Fans' Moscow guide

Last updated: 20th May 2008  

Fans' Moscow guide
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON SKY
Chelsea v Manchester United live on Sky Sports 1 and HD 1 from 6pm on 21st May.

Moscow is a long way to go to watch an all-English encounter, so here is a quick guide to the city for visiting fans of Manchester United and Chelsea.

ARRIVAL

Arrival will be at one of Moscow's two international airports - Sheremetyevo and Domodedevo, although some charter flights from London may also arrive at the domestic Vnukovo airport in the west of the city.

Aeroflot, the Russian national airline, and a few other airlines yet to flee elsewhere, are served by Sheremetyevo in the north-west of the city, and transfer to the centre involves a bus-train or bus-metro combination.

Transfer from Domodedevo, south-east of the centre, which is served by British Airways, Lufthansa and other major international airlines is far easier - there is a train to Paveletskii station close to the city centre every 30 minutes during the day.

However, the local authorities are planning to put on a convoy of shuttle buses to ferry fans from all airports to the centre, so you may not need to rely on public transport.

Taxis from either airport to the city can be extortionate, so make sure you agree on a price in advance (in roubles to avoid the old "I thought you meant euros" trick).

CAUTION

Do not forget to fill out your migration card, which will be provided by your airline prior to arrival. You will be given an entry stamp at passport control. Keep your card during your stay and surrender it upon departure.

The Moscow police are renowned for their exploitation of foreign tourists who do not understand Russian, and with tens of thousands of fans descending upon Moscow for one football match this will give them plenty of opportunity to issue a cheeky bribe or two.

Under Russian law you must be able to identify yourself at any time or risk a fine, so keep your passport, your match ticket and migration card on you at all times so you can identify yourself if you are stopped, and make sure your hotel stamps your migration card.

It has been announced that match tickets will also act as visas for British citizens visiting Moscow for the final, so it is especially important that you do not discard it afterwards.

EATING AND DRINKING

There seems to be no end to Moscow's capitalist boom and prices have skyrocketed as a result, not least in the city's bars and restaurants. In the centre of Moscow expect to pay around the same as you would in London.

In the centre, restaurants and bars are located pretty much everywhere and cater for every taste. The northern part of Tverskaya Street (around Pushkinskaya or Mayakovskaya metro stations) has a good selections of restaurants, as does the area towards the bottom end of the Arbat around Smolenskaya metro station, while the area around Kitay Gorod and Chisti Prudi metro stations are good for bars.

Sushi bars are particularly popular as are American-style diners and fast food outlets.

Indian and Chinese restaurants are more difficult to find, although you should really try out the local cuisine, whether it be a bowl of sweet Russian "borshch" (beetroot soup), "Ukha" (fish soup served with a shot of vodka) or "Shaslykh" Caucasian style kebab).

Beer ("pivo") generally costs around 100 roubles (just over 2) for a pint, but the imported brands can cost double that. The local brews are cheaper and there are plenty to choose from: Baltika, Stariy Melnik ("old mill") are just a few. In Russia it is traditional for beer to be served together with a snack or two, such as crisps or pistachio nuts.

Traditionally vodka in Russia is drunk neat with a selection of "zakuski" (small appetisers) and if you are fortunate enough to be invited to drink with a group of welcoming Russians, it could be the start of a long night and a headache the following morning is likely.

SIGHTSEEING AND SHOPPING

Red Square is the focal point of all Russian history and is a marvel to wander around.

The closest metro stations are Ploschad Revolutsii (dark blue line) and Okhotniy Ryad (red line). Red Square is also the home of the Lenin Mausoleum, offering a glimpse of the embalmed corpse of the leader of the revolution.

Overlooking Red Square sits the Kremlin, admittance to which can be limited to just the grounds or you can take in the numerous churches.

Be aware that most tourist attractions, Kremlin included, charge one price for locals and one (inflated) price for foreigners. For culture vultures the Tretyakov art gallery, a short walk from Tretyakovskaya metro station (yellow line) is not to be missed.

The pedestrianised Arbat (metro: Arbatskaya or Smolenskaya - either blue line), with its souvenir stalls, artists and street theatre is popular among tourists and is lined with a variety of overpriced bars and restaurants.

This is the place to pick up your furry hat, your Spartak scarf and Soviet Union flag, and also makes for a pleasant stroll.

Tverskaya is Moscow's equivalent of London's Oxford Street and is lined with shiny, expensive shops, while the shopping centres TSUM, GUM and Okhotniy Ryad are all good for shopping and located close to Red Square.

Calculating the local currency is nice and easy - 1 pound is equal to roughly 50 roubles. Cash machines are found everywhere and usually offer services in English and Russian.

GETTING AROUND

Catching a taxi in Moscow used to be a case of flagging down any old Lada in the street and negotiating a price, but the number of official taxis have increased in recent times and prices have hiked as a consequence.

While meters are appearing in modern cabs, it is still the norm to negotiate a price with the driver before setting off.

Some knowledge of Russian here (particularly the numbers) is a big advantage and prepare to be ripped off if some unscrupulous driver hears your group speaking English.

Negotiating is easy though, and 300-400 roubles for a ride across the centre is about right. However, arranging a taxi through your hotel is probably the most trouble-free option.

The cheapest, quickest and most efficient way around town, however, is the Moscow Metro.

Single journeys to anywhere on the network cost just 19 roubles, and at peak times the old-school carriages zoom in and out of the stations every one to two minutes, putting London's tube to shame. The metro maps, located inside the carriages, are in Russian and English.

Buses and trams are also in operation, but they require a sound knowledge of the city in order to get around and are far slower than the metro.

THE LUZHNIKI STADIUM

The colossal Luzhniki Stadium is located in the south-west of the city and situated on a bend in the Moskva river. You can get off at either Sportivnaya or Vorobieviy Gori (Sparrow Hills) metro stations, which take about 15 minutes from the centre, although the police are likely to have a strict cordon in place from both stations, one for each set of fans, so expect to be diverted and frustrated.

The stadium is only one part of a much larger sporting mini-village, and therefore involves a lot of walking and there is little in the way of bars or restaurants in the area.

Due to the hassle involved in getting from the metro or the main road on matchdays and the endless frisking in place by security staff, arriving at the stadium well in advance is advisable at any time, never mind a Champions League final, so come early.

Also be aware that Moscow is three hours ahead of the UK, so the game will kick off at 10:45pm local time.

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