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Moscow - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

My visit to Moscow was made easier by being a pilot and already having the necessary documents I needed to visit Russia. My partner had a less easy experience which I will go through. It had taken me some time to set up a joint visit to this city. Mostly because of the visa process which is somewhat protracted and I should say before the recent nerve agent dispute. British citizens need to apply in person at Edinburgh, Manchester or London application centres to have their fingerprints taken. After this, they are normally granted a 30-day visa which is currently around £110.

There are ways around this, you can get a group visa when you visit with an organised tour or with a cruise ship on one of their tours. I guess the idea behind this is that you have a local employed and also who knows where you are. The reality is that on a later visit with a cruise ship we found out the guide just dropped us off at places and told us to come back for the next part in an hour or whatever the time was. So do not dismiss guided tours out of hand as you will not be watched all the time.

There are a number of ways to get to Moscow. There are three train stations connecting Moscow to Asia, Siberia and Europe, waterways linking it to St Petersburg, and with five airports some with new direct flights from Aeroflot there are plenty of ways that you can arrive in the city.

This is a city where richly decorated palatial interiors house humble grocery stores, and where you can pick up a loaf of black bread for under a Euro. You will find Soviet-style apartment blocks, seemingly devoid of personality that house residents not shy of pointing out the flaws in their leaders and joke about the KGB. It’s also where young socialites party all night and may well have taken over as the city that never sleeps. Mind you after these all night parties you can see the same people going to the Orthodox churches the next morning with knees, shoulders and hair covered. The constant mingling of seemingly conflicting ideas reflects Moscow’s roots. It was founded as a 12th-century trading post on the confluence of the Moscow and Yauza rivers, the Russian metropolis has so far been burned to the ground during a 13th-century Mongol invasion, crowned the largest city in the world in the 17th century, lost its capital status and fought off Napoleon’s forces in the 18th century. It then emerged as the centre of Lenin’s, then Stalin’s communist regime, regaining its capital cache in the process. Much like the city’s architecture, Moscovites don’t sugar coat their past or for that matter the present, they embrace it, just as they did the dawn of capitalism in the ’90s.

You have only to stroll across from seeing Lenin’s embalmed body in Red Square to the adjacent McDonald’s to see proof of that. But throughout its past and possibly into its future Moscow has always wanted not to be taken at face value. It may be famed for its brightly painted, eye-catching exteriors, but there are many things that are behind that colourful façade.

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