Well we started on this trip with a lot of apprhension about travelling to a place generally perceived as people are not very friendly and language is a big problem and I would say I was plesamtly surprised.
We went to watch the FIFA world cup and the city was like a mini world with clans of people from across the world there to support their country and hence there were excellent arrangements by FIFA like innumerate volunteers, eng signages that made life earlier. But let me review if you were to go sans Fifa aura-
1. Its a beautiful place offering a mix of country side and modern city amenities depending which part of town you staying in. General obervation from airlines to hotels and restaurants - the staff is good at doing routine and defined jobs any additional requests are usually not taken very well so bear that in mind. They are courteous yet predefined.
Language- language is a problem but Ynadex app and google translators really help, you can directly scan text bery helpful while ordering off Russian menu cards and cross checking bills ( all bills would be Russian) , voice and text translator would help you with other conversation. Most of these apps allow you to download one language to make translation work off line so do that.
2. Plenty of motel and air bnb options as a tourist these are much better than 4-5 star properties. Most hotels offer basic toiletrries like soap shampoo and brush kit and are usually equipped with hair dryer etc. toileteries dont have cream and mositutisers. Indian travelling here remeber WC dont have water taps or jets and there are neither mugs on the wash room, empty bottles come handy.
3 weather-the time we went in june has white nights i.e time between sunset and sunrise is hardly 2-3 hours so you have light till 12 in the night. Evening can be windy , a windcheater and head cover would do the job. Afternoons can be warm but never leave without a basic stoll or jacket.
4. Local travel- moment you land pick up moscow travel guide detailing the metro, tram and buses. Buses and metro have flat fares for each journey so if you plan multiple stop overs buy a day pass. In june 2018 metro flat rate was 55 ruble and bus 40 ruble. Taxis can be expensive as distances are far and various royte options come. Yandex taxi is cheaper than uner etc download yandex taxi, yandex maps and moscow metro apps before your travel extremly useful. Metro takes a while to get to know but is well strucuted some 9-11 routes known by various colours.
5. Food- Plenty of options in veg and non veg. Usually europe can be an issue for chicken eaters but moscow offers ample options. Food is cheap almost same as India or cheaper and overall becomes much cheaper because of no additional taxes. Food is typically bland and cooked with least oil. Usually food is served portion wise based on weight sufficient for one person. Please note every addition to your order is charged so a nopdle may say 100 ruble in menu card and you may end up paying 200 because you added schezwan sauce, flat noodles instead of other and maybe a tomato sauce. Ues even at mc donalds and kfc tomato sauce is charged and we Indian love tomato suaces so carry a few sachets from india of from your free bfast spread. There is no free water and it can be quite expensive. Most hotels have free water dispensers always step out by filling your bottle from same. If you need to buy go to numerous supermarkets where you can pick up 1 litre for 25-35 else outside 500 ml would cost anywhere between 50-100. Beware of sparklin water and still water . The butter there tastes different if u have fussy kids carry your amul butter!!
You would find lots of outlets you see in India like mc donalds, KFC, pizza hut, farzi cafe etc.
7. Shopping- arbat street, gum mall, hyper markets, lubankya street all offer good options. You can bargin at arbat street and izmaloyovsku market. Gum mall is good for window shopping.
8. Carry only sneakers- you end up walking a lot even in metro stations. Of you have elderly people with you, lifts at metro and a combination of escaltors and lots of steps so bear that in mind.
Summary for Indian traveller- prices comparable to India and on quite a few things even cheaper so is works well on the pocket. Safe and well planned city. Its beautiful and picturesque!
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