would it be worth visiting Moscow for a few days?
Sure, welcome to Russia, but let me mention a few special things.
First of all, Russia and Moscow (the capital) are almost two different states.
Moscow is surrounded by the ring highway, and all inbound exits are attended by police which would be busy checking selected incoming cars.
Everything is better in Moscow than outside that ring highway, even the gasoline is much better in quality. If you pump outside Moscow, you may easily get your 'check engine' light on.
In Russia, police is generally not available to help with immediate security needs. For instance, they would not rush to pick up your emergency call, and then they would not rush either to come to your location with help. They would come probably in time for filling paperwork rather than to intervene in an action. Remarkably, public order is quite reasonably maitained without police. If necessary, ordinary citizens come to help risking their well-being. This state of things may be similar to Japan or China, perhaps?
Moscow is said to be a safe place to walk around any time of day and night, and that seems pretty much true.
If NYC is said to be a city that never sleeps, you'd think NYC never wakes up after being in Moscow. I drove in NYC - same thing, driving in NYC is relaxation after Moscow. Big streets in Moscow may have 8 lanes or more in each direction. Parking spots are becoming scarce on business days but not as bad as in NYC.
Moscow is quite good when it comes to food and desserts. There is a nice chain Coffee Bean owned by a US expat in Russia (coffeebean.ru). A cup of tea or coffee is charged about USD 5.00. Is that a lot?
Now, I will tell you something you won't find probably in any Moscow guidebooks. If I were to show Russia to a foreigner in summer, I would take you to a river beach. Moscow has Moscow River, and there is a popular beach within the city limits called 'Serebryany Bor' (Silver Forest). You will see that practically all Russians play beach valleyball and swim far into the river. By the way, Russian men normally wear sporty (bikini) swimpants rather than knee-long shorts.
The bottom line is, it looks like most expats have a hard time when it comes to returning home. They miss Russia.
Principal, Maxim Global Services
Translation (European & Oriental, Russian-English special)24 Apr 2009, 10:26 Maxim Buyakov