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Local Tour Guide Moscow: Moscow & Parties

As you all know I’m leaving Russia fairly permanently at the end of this month. I feel totally unprepared and as the departure date gets closer and closer to my departure from Russia, I can’t help but feel more and more like I haven’t seen anything at all in Moscow over the past four years.

Thankfully, a lovely lady named Anna got in touch with me and gave me an offer that temporarily talked me down from my existential ledge. She and her husband George – though I somehow suspect that is not his real name – have started up a cool new business called Moscow & Parties which offer ‘like a local’ city tours in the area they call home: Chistiye Prudy. (Which is normally spelled Chistye Prudy but I like to be faithful in my Russian transliterations so TAKE THAT.)

Obviously, I think the local aspect is an excellent idea, so if you’re looking for a local tour guide Moscow Edition, Moscow & Parties has got my vote!

Our guides: totally not scary!

Our guides: yes, they are Russian despite how friendly they look!

In their own words, they developed the idea after traveling around Europe, getting a good look at locals hurrying to meet their friends in a cozy apartment, and deciding that meet-ups in real homes were the way to truly get to know a new culture. While it might not be possible all the time, Anna and George decided to make it possible for tourists in Moscow so they invite you to explore with them obvious and not-so-obvious treasures of Chistiye Prudy neighborhood during your stay in Moscow.

The best part? It’s not all dry facts. Their tour is made up of the little stories and the local flavor that you’ll actually remember and talk about long after you go home. As George joked, does anyone actually remember more than 10% of the long boring histories that regular tour guides give?

The two picked me up from the metro and took me to their beautiful, totally un-Moscow home. After a cup of tea and a quick presentation showing what the Chistiye Prudy area looked like before all the modernization, they won my heart with a very generous shot of vodka to keep us warm on the slushy streets of Moscow. Поехали!

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Even after living in Moscow since 2010 and feeling that sometimes I knew it better than a lot of the indifferent Muscovites, I learned a lot of interesting stories on our hour and a half walk. They uncovered a whole host of secret spots in their stomping grounds – my favorite part about living in Moscow. Even though I’ve walked Kitai Gorod/Chistiye Prudy many times, I can’t believe all the things I never knew existed: from the outside exotic bird cage to the Lutheran church so at odds with the Orthodox cathedrals to the secret art collective tucked behind a crumbling building… Best of all, they introduced me to a secret Indian/Tibetan restaurant that I now can’t stop thinking about.

It just goes to show you that there’s always something left to be discovered in your hometown, no matter how long you’ve lived there. (Which both absolutely thrills and depresses me as my flight looms in the near future.)

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Why yes, this is an exotic birdcage outside on the streets of Moscow.

Why yes, this is an exotic birdcage outside on the streets of Moscow.

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A peek down a beautiful side street near Kitai Gorod.

A peek down a beautiful side street near Kitai Gorod.

We loved the juxtaposition of the old pictures with new Moscow!

We loved the juxtaposition of the old pictures with new Moscow!

Part of Moscow's former hotbed of criminal activity, Khitrovka!

Part of Moscow’s former hotbed of criminal activity, Khitrovka!

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What else can I say? I totally recommend the Moscow & Parties tour – it’s like being led around by great friends who majored in esoteric Moscow history. (As for the parties bit of their business, I can’t say, but if they organize parties as well as they did this tour, Anna and George will help you have an awesome time.)

You can check out their website here or follow them on Instagram.

  • This sounds like such a great idea!

    • It was so great – just the kind of thing I love!

  • What gorgeous photos! I felt the same when I left Australia last month. I spent most of my time actually living there, not so much doing touristy things. I’ll need to go back to see everything I want to see.

    • Thanks Anna!

      And yes, I spent a lot of time in Moscow ‘just living’ so I totally feel where you’re coming from.

  • What a fun idea! I love tours put on by locals, I recently one on one in Paris. You learn so many little secrets and stories!
    Loving your photos

    • went on one* oi

    • Seriously. I am not a tour girl, but I think I’ve been converted to something this style!

  • This is a really awesome idea/opportunity! Are you and the Russky going to settle in your hometown Stateside or will you relocate somewhere else eventually? x

    • We will be at my childhood home for a while (convenient that my parents recently moved and want someone to take care of the house!) – what happens after that, who knows?

  • This is such a great idea! Well done to these young people! I am sure there are a lot of hidden and magical places in Moscow!

    • I know! I was so happy to see how much they loved their city – so inspiring!

  • This is such a great idea and more the kind of tour I would be interested in. I never remember the information they tell us on those tours!

    • Haha I know. It’s like cramming for a test, nothing will stay in your long-term memory!

  • Seems like a great tour! There’s certainly always more to learn about a place, no longer how long you’ve been there–that’s one of the joys of life!

    • Definitely agree, though it makes it hard to leave!

  • So cool- I love the photos of the Moscow streets…. just normal streets. For some reason, it’s fascinating to me. (I’m getting both Prague and Warsaw vibes from it)
    If I stop by Moscow some day, I will definitely look them up! More cities need tours like this instead of the boring ol’ free walking tour.

    • Well, let’s just say that these are definitely some of the more pleasant streets of Moscow. There are plenty of mind-blowingly ugly Soviet buildings all around 🙂

  • Liz

    What a delightful post! It must be a nice way to see more right before you leave, and probably bittersweet as well.

    • Yes and yes, though packing in all the fun stuff at the very end is such a killer!

  • Em

    There’s something so special about going into locals’ homes, and in seeing your city with a fresh set of eyes. What a stellar memory to have in the time before you leave. Cheers to you uncovering more secrets in the coming weeks 🙂

    • Thanks, Em. It was definitely a fun experience and something I’d love to repeat ALL OVER the city if I had the chance.

  • Local led tours are such an awesome thing! I should definitely look some up in Belgium.

    This sounds like quite a nice end to your time in Russia though, seeing a few secret places to end a huge adventure in your life 🙂

    • I imagine there must be some good ones in cities with better developed tourist infrastructure. If Moscow has it, everyone else has had it for at least 5 years 😉

  • Ivana Bilic

    Hanging out with locals is truly the only way to really get to know city and the culture. Thats why im using couchsurfing when traveling. So many good people Ive met, and heard great stories. Love your blog btw:)

    • Thanks Ivana! I definitely agree that meeting locals is the way to go while traveling.

  • I totally understand that self-imposed pressure to see it all when leaving a city. when we left the east coast to move to Taiwan I felt like I had seen nothing of Philadelphia and New York in my 5 years. [which wasn’t actually true, it just feels that way.] I’d love to take a tour like this in Taiwan… or any city. your pictures make Moscow look so beautiful.

    • This is definitely an idealized area of Moscow which was lucky enough to avoid a lot of the atrocious Soviet expansion that happened elsewhere in the city! Sadly, not everywhere in Moscow is so pretty.

  • That sounds like such a cool tour! I love that street art.

    • Russia has a lot of really awful street art (stupid tags etc), but in the center there’s a real culture of doing great street art – even some that’s commissioned by the city itself.

  • Such a cool walking tour! I love that street art, and you’re right, there’s almost endless things to discover about the place you live. I recently found a new walking route in my home town just last year and whilst walking it saw baby deer jumping through the fields. The weather got too rainy and the mud too slushy that I couldn’t finish the route. I left to go travelling and now my mum has completely relocated and gone to another part of the country altogether o.O

    • Oh no! You’ll have to head back yourself… Or just always be left wondering what could have been 🙂

  • I think every person who’s ever lived anywhere interesting always has that feeling when they suddenly are leaving – “OMG I dont even know my own town!” I went to school in DC, and I was going to stay there for work. Then i got a dream job offer in NYC and had to pack up and move in 4 days. The list of amazing sights, restaurants and museums that I thought I was gonna have years to explore was immense. The same thing happened when I suddenly decided to leave NYC and move back to Russia. I ended up seeing my first NYC Broadway musical when I came back to visit for a few days two years later. Now I am trying to be much better with this sort of thing in Moscow, even though I am positive I am not going anywhere for years 🙂

  • oh, those looming days right before you head out. I know it too well. at least you can feel good leaving it in the hands of another fab duo!

  • Moscow looks like a beautiful place!

    Georgia http://www.lumublog.com