Moscow — in winter

Most folks travel in August — when transport is fully booked, hotels charge their highest rates, and queues are long. I prefer going places in the “off season” … such as Moscow in December.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square

Until now, I’d visited almost every major city in Europe. But I hadn’t visited the biggest one of all. (Istanbul has more people than Moscow, but 40% of them live in Asia. Thus, Moscow is the biggest city in Europe.) I’d always wanted to see Saint Basil’s Cathedral. So for starters, I booked a spacious AirBnB apartment just a few blocks away.

Entrance to the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (aka VDNKh)

Although visiting Moscow in winter means that days are short, skies are gray and there might be some snow, it’s an ideal time of year for ice skating at some of the biggest and most beautiful ice rinks in the world.

The VDNKh has the world’s biggest skating arena (with refrigerated ice)..

Moscow deals with winter very well. Outdoors or indoors, there’s plenty to do. I was astounded by the Moscow State Circus with acrobatics, trapeze acts, trained animals, clowns, music, and performers in colorful costumes going non-stop for almost 3 hours!

The Moscow State Circus

Getting around Moscow via subway is inexpensive and fast. Moscow’s metro serves about 9 million riders every day, and it works beautifully. I never waited more than 3 minutes for a train. Tourists can buy a multi-day pass that allows unlimited rides for about $2/day.

The longest escalator in Europe

Some of the Moscow’s stations are really deep. Park Pobedy (Парк Победы – Victory Park) is 84 meters underground. The escalator ride takes about 3 minutes. I had to see this to believe it.

Moscow Metro’s Komsomolskaya Station

London has the world’s oldest subway system. Shanghai has the longest metro. Moscow has the prettiest subway stations. And they’re clean, too. No graffiti anywhere.

Eliseevsky grocery store

Muscovites spend a lot of time indoors, so it makes sense that their interiors are attractive and well maintained. Here’s the Eliseevsky grocery store across the street from my apartment. It was a pleasure to buy my wine and cheese here.

Matryoshka dolls, also known as Babushka dolls

Russia is famous for its nesting Matryoshka dolls. I bought one as a souvenir for friends in Thailand.

I was in Moscow for only a week. I’ll come back here again sometime and stay longer — in order to learn to speak Russian! There’s lots more that I could say about what an exciting, clean, efficient, friendly and delicious place Moscow is. But you’ve got to go there yourself to appreciate what a great city this is. It’s an easy city to visit. Go any time … except August.