After departing Riga yesterday we were ecstatic to be on our way to one of our most looked forward to destinations. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned.
21:10pm – we arrive at Sheremeryevo Airport in Moscow. After checking our visas were valid and going through extensive security checks we tried to arrange an English speaking taxi company to take us to our hostel, of course none were available. Eventually we succumbed to the cunningly manipulative psyche of the taxi operators who charged us an extortionate amount to take us to our hostel, but with no other options we had to oblige.
21:50 – Our taxi driver did not speak any English and got lost in the heart of Moscow, I tried to show him our address in Russian, but of course he forgot his reading glasses. Eventually a switch must of clicked inside his head and he confidently drove us to our destination.
22:30 – we arrive at a heavily built up residential area of Kitay-Gorod, a artsy fartsy area of Moscow. The problem was our hostel was no where to be seen, we searched and searched and I began to panic with it being dark, snowy and very late at night. Then, I presume it was God who sent an angel from heaven in the form of Jochen. Jochen is a German man who is senior in Siemens, him and his wife moved from Nuremburg to Moscow a year ago for work. He must of been the only English speaking German in Moscow that night and he was able to help us find our place, he gave me his business card and asked me to call him if we needed anything or ever felt unsafe. I emailed him today and thanked him unconditionally for his and his wife’s kindness.
11:15pm – we arrive at Art Space Hostel, a place me and Georgia booked a long time ago. What we hadn’t realised was that since we booked it the reviews on the main booking sites started to slate it massively. The slatings were justified. As we entered a man off his face with bandaged, stubbed arms stumbled out of the entrance. I attempted to speak to the man at reception but his only way of communicating with me was by using Google Translate on his phone. He didn’t ask for any details, he just translated ‘cash’. I then translated in Russian ‘how much’ he then replied ‘1500 rub’ (about £14), quite expensive.
11:30pm – we got to our room and it stank, the bedding was not washed, there were no windows and there were very loud drunk Russian men shouting who I presumed who lived there. At this point we hadn’t eaten in 10 hours but in all honesty we were quite afraid to leave our room. Georgia won’t mind me saying that she cried for a while whilst I looked up other hostels to stay at in Moscow for the rest of our trip.
00:00am – at the stroke of midnight the worst European trance/ happy hardcore music was blasting full volume from downstairs until 6 am. As you can imagine we didn’t really sleep. We were quite literally staying in a crack den.
In the morning at about 8am we left the keys to our room on the reception desk and just walked. We got on the metro at Kitay Gorod and got off at Kropoikinskaya. After trying to find our new digs for about 20 minutes we came across a film crew who confirmed we were in the right place.
Tikhy Tchas Hostel was where we were, in the central district about a 10 minute walk away from Red Square and adjacent to Church of the Transfiguration of Christ the Saviour. The hostel Receptionist Ielina is one of the nicest people we have met since leaving England. She gave us a bunked bed area to sleep in, gave us a discount which meant it is only £9.50 for both of us to stay each night.
It is now about 10:30am, we had still not eaten so we decided to cheer ourselves up by going on a walk to the famous Arbat street. The street is about a mile long and on either side are cafes, restaurants, bars, museums, theatres, souvenir shops. It is quite a cool place. We had a coffee and some pancakes that were delicious.
Again, another 1-2 mile walk along the busy roads we came across the gates to the zoo. With a 500 rubles entry fee (about £4.70) we enjoyed the ginormous extent of the zoo, seeing polar bears, elephants, snowy owls (my favourite) and an array of other creatures from all over the world. We were there for a good 3-4 hours and enjoyed it so much.
We then went for a quick pint of Hoegaarden and made our way back to the hostel where I am currently typing this post. It is 17:35pm and I’m now going to have a shower before going out to get a bite to eat.