This is my last night
This is my last night in Moscow, Russia. I must say, Moscow is a really cool city. I would have to say I liked it more than St. Petersburg, but I still liked that city a lot. Although, arriving in St. Petersburg was more of a culture shock that arriving in Moscow. Here is why: -> When we left the airport in St. Petersburg, we saw just about nothing. The airport seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. We saw a few buildings in the distance. The parking lot was farely full, but it was small. There was a bus stop out front, with a bus arriving every 4 to 6 minutes. We looked at the printout for the hostel (directions) and found that we had to take a bus to a metro station, then take the metro (subway) to the stop closest to the hostel. Well, we didnt exactly have any Russian reubles on us, and there was no currency exchange in the airport. There was, however, an ATM. Sid and I both had debit cards, and decided to give it a try. I decided to take out 1010 Rubles, as I didn’t know how much the bus ride would be, and I wanted to make sure I had a small enough bill. The ATM spit out a 1000 and a 10 bill. Sid followed suit and got 1010. We went outside, and saw that we had to take bus number 13. After seeing two pass, we finally gathered enough wits and decided to get on the next one. The directions told us to take the bus until the stop after the “round-about”, what ever that meant. The bus was an old double-length bus, much like you would find in China. Obviously a souveneir from the Soviet-era days. The bus started to move. An old lady eventually made her way to us to collect the fee. We had no idea how much it cost, so we tried to give her a 1000 reuble bill. Keep in mind, 1 USD = ~30 reubles. She starred at us with a grin on her face, then shook her head. The other people on the bus started to giggle a bit, one said in a thick-Russian accent “welcome to Russia”. I thought that was funny. We then tried the 10 reuble bill, but that seemed to be not enough. We tried 2, and that was enough for the three of us - 6 reubles per person. The bus drove in the country side for about 10 mintues when we started to see high-rise Soviet-block housing buildings. We also saw a Coca-Cola bottling plant. We eventually came into what seemed to be the outskirts of the city. We passes a large “round-about” with a World War II memorial statue in the center. We decided to get out of the bus when it stopped. This was probably the most intense part about arriving in Russia. The streets were crowded - people were going someplace at 6:30 in the evening. Our next quest was to find a meto station. After walking around, navigating around people and roads, we found one. We felt there was no way they would take a 1000 rueuble bill, so we decided to get some US cash changed. Of course, we found a currency exchange in one of the underground walkways. The metro cost us 7 reubles/person for any destination. All the signs were in Cyrillic. Lucky for us, we had a St. Petersburg guide book with a map of the metro system with station names in both Russian-English and Russian-Cyrillic. Oh, the metro system in many of these cities in Russia happened to have been built during the Soviet days to double as bomb shelters. The metro system in St. Petersburg happenes to be the deepest in the world - an average of 60 meters deep. It seemed the Escalators never ended. We eventually arrived at our hostel and was pleasnt to hear English being spoken by the staff. -> We arrived in Moscow at the train station Sunday Morning. By that time, we had extensive experience using a Russian metro system from St. Petersburg. Moscow seems to be like any big city – tall buldings, nice malls, expensive cars – but it is still different from all the rest in its own ways. Unfortunately, my time is almost up. I will continue this later. I am boarding a train tomorrow (Wednesday) night for Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. It will take 5 nights. I won’t be posting until at least the 19th of May.