From Moscow With Love
Arrived in Moscow Domodedovo Airport in the wee hours in the morning. Bear in mind that there are at least three international airports in Moscow. If anyone if planning to go to Moscow, make sure your arrangements especially on the airport transfers are according to which airport you are going to arrive in. Malaysians need to apply for a visa to enter Russia. Fill in the form with the specifics and the visa will be stamped in the passport.
It was really cold, it went down as low as -12 Celsius in one of the days. White fluffy snows drop by and said hi on the first day. Enchanting. Stay in Lotte Hotel Moscow for the whole 4 days. Just a walking distance to the Hard Rock Cafe Moscow and numerous souvenir stores in Arbat Street. It is quite possible to walk to the famous Red Square as well. But it will be a long walk in the cold weather. Did that anyway. 30 mins from the hotel to walls of Kremlin. Well actually it was on the other side of the walls. Have to add in another 20 mins walking time or so to actually reach the Red Square.
Russia uses its own currency. At the that time it was RM1~RUB13. The currency denominations was in 10s. For easy tracking, assuming RUB130 as RM13 is a lot more easier in order to do the mental arithmetic calculation. The money changers are aplenty in the town area especially in the shopping malls, just make sure that whether the conversion rate is inclusive of commission or you have to pay for the commission. It will be best to convert your local money the into USD before traveling to Moscow as it has better conversion rate as compared to EUR or GBP.
The souvenirs are rather affordable and non too expensive. But there is another place to shop for souvenir that is a bit out of town (about 25-30 mins) from the town centre called izmaillovsky market. The price does not differ that much but there are more choices and more room for bargaining. If one can speak Russian it is and added plus value as most of the sellers can't speak English especially the elder ones. Calculator and hand gesture came to the rescue. Hahaha. For branded goods, it is not advisable to shop in Moscow, as the price was not that cheap.
Haven't got the chance to try out its extensive subway network. Everything was in Russian (Cyrillic script). Preparation is needed to ensure you won't get lost in translation. Know your Cyrillic well or translate it into Romans script beforehand, then it will get you around town easily. Some of the shops were opened 24 hours (much to my surprise), and one of them is the sports shop near to the Lotte Hotel. If you are a Hard Rock Cafe regulars, there is one tip if you want to buy something from Hard Rock Cafe, go after midnite as they give you an additional 20% discount. Ehemmmm. By the way, HRC shop close at 4 am in the morning.
For meals, there were not much choices. But there were halal foods around the area. The easiest trick was to go to the mosque and you will find some around the area. There are 4 mosque in Moscow. The nearest to the town centre was about 20 mins from Red Square and near the Embassy of Indonesia.
One of the must do in Moscow of course to the Red Square. Did not have enough time to go in Kremlin that time. Just managed to walk around the Red Square and took photos around. There was also this one spot at the side of the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow whereby it was lauded as the centre point of Moscow. That it is the centre of the whole city if you calculate it in any direction. Ermmmm. Interesting indeed.
Moscow is even more beautiful at night. By the riverside overlooking the magnificent buildings that has been built. One of the most prominent was the seven sisters (eventho it was not complete seven per say). Managed to take photo 4 out of the buildings. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (walking distance from Lotte Hotel), The Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow which was visible from my room in the 13th floor of Lotte Hotel, the main building of Moscow State University and two more buildings which sported the same stalinist design.
Overall, the Moscow experience has not been that extensive. As it was not a leisure trip. It was truly a different experience. Unique city with different styles of living and of course different climate. -12 was seriously an experience. The coldest i had experience personally. You can't get out of the hotel without having something to cover your ears as after a while you felt as if you lost your ears. Hahaha. Non the less, it was an experience to remember. I have no qualms about going to Moscow again if given the chance to do so. Perhaps bring my son and wife also just for the experience. It surely be 100% turnaround from what we have in Malaysia. As usual, i wrote myself, my parents and my travel buddies postcards from Moscow. At first, i was not sure of what exactly to wrote down in it. Then i kinda remember that everytime i was in a car going around town, i felt as if i am in one of the James Bond movie. Hahaha it is tacky i know. From there i got the idea of what i should wrote in the postcards. In the end, it was all written down as From Moscow with Love.