Travel to Moscow but be careful with Russian Police

If you look for a cheap flight to Russia or to some of the post-Soviet countries, then you will find that Aeroflot seems to be the best one. You will see, that this Russian airline has pretty many connections almost to every East European, Near- and Far Asian country. Their timetable has lots of options as well. You can fly at day or nighttime. And of course the price is not comparable with other West European air companies. But why then the people prefer to take other expensive flights like British, German, Austrian, Dutch or other?

The problem is, that most of the travelers who did have some extraordinary experiences with Russia would never dare to repeat it. If you see the plains TU 154 of Aeroflot, from Soviet times, then you will never want to fly with them. Of course when you start your journey somewhere in West Europe, then you will get one of the best planes of Aeroflot, because the older once are not allowed to come till there. But then you have to make a transit in Moscow and from there you may fly with an ancient machine from the glorious times of Soviet empire!

I have heard many times from professional travelers, that you better never save your money on planes. But the problem isn’t in money, rather in service, which is absolutely horrible. When you will ask something from the board personal (i.e. where is the toilet; may I have a water etc.), then you may be shut off or get no answer at all.

But the most difficult part begins at that point when you arrive already to Moscow and need a transit transfer. Actually you have to go from Sheremetevo 2 to Sheremetevo 1 and it takes about 15 minutes, if you are lucky of course. If not, you may find no way to get to another terminal. It sounds impossible but it is true, you may found nobody who will show you where is the transit’s gate or buss. After that you will be forced from security personal to exit with other passengers to the city and go to the Sheremetevo 1 with your own way. It sounds not to bad, but once you have done it you will be totally exhausted. First of all you have to pass trough pass control, than wait for your luggage, then fill the tax declaration, pass the tax. After 1 hour you come out to the city and find no buss station. Taxi drivers force you to take them. For driving you only 15 minutes they ask to pay simply 100 US dollars! After all when you come to Sheremetevo 1 you see that the check-in of your next flight is already closed…

Another advice to those who will try to travel in Russia with intercity busses: Be careful at all stations. There are no any open toilets or trash boxes almost everywhere. If you try to go in the “nature” and do whatever you need to do, then you will be welcomed by a careful policeman, who will explain you that you have made a big mistake and blasphemed their community and that’s why you have to pay a strafe 500 or 1000 rubles.

If you are in train, then remember: there is no any clear timetable. That means – you never know how long the train is going to stay in any station. So don’t go far away from your wagon. The train starts without any announcement! In the train do not drink alcohol openly or laugh after 10 o’clock PM, because in each train there are some policemen who are waiting for your misbehave in order to punish you. That means you will have to pay again…

When you successfully have reached to your destination, beware that Moscow and St. Petersburg are some other staff, then the rest of Russia. The rest of Russia lives according to ‘medieval’ rules. The people in Siberia said for some centuries before: “God is too high, king is too far!” That means for today, that Mr. Putin unfortunately cannot control his huge country.

The biggest problem for tourists is to get a police registration. This rule comes again from glorious Soviet times that every foreigner has to be registered by police in each city when he stays there more then tree days. If you are in a tourist group and stay in hotels, then usually your guides or hotel managers will get your pass and do the registration for you. But if you are traveling alone or doing a private visit, then you have to do it by your own. It costs not too much money but a lot of time and nervous stress. Most of the people aren’t successful and have to leave that city without any registration after waiting many hours in front of the police station but becoming nothing. If you don’t get your registration then police will punish you when they ask your documents on the street, in train station or in airport. Please try to handle with them just at that place. Give them 10 or 20 US dollars but don’t go with them to their office. It is better to pay some corruption on the street, then to go with them to the police office and ‘lose’ there much more money and other staff…

On the way back, when you get to airport you will be checked from police if you have done your registration or not. If not, the strafe is 1000 ruble. The tax officer will check out how much foreign money you are taking with you back. If you have more then 1500 US dollars, then you have to show your tax declaration, which you have filled by entering to Russia. If you are traveling with Aeroflot or any other Russian airlines, then be sure that your luggage inclusive your handbag must be not mach as 20 kg. Yes, you have to pay even for a handbag, which is 1 or 2 kg.

The border officer may force you to wait half an hour. Be patient. He may take your pass and go somewhere else to get some information about you. Don’t worry. He will be back soon. He may look very angry at you asking some complicated questions. Try to stay calm and give short answers.
When you pass the last security control – where your handbag and pockets are being controlled – be not surprised if security personal will start a polemic with you. They may ask you many stupid questions (i.e. why your pass photo is so small/large, why are you laughing in it, why you have a beard now, why your hairs are colored etc.). Don’t be frustrated, they want to get just some money from you…

After seeing these all I am always surprised when Mr. Putin and some other Russian politicians declare that they have a very stabile and democratic country. I am always skeptical when Russian bishops and priests declare that Russian Orthodox Church has the biggest number of Christians in the world. When I hear such kind of sentences, I think that it has to be the best country in the world. But each time when I travel there, I am being convinced in opposite. And this is a shame!

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