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Moscow Nightlife

Hammered and Sickled Pt. 1 - The arrival

BRAZIL | Thursday, 2 August 2012 | Views [535]

I’ve been to Russia to spend last Xmas and New Year’s Eve. My two friends and I are Brazilian and we departed from São Paulo’s airport and landed in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, after making an 8 hour stopover in Amsterdam. I have to register this was one of the greatest trips I’ve ever made. Getting to know such a contrasting and contradictory country was a delightful shock. We arrived late at night, and our first impression of Russia was not good at all, since the airport was eerily deserted and the girls that took care of the border visa check got a little bit rude and impatient as they realized we could not understand a word they were saying. Then, having our passports properly checked and stamped, we took the cab that was conveniently waiting for our arrival, sent by the hostel team. I was really excited, almost in a trance, despite the lack of comfort and space in the cab, since we put our enormous luggage inside (we didn’t want to leave anyone behind to take another cab). Can you imagine how it felt like experiencing snow for the first time? I mean, I’ve never had snow falling over my head, neither have my friends, we come from a tropical land. It took ours to get to the hostel, since the cab driver got lost in the intricate web of streets and alleys of Kitay-gorod, the oldest part of the city. When we finally got to the hostel, it was a bit disappointing. It was located in a decrepit building and we had to carry our heavy luggage up stairs, and it was like 4 or 5 floors. In the last floor, we finally found the door with the hostel’s sign. It looked like it has come right from the soviet era, and it was empty except from the receptionist, a really beautiful blonde girl who, to our frustration, informed us that we would only be allowed into our rooms after 12pm, and it was still 4am. To make things worse, she said they were out of hot water! Can you imagine not having hot water in the Russian winter? No shower at all. After handing the bad news, she said we could leave luggage there and take a nap at the sofas. A little bit more comforted, we paid everything beforehand, including the tax the hostel charged us in order to get our papers legal and make our registration in Moscow’s foreign agency (something that can be done really easily and without costs by a native person, as we discovered later in saint pete). Starving to death, we left our things (which were locked with padlocks) in the hostel´s hall and headed to the closest restaurant/ bar/ any place that served food at that time of the night. We found then a bar really close to the hostel which was opened and had food. Struggling with the language, we ordered some blinis, those Russian pancakes, stuffed with sour cream and smoked salmon (a combination we found to be ubiquitous in Russian tables), beers and some pinches of vodka. These vodkas we ordered turned out to be some of the best we drank in our trip. It didn’t even feel they were alcoholic, so light and smooth they were. Definitely this was the best way to wait for our rooms to be ready. This mix of excitement, bewilderment and tipsiness provided by the alcohol kept us awaken and chatting for hours long, despite the tiredness.

We headed then to the hostel and we took a three-hours nap in the sofa, while many different people entered the hostel hall. Finally, our room was ready and we were able to get some proper rest. Waking up at night, we went to see the Red Square. It was really cold outside (we were not yet used to the cold weather, and not yet warmed up by the huge amounts of alcohol we were about to consume in the following days). The sky seemed really enlightened, almost orange, something I’ve never seen. When we reached the Red Square, the feeling was indescribable. It looked like a dream, a huge square paved with cobblestones covered in snow. In the left, there was the Saint Basil´s Cathedral, looking like a toy castle made with candy. In the front, Lenin´s tomb and the Kremlin, and in my back there was the GUM, the huge shopping mall dated from before the soviet era. I was in Moscow’s ground zero, from which most of Slavic culture took shape. Breathtaking, indeed.

Tags: eastern europe, moscow, red square, russia, saint petersburg, snow, vodka


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