Where is your favourite place to visit in Russia?
Volgograd! I'm biased though because that's where a lot of our team is based so I went over to visit them haha. There's a lot of interesting history though and I got to try a lot of food; not just Russian food either, I went to an amazing Georgian restaurant and it was my first time trying Georgian cuisine.
I was pretty nervous going because I'm vegan, which everyone kept tellng me was going to be really hard, and I didn't know very much Russian… I'm a nervous traveller at the best of times anyway. I couldn't read Cyrllic but everyone was really patient and appreciated that I was trying, my work mates were total angels with helping me translate menus and letting me double check my order with them before I actually made it with the wait staff.
I remember in a supermarket, I was buying Baikal soda (which is amazing) and a guy walked up to me just to say ‘Welcome to Russia!’ with a big smile. That's one of my favourite moments, it's just dead nice isn't it? I expected to feel welcome in Russia because I was visiting people I knew anyway and they're all so lovely but it was just that extra little bit.
It was also nice to be in a place that takes tea as seriously as me.
Where would you like to go next in Russia?
Everywhere? My Russian has improved and I'm learning more every day so I'd feel confident exploring more independently when I do go. I've been reading The Night Watch Trilogy by Sergei Lukyanenko so I want to see all the places mentioned in the book. Plus, Lewis Caroll, the only time he left England was to go to Moscow & St Petersburg. It inspired Alice Through the Looking Glass so I want to see it.
I'd like to take my partner on the Trans-Sib too, he'd love it… I don't know if we'd go through Mongolia or the more traditional route to Vladivostok.. Both?
What other countries have you visited?
I spent a month in NZ after graduating uni. That was one of the best times of my life, just waking up every day and going exploring. It's the dream life really.
Besides that I've done Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Croatia, Italy and the Channel Islands… I've been to Aachen and Cologne in Germany too but only for the Christmas markets. I've visited Poland to but it was part of a Holocaust learning program to visit Auschwitz. I'm glad I did that, it was an intense experience but it's something I carry with me.
Next month I'm going to Cyprus.
I'm half Maltese so people think I'm biased when I say Malta is amazing but… It really is.
Lucinda on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand
What's the most rewarding aspect of working at Real Russia?
Well, I work most closely with the travel team so anything I can do to make their lives easier always makes me happy…
On a selfish level, I like learning about Russia. I love folklore so getting to learn some Russian folklore has been so fun. I've also found a lot of classical Russian music I like, it's not normally my style but it's so pretty. I've also found a lot of good, modern, Russian authors I probably wouldn't have found without being recommended them by people I work with.
I like how vast Russia is … There's so many cultures, so much history, so much diversity. I like being able to show people that. We all have such set ideas of what a country is and once you visit a place, you always realise there's much more to it… That's kind of scaled up with Russia because of its size.
What is your approach to travelling?
Learn hello, goodbye, please, thank you and yes and no. Also ‘no dairy’. Then eat everything and walk everywhere. I'm a rambler, I just want to wander round and see as much as I can.
Travelling in Malta
How did you start your career in Real Russia? What drew you to the company?
November 2017. I was working as a B2B marketer for a company that sold… Less interesting things? I put my CV online just in case something more interesting came up and a few days later I got a phone call about a job at a travel company. I love travelling so I went for it and… Here I am!