Sunday, June 19, 2011

Moscow plus Four Years

It may have been my imagination, but I thought the traffic in Moscow earlier this month was not quite so bad as it had been on my last visit in 2007. There were no instances of traffic coming to a total standstill, as had happened frequently before. Perhaps it was because I was in a different part of the city, mainly east and southeast instead of northwest. Or perhaps it was because home for me is Montreal, a city that is suffering through the worst traffic woes I have ever seen this summer on account of crumbling bridges, roads and sewers.
There also seemed to be fewer building cranes in Moscow than I saw earlier, and I noticed that the enormous cavern next to Red Square that used to be the Roosiya Hotel is still vacant, with no sign of activity. If such a prime space is left empty, Russia's economy must not be quite so robust as I thought it was.
However, there are also signs of improvement. The domestic air terminal Sheremeteyevo 1 is clean, pleasant and efficient. Even the bathrooms were marble and sparkling clean, quite a change from the usual Russian public bathroom. Domodedevoyo Airport south of the city center also seemed to be relatively clean and well-organized, better than Sheremeteyevo 2 in the northwest. Both are a long expensive taxi ride from downtown and Metro connections, while they exist, are not convenient, particularly if you are tired after a long flight.


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