Moscow's National Museum located in Red Square.
Moscow Russia! Where does one begin with a travelogue on a place like this? In really never thought I would make it to Moscow. In fact, I never really thought I wanted to make it to Moscow. During our first five minutes after landing in Sheremetyevo International Airport, I was sure I wanted to get the hell OUT of Moscow!
I had never seen a more chaotic scene in any passport queue in my life. There were several thousand people jammed in to about 5 kiosks with no lines or order whatsoever. We were immediately swept in to a frenzy of bodies moving to one side of the entry room. There were so many bodies that we could not control how we were moving! Cokie was getting crushed! This was an incredibly dangerous situation and my son’s safety was at risk. I did not know what to do, so I screamed at the top of my lungs, “my child is being killed! Stop! Stop! Stop!” I screamed many times and looked directly at the armed border guard and started yelling directly at him! (I thought this might be the end of my trip to Russia at this moment.) At that time, something magical happened. The wave of human bodies lightened up and the sea parted just like in the Ten Commandments. All People magically made way for my family (well, at least Cokie and Som). Cokie and Som were allowed to jump to the front of the line and clear immigration. As soon as I started to follow, I was clothes-lined in the throat by a large immigrant man (I don’t think he was Russian) and prevented from progressing. The woman and child were ok; the man had to fight the line just like everyone else.
I eventually made it through the line about 30 minutes later after some pretty sneaky moves myself. I basically jumped in front of another guy - as he was placing his passport on the counter, I slipped mine in first and slid right underneath him in to the line. I smiled at him and knew that he could do nothing right in front of the immigration officer. I was just hoping that I would not meet him again outside as he was pissed!
After paying about $60 for a porter to carry our bags about 10 meters (our first of many Moscow rip-offs…), we were on our way with our driver to our hotel.
Moscow is by far the most expensive city on earth. Hotels generally go for about $400 to $700 per night for 2 star standards. We lucked out and got a nice 2-3 star hotel for about $200 per night. Our travel agent in Moscow who we were using for the rest of our Russia expedition could not believe we got a hotel near Red Square so cheap!
Moscow is one of those cities that you can both love and hate at the same time. By the end of our week in Moscow, both Som and I hated it more than loved it. When we finally boarded the Transsiberian Express train, we felt an immediate sense of relief that we were finally out of Moscow. Even while we were still on the tracks at the Moscow Train Station, we felt that Moscow was finally over. But at the same time, we loved Moscow. The history and spectacular buildings and structures and experiences we had there will be fond memories for life.
I will never forget the first time we strolled Red Square after midnight and several shots of quality Russian vodka. I will never forget exploring Saint Basil’s Basilica (or as Cokie calls it, “the Candy Castle”) and the convents and cathedrals throughout the city. It was like a trip back through my history books, and I am really glad we spent a full week exploring the bowels of this phenomenal ….and hate-able…city.
Be sure to visit our Russia Galleries!
Take a look at some of our images of Moscow!