I joined the daily Moscow crush to get to my first meeting, which was a site visit to a business park next to Dynamo FC, so the Metro route was fairly straight forward in the end. What wasn’t straight forward was the 20-25 minute walk from the Metro. It was -27 and a lovely Siberian breeze was adding to the chill factor. I felt like Sir Edmund Hilary without oxygen. By the time I got to my destination, my legs had properly frozen up through my jeans and the receptionist killed herself laughing because I was slurring my words so badly with the cold!! Despite my hat, it felt like my ears were going to fall off!
After 3 more trips across town, and only going in the wrong direction twice, my various meetings went well, we won some work, and I was clearly looking very much the Russian as I was asked for directions 3 times on my way back to the Metro!!
I proudly emerged from what I was sure was the right station to get back to my hotel and found I was in a completely different place altogether!! Hmmm, fortunately my hotel was near a really tall tower that I recognised, so I improvised and found my way back to base. I reckon £100 saved in taxis, plus an interesting experience and I dodged the traffic, but it was soooo cold – respect to the Russians, no wonder they have such a reputation for being so tough.
After making it to the end of the Moscow leg of my trip, my good friend and client very kindly extended dinner with his family en route to Sheremetyevo airport and insisted on sharing some vodka in the back of the car – given the traffic and the time taken this turned into a genius, impromptu night in…
I was genuinely worried on the way to Ukraine that I needed a visa for my passport given the onerous process to get into Russia. I read somewhere that following the temporary relaxation in the law a few years ago to let travellers travel to see the Eurovision song contest, you no longer need a visa to get in from the UK to Ukraine – so Eurovision is worth the money then??