I’ve just spent a few days in Moscow giving a talk to the Russian Academy of Radio at their annual get together.
Clearly, if I was going all the way to Moscow, I was going to be sure to find a bit of spare time to get out and take some photos, and the good news was that the hotel I was staying in was an excellent place to start. Thanks to Katherine at the Russian Academy of RadioI managed to get my room at the Baltschug Kempinski upgraded to a Kremlin/Red Square view. The hotel was just across the Moskva River!
I can’t pretend that a couple of days in Moscow has left me with a great deal of knowledge about the place, but I did learn the following:
- The Champions’ League kicks off insanely late because of the four hour time difference. That means a 7.45pm UK timed game ends around 1.45am local time. That didn’t prevent me watching Celtic beat Spartak on my arrival.
- Russians really do deal with snow exceptionally well (well nearly always). There’d just been the first significant snowfall of the year before I arrived, and bulldozers, dump trucks and men with pick axes and brushes were busy all over the city clearing away the snow and ensuring that Moscovites didn’t fall over on the ice, or that the traffic (slow at the best of times) was any worse than normal. Even at the airport, the deicing process was painless – even if it was slightly concerning that we were taking off in a quite decent amount of snow. I noted that Stansted and Luton had both been closed with much less snow the morning I’d departed.
- The Metro really is fantastic. Even the paper tickets work with RFID chips at around 60p a trip. They tunnels are deep below ground, and the halls and vaults are massive. My only complaint is that everything is in Cyrillic. Obviously that’s not surprising in itself, but actually they seem pretty good at putting Latin-lettered versions of most signs up alongside Cyrillic versions. But on the Metro you’re on your own. You need to play close attention when you catch transport.
- GUM may be the “State Department Store” but it’s more like Bond Street placed in one high class shopping mall. Every single shop was a designer brand of some description or another. Sadly, that meant that I couldn’t find anywhere in the centre of the city that wasn’t insanely over-priced. Regular Russians clearly shop out of town.
- They really know how to light up their landmarks. It helped my photos no end.
- There are something like 55 radio stations in Moscow. This really does seem like an awful lot. On the other hand, it means you see branded cars, co-promotes and so on all over the place.
- There are some really poor dubs of some western films and TV series on some stations. To properly do a dub, you need to remove the dialogue track and replace it, leaving other sound elements like music and effects intact. However on more than one occasion, the English language dialogue track was simply lowered, and people spoke over the top of them. That leads to all dialogue having two voices at once, making it very hard to hear anything in any language. Still at least there is some good taste. The IT Crowd was being shown nightly (and it had been properly dubbed).
- If you really must, you can get your photo taken with a Vladimir Putin lookalike in Red Square. On other hand, you can also get it taken with Mickey Mouse.
- If you like ice skating, Gorky Park is exceptional in the winter. Not so much an ice rink as a full ice park.
- Whoever has the Moscow Range Rover dealership is definitely doing very well for themselves.
Anyway, more photos here.
And since I was able to shoot video, here’s some of that.