JOSEPH RANJAN

INDIAN BACKPACKER

Backpacking Moscow

Moscow – One of the cheapest destination in European continent. Being capital of world’s largest country, “Moscow” is being maintained well by Russian Government. Metro makes transportation easier towards many destinations in the city. Though all is well here language is a biggest problem for any out comers.

NO ONE SPEAKS / UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH… Will be very hard to manage without a Russian speaking friend.

Tourist Visa for Indians

Russian tourist visa process is little different. It involves an additional step from normal visa process of other countries.

The first step is to get ‘Visa Support Document’ (can be called as Invitation, Visa Support) from a travel agency in Russia. In my case my hostel provides this service for 1500 Russian Rubles. Many hostels /hotels does this service. Meaning that they will apply for this ‘Visa Support Document’ for us from a authorized tour agency and get us that which is MUST for your local embassy to process your visa application.

In past., there was a restriction that few nationals (including Indian) have to get ORIGINAL VISA SUPPORT DOCUMENT from Russia and can not use a scanned version of the same. Which means your hostel / tour agency has to send this document by courier to you and that will cost you more as it will include international courier charges ! But please be aware that restriction is NO MORE (for any one use Chennai Embassy… i believe it is same for all Indians too now!). I had this confusion initially but i do apply with a scanned document only ! Not original ! and got VISA !

My hostel sent me the document and then i filled the application form online here…

https://visa.kdmid.ru

Then i sent all needed documents to the Russian embassy in Chennai. And got Visa !

Weather in winter

Be prepared if you are visiting Moscow in winter. The day i landed it was -7 degree and i felt it is very comfortable to roam around. The first few days it shuffles between -7 and -12 degrees. So the snow fall was lovely to enjoy on the streets of Moscow. When it drops to -16 degrees it becomes weird ! After walking just for 5 minutes i started feeling headache and sometimes unable to felt my fingers ! Suffered for few hours and later it becomes easy to manage…

The maximum temperature drop i witnessed is -19 degrees. It has become easy to manage after experiencing it for 2 – 3 days… was able to walk long distances with no issues… Government keep spray salt to let the ice melt on road…

The Moscow River was completely frozen ! I have attached few snaps of it in this post. The Moscow turns out to be white in color !

Metro

Metro is really cheap in Moscow. The charge is based on number of rides we make… not distance or time factor ! One ride costs 50 Rubles… 5 rides for 180 Rubles… and i did not happen to see more plans but heard there is more discount when you purchase more rides together. I do purchase 180 Rubles pack so it was 36 Rubles for a ride of mine. So to go to a destination and come back i will be spending 72 Rubles(2 metro rides) which is equal to approx 0.98 USD. Can you believe you can go to any metro destination and come back in less than a DOLLAR !!!

Moscow metro operates on different lines and each holds a color code… which is the key for tourists like us to catch hold on ! Google Maps gives you possible routs you can use when you enter your destinations. And more over these metro lines were interconnected ! Which means your ride will not comes to end until you get to your destination though your route may have different stations you need to change to pick different trains… for example., if you are going from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and there needs to be 2 different lines used for that… google maps will say get down on the station ‘AA’ and walk to station ‘AB’ and catch next train to destination ‘B’. In this situation we think (including me :P) the metro ride count will reduce by one when i change station from ‘AA’ to ‘AB’. But it is not !!!  You will have a way to walk from AA station to AB with no barriers asks you to swipe metro card again ! The ride count reduce by one when our journey ends at the ‘B’ station! so purchase rides accordingly… you just need only 2 ride counts to go and come back to a metro destination.

Ticket Vending Machines has ENGLISH option… so do not worry… you don’t need anyone to ride on Metro!

Please be aware NO METRO STATION HAS ENGLISH WORDS ! But Inside train the English version of station names were printed in small letters next to Russian words. It was there on most of the cabins i happen to see. The way i handle is by writing down the station names (in Russian alphabets) and have it while travel… It is little easy as those lookalike English alphabets.

I do see the tourist operators charges Metro Tourism for about 150 USD ! Please be aware you can experience metro ride in less than a USD and it is not so complex ! Definitely Moscow Metro stations were unique and you can spend some time in to click snaps.

 

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

One of the main reason why i choose Moscow ! Of course as like many others am too a big fan of Cosmonaut ‘Yuri Gagarin’. Happened to see his pencil writings while he was in space, the rare recordings during space exploration, and many more stuffs are packed in this Museum.

More…

Also there are few more museums showcase Russian history which located near to Kremlin. Temples architecture is too good to see… felt like perfect place for Christians to spend a few days… Red Square was closed for foreigners on new years eve :(  They denied me entering a fence which is 2Kms away from Kremlin entrance. No police is able to understand what am saying… they keep shows NO sign (It was lovely… they use both hands in cross form to say NO… it seems like a common practice in Russia for that !). So i took a Latvian friend who can speak Russian and came there again and they told him only Russian nationals were allowed to enter Kremlin and its protected fence ! Foreigners had to stay away… :(  I didn’t worried about entering Kremlin that day i worried i was not able to enter my favorite burger shop which comes under that closed fence 😛 😛 😛   But a Korean friend who waited just for this stuff for a while felt too disappointed and he immediately left Moscow that night itself… anyway we found new underground shop and ate nice dinner before he packs up… 😀

Language

Only Russian ! No English… anywhere… everywhere… I struggle to order food even on International brands like KFC, McDonalds, Subway… No one works there can understand / speak English. Thank god they were able to understand words like ‘Chicken’, ‘Combo’… so i never slept with hunger 😛 Later happen to see many underground shopping malls where variety of dishes available. Trust me Russian Chicken Rice is soooooo tasty…  Though people doesn’t understand you… they will try their best to help you… Very lovely people…