I’ll be honest, the thought of riding this particular metro intimidated the hell out of me before I got here. Mostly because I was supposed to have the Cyrillic alphabet memorized before arriving in Russia and, well, that didn’t happen. But, thankfully, like most metros I’ve ridden it makes sense once you get the hang of it and accidentally exit when you don’t intend to. And I think it may be the fastest and most efficient metro I’ve ever ridden. The stations are also pure insanity and way over the top on the circle line (number 5). I love how gaudy and crazy they are.
My impressions of Moscow so far are pretty positive, overall. However, unlike New York City, the first stop on my trip, I definitely couldn’t see myself living here. It’s been pretty difficult adjusting to travelling solo, and on top of that, this is my first time solo in a country where I don’t speak the language (and almost no one speaks English here).
I’m hesitant to make any sweeping generalizations about Russians, but so far, many people I’ve encountered don’t live up the Russian stereotype. I have had people I don’t know smile at me. When I was completely lost on the metro on my first ride from the airport to the apartment I’m staying at, every single person I stopped and asked for directions (via gestures, pointing, and helpless looks from me) was incredibly helpful and worried about me getting there. An older couple I stopped in a park argued for several minutes over the best path, drew me multiple maps, and we were sort of able to communicate in a little French. They were the ones who got me to my destination. I have also had people randomly chat to me.
I don’t think I’d recommend Russia as the first place for someone to travel solo, particularly if you don’t speak Russian. But I would most definitely say you should visit Russia at least once in your life.
I questioned myself on the plane ride over as to what exactly was the point of this trip, feeling totally lost on a plane where everyone was speaking Russian. What am I looking for? What do I hope to experience? What is the bigger purpose of gallivanting around the globe? I’m not totally sure that I know what it is that I’m seeking. But I do know that I had a glimpse of it this morning. I felt that feeling of utter belonging sweep over me, the feeling that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, the feeling of being right where and when I belong. It’s a feeling that I very rarely experience (Ireland and Spain and Austin, TX come to mind), and almost always it’s been while I’m travelling. That experience, combined with the well of emotions that I felt stepping into the Red Square and seeing St. Basil’s Cathedral for the first time, makes me think I might be headed down the right path…whatever that may be for me. More to come – especially thoughts on NYC!
*I apologize in advance for the formatting and picture quality from here on out. I don’t have access to Photoshop and it appears the regular formatting options won’t load in wordpress…yay.