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Getting around Moscow

Traveling round the biggest city in Europe is easy. First of all, there's an excellent metro system with over 170 stations, over 270 km of track and growing. Trains run every 1-2 minutes at peak hours and the system carries about nine million people daily more than the Tokyo Metro and London underground combined. A single journey, no matter what length, costs 15 Rubles (about 56 cents) with reductions for multi-journey cards valid for 30, 90 or 365 days. The Metro is designed as a series of radial lines with one circle line running round the outer limits of the city centre, roughly under the Garden Ring road.

Maps in the metro stations, in each carriage pasted beside the doors, and available in many tourist publications, are in Russian and English, and navigating is not a problem. Be prepared for sardine-like packing of the cars in rush hours and the crowds striving to get onto what is usually the only working escalator between connecting stations.

The stations of Moscow's subway system have often been called " people's palaces", for their elegant designs, and lavish and profuse use of marble, mosaics, sculptures and chandeliers. Those built during Stalin's rule were supposed to display the best of Soviet architecture and design and demonstrate the privileged lifestyle of the Russian people.

The best time for viewing the Metro, which is a tourist attraction in itself, is Sunday morning and outside rush hours during weekdays. Some of the most attractive stations with outstanding features include:

Kievskaya, on the brown circle line, with its vivid mosaics of Ukrainian history and Soviet Realism images of a happy and well-fed proletariat.

Komsomolskaya, also on the circle line and about half way round in either direction from Kievskaya, serves three of Russias main rail stations. It is decorated with chandeliers and gold encrusted mosaics.

Ploschad Revolutsii, between Kievskaya and Kurskaya, on the dark blue line, features life sized bronze statues in the main hall. A dog with handler has had its nose patted for luck so often that the bronze has been worn down to the base metal.

Novokuznetskaya, on the dark green line, has military basreliefs and industrial ceiling mosaics. The elegant marble benches came from the original Church of Christ the Saviour.

Mayakovskaya, also on the dark green line, has been newly renovated with a central hall of stainless steel and marble with 36 oval ceiling mosaics depicting sport and aviation.

The Metro runs from around 5am to 1am every day.

Moscow is now notorious for its clogged traffic during weekdays. In summer, there is less traffic. To get around without a car, Muscovites and expat residents have no hesitation about standing at the side of the road and sticking an arm out. Many drivers are prepared to be your 'taxi' if you are going their way for the right price. If you don't speak Russian and don't know your way around the city, it's best to avoid this mode of transport, even though it's cheap phone a branded, and sometimes metered cab service, such as New Yellow Taxi where an English speaking operator will order your cab and agree a fare with you. (see useful contacts listed below)

For sightseeing, the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski offers a comfortable BMW 730Li with a professional guide who will to take you on a four-hour excursion for 280 euros plus 3% exchange charges; additional time costs 70 euros per hour, including VAT. Most other 5-star hotels offer similar tours.

The city has an excellent bus, trolley and tram network, but again, without a grasp of the Cyrillic alphabet and an understanding of the city's geography, it is best left to the residents. The one trolley bus that is worth a visit is the traveling cafe, starting and finishing at Chistye Prudy Metro on the red line. The tram circles the lake roughly every 30 minutes.

Useful contacts
Metro Museum Tel: 222 7309. Call ahead for tours, Thursdays only from 9 am to 4 pm. Located at the Luzhniki Sports Complex end of Sportivni station, on the red line, two stops from the circle line.

New Yellow Taxi 940 8888
Important Person 788 8889
Renault Taxi 995 0099

Chauffeur Driven Cars
Budget Rental Car  737 0407
Baltschug Kempinksi Hotel City Tour

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