Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte) is a friendly greeting in Russian and is also a wish of good health. My stay in Moscow was a little bit like a shot of good Vodka- intense and over all too quickly, and although I expected a sharp burn of culture shock, I was instead greeted with warmth and a subtle familiarity from a place that was so far from anywhere I had been before. This strangle sense, like I had stepped in a sort of parallel world, very similar to the one I knew except everything was 1 degree different to how I knew it, was the surprise of this trip, but that’s not to say I did come away with sense of awe for the place or that familiar feeling of being a stranger in a foreign land.

Unsure what to expect, I found myself in an enormous metropolis with more people milling around than I had ever experienced before. Although there are few tower blocks in the centre of the city, the architecture is of a grand style and scale which is beautiful from afar and intimidating up close and the resulting feeling is one of being a very small part of a very, very large machine. The city is always moving, and it is filled with light, I knew within minutes of stepping onto the streets that this visit would be intense.

Despite its scale, I quickly found the city to be full of neighbourhoods and each suburb came with its own local quirks and ammenities. In many ways, these small communities felt more European than some part of Europe do, and yet you never forget to remember you are deep in the heart of ‘Mother Russia’. Perhaps thanks to the statues and monuments, many covered in gold, situated on seemingly every street.

Our travels around the city involved a lot of walking (walking ‘just a few blocks’ quickly reminds you of the scale of the buildings here), window shopping, seeing some of the famous tourist locations (Red Square, the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, the Space Museum), a short trip into the country to visit a restored aristocrat’s house and lots and lots of eating! Evening entertainment included visits to the Ballet and the Circus, eating at our favourite old-fashioned Russian Diner and shopping for dessert at the famously luxurious Eliseevsky supermarket.

Of course travelling anywhere across the city meant visiting one of the city’s hundreds of beautifully fitted out Metro Stations, which felt better appointed than many luxury homes- full of stained glass and chandeliers! The network was originally designed to be a bomb shelter for the citizens before becoming a transport network and a ‘Palace for the People’. The trains themselves are always on time and once aboard sweep you away to your next stop with an incredibly violent and mechanical force. I think it is this analagy that perfectly summed up how Moscow leaves you feeling- a very small part of a very large yet somehow beautiful machine.