When I visited Moscow a few years ago I swallowed my fear and decided to try using the Moscow Metro as one of my modes of transportation. After all, if 7 million muscovites per day could manage it, why couldn’t I? I discovered that mastering the Moscow metro isn’t murder. In fact it was quite easy.
The Moscow metro is not only fast and efficient, it’s beautiful. Muscovites claim it’s the most beautiful metro in the world. Bronze sculptures decorate stations. Mosaics depicting the life of Soviet people adorn station walls. One station boasts Roman columns and sculptures of Romulus and Remus. The walls of the Mayakovskaya Station are covered in ornate marble, pink rhondite, stainless steel and glass mosaics in the art-deco style.
Moscow Metro stations are easy to find because they are identified by a large, red “M” for Metro. You enter through glass doors with a blue sign that says “Entrance to Metro” or “Вход в Метро” and you exit through the door with the red sign—”No Entry” or “Нет Входа” on it. Easy?
When I entered the station, the first thing I did was get a Metro map with the station names in both English and Russian. Each line of the metro is identified by a number, a name and a color. I found it easiest to refer to the numbers, e.g. line 4. Although signs inside the metro are written in Russian and in Cyrillic alphabet, the numbers are Arabic.
I got my ticket at the KACCA booth. You can purchase a ticket for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 or 60 rides. I wrote the number of rides I wanted on a piece of scratch paper.
There are no physical barriers when you enter the train area. However, if you try to step through without scanning your ticket card, mechanical gates will slam shut. So hold your card near the round, yellow sensor on the card reader and enter when the round red light changes to a green number.
Once inside, look for the overhead sign that identifies the line for the platform you need and tells you which side of the platform to go to. Trains usually come along about every one to three minutes.
It’s helpful to check your Metro map and count the number of stops you need to travel from your starting point to your destination.
Often, inside each car, there are Metro maps posted on the wall with the station names written in Russian and in English.
When you reach your station, hop off the train and look for the white sign with black lettering that says “Exit to City” (in Russian “Выход в Город”).
When traveling on the Moscow Metro, watch out for the large number of stray dogs that roam through the halls and ride on the trains. Also, be aware that there are groups of people (men, women and children whom the Russians have labeled gypsies) who will approach you. I did encounter some of these family groups but they were not aggressive and left when I indicated I didn’t want to talk to them.
So, mastering the Moscow metro is not murder. It’s easier than one might think and it’s a fascinating adventure as well.
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