Here at Real Russia we have a well-established team of highly experienced specialists, who are happy to give independent, expert advice and assistance with your travel needs; finding your perfect destination within Russia and the surrounding countries, as well as along the Trans-Siberian railway. In our continuing blog series we have been introducing you to the people that make Real Russia special, the Real Russia team.
Today we shall be meeting Yuriy, so let’s go!
Yuriy Legepekov, Real Russia Travel Specialist
Yuriy has been working at Real Russia for more than nine years. He graduated from Volgograd University of Humanities in 2007 with a Master’s Degree in Linguistics. He is married and has a three years old son, Ivan. This year, Yuriy embarked on a trip to discover Moscow and towns of the Russian Golden Ring.
What is your favourite place in Moscow?
The place I enjoyed the most was the area in the centre of Moscow, with the narrow old streets behind the Kremlin, with richly decorated historic houses, stone-block pavement, street artists and musicians, cosy coffee-shops and eateries.
There's a stereotype that you can't have a relaxing quiet evening in roaring and vibrant Moscow … well, I would totally disagree to that! The area around the Kremlin offers tens of atmospheric pedestrian streets and lanes to explore and enjoy - Kamergersky Lane, Varvarka Street, Lavrushensky Lane, Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street, and many more just waiting to be discovered!
Which excursions in Moscow from Real Russia’s range would you suggest to a tourist visiting Moscow for the first time?
Moscow for me is a huge multi-layer canvas with many scenes, neat lines and patterns. If you try to see all what's worth to see there, it will take weeks. And since most of the foreign tourists have only two to three days, I'd recommend the following ‘Crash Course in Moscow’, which includes:
- City Tour and visit inside St. Basils Cathedral
The magnificent Red Square with Mausoleum and St. Basil's Cathedral (I bet you'll make at least a hundred pictures of it!), are your first ‘must-see’ places. The changing of the guard at the Eternal Flame is a procession which will make you hold your breath with excitement, stretching your arms and camera up over the crowd. Panoramic views of the Moskva River and monumental Cathedral of Christ the Saviour will pop up before your eyes every time you think of Moscow again. Of course, a visit to the famous GUM on Red Square, a department store, where Soviet-era style goes hand in hand with capitalist glamour, and both shine with happiness. Don't miss the pleasure of tasting the legendary Soviet ice-cream, produced exclusively at this place.
- The Kremlin and Cathedrals
No Moscow experience will be complete without seeing the inside of the Kremlin (which, in Russian, means ‘fortress’) in the heart of Moscow. It's time to see the star-topped towers and find out through which gate Vladimir Putin drives in to work, and see the place where he sits - the President’s Palace. You won't be able to resist the beauty of the architecture and rich history it hides. The Tsar Cannon, Tsar Bell and Cathedral Square - with glittering golden domes under the blue sky - will reveal hidden El Dorado behind the Kremlin walls on the Red Square. I didn't even mention the diamonds at the Kremlin's Diamond Fund. Not to be missed!
- Arbat Street and Moscow Metro
After seeing the head of Moscow, it wouldn't be fair to go without seeing its heart, Arbat Street - the famous Moscow promenade, and subway, one of the most beautiful in the world. Arbat is a wonderful place to feel Moscow's informal life, and buy Russian souvenirs.
The Moscow Metro tour will take you through the most notable metro stations, the inner beauty of which can be compared to a palace or cathedral halls with mosaics, sculptures, stained glass artworks, moulding and chandeliers. Every metro station is unique and themed.
What museum in Moscow would you especially recommend?
Every person to their own taste here! Since I know it, I'll recommend a few to hit yours.
For history amateurs:
The Armoury Chamber. You can do it in one shot with a visit inside the Kremlin. A magnificent collection of artefacts of Russian history, including royal regalia of the Russian Empire, thrones, jewellery and Fabergé eggs.
For lovers of fine art:
The Tretyakov Gallery, one of the most famous in the world, housing an epic collection of the Russian art. If you enjoyed the Louvre and Tate Galleries, it would be a crime for you to miss it!
Bunker 42. The only underground nuclear vault in the world which can be visited as a museum. The exhibition is devoted to the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and includes a mock-nuclear attack. To say it's impressive, is to say nothing.
Which city in Russia is your favourite?
As a lover of history and fine architecture, I'll give my preference to the two most notable cities in Russia - Moscow and St. Petersburg. "Too predictable", you might say. And I will answer, “For a reason!" So different they are - a big-bellied jolly merchant Moscow, and a tall, mannered aristocrat St. Petersburg, yet so Russian! In our country many people seem to dislike Moscow for being overcrowded and noisy, and tend to think much warmer about St. Petersburg - the ‘cultural capital’.
As for me, I wouldn't prefer one over the other, as visiting each of them is a unique experience, which will make you wonder how different Russia can be.
Also, an honourable mention will go to Suzdal - the essence of the Golden Ring region of Russia. As tranquil and peaceful as a natural reserve, with its roots going deep into ancient Russian times, Suzdal has the atmosphere and charm of a small ancient town. Taste Russian cuisine with vodka at a traditional tavern, and think of the past ages, meditating at twilight on the hill over green fields, patched with old churches and monasteries.
What are your favourite destinations abroad?
So far, I have been to Prague, Turkey and Tunisia. The latter was especially exciting to me, reminding me of the Indiana Jones movies, and raising my interest in adventuring to other exotic places, like India, Tibet and Vietnam.
All lands of Eastern Europe, in the past populated by Slavonic tribes, including Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, appeal to me as well. These cultures have a lot in common with Russia, and I'm always happy to discover the similarities.
Among western European countries, I'm mostly attracted by Scotland, France and Italy. I love travelling and believe that spending money on travelling around the world is the best reason for getting rich!
We asked Yuriy to tell us a little about his hobbies and pursuits, and received a very emotional answer!
I enjoy listening to music, tons of it! Mostly classic and alternative rock (1960’s to the 1990’s), ambient and electronic. In tune with my hobby, I wear headphones most of the time and because of it many people think I am dreamy and withdrawn, which is partially true due to my introvert type. Nevertheless, many friends call me a ‘music guru’, which sounds more appealing to me! Sometimes I listen to styles I don't really like, just to keep myself up-to-date. My second passion after music is playing videogames on PS4.
Besides these two, I love cross-country biking and travelling. I read quite lot too, preferring historical books and biographies.
Reaching 10 years of working in travel, Yuriy thinks that he has found his dream-job.
What does it mean for you to work at Real Russia?
Many people would get bored working in the same job for that many years. As for me, I think that I'm doing more than a job. Many customers come to me saying that travelling to Russia was their dream. So, what I am doing is helping them to fulfil their dreams. And if making dreams come true is not a ‘dream job’ itself, than I don't know what is! Honestly, it's been (and still is) a fantastic time for me, with a great opportunity to communicate with people from around the world. And for me it is job to boast of!
I always believed that Real Russia is a ‘magic’ company. Don't ask me why, I don't want to spoil your surprise! Just try us and see for yourself.
We are grateful to Yuriy for his fantastic interview, and for sharing his Moscow insights. We hope that you have found some of the answers to question about Russia that you had; if not, ask your questions in the comments, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages. To read other interviews with our team members, click here.
If you wold like a helping hand in designing your perfect travel itinerary, or anything from train booking to applying for a visa, please contact our travel specialists.