Moscow region: a place that caters to every taste

Young or old, rich or poor, for any Muscovite, getting out of the concrete jungle is a good way to lose some steam. The Moscow region’s vast countryside seems to be able to offer just about every kind of entertainment.

Russia’s capital is one of the busiest cities in the world, heavy on traffic, light on trees. So if it is peace and quiet you want, it is best to head out of town. The Moscow region, with its dozens of square kilometers of forests and many lakes offers the perfect getaway.

Dmitry Abramishvili is an architect and strike-ball enthusiast. It seems his life is all about work.

“For the last four years, my schedule has been so tight that I have not had a vacation. But, at least I’ve got the weekends,” he says.

After the routine of a working week is finished, Dmitry gets into his off-roader, packed with quite interesting and slightly suspicious equipment. Several times a month Abramishvili skippers a strike-ball team. Several dozen men and women gather near Moscow to battle it out. Strike ball is a lot like paintball, only there’s no paint. There are realistic looking weapons, heavy machinery and tons of adrenaline.

Dmitry’s team consists mostly of his colleagues and he says such outdoor activity is good for his business:

“It’s convenient for us - we are a team at work and we are a team in the strike-ball field. It is a good way to take the pressure off.”

Sergey Smirnov and his friends prefer a calmer, but nonetheless interesting retreat. They play a game called geocaching. Essentially a form of treasure hunting – someone buries an item and uploads the GPS coordinates to a special website. Then a team of adventure seekers use their skills to find clues which eventually lead them to the hidden box. Sergey says the Moscow region offers a good space for his hobby.

“There are several thousand stashes for geocaching in Russia. More than 10% of them are located in the Moscow region. Geocaching seriously expands our knowledge of the region’s history. We see places we’ve never thought and known of,” he said.

For Mikhail Farikh, a retired colonel turned businessman, the Moscow region provides another place for activity - clear skies. Mikhail has fulfilled his childhood dream: he learnt to fly and purchased a helicopter.

Over the years he has mastered the skill and can now do some breathtaking stuff. Mikhail says that helisport can give serious practical advantages.

“You do go to restaurants for a dinner, don’t you? Well, we fly there. Unfortunately, shopping malls have no helipads, so I can’t fly for shopping. But I have used my helicopter to get to distant destinations. I get a better view where to fish or gather mushrooms,” he said.

The downside is that this hobby is best suited to those who don’t worry about their bank balance. Merely learning to fly a helicopter can cost at least $25,000. The machine itself is many times more expensive.

Aleksandr Vinogradov doesn’t have this kind of money, but the love for the skies is there in his heart. That’s why he takes part in balloon flying championships, held several times a year in the Moscow region. He sees little difference between balloons and helicopters, so if it’s almost the same, why pay more?