Storm Blog

A Quick Stroll Through Russia

A Quick Stroll Through Russia 

Sometimes in life, people think to themselves “why not” and take leaps in life, which is exactly how I ended up going to Moscow in early October. This is also how I got kicked out of a club in Moscow (not going to get into the details). But anyway, flashback to late July, I’m hanging out with Marthe Gunnink (fellow Stormer whom several of you probably know) when she saw a post on Facebook stating that Egea, a study association from Utrecht, was organizing a trip to Moscow. “Should we sign up?” said Marthe. “Sure, why not” said Louis. Honestly, I don’t think either of us expected to be contacted by Egea to hear the news: we were going to go to Moscow! And to Moscow we went, along eight other UU students. 

When looking back it is hard to recollect all the thoughts and memories into a cohesive, chronological, and sensical manner to share with people. Often time I forget in what days things happened, and in what sequence (and this has nothing to do with having drunk Vodka, if you are wondering that). So, instead of detailing all the wonderful and crazy stories, I’ll list off some of the general big surprises I got from being in Moscow.

Moscow is a Vegan’s Nightmare
Before embarking on our journey, I had heard eating vegetarian or vegan is nearly impossible in Moscow: some even say it simply just is cheaper to eat meat. Many of the students on this exchange were vegetarian themselves, which is generally quite doable, but pretty much every place we went to eat offered nearly zero vegetarian options aside from some fries. Russians are quite accustomed to eat some form of meat in each of their meals. So to all the vegans and vegetarians, if you ever plan to go to moscow make sure you get access to a kitchen cause you will need to make most of your meals. However, we were very surprised to find out that no more than 20 meters away from our hostel there was a vegan restaurant, which happened to be hidden in the basement of the same building. A damn good find, if I do say so myself. 

Moscow is HUGE, and has it all
There aren’t many ways in which I can paint you an image of the immensity of this place. To move around the city, it’s most viable to travel by metro, and to cross the city from opposite ends could easily take you an hour or more. Aside from the great size, it was hard to believe just how much Moscow had to offer: old Orthodox Churches, grand palaces from the Trasirst era, lavished metro stations from the USSR era, huge parks with their very own palaces and churches INSIDE THE PARKS, abandoned industrial factories turned into bars and clubs, museums for days, the Kremlin (which had its own stash of churches, arts and museums within), a business district with tall skyscrapers, and the Moscova river running through the middle of it all. The city kept on surprising me with it’s great size, and in this space they somehow managed to bring together all of its history and preserve it in one moment in time, bridging the past and the future. 

Russians are Nicer Than Portrayed by Most
This one is a short note which is worth mentioning. Russians are often portrayed as bitter and moody people with highly xenophobic believes and unfriendly attitudes. Although this may hold true in other parts of Russia, which I honestly cannot confirm, though time I learned that Russians can be very kind and welcoming people. Of course, as in most large cities, people never look very joyful, but I can guarantee that I had more friendly encounters and interactions in Moscow than I have in other parts of the world. I guess it was just hard to pick up on the kindness through the slurred Russian talking and the stern facial expressions Russians often cary. 

Don’t Get Too Excited for Russian Nightlife 
Finding a place to go out in Moscow was not easy. Often times, the clubs required hefty entry payments and during the week most places were empty. Unlike in Utrecht, you cannot really bike home at 4 a.m in hopes you’ll have enough balance to keep your bike steady after a night out: everything is too far away in Moscow, and the metro line closes at 1 a.m. On top of that, we found it hard to find places where people genuinely wanted to ridicule themselves with their self-proclaimed “killer dance moves” just the way we wanted to. Instead, it appear to be more common to find clubs in which people simply dress nice, reserve a fancy looking table and drink expensive booze while loud music plays in the background. That isn’t exactly what most of us found to be fun, but that is what was mostly available to us. However, that doesn’t mean there are exceptions. The one place we did manage to dance in was a small club called Crazy Daisy, which to our surprise, was not exactly what you would call family friendly. Let’s just say the ladies dancing on the bar had a serious clothing deficit.

So Much Beer on Tap
Seriously, if you love beer, Moscow will not disappoint. We went to at least four or five bars that had a solid minimum of 20 to 30 beers on tap from every country and type imaginable. Aaaaaaand, they let you try the beers before paying. 

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