Real Russia Blog

Meet the team: Igor Skorodumov

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 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 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.


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

Easyjet flights to Russia - soon to include Manchester to St Petersburg

Easyjet flights to Russia – soon to include Manchester to St Petersburg

Customers living in the north of England will soon have easier access to Russia, as Easyjet recently gained approval to operate a service between Manchester and St Petersburg.

There are hopes the service could start as early as summer 2013, although a spokes person for Easyjet commented there are no current plans for when the flights will commence; “We have started this process to enable us to fly there at some point, but this is a longer-term ambition.” This announcement follows the opening of the March 2013 routes from Manchester and London to Moscow, and will be welcomed by a large number of people. Easyjet have estimated that the existing service from Manchester to Moscow will carry over 60,000 customers within the first year alone, and so it is hoped the St Petersburg link will be just as popular.

Known as the Venice of the North, due to its network of canals and bridges, St Petersburg is a must see destination. Steeped in history and rich culture, why not take one of our to fully appreciate their splendour. Appreciate the breathtaking architecture of both cities while enjoying unique excursions such as; the vodka factory and the Ballet in St Petersburg; and the Kremlin, St Basils cathedral or KGB museum in Moscow – to name just a few!

We also have a great range of Trans-Siberian train tours for you to venture deep into the heart of Russia, Mongolia and China. As the dedicated experts, allow us to take care of all your travel needs including: all for Russia and neighbouring countries; rail tickets to, from and within Russia and neighbouring countries; accommodation; transfers and guides; tour extensions to visit other amazing locations. All services are flexible to meet your needs and can be tailored to your individual requirements, using our up/downgrade service; ensuring you have an enjoyable and stress free experience.

If you have planned, or are planning, a visit to Russia and beyond and would like any further information or guidance, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who are happy to help.

Real Russia Blog

Stalin`s Secret Bunker in Samara

Stalin`s Secret Bunker in Samara

Reveal the secrets of this amazing feat of engeneering!

Ahead of Russia’s Victory Day (9th May), which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in 1945, let’s take a step back in time. A great example of Stalin’s power and influence can be found at his secret underground bunker, an equivalent to a twelve-story building underground!

The bunker is located south east of Moscow in Samara, which was intended to be the capital of the USSR, if Moscow fell during the Second World War. In 1941 under the threat to Moscow to be taken over by the Nazis the Soviet government made a decision to make Samara (Kuibyshev back then) the USSR’s second capital. That’s why Stalin’s bunker was built here to become a special shelter for the Chief of State.

Constructed 37 meters deep, it is thought to have taken 2,900 people nine months to build with a team of over 800 engineers. It’s amazing to think that the local people didn’t notice anything unusual in 1942, as it remained a mystery to the public until 1991 when it was finally discovered, declassified, and opened as a museum.

It should be mentioned that the depth of Hitler’s bunker in Berlin is 16 meters, Churchill’s shelter (as well as Roosevelt’s bunker) has only two floors. Moreover, Stalin’s bunker is considered to be the deepest structure created during the Second World War.

It’s amazing to think that the local people didn’t notice anything unusual in 1942, as it remained a mystery to the public until 1991 when it was finally discovered, declassified, and opened as a museum.

All the people involved in the process of building the bunker were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, thus even the residents of neighboring houses were unaware of what kind of facility was being built behind the high fence. The removed soil was taken away at night and the workers seldom (if ever) left the underground construction site, eating and sleeping there.

The stand-alone air regeneration system of the bunker even nowadays can provide its autonomy for five days. There is a meeting room on the lowest floor of the shelter that was designed for 115 people (stenographers, Stalin’s bodyguards and his personal secretary). Next to the meeting room you can see the recreation room of Stalin. It has parquet flooring, oak paneling on the walls, a massive table with green cloth, four false doors and two portraits of Suvorov and Kutuzov on the walls (Stalin’s most revered commanders). On the upper floors of the bunker there are the rooms for security guards and different life-support machines and warehouses. That’s incredible, but the bunker itself could withstand a direct hit by the largest aviation bombs of that time.

Located under the Academy of Culture and Skill in the centre of the city, it is open to public willing to explore the secrets of the site, equivalent to a twelve-story building underground.

Samara, a host city of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is a vibrant city with a unique history, beautiful nature on the bank of the river Volga and magnificent wooden and art-nouveau historical centre. If this destination sounds interesting, why not get in touch with our travel team for more details?