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!
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!
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.)
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.)