Blog - Random oddness and coolness (2)

Added on Tuesday, 2012-03-20 17:13 CET in category Moscow
Continuing my post on random oddness and coolness:

Transport

Moscow has one of the best and beautiful subways in the world, but especially during rush hour the commuters, packed like sardines in a can, don't really care much about that. This is one of the reasons most people who can afford a car, go by car instead. And thus get stuck in traffic jams. It's not uncommon for those living in the outskirts or suburbs to take about two hours to get to work and two hours back. I'm fortunate enough to live in the center, but instead of going by car or public transport, I stay true to my Dutch heritage and go by bike :)

Besides buses, trams and trolley buses, there're of course also taxis. There're both the official ones, which you can call over, and the "unofficial" ones you catch on the street, which are pretty much just people trying to make an extra 200 rubles or so, and for that don't mind dropping you off somewhere on their way.

Lastly, for longer distances there are trains. There are two types, technically both indeed trains, but one is called train and the other isn't :) For relatively short distances (up to 50-100km or so) this "train" (but not really a train) is called "elektrichka", and has seats, whereas a "real" train covers greater distances (e.g. through entire Russia), and has beds.

Yandex Traffic Jams

Yandex Maps offers a smartphone app for their service, which takes into account the traffic information from other users when routing you, making for a pretty neat app for avoiding the usually pretty serious traffic jams and occasional gridlocks. To boost, some providers have made mobile data traffic for Yandex Maps free of charge, giving you a free GPS app with accurate up-to-date traffic information :)

Only a week ago, Yandex launched Yandex Navigator, which functions as a full-brown navigation system, giving you voice directions and taking traffic jams into account!

Room temperature

Russians have quite a different understanding of what room temperature should be than I'm used to. In the Netherlands, 18-20°C is considered fine, when sleeping perhaps a degree less. In Russia however, room temperature defaults to about 25°C. In winter, this causes people to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt at home, while putting on several layers of clothes when going outside. The difference in temperature between inside and outside may be as much as 50°C, which just boggles my mind… Unfortunately, Russians are so used to this high temperature, that when turning down the heating to a still very comfortable 21°C, they actually get ill… (The process of turning it down to 21°C is another story, I've yet to see a thermostat here, so it's more a case of trial and error opening the windows.)

Money (update)

It seems the practically worthless 1 and 5 kopeck coins are finally going away, and good riddance!

Water parks

Unlike the Netherlands, Moscow doesn't really have a culture of going to water parks. Back home, every self-respecting city has its own swimming pool with slides and what-have-you, but here I've found just one. And it's expensive: a ticket for the entire day in the weekend will set you back about € 75. Yes, 75…

More to come later!