Olga Seredina is a tour guide in Russia who has been working with us for two years. We asked her to tell us a little bit more about herself, how she became a tour guide what it’s like showing Russia to the world.
I’m Olga, 36. I’ve been living in St. Petersburg for the last 15 years, but grew up in a smaller city called Pskov just 200 miles away from St. Pete’s. (Pskov is also along the route of “On the Go”). I have graduated from St Petersburg’s Pedagogical University, philological department. I’m married with an eight year-old daughter. The three of us plus our pet cat live in a flat in one of the residential areas of the city. I’m passionately interested in history and art, that’s why I once chose to be a guide. I also love travelling, and whenever it’s possible we try to visit different countries.
2. What made you want to become a Tour Guide?
Actually, I wanted to do something like this since I was a teenager. I’m interested in different cultures, so it’s a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Secondly, I’d say I’m really a “people person”, communication is something that attracts me. Also, I like Russian history and art, and it’s a pleasure for me to share my knowledge with travellers. Being on the move also helps to remain young and fit, doesn’t it?
I’d recommend the Day of the City in my native place, Pskov. It’s celebrated every year on the 24th of July. This is a big occasion for a provincial town, with fairs where you can purchase souvenirs made by local craftsmen, and concerts of Russian folk music. They usually have what is called reenactment shows, where people are dressed up like medieval Russian warriors, all people are out to watch these events. As it’s luckily in the middle of summer, the weather is at its best, and on the whole everything is really fascinating. At midnight there are fireworks, and I have to say, the local government allocates a lot on this event. It’s a nice opportunity to see a traditional festival, to take part in it and, besides, to see the area which is over 1100 years old.
4.Tell us something we probably don’t know about Russia.
The most loved Russian tradition is connected with New Year celebration. In Russia this holiday is more popular than Christmas, and in some way it’s similar to Western Christmas, but many things are very local. Of course on New Year’s Eve the family gathers at the table. And there is a certain selection of dishes for the occasion, for example, Russian salad (we call it Olivier). It’s made of boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, onions, pickles and green peas. The traditional New Year drink is surprisingly not vodka, but champagne. 5 minutes before the New Year the president appears on TV to congratulate the citizens. While he is making his speech, the champagne bottles should be opened and the glasses are filled. Then the big Kremlin chimes start to strike, and while they are striking 12 times you should manage to drink up you champagne and think of all the wishes for the coming New Year. Then they’ll definitely come true.
Difficult question: too many places I need to see. I’d say – London, Paris, Rome, the Pyramids and Jerusalem.
6.What is your favourite Russian food?
My favorite Russian food is pelmeni –it’s close to dumplings or ravioli. They can have different stuffing: meat, cheese, potatoes, cabbage, berries, etc. I always recommend my tourists to try this dish.
7. With Russia hosting the Football World Cup in 2018 what impact do you think this will have on tourism for Russia?
Hopefully, it will have a positive impact on tourism in Russia. I do hope many people will come from all over the world and maybe it’ll be a good advertising for my country. Many people still have this image of Russia like of a backward poor country with KGB agents following you around, which is so far from reality. I hope that visitors of the World Cup will discover a new fascinating destination, quite a European country with lots of places of interest. Personally I strongly believe that Russia is still not well promoted on the tourist market, as we have so many things to show to our guests that can really rival the most popular sights of the world.
For more on the sights of Russia and the best places to go (along with spectacular Russian festivals) visit the On the Go Tours home page.