Real Russia Blog

Interview with travel writer Jamie Tinklepaugh
14
March
2019

Interview with travel writer Jamie Tinklepaugh

Read from the writer of Wheeling East: London to Hong Kong by wheelchair and train about taking the Trans-Siberian as a wheelchair user

Travel writer Jamie Tinkepaugh, and his father Peter Davies, decided to take the Trans-Siberian as countless travellers have before them. However, their trip was slightly different to the majority of travel experiences as Jamie is a wheelchair user.

We sat down with him to discuss his book about his Trans-Siberian adventure Wheeling East, his travel inspiration and advice for fellow travellers looking to see the world's grandest rail journey.

What inspired you to take the Tran-Siberian?

I have always been interested in exploring since I was very young.
As a small child I was given a globe that lit up, I would look at it and see the many countries and think when I am asleep, people on the other side of the world are starting their day, the light on the globe showed the equator, the vastness of the world. The U.K. seemed to be just a little dot, the sheer distance between the countries, the amount of blue struck me, the oceans, the rivers, running my finger along the unfamiliar names trying to get my tongue around them.
At the same time I loved going to the unknown, which at that age meant going with my father to a big train station on a Saturday, searching the destination board for a name that appealed to me and then boarding the train onto adventure.
When I was eighteen, my father and I went interrailing around Europe. We didn’t book hostels or trains in advance, which sometimes caused problems. I remember the staff at Bologna station were very unhelpful as we were supposed to have booked at least 24 hours in advance. This is one of the ways that disability can get in the way of spontaneity.
I have always loved travelling by train as I can watch the landscape unfold before me and observe the huge variety of people that share our space. So naturally, since I learnt of the Trans-Siberian railway I have wanted to travel on it.
What was your expectation travelling the Trans-Siberian as a wheelchair user compared to your actual experience?
Real Russia gave us invaluable assistance in reserving a wheelchair space – the only one that was available on the whole train. Without it, I would have been unable to travel as the corridors are too narrow for a wheelchair and so I couldn’t have reached any other compartment.
I had no expectations prior to the journey. We had spent so many years, dreaming, thinking planning that at times it seemed more like a faraway fantasy, there were so many components that had to come together so much uncertainty. I will not pretend that the journey was easy by any means, the height of the train above the platform meant that I couldn’t get off for the entire eight day journey. Also, without the assistance of an able-bodied person (my father) to forage for food, I would have got very hungry; the restaurant car was unreachable and there were no food sellers on the train. I had imagined that local would board the train at the longer stops to sell us local delicacies, but it didn’t happen.
What was your favourite part of the Trans-Siberian?
There was something marvellously relaxing about the whole trip. I loved the steady pace of the train. High speed trains are all very well, but they distance you from the landscape and make you perhaps restlessly urge the train to its destination. On such a long journey time slips away – helped by crossing innumerable time zones, while station clocks, sticking to Moscow time, became increasingly adrift- and you can slip into a wonderful reverie. Seeing Lake Baikal in the morning light was a privilege, the almost mythical largest fresh water lake in the world was outside my window, the sun frim azure sky glinting on azure water. Siberia, is hugely important in Russian history and imagination. To travel through it brought home something of the sense of what it may be like to have to try and survive there, exiled amongst the bleak landscape of birch forests in the depths of winter.
When we stopped at stations I loved to see the people, the little girl being reunited with her mother on a station platform, rushing towards each other, the family announcing their arrival with a whirl of arms and legs, the laughter and warmth that emanated from the carriage, the people using the train to travel for a few stops, others using it like us to travel thousands of miles, it still feels unbelievable that we were able to travel by train to another far continent.
Had you planned to write about your experiences in a book before you travelled, or did the inspiration come afterwards?
I had always planned to write a blog to detail the journey of a lifetime although that phrase is often overused in this case it was true, I wanted to inspire other disabled people that they could take a trip of whatever length and distance; it was not a competition but that they could get out there, be full members of their communities, be active and achieve what they wanted to. I had such a positive response to the blog people kept saying it should become a book so that it might reach a wider audience.
What would be your advice for someone looking to do the Trans-Siberian?
I hope that my book might encourage others. Of course every disabled person is disabled in their own way. Some, like Ade Adepetan, have good upper body strength and can weight-bear enough to get on and off the train. Others with less muscular control, needing, say, an electric wheelchair, perhaps might not be able to make the trip at all. But without exploring the idea you will never know what is possible. And many dangers that loom huge in prospect are later seen as not so difficult.

Real Russia Blog

2017: Our customers` year in numbers
23
January
2018

2017: Our customers` year in numbers

It`s time to sum up last year!

Last year was another exciting year of expansion for us! We launched multi-currency payments, were crowned Russia’s Leading Travel Agency at the World Travel Awards for the fifth year in a row and received our certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor!

But, what exciting things did our intrepid travellers get up to, you ask? Take a look at our handy infographic to find out and see if it inspires your next journey!

Real Russia Blog

12 of the best Russian travel Instagram accounts
26
September
2017

12 of the best Russian travel Instagram accounts

Russian Instagrammers revealing the beauty of Russia

Russia is a country with a rich cultural and historical heritage, as well as being home to extraordinary natural diversity.

From Moscow’s iconic views to the wilderness of Siberia and Kamchatka, here are 12 Instagram accounts to explore the world’s most fascinating country. Some of them are not translated into English, but a language barrier should not stop you from being able to admire the beauty on display!

While we are very proud of our own Instagram page, we have chosen to focus on the efforts of others on this list. Also, if we included ourselves the list would number 13, and 13 is considered unlucky in Russia.

However, we encourage you to follow realrussiatravel to check out images taken by our team on their travels through Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway! From time to time we also share the photos others have taken; if you would like us to share your own stunning images from Russia, the Trans-Siberian railway, or the neighbouring counties, use the hashtag #realrussiantravel!

1. pollirusakova


Based in Perm, Polina is a true explorer. Among her collection, there are the breath-taking photos of the Ural Mountains, as well as Georgian, Crimean and Nepalese mountains, among many other beautiful landscapes.

2.Russianexplorers

This account consolidates many travel photographers who are inspired by Russian nature. Expect many incredible views of snow-capped mountains, idyllic scenery, wild animals, arctic wonders and dreamy lakes.

3.anna_zagaynova


A Siberian photographer who takes utterly captivating architectural shots while travelling in Russia. Hit up her Instagram account to find some hidden gems and wonderful examples of provincial buildings, and structures, in Russia.

4.alex.mazurov


A landscape photographer, whose images of the turquoise rivers of the Altai region, arctic landscapes, starry Caucasus nights, Crimean coastlines and misty mountains near Sochi will make you want to book your next trip immediately!

5.lake.baikal


It seems that Alexey Matveev, an enthusiastic Baikal fan, never gets tired of shooting the fascinating Lake Baikal and its fantastic scenery. Comments in Russian should not deter you from following this account, as on these spectacular photos, nature speaks for itself.

6.ted.ns


Planning a trip to Moscow? Then you must follow this incredible photographer’s account with ‘futuristic’, and sometimes dreamy, photos that will give you a look at one of the world's best cities from every angle. And as a bonus – you will find photos of other curious places in Russia, including a frozen Lake Baikal, the ‘Winter Wonderland’ of Kazan, and the wide-open spaces of the Altai Republic, all in one place!

7. Onlyminimal Dmitry Malkov


Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, capturing fields and forests, endless lakes and rivers, Malkov asks us to appreciate the wonder of everyday life. Minimal and simplistic, yet charming, Malkov’s images are mesmerising and beautiful.

8.Damedvedev

Великий Новгород

A post shared by Дмитрий Медведев (@damedvedev) on


The Russian Prime Minister travels a lot across Russia, and apparently his camera never leaves his hands. Beautiful landscapes and urban photos will give you a glimpse of Russia, and the main Russian events.

9. elenakrizhevskaya


The winner of Best of Russia 2016 photography, Elena captures Moscow in many different angles and places. From underground to the sky, from metro stations to the fireworks over the Kremlin, and everything in between, this photographer tells us a wonderful fairy tale about Moscow.

10.village.ru

Рыбинск, Ярославская область Фото: @vrybinske

A post shared by Русская деревня (@village_ru) on


This wonderful project is dedicated to traditions, way of life and nature of the Russian countryside and province.

11. rozanov.mikhail


Mikhail Rozanov is a Moscow-based photographer whose journeys all over the world, including untouched and distant spaces, have resulted in a collection of gorgeous images, from black and white photos of architectural forms and landscapes to minimalistic and refined photography. He goes even further, capturing stunning sculptures and industrial objects in Russia and abroad.

12. Russia.travel.official


This Russian-speaking account led by National Tourism Portal of Russia is an online guide that encourages people to open their eyes to all of Russia, with no exceptions; including its unrevealed corners and small towns, as well as its culinary masterpieces. There are endless photos of natural and man-made wonders found in various places across Russia. The English version of their website is a true treasure-cave for those with wanderlust – https://eng.russia.travel/.


If you think that there are other Instagram accounts worthy of being mentioned on this list, please feel free to comment below, or share them with us on social media!

And don't forget to check our the Real Russia Instagram page!


Feel inspired? Contact our travel experts to book your dream adventure!

Real Russia Blog

Meet the team: Igor Skorodumov
19
July
2017

Meet the team: Igor Skorodumov

Our Travel Expert in Volzhsky, Russia

Introducing our team.

We have a well-established team of highly experienced travel specialists, who are happy to assist with your travel needs, or find your perfect destination within Russia and the surrounding countries. These are the people who make our company so special. Today let us introduce Igor, a Tour Operations Supervisor.

Igor, a Tour Operations Supervisor at Real Russia

Igor Skorodumov joined Real Russia team in 2007. Igor has a Specialist’s Degree in Economics and, in addition to his native Russian, speaks three foreign languages, English, French and German. Whenever he has free time, he reads books, works in his country house (dacha), makes crafts at home, practices sports, takes photos etc.

He likes to travel and often travels with his family within Volgograd and Astrakhan regions of Russia, as well as further afield.

As Igor is a well-known enthusiast of travel within Russia, a fan of history and simply a ‘human encyclopaedia’, we decided to get straight to the point.

Igor's favourite destinations in Russia

Which city in Russia is the most appealing for you ?

It’s a difficult question, because each city has its own authentic beauty, history, population, dialect etc. The further one goes away from Moscow, the more vivid the local character of the city becomes.

Apart from well-loved Moscow and St.-Petersburg, I would like to accent here four cities along the Trans-Siberian railways: Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Ulan-Ude.

Kazan

Kazan is a mixture of past and present, Muslim and Christianity, with many stunning monuments on the Volga River. It is surprising to see how the different cultures, religions can coexist peacefully for several centuries. I think this is one of the “must-see” cities in Russia for those who want to dig deeper and see the 'real' Russia.

​Against the Kazan Kremlin wall

Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg is one of the cities that played the most important role in the history of the country. It is the city where the last tsar’s family was executed putting an end to Imperial Russia; it is the city where the first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin was born; he was the one who put an end to the Soviet Union; there is a border line between Europe and Asia; it is the city that culturally can challenge St. Petersburg in the number of rock bands, musicians, composers and actors it has produced. The city is beautifully located South of the Ural Mountains. If you are making a stopover in this city, don’t miss a chance to taste Ural dumplings and walk along the streets that have preserved the style of the former Soviet Union.

Novosibirsk

Nestled along the Ob river, Novosibirsk depicts the grandeur of the Russian Empire: the biggest buildings being the railway station and the Opera House. Nowadays it is the scientific and intellectual centre of Russia. Siberian culture shows itself through the authentic meals, the way they are served and the way people communicate. There are lots of places to visit, for example, the Trans-Siberian railway museum, an Open-air Museum of locomotives and carriages, and the beautiful embankment of the Tsar Alexander III.

Ulan Ude

Ulan-Ude is the capital of Buryatia, and is striking to its visitors, with its colourful Buddhist buildings and traditional clothes. People here are very hospitable and friendly. The city has lots of featured buildings that absorbed both the local, and the Russian, cultures.

Where did you spend your last holiday?

My family and I went to the Russian analogue of the Dead Sea, the lake Baskunchak. We had a tour at Bogdo Mountain, a sacred mountain for people who believe in Buddhism (Kalmyks, Buryats, Mongols etc.).

The Trans-Siberian: A taste for the ‘real’ Russia, Mongolia and China

Last year you embarked on the Trans-Siberian railway with other members of the Real Russia team. How could you describe your experience on the Trans-Siberian in three words?

Contrasts, knowledge and history.

What was the most impressive in your trip?

We had a chance to witness the contrasts between two continents- Europe and Asia, between three countries along the Trans-Siberian – Russia, Mongolia and China, and observe a variety of cultures and lifestyles, as every place we visited has its own character and story to tell. After an intense and history laden two weeks in Russia, Mongolia was very quiet and sparsely-inhabited. And then, just one night away by train, we were in heavily-populated China; another incredible change again.

Why do you think Mongolia captured you?

I expected it to be a totally new experience for me, however, it is there, in Mongolia, where I felt more like at home than anywhere in Russia. This feeling was intensified when we came to Terelj National Park. I enjoyed this authentic atmosphere of simplicity, hospitability and friendliness. This country has the authentic values and is developing at its own pace, thoroughly keeping its character.


Igor in Terelj National Park, Mongolia

What advice would you give to customers that are planning on travelling to Mongolia for the first time?

Well, I would suggest they be prepared for lots of walking (take comfortable sport clothes, sneakers etc.), exchange their currency for the local one to be able to give tips or buy some sweets to share (for example, when visiting Nomads).

For vegetarians, I suggest searching in advance for the restaurants or check with Real Russia travel specialists about places serving vegetarian food or, if tour is booked, then it should be noted beforehand, because meat is the main food in the country.

Why do you think the Trans-Siberian route is so popular among foreign travellers?

It is the longest railway in the world stretching through two continents, several time zones and different landscapes. It is the best way one can experience Russia, Mongolia and China, admiring through the window, sitting in a comfortable compartment on a train.

What don’t we know about Igor

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I like to listen to Rock music at a high volume when I am alone at home.

What are your favourite books?

Les Misérables’ by Victor Hugo, ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, and ‘The Adventures of Werner Holtv’ Dieter Noll.

What do you love the most about Real Russia?

I love the most about Real Russia that it is a real team. Many of team members are from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries, and, nevertheless, we have the mutual supportiveness and dedication that make every day at work great. For me, we have a team of professionals that have been awarded the World Travel Award for being Russian’s Leading Travel Agent for last four years not by chance, but by hard work.
​_________________________________

We thank Igor for squeezing us in, and look forward to introducing you to another member of our amazing team soon. Click here to find more series of our interviews!

Let us help you with your next adventure, contact our travel specialists.

Real Russia Blog

Let the adventures begin in Novosibirsk
14
September
2015

Let the adventures begin in Novosibirsk

Introducing the unofficial capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk!

Novosibirsk is the third most populated city in Russia and Siberia’s largest metropolis, making Novosibirsk the unofficial capital of Siberia. The city was founded in 1893 and was built for the purpose of developing the famous Trans-Siberian Railway Bridge over the River OB.

Although the city is very proud of the fact, Novosibirsk is famous for more than just the Trans-Siberian; it is one of three leading scientific centres in Russia, after Moscow and St Petersburg of course. Novosibirsk is also known for being one of Russia’s fastest growing centres of culture with many thriving art galleries, a world famous Opera and Ballet House, and the renowned University of Novosibirsk.

When I was given the task to update our current catalogues with new destinations, Novosibirsk seemed an obvious decision to make mainly for its Trans-Siberian heritage, and for the purpose of covering the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian, and Trans-Manchurian route. In all honesty, I was equally sold on the idea of having authentic experiences with real locals, and I imagine that this is an experience which many of you will find very appealing.

So what is there to do in Novosibirsk, you ask?

I encourage you to not let the fact that it’s a new city fool you into believing that Novosibirsk has nothing to offer.



Novosibirsk is a Trans-Siberian traveller’s paradise with history at every turn; the culture is vibrant and the locals are very proud of their heritage. The list of activities is endless, a city tour offers innumerable opportunities to get to know Siberia’s new Chicago, and a tour around Akademogorodoc will allow you to immerse yourself in everything that the city stands for, including its Trans-Siberian legacy.



To begin a tour of Novosibirsk, I would venture off into the city with a local guide to explore the all the main sites, starting in Main Square at the Lenin monument, then on marvel at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Following on from the theatre, I would travel to the oldest part of the city, Gorkovo Street, before finishing with a trip to the Ascension Cathedral, St Nicholas Chapel, and the OB River embankment to admire the stunning views as it stretches into the distance.



The last leg of my city tour would include a visit to the old Siberian farmers market, to sample some delicious Siberian delicacies like smoked omul. If you’ve read my food blog ‘A Taste of Russia’, then you’ve already become acquainted with my attempts to make Russian food, so for the purpose of tasting authentic Russian food done right, my trip to the Siberian farmers market would also involve sampling a few Russian dishes.I imagine at the farmers market I would engage with the local traders, learn a few new Russian words, and maybe purchase a Matryoshka doll to take home with me.



When in Russia, do what Russian’s do… or is that Rome?

Vodka, food, and great company is what I call a good time.

My idea of the perfect cultural experience would be to spend an afternoon sat around a dinner table with a local family, and feel as though I’m part of the Russian family by experiencing hospitality, which I’ve been told, is unlike anywhere else in the world. Being able to engage with the locals in the setting of their own home, learning more about their heritage, and briefly immersing myself in their traditions is what I would call an authentic experience.

In my quest to immerse myself in the Novosibirsk culture, I would consider a culinary masterclass and learn the secret to preparing authentic Russian and Siberian cuisine, including pelmeni (which I’ve successfully made before), borsch and shchi. I would quite happily end my cultural adventure here, but I know I would be missing out on the opportunity to become a true ‘Novosibirsker’. With that said, I would spend a day with a local and venture through the lesser known sites to see all the city’s hidden treasures, before trying some of the city’s delicious street food.



All good things must come to an end!

For a city that is only a century old, Novosibirsk has many of interesting and historical sights and stories to tell you. If you’re more of a history enthusiast, I recommend ending your trip in the town of Akademorodok, one of the only scientific towns in Russia, which was the home to over 60,000 scientist during the period of the USSR.

While in Akademogorodok, I would take a tour of the town then proceed to the Open Air Train Museum to see all the magnificent vintage trains, and learn more about the history of the great Trans-Siberian Railway, before continuing down to the embankment of Novosibirskoye Reservoir.

Last but certainly not least, as an animal lover it seems only logical to end my journey by visiting the Novosibirsk zoo to catch a glimpse of some of its endangered wildlife, including the Siberian tiger.



Until next time, do svidaniya (Goodbye)!

Now that I’ve introduced you to the incredible city that is Novosibirsk, feel free to browse through our excursions catalogue, or choose from one of the listed destinations. Remember to keep an eye open for more excursions that will be added over the next few months.

My aim is to expand our collection of activities in Russia and its neighbouring countries, and bring you even more exciting excursions that will enable you to have a truly authentic experience, wherever you decide to go.

If you’re still unsure of what you can do to enhance your experience in Russia, Mongolia and China, you might get a few ideas if you read the previous instalment in ‘Let the adventures begin’.

Have you been to Novosibirsk? If you have, what were the main highlights of your trip?

Share your opinions with us on our Social Media channels; Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Real Russia Blog

World Travel Awards 2015: The Result!
7
September
2015

World Travel Awards 2015: The Result!

How did Real Russia fare in the 2015 World Travel Awards?

Thank you!

Year on year our competitors at the World Travel Awards get better and better, and 2015 was no different. So we would like to thank you for choosing Real Russia and for voting for us this year; we really do appreciate all of your support. Over the next 12 months and beyond, our team are determined to continue working hard; repaying the faith that you have shown.

Now on to the result … (click on the video for added effect!)

We won!

Real Russia - Russia's Leading Travel Agency 2015

We are dlighted to say that your incredible support has again seen us emerge victorious as Russias Leading Travel Agent. This is the third year in succession we have had the honour of being presented with this award, which is unprecedented.

World Travel Awards Tropy, Russia's Leading Travel Agency 2015 - Real Russia

The aiport wasn't too pleased about this sitting in my hand luggage – it's huge!

2016 will be the 100th anniversary of the Trans-Siberians completion, so this is a fantastic way to start a year celebrating everything that is good about Russia and the Trans-Siberian.

How will we be celebrating you ask? Keep your eyes fixed on our website and social media channels to find out in the coming weeks and months.

Anyway, back to the World Travel Awards…

A World Travel Awards Diary

I was lucky enough to attend the World Travel Awards ceremony this year in Sardinia, Italy, so I thought I would write a few words about the ceremony itself to give you an idea of what it is like.

First off, I can hardly think of a better venue to celebrate all that is good about the travel industry; except maybe the Trans-Siberian itself, but I am biased and determined to spread the Trans-Siberian word! It is just a shame that the event itself took place indoors as, on the Mediterranean coast, a night under the stars would have been marvellous.

The venue itself, the Forte Village Resort was lovely, and expansive; all the guests were ferried about in small golf buggy/bus type contraptions. The cocktail reception was held around the pool area, which would have been nice in and of itself, but with some very colourful parrots flying around overhead, it was a great start to the evening.

The main event was inside, in a standard dining room all dressed, and lit, to impress. I feel they may have overdone it a little though with the blue lighting, it had the effect of making the food look very strange indeed, a shame given the time that had obviously been spent preparing it all; thankfully it tasted great.

World Travel Awards 2015 Table Centrepiece - Real Russia

The lovely centrepiece, complete with excessive blue mood lighting!

The evening is quite an involved affair, with awards being offered for many categories, from best boutique hotel to best airport. For this reason there were no speeches (thankfully), just a short time to have a photo taken with the host, before being moved on. While this sounds monotonous, it actually isn't as throughout the evening short videos were shown of some of the luxury resorts being celebrated, and they all looked very inviting; I think I need to ask for a pay raise…

When my time came to step on stage it was over before I realised I had even gone up! I was worried I had blocked out the memory for it being traumatic, but the photos seem to show it all going ok, so I shall put it down to an innate level of shyness letting my nerves get the better of me.

World Travel Awards, Real Russia award presentation as Russia's Leading Travel Agency

Yes, that is fear you can see in my eyes!

Once I had collected the award there was the small matter of two interviews with the travel media present. You will be pleased to hear that these have yet to be uploaded to the internet, so you will not have to watch me stutter through them. Yet. Once they are online I am sure they will find their way to Facebook and/or Twitter.

And that was that. The World Travel Awards. A chance to celebrate all that is good about the travel industry, and all that is good about travelling.

Now it is time to start plotting our course for the 2016 World Travel Awards. A course made up of hard work, passion, commitment and enthusiasm. I hope you will join us!

09/09/2015 Update!

They interviewed me for Breaking Travel News after I was presented with the award, and the video is now online! Take a look…

Real Russia Blog

Real Russia Nominated in the 2015 World Travel Awards
17
April
2015

Real Russia Nominated in the 2015 World Travel Awards

Vote for Real Russia as Russia`s Leading Travel Agent 2015

For more than a decade Real Russia have worked to bring Russia to the world, and the world to Russia. Therefore we are delighted to announce that, for the fifth time since 2011, we have been nominated as Russia’s Leading Travel Agent at the World Travel Awards. This is a huge honour for everyone within the company and we would love it if you could help us attain this honour.

The World Travel Awards are very prestigious. They are voted for by professionals within the travel industry and, more importantly, they are voted for by you, the customer. We won this award in 2013 and 2014 and we would love to win it for a third time.

Every day our team work with partners around the world to share with you the experiences that are available within Russia and the surrounding countries; particularly along the Trans-Siberian railway. As a group, we do not want to just send you on holiday, we want to send you on adventures, in which you can create memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Thr Promise, for Russian children with special needs

This year we will be working alongside The Promise, a charity who help disabled children in Russia get one-to-one support. They are doing an absolutely brilliant job, and we would love it if you could help them too. Whether you visit their website, their Just Giving page or share their details on Facebook and Twitter; every little helps. This year, for every vote we receive from our World Travel Awards page, we will donate to this incredible cause.

If you feel that we have been able to help you in any way realise your Russian dream, from helping you connect with fellow travellers through our forum, to showing you interesting news and facts on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and from arranging your visa to supplying you with your Trans-Siberian tickets, we would love it if you could vote for us.

For information on how you can help us, visit our dedicated World Travel Awards page.

Take a look at the videos below to see our director being interviewed after winning the award in 2013.

Real Russia Blog

Full-Time and Part-Time Junior Visa Administrator
16
April
2015

Full-Time and Part-Time Junior Visa Administrator

We are currently looking for two junior visa administrators to join our successful visa team based in our Islington office in London. You will be responsible for a range of duties including:

  • Acting as first point of contact for customers
  • Answering general visa enquires via different channels of communication
  • Processing visa applications including acceptance, preparation and dispatch
  • Maintaining the visa database with accurate information
  • Liaising with the internal teams and partners to facilitate visa services

We are looking for someone with the right personality, attitude and passion for providing a first-class customer service. The successful candidate should ideally have prior office administration and customer service experience as well as:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Good telephone manners
  • Computer literate including use of Microsoft Office and the Internet
  • Russian language skills would be an advantage, but not essential

Although similar work experience would be useful, it is important that you are:

  • Self-motivated
  • Organised and able to manage your time
  • Flexible
  • Focused

Vacancies: 1 full-time (40 Hours a week) and 1 part-time/ flexible (20 hours a week+)

Salary: £17,500 for the full-time position (pro-rota for part-time employees) depending on experience, level of training needed and demonstrable skills.

Opportunity for flexible hours for part-timers and career progression within the company, full training will be provided.

If you believe that you have what it takes to join our company, please email your CV along with a cover letter to careers@realrussia.co.uk. Please note that all communication will be in English.

Interviews to be held as soon as possible.

Real Russia Blog

Real Russia Win Again!
26
November
2013

Real Russia Win Again!

Real Russia recently attended the annual Oak FM Pride of Loughborough Awards and was delighted to be voted Business of the Year.

2013 has been a fantastic year for Real Russia, following on from the success of winning Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2013 at the World Travel Awards, the whole team was thrilled with this latest achievement.

Chris Watkins, Real Russia’s Managing Director, explained “Starting the company in the front room of my family home, we have grown from strength to strength over the last 10 years. Today our understanding of travel within Russia is second to none, a reflection of just how hard our dedicated employees work towards making the customer experience priority number one. To be recognised by the judges is a great honour, as I was born and raised in Loughborough the award is also a huge personal achievement.”

Putting Loughborough on the global business map, the company now has five offices across Europe, including UK and Russia, and over 50 members of staff. From the head office in Loughborough, Real Russia offers comprehensive knowledge and assistance to both tourists and business travellers alike. This understanding and expertise has grown from Chris’s original passion for the country, which is portrayed in the culture of Real Russia and its staff today.

Real Russia's dedicated staff deliver complete support while planning unique itineraries or excursions, booking accommodation, train tickets and rail tours across Russia, arranging local Russian guides and transfers and also managing individual visa applications directly with consulates. If you have any questions regarding travel to, within or beyond Russia do not hesitate to contact a member of our friendly travel team.

Real Russia Blog

The visa team – a day in the life

 

18
September
2013

The visa team – a day in the life

 

A seamless and efficient service, we thought you might be interested to know exactly what happens after applying for your visa by spending a day in the life of our visa team..

Opening promptly at 9am the team are ready with their computers on, phones manned and an all important cup of tea or coffee to hand. Based in Islington, London, the team are truly multicultural with an impressive nine different languages (including Russian) spoken between them!

Each member of the team has their individual tasks and they swing into action like a well oiled machine. The first thing is to check all emails for information regarding existing applications, also to capture any new requests. The courier also arrives as soon as the office doors open, delivering all posted applications straight from the post office. Each received application is then logged on our system with an automatic email sent to customers informing them that everything has arrived safely. If there are any issues, such as required documents that have not been included, the team will then specifically contact the customer to let them know (firstly by phone or email if they cannot be reached by phone). Received passports, photos and visa support documents are then collated and separated by either Express or Standard return service level, then by the country the visa is required for, before being sent to the relevant consulate by our in-house courier.

Around midday, standard service visa applications prepared and submitted by the team the previous day are returned by the courier from the Russian consulate, conveniently located just around the corner. Each passport with a visa is then individually checked to make sure there are no errors (checking names, entry and exit dates, if it should be a multiple entry visa, or if there are more than one country to be visited). By approximately 1pm, all other applications from different consulates (Mongolian and Chinese for example) are returned and go through the same checking process.

In the afternoon the Express service applications are returned from the Russian consulate, checked by the team and then returned to the customer by recorded delivery.

The final tasks of the day are to finalise any paperwork for new applications ensuring that all information matches that found on our system. Based on the number of applications, the in-house courier service is then planned for the following day – when the process starts all over again!

Real Russia supports thousands of people travelling to the region with all aspects of travel services including planning unique Trans-Siberian rail tours, booking hotels or other accommodation, transfers from the airport to your hotel, Russian train tickets and Moscow and St Petersburg short tours. All supported by our visa team providing the relevant services to help you gain the visas you need when travelling to Russia.

If you are planning a visit to Russia, China, Mongolia or beyond and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.