Tag Archives: travel Moscow

Traveling Russia? Celebration of May 9

Today is the May 9. If you happen to travel in eastern Europe or be in any part of Russia you know it by now ūüôā In Russia and places with large russian community this day is very special.¬† End of Second World War. Many say that¬†Victory Day celebrations ¬†is one of the most celebrated¬†amongst New Year’s Eve and ¬†Birthdays in Russia.

‚ÄúThere’s a war hero in every family, not necessarily someone who fought but someone who worked and survived during the war,‚ÄĚ therefore celebration of May 9 is very popular in Russia.

Historically it is celebration of Victory in Second World war in 1945. In Moscow on May 9 there is a big military parade and it is the national holiday ion Russia. In other big cities there could be some meeting  or smaller parade held. In this day you can see many orderly people in jackets with a lot of medals and flowers walking around.

Lately¬†as a sign of¬†May 9 celebrations¬†is a ribbon of St. George as well. Many people might even don’t know what it means but you will see many people wearing a¬†small orange – black¬†¬†striped ribbon.

Simple idea , started in 2005 has huge success not just in Russia but in every other place  with russian community. Every spring ribbons appears on cars, bags, posters as a sign of memory and respect. Ribbon itself origins  way back to the times of Imperial Russia, when it was introduced as the highest military decoration instituted by Catherine the Great.

Not positive side of¬† May 9 celebrations in Russia¬†– by the evening there will be more drunk people on the streets. Because one of russian traditions for remembering a friend is to drink a small glass of vodka. If celebrations beginn¬†in the morning, how many friends there are to ‘remember’ & how many other reasons to have a tost¬†‘for Victory’? That is one of the things that are mistery for people just traveling in Russia…

Practice what you preach: Travel Planning

All the latest posts have been about my resent trip to Russia. I know this travel destinations sounds a bit exotic to many people, therefore I wanted to share my travel experience in Moscow. But at the same time I havent forgotten other travel related activities & planning some other trips as well. But before that here are 3 reminder things about planning a trip:

1.¬†Of course, when¬†we think about trip & related expenses, first advice from everybody is plan in advance. What comes to this trip I did it – got flight tickets already in December ( 4 month before the trip). Since then I’ve been comparing the prices that¬†been offered as a ‘special deal’ and can say that the price¬†I bought the tickets was one of the best. Few times for the short period there were¬†some offers with prices close to¬†one I had¬†but basically it showed that as it gets closer to departure date a¬†‘special deals’ or ‘sales‘ prices¬†don’t go lower that the basic level price, if booking good time in advance.

Moscow. Sheremetyevo Airport.

Moscow. Sheremetyevo Airport.

2. Other thing I wanted to mention is a hotel reservation. Earlier on to book a hotel room in Russia with international booking engines was almost impossible. There were just few international brands with 4-5 star hotels. What I was usually doing for my Russian trips, is doing search on local russian sites & then looking for the website of particular hotels I was interested. That way I could get at least reasonable price range for 2 Р3 star or private hotels.

When planning my trip to Moscow this year, out of curiosity I did a search on Booking.com Рthe hotel booking site I use for European destinations. Big was my surprise to find that they have added many hotels and even hostels with reasonable prices for Moscow and Russia in general.

What I like about Booking.com is that you can find hotel reviews there. For booking a hotel in Moscow that is very important because many ‘hotels‘ arent really a hotels, but just one floor or even one very big apartment¬†as a ‘small private hotels’. Last time I¬†visited in Moscow I actually stayed in one like that. The best things were central location and the price¬† around 2000 rub. Not so good things – that is a big apartment were you rent just one room ( with shared kitchen, shower &WC); furniture in rooms are not the best quality; no internet access.

3.¬† Last thing I’d like to mention here is – get off the beaten tracks. And here I mean your habits of planning the trip.

For several years I had clear picture what is the best way to plan my a trip to Moscow. As mentioned before, I was nicely surprised to about opportunity to book a hotel in Moscow on my favorite booking engine and was about to do it. In the last moment I decided to check out the special offer from event organizers.

I know the hotels they were offering – the good ones. And I knew the price range of hotel rooms there.¬†From my experience before¬†I knew¬†that mostly every time hotels offered by organizers are good but they¬†cost much more I’d like to pay. Definitely not a budget friendly ones. So I just do my own research & find the one¬† nearby area.

Same¬†was about to happen this time as well. But for god knows what reason I downloaded¬†a hotel registration form. And what I see there? Both 3 and 4 star hotels are offered with very reasonable price. Of course I want it. Why I didn’t take the offer before? Because I knew the price for that hotel & I could not imagine that special discount for event participants will be so big…

What I wanted to say here is that even you’ve been doing something for years & you think your solution is one of the best one, check out the some other options that are a bit outside your regular beaten trap. Because it might happen that NOW there is a better, cheaper or more convenient way…

What comes to me – I’m about to try one more thing I havent done – use Priceline.com for bidding on hotel room for one of my next trips.

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5 things to know before traveling to Moscow, Russia.

Russia as a travel destination has been a land of mystery for many years. Geographically Russia is largest country in world. It is part of two continents but most foreigners still think about Russia as a Moscow or St.Petersburg.

Image of Moscow.

Moscow, capital city of Russia

Well,¬†I would say, that for a ¬†person who never been in Russia, this is¬†best place to start. Moscow – the current capital of Russia – is one of the¬†largest cities in the world as well. Definitely it’s worth to visit. First impressions about this place might be diferent, depending on you travel experience. ¬†With all the sightseeing, entertainment, world-class museums, monuments, churches and other historical centers to see,¬†every traveler can find something¬†fascinationg in this trip.

But before you start your journey to Moscow, there are few things one needs to know about travelling in Russia. I made a list of 5 important things if you intend to discover beauty & mystery of Russia.

1. Everyone needs a visa for traveling to Russia.

When applying for visa, you need to know how long your stay will be. Visa is issued for certain number of days. For getting a ‘travelers visa’ travelers are required to¬†point a specific travel destination & reason for the trip as well. Besides, when applying for visa, everyone needs to get special travel insurance for the same number of days.

Make sure all the information is written correct in visa documents. It has happen with me few times that some info is misspelled. Good that I found it while in Embassy. On the border customs are very strict. I have heard many stories, that because of this people are turned back or there has been long discussions with custom officers about it. 

2. After arriving at the final destination, foreigners need to register within 3 working days.

Lately many hotels in Moscow are offering this service right at the arrival with no extra cost (but some might take a small fee). They might ask to leave your pasport at the reception for a short while.  But if you stay in smaller or private hotel ask at the reception were  you can do it.

3. The best way to get from Sheremetyevo Airport to the city center is by AeroExpress. 

AeroExpress - train from Seremetyevo to city

AeroExpress - train from Sheremetyevo Airport to the city

Sheremetyevo is the main Airport for international arrivals in Moscow. There is a train station right next to the arrival hall. This new direct non-stop train service has been operating since 2009 and is very convenient for getting past all the traffic on the streets. Travel time from the city to the Airport by car or public bus is around 1 hour, depending on traffic.  With Aeroexpress it takes just 35 min to get to the Belorussky Railway Station.  From there you can use metro to whatever place needed.

Price for the one way ride is 320 rubles ( ~ $11) or round trip 550 rubles. This price is reasonable for many travelers though train is not crowded. There is a train every 30 min. If you happen to arrive in Domodedovo Airport, there is a similar express train to Moscow, Paveletsky Station.

4. The best way to get around city is by Metro.

Metro station in Moscow

One of Metro (Metropoliten) stations in Moscow central part.

Public transport is relatively cheap in Moscow Р28 rubles (~$o.5) for one ride. Actually Metro, with 12 lines, is the fastest way to get around as well. With all the traffic jams and large distances (overage trip  length Р13km) from place to place, Metro is the most convenient transportation in Moscow. 

For more convenience, get a ticket for 10 rides (265 rubles) or 20 rides (520 rubles). This will speed up the entrance to the metro itself.

Besides, almost every metro stations in central part of city – inside ‘Kolcevaja¬†linija’ (Circle line) – is like a piece of art or architecture. I would even suggest to spend an hour or more exploring Moscow’s underground. Get in and out of train in every station¬†in central part of Moscow to see difference. Someone will find fascinating long escalator rides as well.

5. Always carry a passport with you.

Even if I ‘ve been in Moscow several times during last 10 years, it’s still kind of discomfort for me, seeing police officers checking documents ‘just because’. You might be asked to show passport (other ID documents are not so important) when entering some office building¬† or simple on the street.

With resent incidents in Airport and other public access areas, now there are a lot of metal detectors around central part of Moscow. Therefore don’t be surprised to see it before entrance to museum or metro as well.

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By mentioning this things I don’t want to scare people from traveling to Russia. This country ir great. definitely with different mentality or attitude to the things but worth to visit.¬†If you¬†speak some Russian¬†then it will open up even more.¬†

Enjoy the trip!

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