivities. That’s right a nap, I live in Japan six time zones away, I was tired. PAY ATTENTION HERE. Leaving the mall
    i needed a taxi to get back to the hotel, of course they were lined up outside of the mall, so I approached. The driver offered me a price which to me seemed a bit high, I tried to negotiate and he wouldn’t take it, so I told him to use the meter. Man did I ever mess up with that one. I wont say how much I paid BUT never use the meters in Moscow, that is all I will say. I got up at about 945 pm, got dressed, requested a taxi and headed over as close to Red Square as I could. A lot of roads were closed and blocked off due to the celebrations, so I had to proceed on foot. By this time it is about 11ish and I am in Revolution Square, where the oldest fountain in Moscow is located. Vitali Fountain was built in 1835 and served as a water source for citizens of Moscow at one point. I try to enter the gate to Red Square only to be turned away by the police. Unfortunately, it is over capacity and they aren’t letting anyone else in AT ALL… Talk about heartbreak. I was really down about this for a while but at least I was still here. Luckily there were food and souvenir shops set up for the tourists here. I was waiting in line for food when I was approached for another photo by a man, his wife and child. He wanted to post it on instagram, I didn’t think to get his info. I ended up getting some grilled lamb from one of the shops for about 550 rubles, it was five pieces of lamb, two pieces of bread and a little salad. Not the best price BUT it was delicious, I will say. It was time to go back to the hotel, definitely was not in the mood for an outing after missing the fireworks. I ended up grabbing a taxi for 1500 rubles and heading back. It was high due to the New Year’s Eve/Day surcharge but I was just ready to get out of there.

    The night before I thought it would be a good idea to get with a local photographer for some pictures. I contacted local photographer @belyano4ka_lizzi and set up a meet for 9am in Red Square but that along with a lot of streets and metro exits were closed due to cleaning up after the night before. It opened at ten so we shot some in front on the Four Seasons Hotel, headed over to the Bolshoi Theater where I was again approached for a picture by a local. We took a break following this to warm up as my toes felt like they were about to fall off. Her, her assistant and I sat and talked for about an hour or more about the differences in our countries, tv shows, movies, anime, sports etc. I think we came to the conclusion the people of the countries don’t dislike each other but the governments put us against each other for their reasons. We continued with the photography in Red Square, over to the Gum shopping center, then to Zaryadye Park and the floating bridge where we finished up. We stopped to transfer the photos and I couldn’t even work my laptop properly because my hand was frozen. We took a selfie after we finished and you could definitely see the cold in my face. They helped me get a taxi back to the hotel for 230 rubles (get some Russian friends) where I stayed the remainder of the day. It was -6C this day and it felt like -12C. This is colder than any cold I have ever felt. Before I left Lizzie suggested I go see the Moscow metro tunnels, so when I got back to my room I immediately looked up the tour and booked it for the following day.

    On day three it was time to eat some authentic Georgian Cuisine and after being given the wrong directions a number of times by google maps, I finally found the Genatsvale Restaurant. It was about a ten minute walk from the hotel but maps kept saying it was on the main street, it was not. It was on a side street at the end of the shopping center. A rather large restaurant with dim lighting and a decent music selection. Perfect ambiance, I would say. I certainly wish I would eaten here on the first day because I would have eaten here every day until I left. I ended up eating too much and didn’t finish all that I had ordered. I sat there waiting for my food to digest and looked at the time. I had about 12 minutes left until the tour started. I paid and took off down the street to the tour meeting point which happened to be twelve mins away by car. Walking was a straight shot and I figured would be able to make it walking, so I did. Showed up JUST in time for the tour to start. We went to about seven metro stations and it finished up at Revolution Square station. My favorite from the tour would have to be Mayakovskaya station it has a number of pictures in the ceiling to marvel, additionally former leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin gave a famous speech in this station in November of 1941. In all metro stations you can see different pictures, statues and designs. In addition to all of this, if you happen to go on a tour, the guide will let you know all of the areas where “destalinization” has occurred in the metro system. According to my guide, many muscovites believe Stalin was very extreme and do not agree with his views. SO they removed many if not all statues pictures and paintings of Stalin and replaced him with Lenin. Following the end of the tour, I walked over to Bolshoi theater. The area was full of life, tourists, performers in the air, lights, music and some other performances. It was like this just about all way back to the original meeting point for my tour. Moscow is magic in the winter in my opinion, especially during holiday season. I walked from there all the way back to old Arbat street where I bought a couple souvenirs for my family back home, everything was cheap. No need to bring out the big bucks. All in all it was about a 30 minute walk back to the hotel and for once I wasn’t freezing. I guess I mastered the cold on my last night out. I packed up my bag for my departure the following day and went to sleep.

    The following day, the taxi came and took me to Belorussky station for 500 rubles. He tried to take me all the way to the airport saying that I may miss the flight, delays and what if the train blah blah blah… Take the train, you’ll thank me later. Before I boarded the train back to the hotel, you know what I had to do. I had to stop and get two more kebabs for the road. Anyways, I arrived at the airport and that was it, off to Sicily…

    Recommendations:
    No fee bank card to use ATM, exchange rates are horrible.
    Get a SIM if you don’t have a phone that works everywhere.
    Taking the Aeroexpress train to the city
    Know how to pronounce your accommodation in the local language AND know about how far it is from you to negotiate a price for your ride.
    NEVER EVER use the meter in Moscow, holiday season or otherwise.
    Recommend the Kebabs by the train station AND Genatsvale Restaurant for authentic Georgian Cuisine.
    If you are in town for the New Year, get to Red Square EARLY!
    Bring cold clothes and then add to that, I had never experienced a cold like this in my life.
    Moscow Metro, Kalashnikov and Kremlin tours as well as City sightseeing tour bus.

    And if you are brown like me, be prepared for people to want to speak with you and take pictures. I was told to be weary of Russians, they dislike us, this and that BUT I felt none of that. In fact the exact opposite outside of passport control. Definitely glad I was able to see that first hand and put that info out in this way.

    Invitation:
    Why I opted to stay at the Novy Arbat Marriott was because they provided the invitation service. Which is where someone or an official business invites you into the Russian Federation. You need this prior to obtaining your visa or it will not be granted. As I said I usually stay in airbnbs but a host could not provide this kind of assistance unless he or she is familiar with the process. The hotel handled it free of charge because I was staying there. Tour guide companies can provide this as well but may charge a fee.

    Visa:
    Of course for a visa you will need to go to the embassy or consulate of the country you intend to visit to obtain a visa. Russia however is a bit different. The Russian Visa Application form can be found at https://cibtvisas.com/forms?formname=Russia+Tourist+Guide.pdf and follow the steps as outlined. Please plan ahead of you trip as you will need to leave your passport at the embassy for whichever time table you selected. I did mine a week and some days prior to going due to work restrictions. It costed me quite a bit and it had to be mailed back to me so that also took some time. I actually received it two days before I left Japan to go to Russia. The price varies from country to country though.

    Hotel: Marriott.com
    Tours: Getyourguide.com
    Photographer: @belyano4ka_lizzi

  5. African_Odyzzee
    African_Odyzzee
    18 Dec 2018
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    Traveling While Black

    I travelled to Russia during winter because… well, the flight tickets were extremely cheap. Besides having to mentally prepare myself for the extremely cold weather, I couldn’t help but think about all the other stereotypes and preconceived notions I had about Russia going in (thank you Hollywood!). There are plenty of things to do in Moscow and most of them are quite central. Around the Red Square alone, one can easily spend a day getting lost in the cathedrals, museums, art galleries and the beautiful colourful architecture. The subway stations there are extremely impressive, one of the oldest in the world and the most beautiful I have ever seen.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the food…. Ah man! Chicken Kiev, vegetable and meat stews (yum). I would highly recommend going to a Ukrainian and a Georgian restaurant, you won’t be disappointed. I was only in Moscow for 5 days but I didn’t get any stares nor did I experience any racism, I did ask for help a couple of times and each time I got assistance although there was a language barrier because somethings are only written in Russian and most people there don’t speak English. Overall I had an amazing time in Moscow and I would definitely visit Moscow again.

  6. author
    leeannmorgan91
    08 Oct 2018
    Rating
    Traveling While Black
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    Traveling While Black

    Before heading to Moscow, Russia, I had so many thought running through my head . As A black American I’ve heard so many stereotypes about Russians and I didn’t kno it they all were true. After my visit , I would say the people exceeded my expectations and I very glad I was able to enjoy my trip . For the most part people were very friendly and willing to help with whatever I need help with . While on the other hand sum Russian people just kept a straight face … I didn’t take it any way just kind of figured it was there custom to be serious. As far as food choices I don’t think there was much to eat besides what was offered at my hotel and I didn’t like any of the Russian food I did try .

  7. author
    Sydney Thames
    01 Oct 2018
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    Traveling While Black

    I love and prioritize trying countries’ traditional cuisine when traveling. Long story short, I do not like Russian food, but found some GREAT restaurants.

    Regarding traditional Russian food:
    I will admit I can be a picky eater, but I think the group I was travelling with all came to a consensus in our dislike of the traditional food. One memorable meal was at the Vodka Museum, where they serve traditional food to go with the vodka. This included: bacon fat, salted cucumber, sardines topped with onions on top of egg and mustard. Our hotel also regularly served prune flavored yogurt and crepes stuffed with ham bits for breakfast. Overall, the traditional food was a very different flavor pallet than I am use to.

    Regarding fine dining:
    We went to a handful of amazing restaurants while traveling in Moscow and St Petersburg. I wish I could remember the names of them, unfortunately, I don’t. I really enjoyed the Georgian restaurants in Russia though. I guess because of the proximity, Georgian restaurants were common and the food was delicious! We also went to a few Italian restaurants– different than Italian food in Italy or American (so not to feel like you are having a food experience you could elsewhere), and very very good. One restaurant in St. Petersburg that I do remember and HIGHLY recommend is The Repa. This was a Russian restaurant. The food was incredible, the restaurants was gorgeous and swanky with very fair prices. We went after the ballet and with our ballet tickets were even able to get a discount on the meal.

    There were a handful of restaurant options in Moscow though and if being adventurous with food is not your thing, you will still have plenty of choices.

    See my post for Travelling While Black in St. Petersburg (same applies for Moscow).

  8. mrvandevere
    07 Mar 2018
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    Moscow is a fascinating city. If you are looking for a friendly and welcoming cultural experience this is NOT the place for you but if you. Over all the people there are quiet and keep to themselves. You won’t hear a lot of laughter or witness many smiles but Moscow is rich with history. If you go, bring a friend so that you have someone to talk to. In my experience most people didn’t understand english. While there I would recommend Checking out the Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, The Changing of the Guards, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. These landmarks offer unique architecture and are a sight to see. When you go the Red Square be sure to order food from the guys grilling out front, I got a stake kabob and it was on point! To see the photos I took in Moscow check out my IG @mrvandevere

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