So, what is the best fun you can have in Moscow on a Sunday night for 36p? That’s 36 roubles by the way, or about 50 pence at the current exchange rate (when you can find someone to exchange roubles with you, that is). Well, the best fun you can have is allied to train-spotting. It is train station spotting, or rather Metro train station spotting.
One of the disappointing parts of our visit was our first go on the Metro underground system. We didn’t really know how it worked, and when we did find our way back to our hotel near Kitay-Gorod station, it seemed that we were in the shabbiest train on the shabbiest route that any underground train network designer could have designed. V was convinced she’d heard that the Moscow underground network was a sight to behold so we decided to behold it properly.
We used a well-known internet search engine to identify which might be the stations worth seeing and then challenged ourselves to pick five of the most recommended, each on a different line, and to visit them and return home using the least possible changes. And so for the price of one Metro ticket (in our case 36 roubles) we had a fun two-and-half hours of Treasure Hunt/tourism/culture/network analysis. Barely edited highlights are below.
1. This game is best played on a Sunday evening when the Metro system is relatively quiet. We saw one group of visiting tourists try to play this during the Monday rush hour. It was carnage – not sure how many survived.
2. Take a map with you. Remarkably few stations display a map of the underground system. I used a picture of the map taken on my iPhone to navigate the system to good effect. I was also bought a T-shirt with the map on, but there already enough letters of the Russian alphabet the wrong way round without having to read them upside down and right-to-left.
3. Know your Cyrillic alphabet. It’s more exciting if you don’t but you may not be back at your hotel by Monday morning.
Kievskaya Mosaics adorn this station, and most of them seem to be about our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. Reminds us of the links between these two countries and why the Russians feel so justified in their involvement there.
Ploshad Revolutski Heroes of the revolution. From every walk of life including, I was glad to see, a footballer. Don’t forget to touch the chicken/cockerel for luck. We had to go back again the next day because we’d forgotten to.
Love the simplicity and clean lines of this station, after an evening of paintings, mosaics, statues… Thought something was missing though till I gazed upwards and noticed the oval panels in the ceiling.
Leave this one as late as possible: it needs a Siberian emptiness for effect. The great man stares down towards the empty platforms. On one wall a single woman in white is running for her train. On the opposite wall a man in black is doing likewise. Perfect. Now go home for your hot chocolate!
The Best of the Rest
So, here to start you off is our plan from Kitay-Gorod. On a practical note, if your hotel is somewhere else, you may want to start from there. Or certainly finish there. And once you’ve started on your plan, don’t stick to it. Jump out of your train as soon as you see something interesting…
Our plan, the map and a Moscow Metro T-shirt to guide you