Friday, 26 May 2017

RUSSIA: Visit Moscow, Be Aware Of Racism And Homophobia

Beware of unofficial taxis that like to hang around tourist areas. They use a taxi meter; however, their meter goes by a fabricated inflated rate. A 10-minute ride can easily cost RUB3000 instead of RUB400. Make sure to negotiate a fixed price before entering. Smartphone-based apps such as Uber, Yandex Taxi, and GetTaxi are popular and reliable in Moscow and the rating systems and customer support force the drivers to be accountable.

Moscow is the 869 year-old capital of Russia. A truly iconic, global city, Moscow has played a central role in the development of Russia and the world. For many, the sight of the Kremlin complex in the centre of the city is still loaded with symbolism and history. Moscow was the capital of the former Soviet Union and signs of its previous life are very visible even now. Yet, there's more to Russia and its capital than just memories of the USSR. Architectural gems from the time of the Russian Empire are still dotted throughout Moscow, whilst signs of modern Tsars or at least people with similar levels of wealth abound.

Moscow is the financial and political centre of Russia and the countries formerly comprising the Soviet Union. It has a population of around 13 million and an area of 2,511km² after an expansion in 2012. One-tenth of all Russian citizens live in the Moscow metropolitan area. Moscow is the second most populous city in Europe, after Istanbul. Moscow is in the UTC+3 time zone; there is no daylight saving time.

The Moskva River bends its way through the city with most of the sites of tourist interest on the northern bank of the river. The other major waterway is the Yauza River, which flows into the Moskva east of the Kremlin.

Much of Moscow's geography is defined by the numerous 'Ring Roads' that circle the city at various distances from the centre, roughly following the outline of the walls that used to surround Moscow. With Red Square and the Kremlin forming the very centre, the innermost ring road is the Boulevard Ring (Bulvarnoye Koltso), built in the 1820s where the 16th century walls used to be. It runs from the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in south-west central Moscow, to the mouth of the Yauza in south-east central Moscow.

The next ring road, the Garden Ring (Sadovoe Koltso), derives its name from the fact that landowners near the road in Tsarist times were obligated to maintain gardens to make the road attractive. In Soviet times, the road was widened, and currently you will find no gardens there.

The Third Ring Road, completed in 2004, is not much use for tourists but is a heavily used motorway which absorbs a bit of Moscow's traffic. It roughly follows the outline of Kamer-Kollezhsky val, the customs and passport boundary of Moscow between 1742 and 1852. The outer edge of Moscow is largely defined by the Moscow Ring Road,widely known by its abbreviation: MKAD-Moskovskaya koltsevaya avtomobilnaya doroga, a motorway which is 108km long and encircles the entire city.

Moscow has humid continental climate with freezing winters and warm summers, with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year, measuring 707mm on average. Winters are cold with the average February temperature being -6.7°C (19.9°F) with low temperatures around -10°C (14°F) and highs around -4°C (24°F). Lows however do occassionally reach -20°C (-4°F) and during cold waves from Siberia it can plunge to -30°C (-22°F).

On the other hand, when the wind blows from the west, high temperatures may rise above freezing and they can reach 5°C (41°F), allowing rain to fall 3.5 days each winter, on average. Although, snow coverage usually forms by the beginning of November and melts by the end of March or early April, significant alternations may happen depending on the year. Freezing conditions usually continue to persist in March and sometimes last until mid-April. The last snowfall is around 15th April.

In May the russian capital is reached by the first gusts of warm weather and temperatures cease to fall below freezing. However sudden snowfalls are still possible, with the last one being on 7th May 2014 which lasted for about an hour. Summers are warm with an average July temperature 19.2°C, with highs around 25°C (77°F) and lows around 15°C (59°F).

The area is affected by heat waves and this may cause high temperatures to rise above 30°C (86°F), but this periods are usually short. Nights with below 10°C (50°F) lows may also occur. Autumn is characterised by rapidly falling temperatures and the first snowfall is around 25th October.

Visiting Moscow

By Air

Moscow has three main airports:

Sheremetyevo International Airport

Sheremetyevo International Airport, is 32km northwest of the centre of Moscow, in the city of Khimki. Most Aeroflot flights operate to/from Terminal D. Sheremetyevo International Airport serves approximately 33 million passengers per year.

The airport has plenty of ATMs and currency exchange offices, duty free shops, a hairdresser, a pharmacy, and several overpriced cafes and basic restaurants. Unlimited free WiFi is available. There is also a hotel on the fifth floor of the AeroExpress terminal that might help you.

If you have a layover at Sheremetyevo Airport, you may stay at the Hotel Novotel Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport even if you do not have a Russian visa. Go to the 'Transfer/Transit Without Visa' desk upon arrival. You'll be escorted to the hotel in a private bus and stay in a corridor with personal security guard. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. You'll be picked up by Aeroflot staff about one hour prior to departure and the bus will bring you directly to the departure gate. The hotel offers rates for stays during the day as well as overnight rates.

Traveling From The Airport And Moscow City:

Aeroexpress is the only rail link to the airport. Trains operate between the airport and the Belorussky Railway Terminal in the northwest section of the city centre. Trains depart every 30 or 60 minutes from 5:00AM to 12:30AM. The journey takes 35 minutes and costs RUB470 one-way if you buy your ticket at the airport or RUB420 if you buy your ticket online or via mobile app. Keep your paper or mobile ticket for the entire Aeroexpress journey. From the Belorussky Railway Terminal, the journey to the city center takes an additional 20 minutes by metro.

Bus #851 RUB50 for a 90 minute transfer ticket purchased from the driver and Bus #949 (RUB75) operate service between the terminals and the Rechnoy Vokzal Metro Station, at the northwest terminus of Metro Line 2 (dark green). If taking the regular bus, the driver hands you a red card, which you scan in order to get past the metal turning gate. The majority of drivers don't speak any English, so don't depend on them for assistance.

Once you get off the bus, continue by foot a few steps in the direction the bus was going in, and you'll see the metro station on your right in the first opening between the buildings. When returning to the airport, after leaving the Rechnoy Vokzal metro station, cross the street, go around the fence on the other side of the street and look for the bus under the orange-colored shopping center.

Bus #817 (RUB50 for a 90 minute transfer ticket purchased from the driver) or Bus #948 (RUB75) operate service between the terminals and the Planernaya Metro Station, at the northwest terminus of Metro Line 7 (purple). The journey by bus to the metro stations takes approximately 40 minutes and the journey to the city centre by metro takes an additional 40 minutes. Buses operate from approximately 5:30AM to 00:45AM.

Night Bus H1 operates every 30 minutes after the other buses have stopped. The bus operates between the airport and the Leninskiy Prospect Metro Station.

Fixed Price Official Taxis are available, with the price based on the destination neighborhood. A fixed price official taxi costs RUB1,800 to the city centre. Note that there is a toll of RUB100 for taking the highway to/from Sheremetyevo Airport.

Taxi apps are available, with the price based on the destination neighborhood. Prices on Uber are fixed (800, 1000, 1200) depending on the area you are going to.

Driving past the toll bar should be avoided whenever possible as there are fees to do so. In addition to entry charge of RUB100/hour (rounded up to the next hour), after entering the toll bar, there is an extra charge from RUB100/hour to RUB300/hour, depending on the distance from the entrance and the comfort of parking—with an unofficial option of an unlimited-time stay for RUB300. However, there are unofficial parking lots near the airport, with daily rates starting at RUB200.

Domodedovo Airport

Domodedovo International Airport,is 45km southeast of the centre of Moscow. It carries slightly more passengers than Sheremetyevo International Airport on an annual basis. The airport is the base of international discount carrier S7. Free WiFi is available throughout the airport. There are plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops in the airport. Even if you are only changing planes in Domodedovo, a visa may be required as some flights operate a point-to-point service (Easyjet at time of writing). Check with your airline before travelling.

To travel between the airport and the city:

Aeroexpress trains operate between the airport and the Paveletsky Railway Terminal in the southeast section of the city centre. Trains depart every 30 minutes from 6:00AM to 12:30AM. The journey takes 50 minutes and costs RUB470 one-way if you buy your ticket at the airport or RUB420 if you buy your ticket online or via mobile app. Keep your paper or mobile ticket for the entire Aeroexpress journey. From the Paveletsky Railway Terminal, the journey to the city center takes an additional 20 minutes by metro.

Commuter trains are a cheaper method of traveling between the airport and the Paveletsky Railway Terminal. The journey by commuter train takes 75 minutes and costs RUB120.

Buses operate around-the-clock between the airport and the Domodedovskaya Metro Station near the southeastern end of Metro Line 2 (dark green). There is plenty of space on the buses for luggage. The buses operate every 15 minutes, but every 40 minutes between midnight and 6:00AM. The trip takes 30 minutes and costs RUB120. From the Domodedovskaya Metro Station, the journey to the center takes another 40 minutes by metro .

When headed towards the airport, at Domodedovskaya Metro station, take the exit to the south downtown side turn right in the underpass, and follow it to the end, then take the stairs. There are crude stencilled signs of Bus 308 on the pillars to guide you. When you get to street level you will see a tall building across the street with blue words reading "овехово-ворисково северное". The bus stop is next to this building.

Fixed Price Official Taxis are available, with the price based on the destination neighborhood. A fixed price official taxi costs RUB1,650 to the city centre.

Taxi apps are available, with the price based on the destination neighborhood. Prices on Uber are fixed (800, 1000, 1200) depending on the area you are going to.

Vnukovo International Airport

Vnukovo International Airport,is 30km southwest from the centre of Moscow. Vnukovo International Airport serves approximately 12 million passengers per year.

To travel between the airport and the city:

Aeroexpress trains operate between the airport and the Kievsky Railway Terminal in the southwest section of the city centre. Trains depart every 30 or 60 minutes from 6:00AM to midnight. The journey takes 40 minutes and costs RUB470 one-way if you buy your ticket at the airport or RUB420 if you buy your ticket online or via mobile app. Keep your paper or mobile ticket for the entire Aeroexpress journey. From the Kievsky Railway Terminal, the journey to the city center takes an additional 20 minutes by metro.

Bus #611 operates between the airport and the Yugo-Zapadnaya and Troparyovo Metro Stations, at the southwestern end of Metro Line 1 (Red). The bus journey takes 35-40 minutes and costs RUB30 if a ticket is bought from the ticket office or RUB50 if paid to the driver. From the metro stations, the journey to the city center takes an additional 40 minutes.

Taxis are best booked over the phone using reputable companies such as LingoTaxi. Negotiate the price in advance; many taxis charge approximately RUB1,800 to the city centre.

Taxi apps are available, with the price based on the destination neighborhood. Prices on Uber are fixed (800, 1000, 1200) depending on the area you are going to.

By train

Moscow is a railway hub, with connections to all parts of Russia and far into Europe and Asia. Due to its hub status, Moscow's train stations are always crowded and are some of the most unsafe places in the city. Despite the relatively cheap price of air travel within Russia, train travel still remains the predominant mode of intercity transportation for the majority of Russians.

All long-distance trains are operated by Russian Railways and its subsidiaries. Tickets can be bought either at stations or online. Some international train operators also serve Moscow. Tickets bought online need to be validated at a counter or a ticket machine. There are often counters with English-speaking personnel at each station. Sometimes the English-speaking counters are marked, and sometimes you will be directed by the first person you speak to another counter with an English speaker.

Saint Petersburg can be reached in 4 hours via the high-speed Sapsan trains. There are seven depatures daily from both Saint Petersburg and Moscow at 06:45, 07:00, 13:30, 13:45, 15:00, 19:25, and 19:45, with some trains stopping at Tver, Vyshniy Volochek, Bologoe, and Okulovka. Fares vary and are cheaper if bought well in advance but usually are in the range of RUB3,000-6,000.

There are also 13 overnight trains that take this route and are cheaper than the Sapsan. The most famous is the luxurious Red Arrow, a train painted in bright red that departs Saint Petersburg daily at 23:55 while the song Hymn to the Great City plays on its loudspeakers.

The Paris-Moscow Express is a weekly train service that makes the 2-night 3,217km journey between Paris and Moscow. The train makes stops in Berlin, Warsaw, and Brest. The train includes 4-bed compartments (€245), 2-bed compartments (€345), and luxury compartments (€798).

The Polonez is a daily direct overnight train to Warsaw (17 hours), via Belarus. The Tolstoy is a daily direct overnight train to Helsinki (13 hours), via Saint Petersburg. There are also weekly trains to Vienna and Prague, via Belarus and a weekly train to Budapest. You will need a Belarussian visa to ride trains that go via Belarus.
From Eastern Russia and Asia

Tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railway sell out and it is best to buy tickets well in advance. Tickets are sold by the operator as well as via agencies and resellers.

The main line of the Trans-Siberian Railway runs between Moscow and Vladivostok, the biggest Russian city on the Pacific Coast. The Rossiya train leaves Moscow every other day at 13:20, while the slower but cheaper trains #44 or #100 leave every day around midnight. Major stops include Yekaterinburg (24-31 hours; RUB2,000-9,000), Omsk (35-48 hours), Novosibirsk (46-54 hours), Krasnoyarsk (54-66 hours), Irkutsk (68-81 hours; RUB4,700-23,000), Ulan Ude (75-89 hours), and Vladivostok (7 days; RUB10,000-34,000).

The other routes of the Trans-Siberian Railway, between Moscow and China, are more popular among tourists. There are two weekly trains to/from Beijing (US$500-1,200), the Trans-Mongolian (Train #4) via Ulaanbaatar and the Trans-Manchurian (Vostok/Train #20) via Manchuria. Both journeys take six nights but the ride via Mongolia offers more scenery.

Moscow has 9 train stations, all of which are located near metro stations close to the center of Moscow. Be sure to note the station from which your train is departing, which will be indicated on the ticket, or online. Three stations (Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky, and Kazansky) are located on one huge square, informally known as the "Three Stations' Square".

A running joke among Moscow taxi drivers ever since the Soviet times is to be able to pick up a fare from one of them to the other, taking the unwary tourist on an elaborate ride in circles. Be prepared for enormous queues trying to enter or exit the Metro at peak times, as people are getting off or on the commuter trains.

Many entry points to Moscow over the Ring Road and into the city feature rotating roadblocks, where teams of traffic police may stop a vehicle, especially if it is not featuring Moscow plates. You may be stopped and questioned but you'll be allowed to proceed if you have all the proper documents.

Foreign cars, especially expensive cars, might attract unwelcome attention, and there is cumbersome paperwork involved to enter Russia by car.

The direct way to drive from Germany, Poland, or Belarus is along the E30 road, although it requires having permission to enter Belarus. If you can't enter Belarus, an alternative is to go via Latvia using the E22 from Riga.

The E18 provides easy access from Finland through Saint Petersburg and Novgorod. This route is also known as Russian Federal Highway M-10. Traffic on the M-10 is heavy.

It is generally easier to travel to/from Europe or other parts of Russia via plane or train so most visitors to Moscow will not use the intercity buses.

Lux Express operates coach service between Moscow and various cities in Europe. Buses arrive to and depart from the Stantsiya Tushinskaya Bus Station next to the Tushinskaya Metro Station on Metro Line 7 (purple) in the northeastern section of Moscow. Destinations include Tartu (14 hours, €49), Riga (15 hours, €55), Tallinn (16.5 hours, €55), Vilnius (18 hours, €66-73), Warsaw (26 hours, €80-92), Minsk (34 hours, €78), Budapest (36 hours, €95-112), Prague (36 hours, €97), and Berlin (40 hours, €97-109).

Many domestic intercity buses stop at the Moscow Intercity Bus Terminal, next to the Shchelkovskaya Metro Station at the eastern terminus of Metro Line 3 (dark blue). Buses to the popular tourist destination of Suzdal operate from this station.

There are also several small bus stops and stations with buses to/from small towns that are not commonly visited by tourists.

There is no scheduled passenger service to Moscow by boat; however, cruise ships do provide service to the Northern River Terminal, on the Moscow Canal near the Khimki Reservoir. The pier is not convenient to the city and it can take over 2 hours to reach the city centre by car.

A system of navigable channels and locks connects the Moskva River with the Volga River, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea, White Sea, the Azov, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea. In the Soviet times this allowed the official propaganda to refer to Moscow as "a port on the five seas".

Moscow is the easternmost destination of the EuroVelo cycling routes. Eurovelo Route 2, the Capitals Route, is a 5,500 km route starting in Galway, Ireland, passing through Dublin, London, Berlin, Warsaw and Minsk before terminating in Moscow.

Touring Moscow

While central Moscow is best explored on foot, it's easiest to use the metro to cover larger distances. The metro is comprehensive, boasts some great architecture, and is relatively cheap.

The easiest way to pay for metro fares is to buy a red paper ticket with a number of pre-loaded trips from the ticket booth. These tickets work on the buses and trolleys too. Fares depend on the number of trips purchased; an 11-trip card costs RUB320 (RUB29 per trip).

Alternatively, if you plan on using tram, metro, buses, and trolleybuses, you can go through the trouble of purchasing a plastic Troika reloadable smartcard. You can add trolleybus-bus-tram trips (RUB28), "united" trips which are also good for the metro (RUB40), 90 minute trips (RUB44), or unlimited ride passes to your Troika card. You can also buy 90-minute trip tickets from bus drivers for RUB50.

The Metro is open from 5:30AM-1:00AM. Station entrances are closed at 1:00AM, and at this time the last trains depart from all of the termini stations. After 1:00AM, many locals will enter the train station using the exits, which are still open. Service on the ring line runs until 1:30AM, although entrances are closed at 1:00AM. The down escalators are also shut off at 1:00AM.

There is signage in the Metro stations in English and the Latin alphabet, but these signs are not everywhere. Each train carriage has a map in Latin script and there is one near the entrance to each platform. Note the direction of the train before you alight. It is worth printing or saving to your phone the most up-to-date map of the metro system in both Cyrillic and Latin letters to take with you.

All trains in the system have free WiFi onboard, but you will need to have a Russian phone number to get the authorization code to access the WiFi. Some of the older train cars are not air-conditioned nor heated.

Note that 2 or 3 stations may be connected as transfer points but will each have a different name. There are 2 stations called Smolenskaya and 2 stations called Arbatskaya, but the station pairs are not connected to each other despite having the same name. Some of the stations are very deep underground, and transfer times between certain metro lines can take a lot of time. In the city centre, it can save time to go directly to the above-ground entrance of the line you want to take rather than to enter at a connecting station and transfer underground. On the escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left.

Some of the train stations include beautiful architecture and it is worth taking a guided tour of the metro system. The most interesting stations in terms of decor are Komsomolskaya (ring line), Novoslobodskaya (ring line), Kievskaya (ring line), Kropotkinskaya (Line #1 - red), Kievskaya (Line #3 - dark blue), Arbatskaya (Line #3 - dark blue), Ploschad' Revolyutsii (Line #3 - dark blue), Mayakovskaya (Line #2 - dark green). Also look at the architecture of the ground entrance building of Arbatskaya (Line #4 - light blue) and Krasnye Vorota (Line #1 - red). History buffs may appreciate that Metro Line #4 (light blue) has the oldest stations, opened in 1935.

The Vorob'evy gory Metro Station on Line #1 (red) is unique in that it is on a bridge crossing the Moscow River. This bridge also carries auto traffic road on another level. There is a beautiful view through the transparent sides of the station. A great observing point around Moscow is located nearby on Vorob'evy hills, next to the main building of Lomonosov Moscow State University.

There are a couple of unique trains operating through the system and you will be lucky if you get to ride them. Aquarelle (Watercolor) is a train that includes an art gallery. The train operates daily on Line #1 (red). The Sokolniki Retro Train is a train modeled after the original 1930s trains and it occasionally is placed into service, usually around a major anniversary of the metro system.

The metro is relatively safe, although pickpockets are a problem, as they are in any environment where a lot of people are pressed together. Opportunistic petty crime, such as snatching someone's mobile phone and jumping out just as the doors are closing, is also commonplace. Take the usual precautions at night when gangs of inebriated teenagers may look for an excuse to beat someone up.

There is no train guard or conductor, so the first car near the driver may be the safest. Every car is equipped with an intercom to the driver's cabin; they are beige boxes with a grill and a black button near doors, and mostly work, unless visibly vandalized.

Every large street in the city is served by at least one bus and one trolleybus route, which necessitate an abundance of trolley wires in the city. Most Moscow buses and trolleybuses operate 05:30AM-01:00AM; however, there are a few routes that operate during the night.

Buses and trolleybuses never seem to follow their schedules, mostly due to traffic jams and delays, but they are frequent until the late evening.

A trolleybus route map is available online. A useful mobile app called Yandex Transport helps you locate a nearest bus, trolleybus or tram on the line. The red tickets for the metro can be used on the buses and trolleys too.

There are several tram routes, although trams are not common in the city centre. A map and a schedule of the tram routes are available online.

Marshrutka is a jitney-like mode of transport similar to a minibus or shared taxi. They follow similar routes as many bus lines and have a similar numbering system. The fare is paid in cash to the driver upon entering. They generally are faster and more efficient than buses, although the drivers are much more reckless. If you need to get off, you have to shout: Astanaviti zdes, meaning Stop here as loudly as possible so that the driver can hear. There is a saying, If you speak quietly, you'll travel far. The marshrutka drivers are independent businessmen and are generally immigrants from Central Asia that only speak Russian.

Since 2016 most of the marshrutkas became legal.Blue minibuses with fixed routes,air conditioners,LED type destination signs.They were integrated in united Moscow public transportation system and use the Ediny ticket,united Moscows public transportation ticket, as well as "90 minutes",TAT tickets and "Troyka" e-wallet.

Local commuter trains (electrichkas) operate between the Moscow train stations and the suburbs of Moscow Oblast, but are of little use to tourists. Schedules can be accessed online at Yandex.ru.

Moscow Monorail is a 4.7km monorail line with 6 stations. It is slower, less frequent, and has shorter operating hours when compared with the metro (every 6 min at peak hours, 16 min rest of the time). However, the view is picturesque. It is useful to get to the Ostankino Tower, or to get to the VDNKh exhibition centre from Metro Line #9 (silver). Officials are considering dismantling the monorail.

Rates for UberX are the cheapest among rideshare and taxi services. Non-surge rates are RUB50 base fare + RUB8 per minute + RUB8 per kilometer, with a RUB100 minimum.

It is possible to negotiate the price with taxis drivers and not use the meter. Taxi fares within the Garden Ring are generally under RUB250. When negotiating with a street taxi, if you don't like the amount one guy is charging, you'll doubtlessly find another driver in a minute or two.

Try to get an idea if the drivers know where they are going as many will pretend they know how to get to your destination just to get your business. Smartphone-based apps eliminate this problem since the drivers follow a GPS and the rates are fixed.

Taxi service market in Moscow has changed dramatically over the years 2014–2015. Mobile taxi services, such as Yandex.Taxi, Gett, and Uber, mostly displaced unofficial drivers and small service companies. Now all of them offer clean new cars,usually yellow, quick arrival and reasonable fares. Using mobile applications is probably the most convenient way of getting taxi, while phone ordering is also available.

Using a car in Moscow can be very time consuming and stressful. The street system was never designed to accommodate even a fraction of the exploding population of vehicles and the traffic jams never seem to clear until the night. Most roadways are in a constant state of disastrous disrepair. You will have to compete for the right-of-way with seasoned drivers in dented "Ladas" who know the tangle of the streets inside out and will not think twice before cutting you off at the first opportunity.

The drivers of the ubiquitous yellow "marshrutkas" are reckless, while buses stop, go and barge in and out of traffic at will, blissfully unaware of the surroundings. One bright spot is the relative dearth of the large 18-wheeler trucks on Moscow roads. Sometimes, all traffic on major thoroughfares may be blocked by police to allow government officials to blow through unimpeded, sirens blaring.

There is very little parking. Parking illegally can lead to a hefty fine of RUB2500 and your car being towed. If you are driving to Moscow, park as soon as you can at a safe place such as your hotel and use public transit.

Parking is usually not free and the costs can be found online. Expect to pay RUB80/hour for the parking within the Boulevard Ring and the district, RUB60/hour - between Boulevard Ring and Garden Ring, RUB40/hour between Garnen Ring and Third Transport Ring. Payment is available through SMS (Russian SIM-cards only), mobile app or at parking columns,usually accepting credit cards only). You have to pay for the full hour upfront, unused money will be sent back to your account. Like many other Russian cities, parking spaces, even parking lots, are extremely disorganized, making safe parking a challenge.

However, if you have driven in Rome or Athens before, then it's not that hard to get accustomed to Moscow traffic. Just don't try to drive across the city during rush hours or you can be stuck for as long as 3 hours in traffic jams. Check one of the many traffic jam information websites before you start your journey. Taking the metro may actually be faster than driving. The most popular sites are Yandex Probki and Rambler Probki.

Roads are almost empty during holidays at the beginning of January and May as well as during weekends and the summer.

Gas stations: BP, Lukoil, Gazpromneft, Rosneft gas stations all have good quality gasoline.

Boats are not the best way to move around the city fast, but they do offer great scenery.

Stolichnaya Sudokhodnaya Kompania,Capital River Boat Tour Company offers several scenic routes geared for tourists with prices in the range of RUB400-800. A pass is included in some hop-on-hop-off tours.

Flotilla Radisson Royal offers several year-round cruises with prices in the range of RUB650-2,000. Unlike other tourist boats, these boats can move on ice very smoothly so that the waiter can easily pour champagne in crystal glasses on a table. There are huge panoramic windows to protect against the wind. The food is overpriced. The trips depart from either Hotel Ukraina or Gorky Park.

A few hydrofoil passenger ships operate service from the North River Terminal to Bukhta Radosti (Bay of Joy), a popular picnic and barbeque spot with many cafes. This terminal is not close to the city center; the closest metro station is Rechnoi Vokzal.

Velobike operates a bike sharing network that has over 2,700 bicycles available at over 300 bike stations throughout city. To use it, you first have to register on the web site or via the mobile app. Membership rates are RUB150 per day or RUB500 for a month. Usage fees, which are in addition to membership fees, vary, but the first 30 minutes are free.

This is intentional to encourage people to use the system for short place-to-place trips; however, after riding for 30 minutes, you can dock your bike into a station, wait 2 minutes, and then take the bike out again to restart the timer. The service is only operational in the spring and summer months, but extending the operational season is currently being contemplated.

The hop-on-hop-off bus is a convenient way for tourists to see the major sights quickly and efficiently. The buses feature English-speaking guides to answer any questions. A 1 day pass costs US$24 for adults and US$15 for children.

Attractions in Moscow

Red Square - The heart of Moscow and the first destination for most visitors to the city. Surrounded by St. Basil's Cathedral, the State History Museum, Lenin's Mausoleum and one of the Kremlin's long brick walls. The cobbles that make up the square are black and not red; the name comes from another gloss of the Russian word "krasniy", meaning "beautiful". Metro: Ohotnii Ryad, Teatralnaya or Ploshad Revolutsii.

Lenin Mausoleum - in the centre of the Red Square. Walk past the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin (who actually did not want any monuments to be built for him) and join the debate: is it really him? You must leave all cameras, phones and bags in the luggage office. Free admission. Open 10AM-1PM Tu, W, Th, Sa; closed on Su, M, F.

St Basil Cathedral - in the south part of Red Square. Built in 1555-61. Inside is a museum, although it looks best from the outside, but if you have the time, take a peek inside.

The Kremlin Museum Complex,Includes the Armoury Collection of royal clothing and chariots, the Diamond Fund, several churches, the Patriarch Palace and the Bell Tower - open only in the summer. Guided tours fill up fast and should be booked early. Photography is prohibited in many exhibits. RUB350-700.

The Grand Kremlin Palace. The official residence of the Russian President. A historic palace with rooms dating back to the 16th century. The exterior can be seen as part of a visit to the Kremlin Museum Complex. The interior is only open to the public by group tour two or three times a month and must be booked in advance. USD344+.

Tretyakov Gallery – One of the world's greatest museums, this is probably the one to choose if you only want to visit one museum in Moscow. In contrast to the worldwide collection of the Pushkin Museum, the Tretyakov is mostly a collection of Russian art. It has the best collection of Russian icons and many of the most famous pieces of modern Russian artists like Ilya Repin. Metro: Tretyakovskaya or Novokuznetskaya.

There are actually two Tretyakov museums now, the classic one and the 20th Century one. The classic one is where it has always been, the 20th Century one is in the Artist's House Cultural Center across from Gorky Park. They charge separate entry fees.

Pushkin Museum - ulitsa Volkhonka, is dedicated to Western art and has one of the world's most significant Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, along with some Old Masters. The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were rather unfortunately relocated to an annex in 2007 across the street from the main building. Metro: Kropotkinskaya.

Novodevichy Convent – Both a convent and a fortress, Novodevichy was built in the early 1500s and has remained nearly intact since the 17th century, making it one of the best preserved historical complexes in Moscow. The adjacent Novodevichy Cemetery is one of Russia's most famous cemeteries.

Famous people buried there include Anton Chekhov, Nickolai Gogol, Konstantine Stanislavski, Nikita Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev (the former President's wife), and Boris Yeltsin. Metro: Sportivnaya. Open from 9am until 5pm. If you want to locate the graves of famous people, you can try and buy a map (only in Russian) from the booth close to the entrance of the cemetery. However, the lady at the booth is rude to the tourists who don't speak Russian.

Church of the Ascension. Built to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible, Kolomenskoye's Church of the Ascension upended the Byzantine style with its wooden conical tower, and proved to be a milestone in the history of Russian ecclesiastical architecture. Since 1994, it has enjoyed a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Metro: Kolomenskaya or Kashirskaya, then walk through Kolomenskoye park.

Institute of Russian Realist Art, Derbenevskaya street 7, building 31 (Metro: Paveletskaya, Proletarskaya. Opposite to the Moscow New-Spassky monastery). Tu-Su: 11AM-8PM, closed Mondays. Contemporary paintings by Soviet and Russian artists. Adults: RUB150; Students: RUB50; Free on the first Tu and last Sa of each month.

Kremlin in Izmailovo (Izmaylovsky Kremlin) - 890-y Proyektiruemyy pr-d (metro: Partizanskaya) - The complex called “Kremlin in Izmailovo” is located on the bank of Serebryano-Vinogradny pond. City holidays, fairs and festivals take place in Izmaylovsky Kremlin. It has inside it various small museums (russian dresses, bells, history of vodka, etc.); there you can find also a wooden temple: Santifier Nikolay's Temple. If you are nearby, it is worth a visit.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, Kuznecky most, 12 (Metro: Kuznecky most).Great new space full of old soviet fun! Go hunting, shoot torpedoes, drive cars, check your strength and much more.Price includes 15 15 kopek coins to enjoy the games. It also features a cozy cafe/burger place. Fill out the survey and leave them your e-mail address for 3 additional coins. Free tour in Russian included in the price if you specifically ask for it. 450 RUB.

Moscow Museum of Modern Art, ul. Petrovka, 25 (Metro: Trubnaya green line; or Chekhovskaya on grey line),7 days/week: Noon–8PM. Exhibits art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Adults: RUB500; Children: RUB200.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is an independent platform for new thinking locating in Gorky Park. Through an extensive program of exhibitions, research, education, and publishing, Garage reflects on current developments in Russian and international culture, creating opportunities for public dialogue and the production of new work and ideas.

Founded in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova in Moscow, the institution is building a unique research archive focusing on the development of contemporary art in Russia while pioneering diverse educational projects for families and professionals that are the first of their kind in the country. These provide the foundation from which experimental exhibitions, events, and screenings are initiated.

VDNKh, aka VVTs. The Russian acronym "VDNKh" stood for "Exhibit of the People's Economic Achievements". It has been since renamed "All-Russian Exhibition Centre" ("Vserossiyskiy Vystavochniy Tsentr"). However, it is popularly known by the Soviet abbreviations. Previously this was a massive exhibit of the advances and progress of the USSR. Now it is largely a marketplace for everything from computers to bicycles. However, many of the monuments and fountains here make the area a nice place to stroll. Bicycles and roller skates rent is available.

Christ the Saviour Cathedral – This cathedral, the tallest Orthodox church in the world (the largest being the Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade), was blown up on orders from Stalin in 1931, with the view of building the gargantuan Palace of the Soviets, to be crowned by a 100 m high statue of Lenin. The project ran into engineering and geological difficulties (the area used to be a swamp), then the War intervened, and the place was ceded to a year-round open-air swimming pool. The pool was razed and the cathedral rebuilt only after the fall of the Soviet Union, in the mid-nineties. There is an extensive museum underneath the cathedral documenting its history (the original was started in 1839 and consecrated in 1883). Metro: Kropotkinskaya.

Garden of Fallen Monuments – Where many infamous statues in Moscow were placed after the Soviet collapse. See Dzherzinsky, Stalin, Brezhnev, and others. Adjacent to the New Tretyakov Museum, which houses 20th century art. After the Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery, this is worth seeing. Metro: Oktyabrskaya.

Russian State Library, Vozdvizhenka, 3/5 (Metro: Biblioteka Im.V.I.Lenina/Alexandrovskii Sad/Borovitskaya/Arbatskaya (Dark Blue line, east exit)). M—F: 09:00–20:00; Sa: 09:00–19:00; Su: closed. One of the largest libraries in the world. Anyone (Russian or foreign) over 18 can view electronic media for free, other items may be viewed by purchasing a "Reader's Card" (a photo id to gain access to physical materials). Previously received a copy of every book, musical score, and map published in the USSR, it now only receives a copy of every Russian book. The military reading room receives over 15,000 readers a year.

Bunker-42, Baumanskaya ulitsa 11 (Metro: Taganskaya (the bunker has an actual underground connection to this station, though it is unusable as an entrance)). Decomissioned cold war era soviet underground military nuclear bunker; now a museum. Entrance by guided tour in Russian. Depends on the tour, usually around RUB2,000.

Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center- Newly opened in Nov. 2012 and one of the most technologically advanced museums in Russia, this institution tells the history of Russian Jews primarily through interactive media. Metro: Maryina Roshcha.

Central Museum of the Armed Forces , 129110,Come out of Dostoyevskaya metro, facing the red army theatre,the big building shaped like a 5-pointed star. Take the street to the right of it that runs along side Ekaterininskiy park.Decent-sized museum filled with militaria and exhibitions from the last few centuries of Russian warfare. The best bits are in the park at the back though (head downstairs and out) where there is an impressive collection of armoury - mostly WW2 and Soviet era including a couple of SU-27s, and SS-20 launcher, a bunch of tanks and an armoured loco. English is close to non-existent though. 150 rub.

Battle of Borodino Panorama Museum 10.00 a.m. — 6.00 p.m, Thursday 10 a.m. — 9 p.m, closed Friday. Museum covering some of the history of the battle, in Russian and a large painting showing the scene of the battle.

State Museum-Reserve Tsaritsyno. A beautiful reserve in the southern part of Moscow, its nucleus being the largest palatial ensemble in Russia. Constructed between 1775 and 1796 to be the residence of Catherine the Great, the ensemble was abondoned after her death and turned into ruins during following centuries. A decision had been reached in 1984 to completely restore Tsaritsyno architectural and park ensemble.

Majority of the architectural monuments have already undergone restoration, Grand Palace having completed by 2007. Exhibitions and expositions of the museum demonstrate various pages of Tsaritsyno history and rich collections of arts and crafts. Metro: Tsaritsyno, Orekhovo.

Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, Bolotnaya emb.,. The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is a private exhibition organization located in the former chocolate factory Red October in Moscow. Since its foundation in 2010, the center aims to explore and promote Russian and foreign photography, support emerging Russian artists and explore beyond the medium. The center's exhibitions were shown at the State Russian Museum in St-Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk museum center, Cherepovets museum association, Kazan city hall, and Ekaterinburg museum of Fine Arts.

The center's exhibition programme aims to explore and present photography to a wider audience. The program has been built around the center’s collection and collaborations with archives, contemporary photographers, private collectors and photography associations. Metro: Kripotkinskaya, Polyanka.

Famous streets

Old Arbat Street – Walk down this kitschy street and don't forget to look at the small by-streets around the Arbat. They allow you to feel the "old Moscow spirit". Arbat is full of souvenir vendors, tourist cafes, lousy restaurants, artists, etc. The prices of the souvenirs vary from reasonable to ripoff, but vendors are open to negotiation. Metro: Smolenskaya (both blue lines), Arbatskaya (both blue lines, from Dark Blue line take west exit).

New Arbat Street – Located near Old Arbat Street, this street offers a contrast from the touristy pedestrian-only thoroughfare. New Arbat is perhaps where Moscow's rich are the most visible, as some of Moscow's most expensive restaurants and nightclubs are located here. There are some reasonably priced cafes, however. The street is lavishly lit up at night and is always very lively. Also, check out Dom Knigi (House of Books) on New Arbat. It's not as impressive as the St. Petersburg store, but probably the best bet for books in Moscow. Metro: Arbatskaya (both blue lines, take west exit for Dark Blue line).

Tverskaya Street – This street starts from the Kremlin itself and runs northwest in the direction of Tver (hence the name) and Saint Petersburg. For that reason the road was a very important thoroughfare in Tsarist Russia. It is now Moscow's most fashionable street, with several prestigious boutiques. It is also lined with cafes, restaurants, coffeehouses, a couple of theaters, and several hotels, including two locations of the Marriott.

Most of the street's architecture doesn't actually have much history to it, though along the way you will find Russia's first, and the world's busiest, McDonalds. The statue of Pushkin at Pushkinskaya Square is a very popular meeting point. Walk its length. From Red Square to Belorusski Train Station is about one hour and is a great way to see the most famous street in Moscow.

Take a peek inside the Yeliseev Grocery Store, Moscow's answer to Harrod's food halls, to see the restored ornate interior. Metro south to north: Ohotnii Ryad/Teatralnaya, Tverskaya/Pushkinskaya/Chehovskaya (Puskinskaya Square), Mayakovskaya (Triumfalnaya Square, sometimes called second Theatre square, containing Chaikovskii Concert Hall, Satire Theatre and nearby Mossovet Theatre), Belorusskaya.

Vorobyovy Gory – The best place for a view of Moscow from the ground. Near the main Moscow State University building, there is a popular lookout point where one can see much of the city on clear days. Metro: A walk from either metro Universitet or Vorobyovy Gory. As alternative, trolleybus #7 (only before about 21:30) can also take you from/to Kievskaya, Leninskii prospect or Oktyabrskaya metro

Ostankino Tower, 540 meters tall, with an observation deck 340 meters above ground. Adults: RUB980; Children: RUB490.

Moscow has many attractions, but many of them are not friendly to a non-Russian-speaker. English-language newspapers like The Moscow Times, Element, Moscow News and others can help navigate towards English-language friendly attractions and services.
Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre, (Metro: Ohotnii Ryad, Teatralnaya or Ploshad Revolutsii.) The grand theatre in the center of the city. Includes ballet, opera, and classical music performances. Tickets usually sell out well in advance. You do not need to dress up to attend. The historic theatre also offers English tours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:15pm. RUB8000+.

Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre, 3/2 Karetny Ryad (Hermitage Garden). Ticket office is open 12:00-15:00 and then again 16:00-19:00.

Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, B. Dmitrovka.

Moscow has two circuses, the Nikulin circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar (metro Tsvetnoi Bulvar), and the new circus near the University. Tickets can be bought for as little as RUB200, and even these seats are good. Touts may be selling tickets outside and can save you a lot of queueing, and they'll speak more English than the ticket office. Sometimes they are selling tickets at the cover price, and sometime at twice the price. Ask and make sure before parting with your cash.

The Obraztsov Puppet Theatre at the very north part of the Garden Ring has performances during the winter in the evening. Everything is in Russian and meant for children, but the stories are simple and quite understandable even if you don't understand Russian. There is a small box in front of the building where a puppet appears every hour and does a performance. At 12 midday all of the puppets appear for a short but entertaining appearance.

Make sure you visit a Russian bathhouse (banya) while in Moscow, as it's an important Russian tradition and Russians, especially aged 40+, go at least once a week. Have a hot steam, followed by a good whipping with birch branches. While its not the most pleasant experience, the benefits you'll receive afterward will enable you to understand why Russians are loyal to their banya.

Sandunovskye Baths (Sanduny), Neglinnaya Str. 14 Building 3-7 (Metro: Kyznetsky Most or Trubnaya). The oldest and most famous Banya in Moscow, it looks like a palace with enormous halls, marble stairs, and frescos. The restaurant serves drinks for the complete after-banya experience. 90-minute guided tours are available on Tuesday evenings. 4-person bath room: From RUB4,000/hour, with a 2-hour minimum.

Pokrovskie Baths, Bagrationovsky proezd, 12 (Metro: Bagrationovskaya). Has a famous steam room with horseradish-flavored steam. Wide selection of brooms from birch tree, tatarian maple, lime tree, and eucalyptus. Prices are cheaper than other banyas.

Rzehvskye Baths, Bannyi Proezd 3a (Metro: Prospekt Mira). 9AM-10PM. 120 years old but recently renovated.

Lefortovskie Baths, Lefortovsky Val, 9A (Metro: Aviamotornaya). Famous for its traditionally-Russian massage with brooms soaked in mead where cold water is poured on you to get the blood flowing!

Like any city with snowy winters, Moscow is a great place to go ice skating.

Gorky Park is most famous but overcrowded and ice is not always in ideal condition;
Bosco rink on a Red Square is glamorous and easy, although bit costly and not too favoured by advanced skaters.
Luzhniki has arguably the best ice, although service can be tough and open hours are not always convenient.
The winter rinks at Chistye Prudy or Izmaylovsky Park are other alternatives.

Kva-Kva Water Park, Gostinichnaya str. Water Park affiliated with Maxima Hotels (discounts for guests). There are 7 high thrills (90-120m in length) and a pleasant surprise for extremers – Tsunami trill – unique in Russia. There are also 4-line thrills – Multislide and a special area for kids – a small tropical town with shallow pool. Kva-Kva Lagoone offers hydromassage. There’s also pure Russian bath, Finnish sauna, Turkish bath (hamam) and Kva-Kva SPA-salon. RUB225-745.

Hot air balloon ride (high), Suburban Moscow. RUB4400-5000.

Moscow Zoo, Bolshaya Gruzinskaya str. The oldest and the biggest zoo in Russia, has over 1000 animal species.

Russian cooking classes are widely available. Learn how to cook “borsh“, “pelmeni”, “uha”, “kelubyaka”, etc. Neither experience nor deep cooking knowledge are required. The one thing you really need is a good mood, willing to communicate and to actively take part in the cooking. Everybody gets involved. The classes are conducted in English by friendly locals.

Russia Flight Adventures, info@russiaflightadventures.com.All the activities you can imagine in the Russian skies: skydiving, hot air ballon, helicopter excursions, mig-29 flights, cosmonaut training center excursions.

Parks and gardens

Gorkiy Park, (Metros: Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury, Frunzenskaya. It's almost impossible to find a parking lot nearby on the weekend without breaking the parking rules, so it's better to get there by bus or on foot). The most well known of Moscow's many parks, Gorky Park is one of the trendiest places in the city due to its cafes, places to stroll, an open-air cinema theatre, free Wi-Fi, and contemporary public art projects. In winter, it's a popular place to ice skate and it hosts an ice sculpture competition. You can rent a boat or bicycle.

Victory Park – This massive memorial to WWII was built for the 50-year anniversary of V-E day in 1995. On weekends, it is very popular with newlyweds. The park now has its own metro station of the same name (Park Pobedy, on the Dark Blue line). There is also a museum to WWII worth visiting if you like military history.

Kolomenskoye (Kolomenskiy park), (Metro: Kolomenskaya/Kashirskaya. From Kolomenskaya take south exit, then after exit from metro station proper in the underground passage turn left, and then right. Upon leaving underground passage continue going straight for about 300 meters (along east side of Andropov prospekt) to the entrance. Lack of direction signs may be confusing, ask for directions when needed.

From Kashirskaya metro walk along the path in general east-north-east direction to the underground passage under Andropov prospekt, the entrance to the park will be right after it. During the summer season special boats operate on Moscow river. There are several loading docks along river. If you are in the centre of Moscow, take boat to the south. There is a loading dock right in the park.

Not all boats go there, so check it with the crew. This former imperial estate is now a very popular weekend destination for Muscovites. It is a vast collection of churches and other buildings from the 16 and 17th centuries, including some wooden architecture that was transported here by the Soviet government from Karelia. Free (the park and museum). There are individual fees for each exhibition ($2-$10 per exhibition).

Park Sokolniki, Metro Sokolniki (It is a short walk from metro station to main gate along the alley. North of park is also accessible directly from Malenkovskaya train station or via a walk from Moskva-3 train station from Yaroslavl direction train line). A popular recreational park, which also hosts an exhibition centre. The place to go to experience the Russian nature without going far away from the centre.

This is the place to experience Shashlik (Russian/Geogeian kebab) at a very low price (compared with other places) they can be found selling under huge tents all over the park. The park has an amusement park for the kids so they don't get bored. For the want to be hunter there are two Tirs bibi gun shooting ranges with only $1.40 per five shots.

If you have a lot of time explore the forest deeper in the park you will find hard-to-find-in-America Birch trees and many people picking mushrooms (a national hobby) if you want to taste real russian spirt this is the best sample. The area is now infested with many high class hotels , such as Holiday Inn and others. One might like to try the goring church of the Jesus Christ, adjacent to park.

Patriarshi ponds area, Metro Mayakovskaya,From metro walk along Sadovoye Ring, passing Satire and Mossoveta Theatres to Bronnaya street, then turn left. There is only one pond left, but it is squared with buildings so it is quite peaceful here despite hectic Sadovoye Ring nearby.

Here you can take a nice walk and enjoy the mysterious atmosphere, for which the area is famous - due to the novel of Mikhail Bulgakov Master and Margaret (Master i Margarita), which is well-known for its combination of demonology, mysticism, humour, satire, art and love as well as wonderful depictions of Moscow of the thirties. Some moscovites are eager to take a seat on a bench with their back to Malaya Bronnaya street, as it is a reference to the novel.

Aptekarskiy ogorod, Metro Prospekt Mira,it even had former name Botanicheskii Sad/Suharevskaya From Ring Line exit from Prospekt Mira station, turn left and walk 200 metres. After you'll pass the fence of Bryusov house museum, you'll see contemporary glass building (look for Valiano restaurant and flower shop). Turn left to the rampant after birches. The ticket-offices will be beyond glass doors, the entrance to the garden will be even further.

On days of sports or other events in Olimpiiskii Sportcomplex as well as on Muslim holidays, a walk from Suharevskaya metro station is less crowded and more recommended. A walk from Kalanchevskaya train station along Groholskii side street is also possible.

Approximately May-Sept 10:00-22:00, Oct-Apr 10:00-17:00. Garden may be closed for 2-3 weeks in April or in other time due to bad weather; for 1-2 weeks in September for gardening works; for day or several hours in case of various events.. One of the few paid-entrance parks in Moscow. Small but very cozy; very carefully maintained; popular for photo sessions on weddings and babies. 100 rubles/150 rubles after 18:00.

Japanese garden in Botanichesky Sad,Closest metro is Botanicheskii Sad and entrance to Gardens via a back gate. Routes from Vladykino metro or Botanicheskaya street gate only slightly longer. Small and well-maintained; excellent for making photos. 100/150 rubles for workdays/weekends and holidays. 50/80 rubles for students and pupils. 10/20 rubles for pensioners.

Employment

You will need a work visa which is not an easy process. The visa needs to be arranged well in advance of travelling. It is possible to work in Moscow, you just need to find a good company to support you.

Shop

Credit card acceptance is widespread in large stores, but less common smaller stores and restaurants. However, ATMs are plentiful, display in English and accept the major card networks such as Visa/Plus and MasterCard/Cirrus. Currency exchange offices are plentiful in the city, but be sure to count your change and note that the advertised rates sometimes don't include an added commission or only apply to large exchanges.

Be sure to break your RUB5000 or RUB1000 notes where you can, as the smaller merchants, street vendors and even many metro clerks often refuse them.

Large shopping malls are common near metro stations.

Izmaylovsky Market, (In Izmalylovo Park; Take the metro to ''Partizanskaya'' station, turn left out of the station, cross the street, and walk down the path with the hotels on your left towards the wooden fortress and find the market). A one-stop souvenir venue with hundreds of vendors selling everything from matryoshka dolls to fur hats to lacquer boxes to expensive jewelry. The ground level is where souvenirs are sold.

Because some vendors only show up on weekends, the best selections are on Saturday, from 10am to 6pm or Sunday from 10am to around 3, but it's open every day of the week. Beware of the police here as they are looking for an excuse to take money from tourists without proper regard for the rules. There is a charge of 10 rubles to enter the marketplace.

Aviapark, (Free shuttle bus from Dinamo, Polezhaevskaya or Savelovskaya metro stations). Opened in 2014, at 390,000 square meters, this is Europe's largest shopping mall. There are more than 500 shops, a cinema with 17 halls, winter garden, and a 4-level aquarium with tropical fish. The stores have been slow to open due to the weak economy.

Evropeisky, (At Kiyevsky Station). Opened in 2006. Many international brand-name shops e.g. Marks and Spencer, Next, Levi's, Calvin Klein, and Swatch can be found here. There is also a multi-screen cinema, food gallery, supermarket, and opticians. edit

Okhotny Ryad, (Okhotny Ryad Metro Station). Underground shopping mall with shops with lots of internationally known brands.

Atrium, (Next to Kurskaya Metro Station).

GUM, (Adjacent to Red Square; Metro: Ploschad Revolutsii).Once filled with Soviet-era goods of mediocre quality, it is now a mall with international labels and hyper-expensive boutiques. Even if you don't buy anything, it's highly recommended you go inside and look at the architecture.

Detskiy Mir (Children's World), (Metro: Lubyanka). Has stores selling toys, books, DVDs, and souvenirs. Again, even if you do not buy anything, its worth going to explore this building.

Vremena Goda, 48 Kutuzovski Ave. 10-22. A luxury shopping centre that includes international stores such as Chanel, Porsche, Cartier, VIP cinema, trendy restaurants, spas.

Dining

Dining establishments in Moscow range from food stalls near metro stations to quick canteen-style 'Stolovaya' eateries to American-style fast food chains to overpriced restaurants catering to tourists to high-end restaurants where you can spend RUB10,000.

Restaurants and cafes promising "European and Caucasus cuisine" generally cater to tourists and are usually bad; seek a restaurant that specializes in a single region instead (Georgian, Russian, Italian, French, etc.).

Many small restaurants offer lunch specials costing RUB200-250. These deals are valid from 12:00 to 15:00 and include a cup of soup or an appetizer, a small portion of the main dish of the day, bread and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Cuisine

Authentic ethnic food from countries of the nearby Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia) is common in Moscow. Japanese food, including sushi, rolls, tempura, and steakhouses are very popular in Moscow. Other Asian cuisines including Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese are becoming increasing more common.

Free-standing kiosks serving sausages, meat pies, or kebobs are plentiful, although the origins of the meat served is questionable and the food has been known to occasionally make people sick. McDonalds and KFC have locations near almost every shopping mall. It is common to pay extra for condiments.

Kroshka-Kartoshka – These green kiosks sell microwave-baked potatoes as well as toasted sandwiches and a few drinks. Hot and filling, but rather expensive for a potato.

Riksha Ivan ("Ivan the Rickshaw") – Quick Chinese-like cuisine; fried rice with meat to go.

Teremok – These brown-colored kiosks sell large blinchiki, Russian crepes that come with a variety of fillings. Very tasty and authentic. Make sure to try the Kvass - a traditional Russian drink made from rye bread.

Yolky-Palky – This chain restaurant offers Russian food. You can take an all-you-can-eat plate for RUB300.

Kruzhka – Serves cheap food and mugs of beer. 20 locations around Moscow. The menu is relatively simple, consisting mainly of types of kebab and shawarma, with fries. Sports events are on often shown on televisions or a big screen.

Prime Star – Specializing in natural food such as sandwiches and salads. RUB400 for a cold soup, salad, and beverage.

Canteen-style cafeterias

In these cafeterias, you take a tray, move along a counter with food (either taking the dishes yourself or asking the staff to give you a bowl of soup, a plate of vegetables, etc.) and pay at the cash register at the end of the counter. These self-serve establishments have decent quality food, no waiting time, and good prices. Canteen chains include Café Moo-Moo (30 locations) and Grabli.

Darbar, Leninsky Prospect, 38 (Hotel Sputnik). Indian restaurant with panoramic view over the city. The cuisine is authentic; arguably it's the best Indian restaurant in Moscow.

Gavan' v Khamovnikakh, ul. Rossolimo 7 Near Park Kultury Metro Station and Gorky Park.Great authentic Armenian food.

Hard Rock Cafe, Old Arbat Street 44. Serves the same menu it does worldwide for reasonable prices. They are open for breakfast at 06:00 and serve traditional Western breakfasts. Freshly squeezed orange juice and hash browns are a highlight here. You can eat outdoors and watch the endlessly fascinating parade of characters that walk the street all day and all night.

Kharbin, Nizhnyaya Pervomayskaya ul. 66 (m. Pervomayskaya). Mon-Sun 11am-11pm. Well outskirts—but worth a dedicated trip. Non-Europeanized authentic Chinese restaurant. with therefore generous portions, each main can typically fill a couple. Both run entirely by and where 80% of clients are Chinese. Try turtle soup; eggplants in caramel sauce. Loud karaoke weekend evenings. No credit cards. RUB1000 per person for a filling dinner with out alcohol.

Korchma Taras Bulba, Petrovka 30/7 (Metro: Pushkinskaya/Chekhovskaya). Ukrainian chain restaurant with a interior decorated like a Ukrainian house.

Lavash, Tsvetnoy Blvd 7с1 (100m south of the Nikulin circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar). Cuisine from the Caucus region. Large menu with pictures, good choice of Russian beer and vodka at reasonable prices.

Mi Piace, 22 Chayanova (250-0893); 13/9 B. Ordynka (951-52-50, 953-96-65); 20 Tverskaya (650-7575); 20 Sadovaya-Samotechnaya (694-0001); 16/16 Pokrovka (623-4411); 7, 1st Tverskaya Yamskaya (970-1129). A chain of Italian restaurants. Relatively inexpensive but quite popular among locals and expatriates working in Moscow.

The Old Tower, Teatralnaja ploščad 5/1. Russian cuisine with some unusual dishes such as bear and elk, in a medieval setting.

Oprichnik, 2, Pyatnitsky pereulok. Ancient Russian cuisine including game.

Ragout, 2 locations. Trendy place for 30-year-olds and up; one of the most moderate-priced French cuisine places. Very friendly to children: weekend drawing classes etc with proficient mentors.

George Best, Rybniy Pereulok, 2 (Gostinyi dvor) (M. Ploshchad' Revolyutsii, M. Kitay-gorod). Gastropub named after the legendary Manchester United footballer & playboy is trying to satisfy adult hipster sport fans with high quality food, wide range of beers and cocktails, broadcasts and weekend techno/house parties. Located inside Gostiny Dvor, the medieval trading area turned contemporary mall just east of the Kremlin, the 19th century exposed-brick interior has three floors, and a variety of atmosphere.

Soup Cafe, 1st Brestskaya, 62/25, bldg. 3 (M. Belorusskaya). More than a dozen soup varieties.

Starlite Diner. 24 hours. A small chain of American-style diners, where you can still try Russian borsch or pelmeni. Popular among Moscow expats and the Moscow middle-class crowd for quality food and fast service.

VietCafe, Several locations. A popular chain of Vietnamese restaurants. RUB500.

Carré Blanc, Selezniovskaya ul. 19/2 (Metro: Novoslobodskaya). French restaurant with an attached and much cheaper bar/cafe which also serves good food. Good wine list. French/English/Russian spoken.

Chemodan (Suitcase) (Бар-ресторан Чемодан: Главная), Gogol Boulevard 25/1 (Metro: Arbatskaya, Kropotkinskaya)Specifically a Siberian restaurant, with a menu featuring the freshest river-fish from Siberia's vast rivers and lakes, game dishes from the riches of the taiga forests, pickles and preserves featuring mushrooms and berries. Good food, good service. Mains: RUB700-1,500.

Expedition, Pevcheskiy Lane 6. Northern cuisine, specializing in seafood. Mains: From RUB1,000.

Nedalniy Vostok (Not far East), Tverskoy Blvd 15. Stylish Japanese atmosphere.

Cafe Pushkin, Tverskoy Blvd 26А (Metro: Tverskaya, Pushkinskaya). Has a cafe and restaurant (cafe is cheaper). A fake 19th century mansion (built in 1999) that pretends to be a tourist attraction, not just a place to eat. The legend goes that so many foreigners were asking for the restaurant with this name that they finally opened one. With a stretch of imagination the food might pass for what it purports to be, the aristocratic Russian cuisine from the Czarist times.

Riviera, 4 Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ul. (Metro: Kievskaya). French restaurant with live music from a harp. Great ambiance but the service can be slow.

Roberto, Rozhdestvensky blvd, 20 bldg. 1 (Metro: Chistiye Prudy / Tsvetnoy Blvd). Genuine Italian restaurant frequented by Italians. Risotto: RUB400+; salads: RUB350+; pasta: RUB350+; soups: RUB300+; mains: RUB450+.

Vogue Cafe, ul. Kuznetskiy Most (Kuznetskiy Bridge), 7/9 (across the street from TSUM on Kyznetski Most Street building 7/9). The restaurant is a great little find but do not be fooled by the word cafe. It is quite trendy inside and can be busy in the evening. Overall, the food is absolutely delicious. Fish dishes range between RUB800-1300; Wine: RUB4,000+ per bottle.

White Rabbit, 3, Smolenskaya Square (Metro: Smolenskaya). Astonishing interiors in fusion style. Combining an old fireplace with fretted designer furniture and an active bar in the middle of the hall with a 360 degree panorama view of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ukraina hotel. You get an outstanding view on the Garden Ring, the New Arbat and the river Moscow through the windows.

Bars

Kruzhka, Multiple locations. 0.5L beer: RUB75.

Yan Primus, Miklukho-Maklaya, 27A (M. Belyaevo, Vityaz cinema). 10AM-6AM Mon-Sun. Belgian beer restaurant, a rare women-friendly beer place. Table games. Parking; outdoor terrace (open until 11PM; booking required).

Beer Market, Butyrskaya 69 (M. Dmitrovskaya). noon-midnight Mon-Sun. Probably the widest choice of beers in the city in the regular menu, plus seasonal extra beer listings, new region every season.

Bobby Dazzler Pub, Kostyanskiy pereulok 7/13 (Metro: Turgenevskaya, Chistye Prudy). 11:00-0:00 Mon-Thu, 11:00-3:00 Fri, 13:00-6:00 Sat, 13:00-0:00 Sun. British-style pub. Wide choice of UK beers. Large food menu. Beers and food are reasonable priced.

English Pub Albion, Manezhnaya Ploshchad 1 (M. Aleksandrovsky Sad, M. Okhotny Ryad). 12AM-2AM Mon-Sun. First English pub opened in Moscow, existing since 2003. It is not so easy to find it - look for the entrance with the territory of the Alexander Garden, opposite to the eternal flame.

Simple Things-Nikitskaya , B. Nikitskaya, 14. Great choice of wines and snacks in a cozy basement right across Cofemania, with a special person who sit downs to talk (and recommend a drink or two) with you if you're alone.

Tema Bar, Potapovsky pereulok, 5 (Metro: Chistye Prudy; near Chistye Prudy Boulevard). Boasts quite a long cocktail list, including all-time favorites like Screwdrivers, Cosmopolitans and Manhattans. The bar is packed on Fri and Sat nights.

Rule Tap Room, Starovagankovskiy Lane, 19/7 (Metro Borovitskaya). 4pm-midnight daily. A truly incredible selection of draught and bottled craft beers. A young crowd and a great place to try a fantastic variety of every possible kind of beer.

Clubs

Gogol Bar, Pereulok. Stoleshnikov, 11 (The entrance to the bar is between Vivienne Westwood and the Lancel boutique.)On a very posh street. The interior, menu and drinks are quite simple. Musical performances every weekend. During the winter, the small yard is used as a skating rink. There are also Gogol' Bars on Arbat and Maroseika St. No entry for non-europeans.

Propaganda , Zlatoustinskiy Bolshoy per., 7 (Metro: Kitay Gorod),. 11:30AM-6AM Mon-Sun. A great alternative bar with lots of cheap drinks. With great music, a hip and funky crowd, as well as a relatively relaxed door control. A great place to dance all night and have fun. Also very good value-for-money place to eat. Vodka: RUB100; Beer: RUB150.

Cafes

Moscow has several café chains with great coffee. Moscow also has a good selection of tea saloons. High-quality infusion teas such as Newby, are widely available in cafes, both in packets and loose. Also most coffee shops serve invented in Moscow coffee drink called Raf.

Asking to add boiling water to the tea you ordered earlier is a practice that some cafes don't welcome, but normally it's acceptable.

Bulka, Pokrovka 19; Bolshaya Gruzinskaya 69; Park Sokolniki; «Otrada» shopping mall. This bakery is known for its award-winning coffee. A great place to have a hearty breakfast, a delicious and reasonable priced «business lunch» or an outstanding dessert. Every spot provides free wi-fi and has a special menu for kids.

Volkonsky, Maroseika 4/2. For a late night nibble or a quick morning pick me up, Volkonsky is one of the better places in Moscow that doubles as a bakery/coffee shop. Great ambiance and a neighborhood feel.

Accomodation:

With the exception of some high-end hotels, all hotels and hostels offer free WiFi and many have computer terminals. Almost all accept credit cards. Hotels and hostels will usually provide a visa invitation and registration for an additional fee.

Hostels

Comrade Hostel, Maroseyka street 11, 3rd floor (Metro: Kitai-Gorod; in courtyard, second archway left after you pass McDonald's). checkin: 12.00; checkout: 12.00. A nice clean hostel. The owner, Dennis, is really helpful. Dorm bed: RUB650; Single: RUB2,000; Double: RUB2,500.

Chillax Hostels, 2-y Kolobovskiy pereulok, 9 (Metro: Trubnaya, Tsvetnoi Bulvar). checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 12.00. A cozy, clean, and a fun place to stay. All of the staff speaks English, with some speaking other languages too. Dorm bed: RUB450-750.

Hostel Dom, Podsosenskiy per., 21 stroenie 5 (Metro: Kurskaya, Chkalovskaya). checkin: 2:00PM; checkout: 12.00. Nice, clean and really cozy hostel. Double: RUB2,300-2,900.

Godzillas Hostel Moscow, Bolshoi Karetnyy 6 apt. 5 (first floor) (Metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar; 20-25 minute walk from the Kremlin). checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. Decent bathrooms and very friendly staff. Few showers are the only downside. Dorm bed: RUB725+; Double: RUB1,740.

HM Hostel Moscow, Gogolevsky Boulevard 33, 4th floor (Metro: Arbatskaya). checkin: 13.00; checkout: 12.00. Old building with large rooms and high ceilings. Dorm bed: RUB750-950.

Moscow Home Hostel, 2-y Neopalimovsky per., 1/12 (m. Park kultury) (In the quiet park zone; 5 minutes walk from metro station and 20 minutes walk to the Kremlin). checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12 PM. Dorm bed: €11-15; Double: €48.

Napoleon Hostel, Maly Zlatoustinskiy 2 (4th floor) (Metro: Kitay Gorod). Dorm bed: RUB450-600.

Suharevka Hostel & Hostel, Bolshaya Suharevskaya Ploshad 16/18 (Metro: Sukharevska). Dorm bed: RUB400; Single: RUB1,600; Double: RUB1,800.

TNT Hostel Moscow, 5 Zvonarskiy per., 3rd floor (Metro: Kuznetskiy Most. Look for the sign that says 'Kuznetskiy Most'. The sign is in the middle of the platform hanging from the ceiling and is quite small. Follow this sign toward Rozhdestvenka Street and exit the metro station taking the escalators. At the top of the escalators walk through the glass doors, then pass throught the any of two ARCs, turn right and walk about 2 min till you see a 'Lilienthal Bar' from right hand.

Turn left to Zvonarskiy side street and walk downwards till you see building 5 (Dom in Russian). Building 5 is next after the Bank UNICOR. The door entry code is ''1 2 3 4'' (or can be not locked at all). Hostel is on the third (pls note, Russian numbering) floor of that building, left door.)checkin: 1PM; checkout: noon. Dorm bed: RUB500-600; Double: RUB2,000.

Alfa, Izmailovskoe shosse 71a (Metro: Partizanskaya). The hotel is built on the site of the old village "Izmailovo", which was the suburban estate of Russian Tsars (and some medieval buildings still stand there, about 15 min walk from the hotel). Peter the Great spent there his childhood. "Alfa" was built in 1980 for the Olympic games. The project authors were awarded with the State prize. The rooms reveal a panoramic view of the Park and Petrovskii lakes. From RUB2,900.

Aquamarine Hotel Moscow, Ozerkovskaya. 159 exquisite rooms and suites are equipped with the latest multi-media technology and offer state-of-the-art business services. From RUB8000.

Assambleya Nikitskaya, Bolshaya Nikitskaya ul. From RUB5,900 in the low season.

Boulevard (Bulvar), 1 Sretenka. All rooms have air-conditioner, a plasma TV with cable, a telephone, and private toilet and shower. Some of its amenities include dry cleaning/laundry and massage service. Weekend: From RUB2,500; Weekday: From RUB4,800.

Courtyard Moscow City Center, Voznesenskiy per., 7. Can be noisy during conferences.

Elegant Hotel, 8 Pokrovka str., 32. All rooms have air-conditioning, a cable TV, and an en-suite toilet and bath. Some of its amenities are restaurant and bar, a business center, and a beauty parlor. From RUB3000.

Ermitage Pokrovka Hotel, Durasovsky per 7. Furnished rooms, all of which have a cable TV, a mini-bar, and a telephone. Some of its amenities are dry cleaning/laundry and room service. From RUB5580.

Golden Apple Hotel, 11 Malaya Dmitrovka. 92 individually decorated rooms and suites. Cable & satellite TV channels. Sauna and jacuzzi, laundry, dry-cleaning and valet services, and 24 hours room service. From RUB5,500.

Izmailovo Gamma-Delta, Izmailovskoe shosse 71 (Metro: Partizanskaya). From RUB2,300.

Mercure Arbat Moscow, Smolenskaya Sq. 6. Accor hotels. Stylish décor and good food. From US$96.

Petrovka Loft, Petrovka 17/2, 41 (Teatralnaya, Pushkinskaya and Tverskaya metro stations.) Luxury budget hotel. From RUB1,800 with advance purchase.

Proton Hotel, 22, Novozavodskaya st. A/C rooms equipped with tv with satellite channels and shower with bathtub. Includes business center, bar, restaurant, conference room and fitness room/gym. From RUB5,000.

Silky Way, 45 Lenina Street, pos. Oktyabrskiy, Lyuberetskiy District. In an area that was once part of the Great Silk Road. It offers cozy rooms, all of which have air-conditioner, cable TV, mini-bar, and refrigerator. Includes restaurant and bar and fitness room/gym. Single: RUB3,800; Double: RUB5,300.

Soyuz, Levoberezhnaya. St. 12. In a wood-park zone which is only a 15-minute ride equally distant both from the international airport “Sheremetievo-2” and the centre. The hotel's accommodation facilities encompass 29 single rooms, 119 two-person and 10 two-room luxe, All of them are nicety furnished with Italian furniture and equipped with satellite TV. From RUB2,000.

Ulanskaya, Ulanskiy pereulok 16, bld.1A. Rooms have LCD TV with local and international channels. Includes restaurant and bar, and room service. Single: RUB6,500; Double: RUB8,600.

Vintage, Leningradskoe shosse 297 (5km from Sheremetyevo Airport). Located in a 19th-century building. Satellite TV and a private bathroom. Some rooms have a separate bedrooms and living room. Breakfast available. Room service is available and packed lunches can be organised for day trips. A tour desk offers advice on what to see and do in Moscow. Other facilities include a 24-hour reception, safety deposit box and free newspapers. From RUB2,400.

Voskhod, Altuf'evskoye shosse 2 (Metro: Vladykino). Relatively cheap and modest accommodation. From RUB1,800.

Baltschug Kempinski, ul. Balchug, 1 (At the Red Square. checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. Spacious rooms, good service and a buffet breakfast.

Golden Ring, Smolenskaya ulitsa, 5 (short walk to Arbat Street and the Foreign Ministry building). Disappointing service for a 5 star hotel, although the amenities and breakfast served daily are commendable. Views from the rooms are fantastic, and the hotel is located near all the main tourist sites. From RUB8,000.

Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya, Kalanchevskaya Street, 21/40 (near Leningradsky train station where Sapsan stops). This landmark Moscow hotel offers a contemporary selection of rooms and suites - with panoramic views over the historic city centre, featuring complimentary Wi-Fi.

Le Royal Meridien National, 15/1, bld. 1 ul. Mokhovaya (At the Red Square). Traditional Art Nouveau-style hotel. Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable, with plasma TVs, minibars and more.

Lotte Hotel Moscow, Novinskiy b-r, 8, с. 2. 5-star. From RUB23,000.

Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka, Pokrovka st 40, bld 2. checkin: 15.00; checkout: 12.00. Located in historic downtown Moscow, a boutique hotel designed in Art Deco is the right choice for demanding quests. Spa by Algotherm, indoor pool, sauna and Turkish baths. Award-winning restaurant "Numbers". Spacious rooms, 84 suits. Suitable for weddings. From RUB14,000.

Metropol Moscow, Teatralnyy pr-d, 2 (Short walk from Red Square). Friendly staff and beautiful building. From RUB11,000.

Ritz-Carlton Moscow, Tverskaya ulitsa 3/5. Built in 2007 with 19th century styling for an old world style, look and feel. The staff are fluent in English and are helpful and professional.

Radisson Blu Belorusskaya, No. 26, 3rd Street of Yamskogo Polya. Standing out among Moscow hotels, this accommodation provides a central capital city location near the Kremlin and the main thoroughfares to Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, Kosmodamianskaya nab., 52 bld.6 (Paveletskaya, Taganskaya). checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. Top notch hotel. A stunning bar on the 34th floor has a complete 360 view of Moscow and the cocktail and wine list is extremely impressive.

Safety

Moscow historically enjoyed a low crime rate,though this is not entirely the case. However, Moscow is a booming metropolis, so common sense should be used. Avoid dark alleys - like you would anywhere else. Check the advice from your Foreign Office for entry requirements, health, safety, local laws and customs.

Do keep in mind, that while traveling in Moscow, as in the rest of Russia, you must always have your passport with you. If you look non-white, your papers may get checked more often than usual, due to a big problem of illegal immigration which Moscow police is greatly aware of.

Keep an eye out for pickpockets on metro; avoid going on dark deserted streets at night.

Usually, the police will demand to see your papers to check if you have been registered within seven business days,used to be three business days of your arrival into Moscow. Always remember that if you stay in a hotel then you are automatically registered and will be handed a confirmation paper at a time of check-in, so no worry in this case.

Most policemen do not speak a word of English, but they will let you know if your papers are not in order and you must go with them to the police precinct. In any case, if you are a decent looking person,regardless of race and nationality odds to be asked to show documents are minuscule, and the police are usually looking for migrants from Central Asia.

Also note that in winter months, streets in Moscow can get very slippery. Take a pair of grippy shoes or, even better, boots,to prevent twisted ankles and a waterproof raincoat. Take care as ice patches are often hard to spot, even when they appear to have been cleared or melted. Wearing non-grippy shoes could result in injury.

Downtown Moscow is very brightly lit, and a lot of the wide roads have underground pedestrian walkways. Those are well lit too - so you shouldn't worry about going down inside them. But of course, like anywhere else, do use common sense, and keep an eye out for pickpockets. Use the pedestrian crossings to cross the street, as traffic can get pretty crazy often times. Furthermore, racism and homophobia is prevalent in Moscow and other major cities.

Wireless Internet

Beeline WiFi operates the largest network of both paid and free WiFi access points. If there is a charge, you can pay online via credit card.

Power WiFi Provides a rental service. For 2$ per day one gets powerbank for travellers (7 800 mAh) with integrated WiFi router (3/4G connection for up to 5 devices) and a concierge app.

There is a large network of free WiFi hotspots in the city centre; check your device in the middle of a busy area and you may find one.

Many cafes and restaurants offer WiFi, although it is often at an additional charge. Most bookstores offer free WiFi, including Dom Knigi on New Arbat Street or "Respublika" bookstore on Tverskaya near Mayakovskaya Metro Station.

Many establishments that offer free WiFi, such as the Metro system, McDonalds, and Domodedovo airport, require you to verify an authorization code sent to a Russian phone number before gaining access.