Last week I went on a trip to Moscow to lead some workshops for my current assignment. This was my first trip to Moscow and to Russia in general. Not only did I enjoy my time in Moscow, I find myself considering going back again as a tourist.
My trip began a few of weeks before traveling as you need a visa to travel to Moscow. This required some documents and a trip to the Russian visa central. Since we got all the documents in advance this was quick and easy. A waiting period for about 10 days and then we could pick up our visa and travel to Moscow.
At Arlanda Airport we traveled with Aeroflot from terminal 2, which is a pretty small terminal compared to the ones I usually travel from. Me and Christan must have been a bit tired, because we missed that we were at the wrong gate and that the restaurants where all upstairs. It all worked out well of course, but we laughed a bit at it afterwards.
I am not a frequent flyer by any means, but I have taken a few flights in my days and passing through customs in Moscow was a new experience. Not many speak English (or at all) at the airport and you have to go through several checkpoints which takes forever. It's not annoying or stressful, it just takes extra long due to the many checkpoints. Some checkpoints are even just a few feet apart, which feels a bit redundant.
Once cleared we had a taxi waiting for us. The trip took about 90 minutes and cost almost nothing compared to the cost here in Sweden. The hotel had a pretty small lobby and we arrived just as a bus was checking in. I know well how stressful this is from my time working in hotel, but the receptionist checked us in with grace and great attitude. Top score right there.
We had a burger king just outside the hotel so we just grabbed a burger and Pepsi cherry by mistake and then went to bed. It was a long day, but overall a smooth trip.
The next day we had workshop with the client and afterwards we had a dinner together. We went to a Nordic restaurant called Björn and had some good food. After the meal we got a nice tour of the red square and of course the subway by our hosts Mikhail and Roman. Me and Christian decided that even though we got a nice tour of the red square, we wanted to see it in daylight as well.
Day 2 was workshops again and after we wrapped that up we started a walk that would last for almost 5 hours. We aimed for Gorky park and headed out. Going a little bit west we continued to be amazed over how clean Moscow is and how amazing the architecture is. The buildings are impressive and everywhere we stood in awe over the structural pieces of art.
Passing through a busy Gorky park we moved towards the river and headed towards the red square. We passed the enormous statue of Peter the Great and then took the bridge over to the Kreml and the red square. Just on the right after the bridge there are some spectacular structures that give an amazing view over Moscow and the Moscow river.
After a long walk around the surrounding areas around Kreml to see Bolshoi Theater and Lubyanka prison we ended up watching a bunch of Scotsmen playing just outside the Kreml. This of course was because at the time of our visit there was a competition for military music groups from all over the world.
On our way home we decided to walk and we got to see a little about Moscow's nightlife. As expected it was pretty calm and cosy with some musicians playing in the parks and soft music playing in the pubs. I am sure this is a bit different in the weekends, but it was just the right amount of people out for my taste on the weekdays.
Going back home took a while. We started at 5 in the morning and took a cab to the airport before 6, just to be sure that we would not have any issues before our flight was leaving at 10.40. The cab drive took a little over an hour and at the airport we had to stand in line for 40 minutes just to check in. After that it was the long process of getting through to our flight through all the checkpoints.
It took another hour and I actually got stuck in a very strange situation where the woman before me was having a heated argument with the woman forcing her to step back and take off her shoes before passing the security checkpoint with the scanner. it was awkward because the woman working in the checkpoint waved me to pass through, but the woman without shoes would not let me pass.
Eventually we got through and had a smooth flight back to Sweden. I got stuck on the last row and I had company by a nervous guy from India going to Uppsala to study and a restaurant chef returning from a 3 month visit with family in Mongolia. We had an interesting chat on our way back to say the least.
Once back home in Sweden we had a very long queue to get past the visa check, but as a swede I could pass right trough. Thank you for that Arlanda!
Once home I was super tired and fell aslep in the afternoon. My head desperately trying to process the workshops and of course the amazing city of Moscow.
It was an amazing trip.