I know it’s such a long overdue post since I went to Moscow like 6 months ago. But better late than never right? So here I am writing about Moscow, a city that I had never imagined I’d visited before. But then after just one step, I literally fell in love! I visited Moscow during the biggest football event in the world, which of course not other than World Cup 2018. I already write about my experience watching the World Cup. But besides that, I never regretted going to Russia, especially Moscow! Why? Here let me tell you…
- The airport
I arrived at Sheremetyevo International Airport around 8 am and the airport was crowded, but not as crowded as I thought will be because it’s during the World Cup. The airport is not big since there are 2 another airport in the city, but it is clean! I need to stay in the airport until 12 pm because I need to collect my World Cup ticket and the booth will be open during that time. So I just sat and watched all these supporters coming from all over the world, wearing their national team attributes and extravagant accessories.
I bought my phone card in the airport if I’m not mistaken I bought Megafon for around 500 RUB for unlimited internet data for 2 weeks and free local SMS & phone call. By the way, internet connection is so fast in Russia! The customer service was so friendly and helpful because I couldn’t connect to the internet at first, but he kept trying until my phone connected to the internet.
After I successfully collect my World Cup ticket which only took about 5 mins, I immediately went to the Aeroexpress, an airport train which takes all the passenger to the city center. You can buy the Aeroexpress ticket online and on the spot, there’s no price difference. It was 500 RUB for one way ticket. It was easy to find the Aeroexpress station since the sign and volunteers are everywhere. The train was so clean and comfy, I even sleep half of the journey. The train arrived at Belorussky and the journey took around 45 mins. By the way, if you didn’t opt for the Aeroexpress, take the Yandex taxi, it’s trusted.
- The metro station
If you imagine metro station with the one that plain, dark, smelly, disorganized, and crowded, well it’s not in Moscow! Moscow has so many beautiful metro stations. By beautiful I mean it is beautifully artistic! It’s like walking in a free art gallery. Moscow metro is also one of the world’s most efficient and cleanest in the world. It has so many lines, I don’t know how many to be exact but sometimes I find it hard to understand the line since the sign sometimes also written in Cyrillic.
From what I read on the internet, the metro stations’ design was the vision of Stalin, the former leader of the Soviet Union. He wanted to create a metro system that resembles ‘Peoples Palaces’. Each station has its different unique design that represents the era. But the thing that interchangeable is the fact that most of the stations designed with marble columns, chandeliers, and exquisite frescoes.
You can spend days exploring the metro stations itself in Moscow. However, during my time in Moscow, I didn’t set a special time to explore the stations, I only came across some of the stations and I forgot some of the names. But I remember my favorite is Komsomolskaya as it one of the center station. The station is so pretty with marble arcades, big chandelier, and bright yellow frescoes. Another one is Novoslobodskaya which is well-known for its stunning stained-glass panels. Taganskaya station is adorned with medieval architecture. In the wall, you can spot the profiles of Soviet army beautifully engraved.
I can’t remember the rest of the stations that I went, but when you are in Moscow, please take a day to explore the charming Moscow’s metro station!
- The Red Square
Right after I put my luggage in the hostel, I immediately went to the Red Square. It must be everyone’s bucket list when they visit Russia, so do I. According to the story, Red Square used to hold a very dark history, since the center of the city was a slum where criminals assembled and also the square was used as the site of public executions. But there was another story that said the square was a sacred place, a venue for parades, or a central market. Well, I don’t know to be exact. But one I am sure, Red Square is so festive, specifically during the World Cup!
The most eye-catching landmark in Red Square is, of course, the St. Basil’s Cathedral. It’s an Orthodox church built during the reign Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Legend said the architecture of the church was blinded after building the church so he couldn’t build a church better than the St. Basil’s Cathedral. I didn’t enter the church since the queue was crazy long. If you want to enter tho, the tickets are about 700 RUB and can be purchased online or on the spot.
Red Square is a feast for tourist visiting Moscow because most of the main tourist attraction is there. Besides than the church, you can visit Lenin’s Mausoleum where the body of Lenin, Soviet Union founder lied and the Moscow State Historical Museum. I personally didn’t make any budget allocation for the museum, so I didn’t enter any. Also, there’s so much activity in the Red Square during World Cup. Lol, I’m a cheapskate.
GUM Department Store also another choice during your time in Red Square. It’s Russia’s most famous shopping mall and also the first (I’m not sure about this), but it still worth to visit. The building itself is so charming. My friend who lives there said that the decoration is often changing according to the event. So this time, the shopping mall was decorated into World Cup theme. Talking about cute! GUM is like the Harrods of Moscow. Even when you don’t want to buy anything, just make sure you visit it. Oh wait, you can buy the famous GUM ice cream with only like 100RUB. My friend who lives there said that the decoration is often changing according to the event. So this time, the shopping mall was decorated into World Cup theme. Talking about cute!
- The cleanliness
I am impressed by the city’s cleanliness! I don’t what Moscow looks like in any other time, but during the World Cup. WOW?! It’s so clean. I expected the city will be a little too packed and dirty because you know, it’s World Cup. People came from everywhere, drinking beers here and there, and shout like crazy. But apparently, it’s not like that in Moscow. Yes, the football supporters were passionate and crazy, in such a manner way. Hats up to the World Cup organizing committee and the Russian government, they did a good job in organizing the event.
- The people
It’s the World Cup and volunteer was everywhere. Their main job was of course to help all the visitors. But besides that, Russians were friendly. Also, all the football supporters were so so friendly, especially when it’s seen that we are supporting the same country. In Red Square, people from different countries took photos together, holding their national flag and attributes. Ah, the World Cup vibe!
Besides, I met some of Indonesian students who study in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well. They were really nice, guiding me and my friends everywhere. Helping with the language and basically anything. Shout out to them!
- The public transportation
Besides the beauty, the metro in Moscow is also pretty on time and cheap. It reaches every side of the city, but at first, it was quite challenging to read the metro map as they have so many lines. In some station, they don’t do Latin for the sign, it’s on Cyrillic so good luck with that. For 3 days in Moscow, I bought the transportation pass. I forgot how much it was, but the price was fair.
There is tram as well in some part of the city. Apparently, some people can board it for free, but my friends said sometimes there is an inspection for the ticket. So of course as a good visitor, I tap in my pass.
- The food
Since it was hard to find halal food, I ate KFC every single day. But the KFC was good, unlike the one in Turkey. It was richer in spices. So plus ten to Russian KFC. But I went to this fancy Chinese restaurant (ok, not that fancy but as a student traveler it was fancy for me) and order a noodle, turns out it tasted like street kuey teow in Jakarta. Oh, I am happy!
- The shopping
Of course, the official World Cup merchandise store was everywhere. People are merchandise shopping like crazy because you know it’s World Cup. You need to get some merch to prove you were on the World Cup! But the official store’s price was a little too expensive for me, so I just bought a passport cover. But I did a lot of merch shopping in St. Petersburg.
Izmailovo Market is the solution for cheaper merch. In the usual day, they sell typical Russian souvenir, Mathrouska, that unique hat (I don’t know the name), and everything. In the World Cup season, they sell football players Mathrouska, World Cup shirts to limited edition World Cup money. I bought the money and I think it was worth it! Izmailovo is not only for shopping tho, but it is also good for photo hunting. Try to explore the market until you find the Izmailovo Kremlin with its colorful building.
So at my first time in Moscow, I fell in love with the city, especially the World Cup ambiance. I would really love to go back to Moscow someday and explore more!