– In Dutch soon –
The first city of our train journey on the Trans Mongolian Railway. We were curious about this overwhelming capital. It’s the biggest city of Russia where almost 12 million people live. Compared to the more Western St. Petersburg, in Moscow most people only speak Russian. Everything is indicated in the Russian alphabet. When we arrive in our hostel we try to figure out how to communicate with the owner. But he is very kind and tries to answer our questions with some help of Google Translate. It’s clear that we slowly enter Mother Russia.
Our first day we meet with Yuliya, a Russian friend of our Dutch friend Julia. She guides us through the city and afterwards we interview her for our report Under the Same Sun. She tells us that if it wasn’t for the money, she would live on the country side. ‘They pay you more in Moscow than elsewhere’, she said. Walking through the city, we pass by huge buildings, fountains and bridges. We see a lot of statues that refer to the former communist Sovjet Russia. Comparing to the Dutch architecture we’re used to, we feel small in the middle of all the massive buildings. The city view is cheerful, it’s clean and full of colours and golden towers. When crossing Red Square we walk straight up to St. Basil’s Cathedral. The icon of Moscow, decorated with sweet colours, round shapes and towers with crowns that look like cupcake toppings. This typical Russian architecture fascinates us. We wunder why not all cathedrals look like this.
In between the crowd, I stare at all the people posing in front of the cathedral. Selfie sticks and Ipads block my view.
In Moscow locals travel either by subway, expensive car or a step, you see this populair item everywhere. We walk or travel by subway in the capital. Eager for some fresh air we get on a ride to Gorky park. When we enter the park we feel water mist on our cheeks. It comes from the huge fountain in the middle of the park. With opera music on the background, and people selling balloons and cotton candy, we feel like being in Disneyland. People sit around the huge fountain, watching the rainbow that appears in to the splashing water. Old couples, young lovers, writers and hipsters take a rest on a sofa or Fatboy and escape from the crowded city.
Meeting with locals
We were a bit sceptic about the people in Moscow. At first they seem a bit angry, but they do smile when they notice you speak a little Russian. Only spassiba (thank you) is enough. Most people we meet are friendly and willing to talk with us. Like Evgeniya, who we met our first night. She was just back from traveling through India to open up her mind. When she came back to Moscow it appeared to her that Moscow is changing. ‘There are less people drinking on the streets. Now you see people jogging, they pay more attention to a healthy life style’, she said.
In Moscow you can find every kind of kitchen. Our first night we have a great Indian meal at Receptor. When we take a look on their international menu it’s clear the owners are travellers. They serve a lot of Asian plates like palek paneer, curry’s, and sushi rolls. But if it was for the Russian cuisine, borsch (beetroot soup), haring salad and Russian pancakes are our favourites for now. Trying to save some money? The take away meals at the local supermarket are really good. They sell freshly made salads with carrots, beetroot, eggplant, fish and lots of koriander. They’re delicious, healthy and easy to bring with you on the train.
One thing is for sure, Moscow is beautiful during fall. The leaves on the huge trees in the city parks colour yellow, red, brown, green and orange. Maybe we were lucky, we had sun every day!
But after spending five days in the two biggest city’s of Russia, we look forward to some fresh air. We’re excited to take the Transmongolian railway to our next stop, lake Baikal.