Guess who's back? Well.. Guess who has been back for about a month but was too lazy to write a blogpost until now? That's right, me. I went on holiday to Moscow with my younger brother and had a great time! And based on my experiences I will give you some things to keep in mind when travelling to Moscow (or any other big city).
1. The language barrier
Before we went to Moscow I already was informed that not many people spoke English in Russia. I was expecting to have to keep things simple in terms of communication, but what I was not expecting was that most people did not speak one single word of English. This made things quite difficult. However, I did come prepared. I downloaded an offline Russian dictionary app and I downloaded the Russian dictionary on the Google Translate app. Especially the latter is great because not only does it allow you to translate offline (since we didn't have wifi in most places and data was too expensive), it also allows you to use the camera function to live translate signs and other written things. This helped us on a few occasions. So if you go to another country with a foreign language I definitely recommend doing this.
2. Finding your way
There is one app that saved our asses during this trip: citymapper. Citymapper is an app that allows you to get around in a city of your choice (it goes by location). It works on wifi but what I did was to save all possible trips for offline use when at the hotel. The evening beforehand my brother and I would pick out three things we would be visiting the next day and I would map out the entire route and save all public transport trips in the offline mode of citymapper. Even when offline it tracks your location so that when you have to walk from a busstation to the actual address it can give you the route and tell you where to go. It shoes the possible public transport options as well as the duration of the trip. At one point I found that it also gave me reminders like "get off at the next stop". I definitely recommend that app for travelling anywhere.
In Russia they use Russian roubles. Now if you're used to a currency like Euros, Dollars or Pounds, you'll very quickly find that everything is super cheap. We managed to do groceries for around €12 which here would've cost us at least €20 if not more. However, it's easy to get lost in this and end up spending way more than planned. So I advice you to beforehand calculate how many roubles is one Euro/Dollar/Pound/whatever it is you use. You can check the currencies online. By doing this you can quickly calculate how much something approximately costs before buying it. I also advice paying with cash. Not that my card didn't work, but it helps you keep better track of how much you've spent. And only get cash at actual banks, not random ATMs on the street. This goes for any country, honestly.
4. Watch your stuff
I always take a small backpack with me when travelling because I always carry things like a water bottle, food and a power bank. However, I keep my valuables close to me. In Moscow I kept things like my phone, debit card, cash, passport and hotel keys in a small travel bag that was hanging around my neck. This way it'll be very hard to steal. Also a side tip for the photographers out there: buy a camera holster. It saves a lot of neck pain.
5. Enjoy the city!
Going to Moscow or any big city can be stressful because you don't know the way, the language or how dangerous it can be. I have to admit, the first day I'm always a bit nervous because of these things. But after that I completely relax and just have fun. So try to let go of your worries and just have fun! Also try some of the local food and buy a cheesy souvenir. There's nothing wrong with being a typical tourist.
I also made a vlog documenting my trip, which you can watch below!