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'I never wanted
to leave Moscow
for good'

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My name is Dima Eskin. I was born and raised in Moscow. I am a travel guide, travel consultant and a traveller myself

About associations and Gorbushka

I grew up near Filevsky Park, close to the Gorbushka tech market. I still live here. Now I take my child for walks in the same places I used to walk when I was a child. These streets, yards, high-rises, playgrounds and benches by the house entrances form a mosaic of memories, like stills from a film, in my mind. So whenever people mention Moscow, my first thought is not about Red Square but Filevsky Park. The view from the Metro Bridge is another childhood memory of mine.

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My Chinese experience and travel

As a travel expert and tour guide, I have spent the past eight years organising and leading tours to China and Tibet, as well as to Russia's Arctic regions, the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Territory, for instance.

I started my education as a history student. But, as circumstance would have it, I went to China to continue my studies, and stayed there working as an English teacher. Eventually, I started travelling around China. I never wanted to leave Moscow for good, but I was keen to seek new experiences. When I shared my travel stories on the internet, some of my friends decided to join me. I organised a few tours for them and their friends, and after that, I couldn't stop. In recent years, I have organised China tours in partnership with Strannik, a travel club. I am also part of a project that organises expeditions to Yamal involving homestays with nomadic deer herders. These latter tours are for foreign travellers.

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About lectures for like-minded people

I like to design my tours as a semblance of exciting lectures, but not like university lectures — they are more fun than that. I think tour guides that yammer on like 'walk another 300 metres and look to your right' will soon become extinct, replaced by some mobile app. What I'm trying to do is not just to show and tell but to build a kind of travellers' community, a trusting circle that can bring very different people together both during a journey and after. So I'm not only a tour guide: I am part psychologist, part friend, but yes, a well-meaning tour guide as well.

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About travelling alone

I preferred to travel on my own before I met my future wife. At first, I was compelled to travel alone as a companion was hard to find: most of my friends had families, others had steady jobs, a serious adult life. As for me, I had decided to put it all off until later.

But really, how many people would join you to hitchhike from Moscow to Indonesia, even if they had plenty of time? So I made a decision and stuck to it. But you know what, if someone suggested a trip like that to me now... I don't know. It's difficult to imagine. And it's not really because I have a family, kids. But I would have to pack a backpack and ride, ride, ride forever. It's a tiring proposition. The scenery in the car window becomes like a screen flickering for days on end, you are on autopilot: you have your tea, snacks, you chat and you sleep... And repeat.

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About eclecticism and the oldest buildings

I enjoy showing foreigners around Moscow, but it's never a one-sided tour that only takes in the standard landmarks (although they cannot be avoided). I'm all for eclecticism and contrast. Moscow is replete with history. Signs and traces of very different epochs can appear within the same neighbourhood.

Take Zaryadye Park, for instance, or Podvorye, which has the oldest buildings in Moscow outside the Kremlin: the Old English Yard, the Romanov Chambers and the churches.

VDNH, a half-hour Metro ride away, is a masterpiece of social realism in architecture, and it looks really impressive. Moscow International Business Centre is a must-see, and so is the Izmailovo Kremlin, just for the atmosphere. There are many historic streets in the centre. When you walk there, you get the feeling that nothing has changed since these houses were built 200 years ago, it retains the real old Moscow merchant-town spirit. I am not the only one who likes those neighbourhoods; visitors enjoy them, too.

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Another Moscow

It is customary to characterise Moscow as this super-dynamic city forever on the run. But to me personally, Moscow is the place where I rest. Here, I switch to calm mode and I stick to the places that make me feel good. Moscow is a place where you can have a document urgently photocopied close to your house at three a.m. I've never used this amenity, but it's good to know it is there for me. What I value much more, however, is access to green spaces, my favourite parks and the fact that my friends' houses are only minutes away.

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The special Muscovites project is dedicated to the heroes of our city: ordinary people with their own views on Moscow. You can meet them in a café, on the street, at the theatre or the supermarket. Perhaps, you sat across from their table, stood in the same queue or were on the same bus late to work just yesterday. Muscovites, let's get acquainted.

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