From Russia… Minus the Love

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…



  1. pommepal

    Well now, what a difference to the Russia I experienced in 1989, Gorbachev was promising “perastroika” the optimism was palpable, they were just opening up more to tourists and generally made us feel welcome. I was there in October and Moscow was a blaze with beds of red tulips. I recently did a post on my other blog you might like to have a look at it.…m-the-archives

    1. gemmafottles

      I read your post and you’re right, completely different experiences! I just couldn’t get into it, I really hated it. It was one of those rare places that I would have been very happy skipping out altogether…

      1. pommepal

        The change does not really surprise me because when I was there a guide said, ” every one is so happy and optomistic, they think it will be like the west, but that will change” and yes I’ve watched the reports and greed has taken over with a wealthy middle class now in charge. That probably acounts for the attitude of the masses

    1. gemmafottles

      Ahhh sounds very nice! Currently in China, SPAR are looking after us very well. Five star hotels and massage galore. Love it. Hope you’re both enjoying it! Happy anniversary πŸ™‚

  2. Martin Geber

    Wow, that is quite a different experience than everything I heard before. Most agree on the Muscovites with you, I guess. That is also what I experienced in St. Petersburg. But the sight are very great, I hear.

    Again, I liked your post, esp. the introduction πŸ™‚ I am back from holiday myself, so i think, I ll be a more active commenter again. Keep up the great work!

    1. gemmafottles

      Martin! I haven’t seen your comments for a while. Hope you had a good holiday!

      Yeah you’re right… I was surprised I hated it quite so intensely. The sights are good, but again, not as impressive as I expected to be. The people really were the icing on the cake though. I met a handful of nice Muscovites, but the rest were rude, angry and generally unhappy looking.

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