I have no idea if the literal translation carries over, but to be on the safe side: I like what I've seen up to now.
First impressions are always the most honest (and I may have sketchy access to the Internet at best in the coming days) so here goes. I haven't even been here for 24 hours so take everything I say with a sack of salt.
- I was told, repeatedly, that Russians tend to keep even more to themselves than us Germans; unless they see a reason to open up, that is. By and large, that seems to be true. Thankfully, "a reason to open up" seems to include "these guys look lost and I want to practice my English". This led to a Russian asking me what the best German beer in a random supermarket was while I ended up with what he thinks is the best Russian beer. Yay.
- As expected, most Russians don't speak even the tiniest shred of English. Sometimes, they even keep talking in Russian after you've made it clear again and again that you don't understand them. The same thing happened to me in the middle of nowhere in India; it's strange, but I suspect (I don't know!) that some people are simply not very firm with the concept of different people speaking different languages and that someone can't speak their own.
- Moscow's Metro system is very nice
- They have a circle line. Why doesn't Munich have a circle line? Again: why doesn't Munich have a circle line?
- All lines have two dedicated tracks, one for each direction
- Trains arrive and leave every few minutes. I don't think we waited more than two minutes for the subway today, even though we saw the prior train depart. The monorail has longer waiting times, but I'd say that's five to ten minutes, tops.
- Once you figure out how their signs etc. work, it's very simple
and quite efficient to follow them:
- Every line has a color. Follow the colored bars on signs.
- Once you reach the color/line you want, look at the tunnel walls. There's an arrow depicting the stations in the direction of this tunnel; your station is marked red. Below every station where you can board other trains, there's a list of possible destinations right underneath the station name. The newer trains have the same arrow (sans transit lists) with a blinking indicator of where you are.
- The tunnels are deeply underground. I knew those tunnels were designed to function as atomic bomb shelters if the need arose. Now I believe that this would actually work.
- One big minus is that people in a wheelchair or similar are SOL. Escalators, stairs, uneven ground, gaps and height differences between station floor and train, you name it. Everything that shouldn't be there is there and plenty. Things that should be there are not. Accessibility does not seem to be a concern at all.
- Labour must be incredibly cheap. Every escalator has its own operator, watching the moving stairs in theory and a tablet/smartphone in practice. You have one person selling metro tickets and right beside that someone who watches the ticket-checking gates.
- The local McDonalds (we needed a trusted default) is swarming with employees. It looks chaotic, but it's quick. Also, they put tons of onions and different sauces into and onto stuff. Me gusta.
- Once you start getting the hang of converting Cyrillic into Latin characters in your head, you can read the words out as if they were German. People will understand you without problem. Useful, that...
- There seems to be a social or religious agreement to not inflate car tires properly. I have literally never in my life seen so many cars zipping around with half-flat tires.
- (Many) Russians are tall. I am used to being the tallest person around; I will meet someone taller every few weeks or months, in Germany. Today, I saw three people who were taller than me; two of similar size. Again, this is literally the first time in my adult life that this has happened in such a short time.
- Stuffing things into your checked-in shoes to save space is good. Not removing a piece of cloth from a shoe and not realizing it while walking all around Moscow... hurts.
- Before buying anything at a street stall, ask for the price; also, carrying a calculator to show numbers to others is useful.
- Blueberries don't seem to be very special. While Nordic countries tend to have saner prices than Germany, Russia is cheap when it comes to blueberries.
- All food that's been imported from Germany is priced insanely high. €20 for a box of cheap chocolates? Check. € 50 for four packets of dried fruit? Check.
- As an amusing aside, the supermarket was swarmed with and subsequently deadlocked by Chinese (yes, they spoke Mandarin as far as I could tell) who were stockpiling chocolate in ridiculous quantities. We were in line for about 45 minutes; the store, a two-story, higher-end location, ran out of change. As we paid by card, that didn't affect us other than the long waiting time. Chocolate in China must be really bad, really expensive, practically unavailable or a mix of the three. I guess we will find out in two weeks :)