I go to markets. Not museums or monuments, but where people shop – a way of getting a sense of a culture. Anton’s tour fulfilled that goal. He took us to small markets – underground, outside, in the middle of shopping malls, all of them offering local treats (including all of the Russian Federation!) that I never would have picked out myself. Lack of Russian keeps me from asking what’s was local & special, & Anton went straight for those things – & the best version of them. The Tajikistan bakery, with this amazing pasta sandwiching herbs, followed by the most yummy cork shaped cakes (1 of the other tour members bought 20!). Or the creamery, with baked milk – that tasted like dulce de leche – or the smoked cheese that tasted like smoked herring to me, & smoked pork to the family on the tour from China. That’s the other thing: Anton made time for the tour members to get to know one another. He didn’t have to be the center of attention, unlike some tour guides. Our final stop was a monastery coffee shop, an old samovar tended by a nun, & gingerbread cookies. A dream of an afternoon – I’d do it again in a minute!