Arriving in Moscow in rush hour was a little disorienting not to mention intimidating given the sheer size of the place. I surfed the net to plan my next step and found this tou and I'm very glad I did. I booked it and within 45 minutes I had negotiated the metro and found my way to the meeting point.
I should say at this stage that as a general rule I avoid organised tours like the plague. As a young(ish) man with a bit of a sense of adventure, I usually like to discover a new city on my own by trial and error. Above all, I'm not a fan of exploring a new place in the company of a lot of middle-aged American tourists (absolutely no disrespect meant to those falling into that category) since I find it a rather safe and sanitised way to see a new place.
Any doubts I had on this score vanished when we were met by our guide, Irina. She is quite simply one of the best guides I have encountered anywhere. Her genuine enthusiasm for her city was infectious. She was clealry very knowledgeable but she managed to convey the information in a manner which was engaging and often very funny. Above all, I was extremely impressed with the way in which she often related Russia's complex and often tragic history to people living today, herself included. For instance, she explained on a number of occasions the ways in which her parents' attitudes to various aspects of life under Soviet rule differ from her own perspective. Such an insight was, for me, the precise opposite of the formal, stilted generic tour-guide routine which one sees the world over and which is why I have hitherto avoided such tours.
Perhaps most importantly, Irina's charming personality and her obvious enjoyment of her job means that the weary new arrival to Moscow is met with a friendly face in a city in which the people can take a little bit longer to crack.
The tour of Mosow itself can best be described as 'whistle stop' and it is all the better for it. By taking in a wide sweep of the sights on offer, the tour enables people to prioritise their remaining time in Moscow according to their particular tastes, whether it be the history of the Romanovs, WWII or life under Soviet rule.
I unhesitatingly recommend this tour which will be an invaluable jumping off point for anyone visiting Moscow for the first time, not least those who arrive bleary-eyed and shell-shocked in the middle of the morning rush hour.
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