Photography by Yana Yaroshenka & Max Avdeev
Muscovite Anna Bichevskaya is a graduate of the Kaliningrad State Technical University and co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of an innovative and inspired Russian travel project that combines a social network and insider travel with a click-to-buy ticket service. Based out of Moscow and only a year old, iknow.travel shares your personal travel stories and trust-worthy editorial within a more-than-just Pintrest-style interactive template. Even though it’s currently only in Russian, almost 10,000 Facebook fans and Vkontakte users (the Russian equivalent to Facebook) are involved and as we speak to Anna, her inside knowledge and love of the city’s creative, cultural and food and drink scenes communicates this is way more than your usual city guide.
Terence Teh: What were the early days of iknow.travel?
Anna Bichevskaya: In the beginning I met a guy who planned to launch a modern and practical service for online booking for air tickets and we decided to combine our efforts. A blog and booking in one. We’ve launched Iknow.travel in December 2011 and people were extremely interested in from the first day. People preferred to follow or not follow the advice of real people.
The internet changes very quickly and in few months we decided to upgrade ourselves and tried to make a Pinterest for travelers. Iknow.travel is now a social network with free registration through your Facebook or Vk.ru. Using your profile you can create your trips, follow your friends, collect other people’s impressions and finally you will have your own customised guide book.
TT: So this platform is totally unique?
Anna Bichevskaya: I can say that Iknow.travel is the first of the kind on a Russian and global market. The mix of creative people from all across the world as experts, the social network and technology. The main task for us now is to find worldwide contributors and to attract more and more active users.
TT: How do you think Moscow restaurant scene has changed in last five years?
Anna Bichevskaya: The restaurant business changes every year. In the early 2000s, going to restaurants was a way to show the world that you are successful, and cooking at home was a relic of the starving Soviet-era. The Moscow restaurant scene was run mostly by serious businessmen with money, who just copied foreign restaurants and tried to make the same in Moscow.
TT: And then things changed?
Anna Bichevskaya: People got bored and started asking questions about what they really want and value. In 2008, DIY culture started to develop and primarily it affected cooking. The internet and travel changed everything. People became more precise in their tastes, more demanding for quality of service and at last – more curious about new trends and world cuisines. Old restaurants couldn’t respond to new enquires properly, and that opened up to young entrepreneurs and dreamers, with absolutely different styles and views on life and business. And the new places are arrived such as Delicatessen, Osteriya Uno, Producty, Golubka, Upsidedowncake. I hope that this will continue and someday I will be able to open my own restaurant.
TT: What do you most want to share about Moscow?
Anna Bichevskaya: Moscow and Muscovites are all very different, and to experience the city, a foreigner needs a local friend, because unfortunately you can’t eat in most restaurants the same way as Madrid or Barcelona because Moscow is very heterogeneous. However, that is the most exciting and impressive thing about Moscow and its residents is that it is heterogeneous and ambiguous and depends very much on your luck. Moscow is just like a chimera in various guises.
Check back tomorrow for Anna Bichevskaya’s Moscow Food Tour
by Terence Teh