(This post follows ‘Moscow memories – Part 2’ posted on 30 Apr 2017)
It was our last day in Russia. Our friends left soon after breakfast. We had a couple of hours before our flight. We could have used that either to shop for gifts and edibles at the grocery nearby or to visit the famous Tretyakov State Gallery. We thought about the options and quickly decided to visit the gallery. Shopping could be done at the airport.
Tretyakov State Gallery is a treasure trove of Russian paintings. It displays the works of almost all major Russian artists of various eras. We made a quick tour of it and returned to the hotel to avail their chauffeur service. After all the ripping off, we didn’t want to take another taxi ride!
We arrived at the Vnukovo airport comfortably and checked-in. We didn’t want to bring the roubles back with us as exchanging them would not be advantageous anyway. We had about 2000 of them to spend. We started looking through the duty-free shops. They had a similar variety as Gum did. We started picking up items and placing them in our shopping baskets. Yes, there were chocolates, biscuits, tea and vodka! When we reached the payment counter, we were shocked to see a bill of 6,120.48 roubles!
What could we have taken out from the basket? Nothing! Each item was picked either for us or our friends and colleagues. Hence, we paid by multi-currency card and kept wondering how we went overboard.
Our trip to Russia was memorable in many ways. One of the reasons for it being memorable was that we were joined by our friends. This is the only trip in which our friends joined us. Although they joined us for only half the trip, it was great fun! First, I was not ready to go; then I was not ready to return. I wish we had just one more day; I would have loved to eat at Tutta La Vita again.
Quick tips for a Russian rendezvous
- People on the streets speak almost no English; they might understand though. Hence, it is better to move around with mobile data package, offline map app or with addresses written in Russian.
- Russia is not a typical popular tourist spot. Be prepared for tours to get cancelled and spend time following up for fee reversals.
- In Moscow, use metro; they are clean, fast and well-connected to roads and other metro lines.
- Avoid taxis as the traffic can be congested. Moreover, drivers are likely to rip even if operating by the meter.
- Choose an accommodation close to a metro station.
- Most tours are half-day; so one can do a lot in 2-3 days!