I developed a massive crush on Moscow as we wandered down some steps to escape the chilly concrete sky and into an underpass, empty, save a lone babushka rugged up in her layers with a piano accordion on her lap. As Joe dropped some coins in her case she paused from her melody to coo and giggle her thanks before chirruping away again as we reached the other side. It completed an old school picture of romance that I hadn’t expected to find in a City so renowned for hedonism and rudeness.

Moscow is always described as the city unparalleled in its excesses. It’s massive, for a start, and has as many jaw-dropping cathedrals and quirky gotham-city-style architectural works of art as it does crumbling soviet flats, smoke stacks and hideous new shopping malls. But it also feels edgy, as much bustling with shops for the uber wealthy, black tinted gangster porches as it is crowded with the shifty other half that you try and cross the street to avoid.

But the Moscovites weren’t as rude as I expected. They do, however, sport a different brand of facial expressions to the ones I’m use to. Someone told us that they don’t care for smiling because they think the more you smile, the more the fool people will think you are (a difficult concept for a pair of bubbly Labradors like us). But we were pleasantly surprised when people tried to make an effort with our limited Ruski vocab, and delighted when they threw in one of their carefully rationed smiles too.

Big, busy, foreign cities are a bit of a nightmare for abto-tourists like us, and although we thought it’d be amusing to roll Bob all the way up to the gates of the Kremlin, where tanks had historically lined up before being sent to battle in WW2, we didn’t want to attract any unwanted attention so opted to stay on the outskirts and use the metro instead.

I even loved the metro – with 150 huge old fashioned underground stations – it was just otherworldly; all marble and high dome ceilings and chandeliers and art, sculptures and old trains painted pristine in glossy blue. It wasn’t like the dark, dingy underground of London at all – it was filled with light and beauty and grandeur.

We spent two days drifting around inner city Moscow, heads slowly scanning the sights the way normal tourists do, buying babushka dolls and fur hats with flaps, photographing every second building we happened to pass. And yet all too soon we were back on the dreaded ring road, searching desperately for the M9, onwards to our next cultural experience; a traditional Russian Dacha.