Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Arriving at Moscow

Distance traveled: 2289 km

- New cities can be disorienting!
- New cities where you don`t know the language or alphabet - particularly so!
- And a new city where you don't know the language, alphabet, and you arrive smack in the middle of rush hour where 10 million people are trying to get to work at the same bloody time, with the same bloody subway will just outright blow - you - up!

Well you guessed it, I did. The night train from Saint Petersburg arrived at Leningradsky (don't you just love that the stations are actually called that) station at 7.00 o'clock in the morning. And since the station seemed to be somewhat of a magnet for shady looking types, I decided against digging up my Lonely planet from the backpack, since it felt like it would be somewhat of an open invitation for one of those aforementioned shady charecters to come and rob me.

The priority, i thought, was getting my ass out of there as quickly as possible, and regain my bearings at more friendly territory. So I made for the subway, which, i wondered, was a very peculiar type of subway - as it had more than a handfull of exit points and not a single entry point. After a few rounds around the subway station, making me look like the stupid tourist i was anyway, I realized that i weren't the only idiot around, and a silly looking chap, wearing a metro sign was pointing down the street.

I followed his finger, or at least the direction it was pointing, and Eureka! 500 meters further down along the street, the architects must have run out of Vodka for a while, and actually added an entry point. However, for a metro with so many exits and so few entries there were an extraordinary amount of people in there.

And very rude ones too, at least those Moscowites haven't heard of cuing. So going down an escalator, with atleast a 1000 other people wanting to do just that, at the same time - and not being sensible enough to devise a cuing system, made navigation somewhat of challenge. Wearing a large backpack didn't exactly help things. Not knowing where i was, where i was going, and what line to take, didn't exactly brighten the outlook.

Anyway going on intuition, since i couldn't find a system map, and i couldn't find any signs informing me which station I was at (the architects must have found some more Vodka in a closet somewhere, by the time they reached 'signposting' on their agenda) I boarded a train, which was basicly just the train that send out the better vibes. 2 stations later i thought I saw some pink beneath some incomprehensible cyrilic writing, and decided to go for it - since my stop was on the pink line - this seemed to be a very reasonable idea.

And somehow, without really realizing what i did, i had ended up at Kitay Gorod, which was pretty much exactly where I needed to be.

My hostel seemed to share the general idea, that signposting is a bad concept. (I don't know, maybe it's the Vodka!) When you're located on the 3rd floor of a dodgy looking stair case, in a court yard of the main street, in my humble opinion, some sort of sign is not a bad idea!

Anyway eventually found it, and went for a walk around the Red Square and the Kremlin, very interresting actually seeing it yourself, nothing like i had imagined it to look like.

First impressions of Moscow, is that it lacks the grace of Saint Petersburg. While Saint Petersburg seems graceful, Moscow is bombastic. The girls in Saint Petersburg looked pretty, here they more than anything seem to look, well, Russian. And the clothing have changed too, from the very chick and fashionable in Saint Petersburg, to the more serious and formal here in Moscow.

Anyway, have two more days here, so you'll get a rapport on this - the largest city in Europe - in a few days.

- Stefan

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