Travel memoirs in Russia (Day 1/14: Moscow)

I decided to go to my friend’s wedding in Russia, I had three weeks to get a visa and do all the paper work. When I searched, I saw that getting a Russian visa for Iranians (or maybe other countries too) is not so easy. Because you must either have an invite or have a definite hotel reservation with your name on their travelers list. Because when you enter the airport, in the passport control they check your documents again and they can deport you in case they don’t believe your reasons to visit Russia.

So I’d prefer to go to a travel agency to get a visa. The cost of visa was € 90 (I know it was too much) with the commission of the travel agency. I also paid for a two weeks travel insurance which was like €6 . They also don’t accept booking.com reservation if you do not pay before hand, or for the hotels which has free cancellation. long story short, after one week I got the visa.

My ticket to Moscow
Hello Russia 🙂

My flight to Moscow on May 15 was at 7 am. It was so early and there was no metro to airport at 3 a.m so I took a Tap30(Iranian Uber) and the adventure began. I had stress over getting deported from the airport, because I wanted to use couchsurfing for my accommodation and I was worried if they insist on having a hotel. I arrived to Russia and had an hour in the airport for passport control.

They checked my passport, tickets and travel insurance. Asking questions like: What are you here? what is your job? How much money do you have? Where will you stay? Do you have plans to visit other cities? I don’t know why I act like a criminal in these situations, although I have done nothing wrong. I also helped other Iranians for translating the questions. the officer said: can you translate? I said yes, and hoped in my mind that they will go easy on me because I helped them for gods sake! Everyone else got their visa faster than me and I was thinking I should say goodbye to Russia in the airport. I was thinking about the money I spent to only visit the Moscow airport and suddenly the officer gave my passport and said welcome!

Passport control at Moscow airport
Passport control in Vnukovo International Airport

When I passed the gate, the first thing I did was buying a SIM card because without the internet I think the expense of traveling is higher, the SIM card and the unlimited internet for one month was $7. The sim card seller was a nice Tajik woman whom spoke Farsi. I changed some money in the airport, which, of course, was a mistake and they paid me $25 less.

Before I start my trip I texted people from Moscow in Couchsurfing, I could manage to see Pavel, a 30 years old boy from Moscow. We planed to see each other in the train station in Moscow. I traveled by train to Moscow and saw Pavel right on the train station.
Pavel had a calm face and it was a good first impression of Moscow. We spoke about some of Moscow’s metro stations and talked about the history and culture of Russia while taking metro and walking on the beautiful famous metro stains.

me and pavel in metro station
Beautiful Moscow metro station

He told me about the respect Russians have for of the statue of the soldier and the dog, he was right everyone was stopping for few seconds near the statues and touch the dog’s face and legs and getting energy from the statue. They believed the statues brought them good luck, as they were symbol of soldiers who fight for their country.

After visiting metro Pavel had some work to do, so followed him to his work and on the way he should me a small part of red square, I didn’t see much, but seemed beautiful. after his work he invited me to his apartment for a lunch. Pavel was a vegetarian and made me a healthy vegetarian lunch. It was some kind of groats served with tomatoes and eggplants paste.

Local vegetarian food at Pavel’s

His apartment was interesting, the decoration and small gifts he had on his frig door. He lived away from the city center and there was lots of trees around his apartment which is rare in Tehran. He had a cute rabbit called Kuzina, he collect some fresh grass for her which was a he when I met her. actually after I went back to Iran, Pavel found out it’s a she and changed the name to a female version.

After lunch, we went to rainbow park and walked a little bit, as I told Pavel that I like nature and local life more that architecture and history. It was raining and the weather was perfect, I love rains because we don’t have much in Tehran and rain is always a good thing. The park was really beautiful and it had a great view. I didn’t expect that from Russia.

rainbow park

After the park I was going to stay with Nadia for the night. When I posted my trip to Moscow in Couchsurfing Nadia texted me and said she will host me in her apartment, she said she stayed at our apartment before and we hosted her. at first I thought she means something else, and could not recognize her, but I literally hosted her in Tehran and I totally forget that. Because I hosted Nadia and three of her friends and at that time should could not speak English at all and I only saw her for one night so we didn’t talk much. So I was really happy that she texted me and wanted to host me for the first night of my stay in Moscow, as it was my first solo travel experience abroad and my first Couchsurfing experience. So Pavel took me to the metro station and should me the metro close to Nadia’s apartment.

rainy moscow
Pavel carrying my big backpack

Nadia was at work, so I waited for her near her home and looked at the shops and neighborhood until she comes. Nadia was a really kind and funny and although she could not speak English fluently, we talked and communicate a lot with help of dear Google Translate. After I found her we walked to her apartment, it was a lovely home with lots of books and photos. I think you could read all Russian literature history there. The thing that I like about Couchsurfing is that it allows you to live like a local in a foreign county, which is not possible if you go to a hotel.

Nadia wanted to cook some Russian pancakes(Blini) for me. She said Russian people make pancakes specially in spring. Usually grandparents make pancakes for their family and children and they believe it’s a good luck, because its circular shape resembles the sun. “We are fortunate,” she said, “and most of us make it in the morning.”

Russian Pancakes(Blini)

She added some poppy into the flour and served it with yogurt, cheese and honey, and that’s when I got in love the Russian Blini and continued to eat it on the rest of my trip.

Russian pancake with Nadia

After dinner, I wanted to take a shower and Nadia had already warmed up some water because the hot water had problems, so I used the hot pot she prepared for me and took a quick shower, and at that time I realized that it was possible to shower with only two pots of water! that night I slept early as I was really tired. And this was the first day of my two-week trip to Russia.

You should try Blini