Hi. My name's Polly and I have a problem. I compulsively try to convince people to visit Moscow. You see, I've been living in Moscow, Russia since 2010 and I constantly hear horrible things about my adopted home in western press. Sure, things aren't always rainbows and butterflies, but the truth is that Moscow is an incredibly safe, vibrant country that every traveler should have the chance to explore. Here's why:
1. The horrible ruble rate.If you haven't been following the news lately, I'll let you in on the TL;DR: in 2014 the Russian ruble lost about 50% of its value. Yup, at the start of the year it was trading somewhere around 33 to the US dollar. Now? It's 'recovered' to right around 60-61 to the dollar. This is great news for travelers as it means the normally exorbitant hotel and restaurant prices are now... almost normal priced. Come quick though; the Russian economy isn't slated to get any better for at least two years so soon inflation will get those prices rising.
2. The beauty of Russian winter.Unless you come from a place where a sweatshirt is appropriate winter wear, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised by Moscow winter. Sure there are some absolutely bone chilling days (once this month we were down to a nice -25F with wind chill), but usually the temperature for most of winter is much closer to freezing. Plus, once you get outside and see Red Square with a dusting of snow, you'll be in such traveler's bliss you probably won't even realize your toes are freezing off.
3. The Orthodox churches.The one thing that boggles my mind is how consistently unimpressed Russians are by the over-the-top gorgeousness of their Orthodox churches. Visitors, on the other hand, are usually floored. After four years of living in Moscow, I'm still overwhelmed every time I turn the corner and see a church. I'm not even talking the big ones like Saint Basil's or the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. There's literally a jaw-dropping church on every one of Moscow's side streets.
4. The metro system.Moscow's metro system, aside from being incredibly cheap and super convenient, is one of the most beautiful public works of art in the world. With close to 7 million people riding the 327.5 km long system daily, it could take weeks or even months to get a good look at each of the over-the-top stations. I recently wrote a post outlining my personal favorites if you'd like a more in-depth look.
5. The people.I know the stereotypes about grim-faced Russians and have investigated further to conclude... Yes, Russians do look really mean. Russians are very, very kind to their friends and acquaintances. Strangers? Not so much. The long and short of it is this: We think Russians are mean because they’re guarded. Russians think Americans are stupid because they smile for no reason. Everyone’s a critic.
So, the only thing left is: when are you coming to visit?
Polly blogs at A Girl and Her Travels about life as an American expat in Russia. She's lived in Moscow since 2010, working as an ESL teacher to the CEOs of major oil companies and some of the richest 5-year-olds in the world. Thankfully she's about to leave that world behind and is planning her triumphant return to the USA. She's currently a freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of Like a Local Mag.