(7) I’m not sure what I’m doing here (#WorldCup 2018) – lost in the Moscow metro

I’m writing from Nizhny Novgorod, where I’ve arrived on a crowded train for the next England game. Quite a lot hotter than Moscow. Tunisia-Belgium has just kicked off in the bar where I am. I’m torn because I like Belgium, where I live; but they are our opponents in the group.

Today’s blog, though, is about the Moscow metro.

I came to Moscow for work in 2004. The only way I could find my way on the metro was to memorise the first few (Cyrlllic) letters of a station’s name, get on a train at random, get out at the next stop and work out which line I was on, going in which direction.

This is what first put in my head the idea of working out both the country and the language.

This is my third long visit, and I’ve been learning Russian since 2012. As you can see from the map of the route I followed on Thursday to get to my hotel at Arbatskaya, I’ve made a great deal of progress in metro navigation as a result.

metro map Moscow 618.JPG

At Prospect Mira a woman (holding a book) came up to me and said Are you a tourist? Can I help? I was grateful, and asked how she knew I was a tourist – my camera? my hat? It was your smile, she said.

Things I noticed on the metro during my stay in Moscow:

  • It’s cheap. A single trip costs about 75 eurocents.
  • It’s deep. One escalator ride that I timed, at Alexevsksaya, took two minutes and 18 seconds from the top to the bottom.
  • On the escalator, people know to stand on the right hand side and leave the left side free.
  • It’s fast, because stations are far apart: more like London than Paris.
  • It’s grand.
  • From the train, it isn’t easy to read the names of the stations. (This is part of the problem.)
  • There were no advertisements, though there were fixtures for them.

On previous visits I noticed that most people would be reading – books, newspapers or Kindles. Despite the woman who helped me, that seems largely to have gone.

As in London and Paris, you can change lines underground. But the stations on different lines have different names, and the passages between them have a feeling of having been added later (look at the picture below).

public plants metro Moscow 618.JPG

PS Азар (Hazard) scores from a penalty after 6 minutes. I can’t resist a little cheer. Has anyone missed a penalty yet at this world cup – or are we writing for England to get one?

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

One thought on “(7) I’m not sure what I’m doing here (#WorldCup 2018) – lost in the Moscow metro”

  1. When I was in Moscow (several times, actually), now that I think of it, I have always had somebody with me able to drive me through the Metro. Magnificent. I found remarkable your way of navigating it: reminded me of when in 1991 I had to navigate Beijing by bus. That time, I had a double language map and with a lot of hand gestures I got the needed indication from fellow passengers. Also in my case, I was immediately recognised as a tourist.


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