The Rudest City on Earth?

I have to assume the woman is apologizing. She’s working the coat check desk at the Armory Museum in the Kremlin, and she’s just aggressively slammed my coat down onto the table. My DSLR was inside one of the pockets, and a horrible sound filled the room as a part went flying. All eyes are now upon us, and the woman is rapidly speaking to me in Russian.

I look at her empathetically¬†and give a half shrug as I try to non verbally communicate that it’s okay. She’s still speaking as I pick up the wayward camera piece. Her voice rises now and it seems almost as though she’s… angry? That can’t be right; for all she knows, she’s just broken my camera and I’m more than willing to let it slide. Something must be lost in translation. I continue gesturing that it’s okay. I’m not upset and the part, as it turns out, is just a lens cap. The camera is fine. But there’s no mistaking it now. The woman isn’t apologizing at all. Her scrunched, ugly face and agitated hand gestures¬†plainly show that she’s irate. Apparently it’s all my fault – I shouldn’t have had the camera in my pocket at all, and I’m now fully deserving of a good Russian admonishment (nevermind that the previous museum had made me put my camera in the pocket.)

All I can do is shrug and walk away. After all, I am in Moscow, Trip Advisor’s least friendly city in the world. And this particular experience tends to be the rule and not the exception. Besides placing last for having the least friendly locals, Moscow also rated dead last in the “Friendliest taxi drivers”, “Best taxi services”, and “Best for shopping” categories, and it placed second to last in the “Best value for money” category as well.

Silly Moscow. We tourists travel far and wide to wander your streets, jaws gaping at the grandiose architecture, the wonderful theater, the museums, the art, the history and so much more. We come and we brave your frigid weather, we decipher your funny alphabet, and we pay your astronomically high prices. Is it to much to ask for you to crack a smile?

My advice? Go to Moscow anyways, and think of situations like these as part of the travel experience. No need to take it personally; the locals certainly don’t. The city’s very much worth visiting… even if you spend your entire time without ever seeing a Muscovite wearing a smile.

St. Basil's Cathedral

Moscow is worth visiting

Author: Ed Graham

Share This Post On

12 Comments

  1. I have to agree with you, in fact, the whole of Russia seems to be the same. Life must have been hard for a lot of the population for a long time I suppose, which goes a way towards explaining why society is so unfriendly there.

    Post a Reply
    • I wouldn’t paint all Russians black for being rude and unfriendly but I totally agree with you about Moscow. Being Russian myself and speaking Russian I always felt this superoir and rude attitude from the Moscovites towards the ‘visitors’ including myself. In my view it’s more of a curse for Moscow and its residents and I can relate to it a bit as Moscow has always been looked at as a city of opportunity (like NYC) and resembles a huge terminal where people go to with all kinds of hopes and expectations… But many of them do not find their luck and start blaiming the Moscovites for all their misfortunes who in their turn start blaiming the ‘invaders’ and it goes on and on and on forever…

      At the same time if you travel to different parts of Russia you will see different Russians who are very hospitable and open and do smile. Seriously! Though I wish they did it more and without the notorious vodka… :) Another place where you can find very nice and amicable people would be Belarus. I lived in Minsk for almost 15 years and always remember the city and its residents with a wide smile and admiration.

      Post a Reply
  2. Agreed… a little vodka goes a long way when you’re trying to break the ice!

    Post a Reply
  3. That photo right there is one of the reasons I want to go to Moscow. Stunning!

    Post a Reply
  4. I wasn’t surprised to read the Moscow was the rudest city in the world. On my trip there this summer I was shocked at the way tourists were treated. So disappointing.

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

    Post a Reply
    • Ah sorry to hear that Kate, that is a bummer. I hope you managed to enjoy the good things about Moscow in spite of that.

      Post a Reply
  5. The rudest city I’ve been to is Singapore. Not the kind of rudeness you received in Moscow, but more like “I’m superior and you are inferior”

    Post a Reply
  6. Wow, honestly that sounds very stressful to me. I don’t know how well I’d handle being in the least friendly city in the world. I get uncomfortable if people are mad at me, even if it’s for something completely ridiculous. Moscow seems like an incredibly beautiful city, but one of the reasons I travel is to get to know the locals of different parts of the world, and the locals of Moscow just don’t seem like the kind of people you want to know, or even like they want to know you. Perhaps I’ll be able to appreciate it later in life. Either way, your pictures are absolutely beautiful, and the story is good. Thanks for the share = )

    Post a Reply
  7. I am from Ukraine, but live in Prague, and I can tell you that I have experienced rudeness to tourists in many countries of former Soviet Union and the Eastern block, e.g. Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Czech Republic. China was not overly friendly either. I think it has something to do with people living in poor conditions. Like in some South Asian countries or in North Africa tourists are treated as walking wallets, and if they don’t buy anything they are ill-treated.

    Post a Reply
    • You have a good point about people who are unfortunate to live like they are living now with all the uncertainty in all areas of life. I also think it’s one of the major hiccups from the Soviet times when the outside world was portrayed as hostile and the only knowledge we had about that world was from the censored and one-sided propaganda and ideology that had a very strong political lining to it. Unfortunately nowadays the same hostility towards the outer world seems to be back and is being nourished and cultivated by the current leaders as part of their policy. And it’s all very sad.

      Post a Reply
  8. I think it’s a general problem of big cities all over the world. The bigger the number of constant and part-rime residents, the more stressful the life is. Sometimes it shouts out in straight rudeness and vulgarity.
    But what you recieved from that old lady was more like trivial bad service, which is, sadly enough, quite common in Russia. Sure, there is a rule of “no personal belongings in the pockets” when you give your coat to the coat check desk as they take no responsibility for them, but it’s wrong to treat someone’s clothes like the forementioned woman did anyway.
    As a Russian I can tell that we often keep the stoic and sometimes even grumpy face to strangers (mostly to our own countrymen), probably because of hard life, but we’re always eagger to help and you could always expect the famous hospitality from the Russian people you personally know. And yes, it’s reccomended to have local friend or tour guide to cope with cultural diffirencies in Russia :)

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>