ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Mysteries of Moscow

Updated on March 18, 2015

Moscow had always been a place that piqued my curiosity for as far back as my memory went. Back in the seventies when I was growing up I associated Moscow with stern-faced old men named Brezhnev or Khrushchev standing above parades of tanks and soldiers in gray outfits marching in lock step to an iron-fisted command.

I imagined that if I ever went there the women would be mostly like Lotte Lenya in the James Bond movie trying to kick Sean Connery in the groin with a knife-tipped boot. Or perhaps I thought if I were ever allowed into the so-called “Evil Empire” I would feel the constant menacing presence of the force George Orwell described as “a boot stamping on the human face forever.”

I certainly didn’t go there thinking I’d see a bunch of happy people eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and mobbing KFC. Or the former Soviet state department store now turned into a Christmas-light-festooned orgy of designer brand names like Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. Or BMW’s and Mercedes outnumbering tanks by at least a ratio of a thousand to one. But I did.

In the fall of of 2014 I visited Moscow for the first time, flying from New York to Sheremetyevo Airport, about twenty miles northwest of the city center. An Aeroexpress train runs directly from the airport to one of the city’s main rail hubs, the Belorussky Station, about a half hour away. I felt a considerable amount of excitement and adrenaline as I emerged into the gray autumn afternoon chill of Tverskaya Boulevard, a main artery leading into town.

Not knowing any Russian, and at that time having no friends in Moscow, I thought it would be wise to find a hotel as close as possible to the Belorussky Station. About two blocks from the station I reached a tiny place called “The Sleepbox Hotel”, a modern Asian-style hideaway with community bathrooms and beds in small capsules. The desk clerk, a sexy green-eyed brunette with a pierced tongue and heavy mascara, welcomed me with a friendly smile. I dropped my things off, wrapped up in a scarf, and emerged on Tverskaya, a twenty-five minute walk from Red Square.

The bustle of the city was stimulating, the well-dressed throngs of pedestrians impressive. In the distance I saw the famed wall of the Kremlin and the domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. To the right of my view was the tomb of Lenin, to the left the Gum Department store, and the carnival-like Cathedral straight ahead. This afternoon would simply be an appetizer. I was planning to explore the area in more detail later that night.

I walked beyond St. Basil’s to a bridge over the Moscow River, and there I saw the most graphic evidence yet of the extent of the change in the city since the Soviet period ended. In the 1978 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, Moscow was said to have “very few privately owned cars, though their number is slowly and steadily rising…. This means relative freedom from serious traffic problems.”

Even though I was in Russia, I couldn’t help thinking in American slang: “It’s a whole new ballgame now, baby!”

© 2015 James Crawford


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)