I can say with ease that Moscow is my least favourite place in the world. This includes the terrifying black markets of Ulaanbaatar, the tiny, drug fuelled bus station neighbourhood I had to spend a night in of Nicaragua, the dirty, hot and boring streets of Alice Springs and even my own hometown – which I spend a large majority of my time complaining about.
What makes Moscow such a horrible place to visit? For once in my life, I can’t really put my finger on it. Unlike the aforementioned black markets, in which I could most definitely say the distinct anti-tourist violent behaviour towards us was what made me hate the place, Moscow is different. It’s nothing exact, rather a combination of many, many things – all of them undesirable qualities in one of the most famous places in the world.
The greyness of the city, the rude attitude of the Muscovites towards tourists, the fact that all maps are written in English, which is clearly no help when trying to read Russian street signs, the intense security at ever corner… even all the main attractions are all less impressive than you expect them to be.
I did manage to have a good time in Moscow, but this was purely down to the company I was keeping. A big messy night out in the recommended Propaganda went down very well, as did a day spent roaming the streets and finding a beautiful restaurant with even better food, and the very nice tea cocktail below. But this isn’t enough to make me recommend Moscow as a place to visit. Ever.
My advice? Settle with a Lonely Planet guide to Moscow and a bottle of vodka. You’ll experience everything Russia’s capital has to offer without the expense. Or the hassle. Or the hostility. Or the decidedly bad fashion sense…