Breaking Down Stereotypes: Moscow Style

Have you ever heard the stereotype that Russians are cold? I don’t mean just “cold” physically. I’m referring to the stereotype that Russians are cold, cruel, and always frowning. Well, I heard this a LOT before I came to Russia, especially with regard to Moscow. Muscovites have long been stereotyped as some of the coldest, most unfriendly people in Europe (if not the world).  Well, from my weekend trip to Moscow, I honestly believe this couldn’t be further from the truth.

After a long train ride from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, my friends and I headed straight to the metro. We were starving and couldn’t wait for some old-fashioned American diner food. THAT’S RIGHT—American food. Moscow has all the American food that Saint Petersburg lacks, and we decided to treat our Moscow adventure as our “American Spring Break.” The weekend was littered with french fries and milkshakes galore.
I have to say I was shocked by how amazing our waitress was. Honestly, most waitresses in Russia are not very efficient and not very kind, compared to America. Unless you are at a fancy restaurant, most waitresses don’t get tipped or are tipped very little.  Therefore, they have little incentive to be excessively cheerful.

After dinner we decided to call a taxi to drive us to our hostel. Our driver was a complete angel. Once he dropped us off at the address we gave him, he could tell that we had no idea where the hostel was. He got out of his taxi and started exploring the  neighborhood for us. He eventually led us down a pitch black alley until we found the hostel located in the most obscure location possible. When he turned to leave us, he assured us that Moscow would be everything we hoped for and more.

The people that worked the front desk of the hostel were more than helpful, but the people who were staying in the hostel with us made my trip. We met travelers from Argentina, Kazakhstan, England, and different regions of Russia. However, one Russian man there treated my three friends and I like American royalty. While sitting out in the common room, he approached us and offered us chocolate. We had just eaten dinner, so we tried to kindly refuse; however, “no” does not mean “no” in Russian. So we ended up eating the chocolate anyways, before he tried to force feed it to us. After about 15 minutes, he came over to us a second time, and tried to string together a few sentences in English, which were almost comprehensible. He offered to prepare pelmeni (Russian dumplings) for us. Before we could refuse a second time, he headed off to the communal kitchen and started boiling the dumplings. In about a half hour we were all served a heaping plate of pelmeni drenched in sour cream. Now, I don’t eat meat, but I had NO idea how I could refuse to eat his dish, especially since he decided to proudly watched us eat. As soon as he turned his back to us, I dashed to the restroom to dump my dumplings in the garbage. My other friend who is a vegetarian did the smarter thing and told him straight up she didn’t eat meat. So he decided to go ahead and slice up a whole plate full of apples and oranges for us. He even brought me napkins when I started to make a mess all over myself. When he offered us vodka (which I finally refused), that was the tipping point. I was ready to marry that drunk, chivalrous Russian right on the spot.

These are just a few of the many sweet stories from Moscow that I have time to share with you. My friends and I even bonded with the bouncer at a Moscow club over his passion for coin collecting, and we were given a straight up photo shoot from a woman outside the Kremlin, even though we asked her to take just one photo.

Our whole planet is littered with stereotypes. Americans are fat. Russians are mean. However,  sometimes we all just need to stop judging every book by it’s cover. OPEN the book and READ it!

My Moscow Photo Gallery

 “We Build Communism”
“We Build Communism”
Moscow State University
Moscow State University
American diner food in Moscow
American diner food in Moscow
The famous Tretyakovskaya Gallery
The famous Tretyakovskaya Gallery
My friend Isabella met Mickey Mouse on Arbat Street, one of the most famous streets in Moscow. It’s been in existence since at least the 15th century.
My friend Isabella met Mickey Mouse on Arbat Street, one of the most famous streets in Moscow. It’s been in existence since at least the 15th century.
My friend Ainsley and I representing Petersburg (aka Leningrad) outside the Kremlin
My friend Ainsley and I representing Petersburg (aka Leningrad) outside the Kremlin
Standing next to a statue just outside the Kremlin. This statue was on the cover of my freshman year Russian grammar textbook. Oh, and that’s the DUMA in the back of the photo.
Standing next to a statue just outside the Kremlin. This statue was on the cover of my freshman year Russian grammar textbook. Oh, and that’s the DUMA in the back of the photo.
 Me chilling on Red Square
Me chilling on Red Square
 Jumping for joy outside of Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Jumping for joy outside of Saint Basil’s Cathedral
  AND of course we rounded off our trip with a stop at an old Soviet arcade. Here I am riding a rooster.
AND of course we rounded off our trip with a stop at an old Soviet arcade. Here I am riding a rooster.

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