Private Guides in Russia

Old Jan 20th, 2006, 10:06 AM
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Private Guides in Russia

We need private guides in Moscow and St Petersburg to get us to the attractions. For example, the Kremlin (the Armory, Diamond Fund), Lenin Tomb, Novodevichy Monastry in Moscow, and the Hermitage, Yusupov Palace, Peterhof and Catherine Palace in St Petersburg. We would appreciate if you can recommend reliable guides in these cities, preferrably with contacts or offices in the US. Also, any idea how much it would cost?

Thanks very much for any helps.

sgsg
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 04:22 AM
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This is a good one:
http://www.tourservice.sp.ru/
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Thanks for the info, gracejoan3.

sgsg
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 04:26 PM
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My husband and I went to St. Petersburg and Moscow this summer, we used a travel agent that specialized in Russia. In St. Petersburg the guide was a gentleman that was a fellow with the Russian Museum and was extremely informative about Russian art and history, the driver was separate. The name of the tour company based in St. Petersburg was Esperance, the guides name was Sergey.
I do not know how much the cost was, my Husband made the arrangements, But by useing this tour company we were able to cover alot of ground and receive alot of information that would not be available to a tourist on their own. Also we were able to avoid long lines at a lot of attractions. In St Petersburg we were able to walk to alot of sites, so a car was not always neccessary. We found out later that our guide was the guide for President Clinton and Barbara Bush during their visits to Russia.

In Moscow the tour guide was from a different company, and was also very good.
The travel agent in the USA was very very helpful, with visa, hotels, iteneraries, sugestions and dinner reservations. If you would like I can e-mail you the name of the travel agent in the USA and they could let you know the cost. I hope this helps.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 05:03 PM
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Hello sgsg,

I know nothing about your traveling experience, but are you sure that you need a tour guide for these two cities? It really isn't so bad getting by on your own. In fact, if you have a hotel near Red Square in Moscow, everything is practically across the street (Kremlin, Armory, Diamond Fund, Lenin's Tomb, etc.) So getting there is not a problem.

Once there, we did use the service of a "guide" to get us into the Kremlin and also Lenin's Tomb much faster than the hordes of tourists waiting in line (especially if you're there the day the cruise ships pull into dock - yikes, what a mess!) It is not a problem getting a guide right there as they approach you from all directions. We talked to a few and decided on this guy who was quite a hoot, lots of overblown stories to be sure, but he got us in very quickly (paid off a few guards, but I guess this is the norm -- kind of bizarre to see the money actually change hands).

And the other places (monastery, etc.) are quite easy to find as well. Your concierge at the hotel should also have good maps and directions.

St. Petersburg is similar in that everything is clearly marked on maps. We did not have a tour guide at all in St. Pete. Just read the guidebooks for when to go, how to get there, and it was really pretty easy and very safe.

For a good tip in Moscow for eating cheaply, there's a great underground mall right across from the Hotel National on the same side as Red Square. Lots of people milling around. But there's several restaurants, several stories of shops, and a not-so-bad food court where they have pizza, chicken, etc., at really cheap prices. Other than that, we found eating at the hotels was really expensive ($80+for dinner for 2), which is usually out of our budget on a daily basis.

Russia is superb! You'll have a great time. So much to see!

Happy travels!

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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:41 PM
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kopp:, hi. Im going to Russia next july and I have check out several sites that offer guides and thought if is really necesary ,I know it saves time + you have the history part told but is it really worth $40.00per hour just to see like the inside of the cathedrals in both ST.Peter and in Moscow? are the lines really that bad. with 2 full afternoons in ST.pet, do you think I won't be able to see the Kazan cathedral , the Spilled blood church or the summer gardens without a guide?
how much were the guides in Moscow asking per hour?
I would apreciate your help.
thanks.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 03:53 AM
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Here is another that it often used..you can compare prices etc..

http://www.redoctober.spb.ru/
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 07:28 AM
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thanks, gracejoan3.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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marti,

We were able to get around using the subways in both St. Pete and Moscow. My DH was somehow able to translate their letters into English letters, and that was a BIG help. To me, they were just symbols, but I was also able to match the symbols to our map. You do need a map that would have the Russian letters, rather than the English translation. That is of no use.

As far as guides, the one we used in Moscow was about 40 USD for Lenin's Tomb and the same for the Kremlin. For Lenin, we only had him about an hour, but for the Kremlin he was with us at least 3 hours, taking us to all the places. He did not, however, go into the Treasury with us. We did that on our own.

If you are able to navigate the subways on your own or can walk with use of a map, you will be able to do it easily on your own. It is very safe. We never felt threatened in the least. The subways are terrific, you just have to be able to figure out the lettering which really helps.

In St. Petersburg, we never had a guide, did it all on our own. No problem with the churches in one day. If you are a nationality other than Russian, there will be a separate entrance line for you. The very LONG lines are for the Russian nationals. We made that mistake once, waiting in that line, only to be told that we should have gone to the other line (which was very short). Oh well. Live and learn.

To go to the summer palace, there was some sort of hovercraft near the Hermitage. Easy to book on your own. Even the Hermitage had lots of tour guides hovering around, but we said no, bought a guidebook inside, and had a great time by ourselves. No problem. Again, the Hermitage has lots of cruise people waiting to get in, so if you can avoid them, it's much better.

We loved these 2 cities. Hope you do, too.

Happy travels!
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 06:23 PM
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thank you very much! So , the long line
to enter the Kazan is for the natio-nals, who would know, interesting.
see, my tour will take us to the Hermitage and to the Peter & paul fortress and them they offer the optionals to catherine palace and the Peterhof so, those I will do with them
and then the rest on my own.
In moscow I will get a guide at least
for the Kremlin cathedrals and the diamond fund.
thanks, again... I can wait.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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I second the recommendation for Red October. They have a website. They are very reasonable and will get you everywhere you need to go in a timely manner. It is a great value if you have 3 or more people. The only complaint I had is that the guide talked and talked and talked! I believe it may have been a cultural disconnect in that he was sure we needed to know everything and wanted to be thorough, we on the other hand knew quite a bit of Russian history ubt didn't need to know every detail. In two days in St. Petersburg we saw every major site to the point of exhaustian. On the second day we asked to cut some things out to preserve our sanity and the day was fabulous. He simply wanted to do a very good job.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 07:15 PM
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sgsg: check out expresstorussia , their
web site is www.expresstorussia.com it looks pretty good, i have contacted them
and they are very polite,tour $look good too. I'm now waiting from our fodors fellow members to see if anyone has anything good or bad to say about them.
keep in touch.
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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 03:27 AM
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BTW- the "very long line" for Russian nationals...

They pay about 10% of what tourists pay for entrance to most sites...

I usually go with THAT line!

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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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kayta,

We tried that once. They wouldn't let us in without paying the "full" price.

I remember entering the the Church of the Spilled Blood. There was a youngish 20-something American gal sitting outside. Her boyfriend was inside. She said it was just too expensive for them both to go in.

I can't remember how much it actually was (remember, tho, thinking it was pretty expensive for the few minutes you're actually in there), but it was so sad that they made it all the way to Russia, yet the cost to get in to a church was too high for them.

I have no problem paying the full price as I realize I'm a visitor in their country. It's really quite something when you're there, seeing all these Russians lining up to see the insides of their own churches. They come from all over to get a glimpse of something that in the past they'd never been able to see or worship at. Amazing.

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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 10:50 PM
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ktw:

Thanks very much for your info. I really like to know the the name of the travel agent you used and find out how much they charge. However, I don't know how to give you my Email address without publishing it in public. Do you have any ideas?

Thanks.

sgsg
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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FYI..I finally found an outfit that is good for me
www.mircorp.com

I will be using them exclusively for my trip to Russia next year. We are currently working together with my plans.
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Old Jan 28th, 2006, 01:54 PM
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Has anyone used AER World Tours? We are looking for an independent tour with some assistance in booking land transportation museums, and hotels.
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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Here is another:

http://www.palladium.spb.ru/

A good write-up about them in latest issue of "International Travel News".

I contacted them and received a very nice reply and will be hearing more from them during the week.
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 12:37 PM
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sgsg,

I don't know the rules about giving out names of travel agents on this site, but here goes. We used John and Mila Ellis of Ellis-Ranian Travel House in Beaverton Oregon for our travel help to Russia. They were listed in Conde-Nast as the experts on Russia. That is how I found them, They were extremely helpful. My husband and I travel alot, and do not always use guides. We felt that this was an efficient use of our time in Russia, I probably could teach Russian Art and History 101 with the information the Guide in St. Petersburg gave us.

As kopp sugested, Moscow was easier to get around, and a guide was not necessary. Everything but the trip to Sergyev Posad (Russian Orthodox Vatican), and Private tour of Facets and Terem Palace could have been done without a guide. The Private tour of Facets and Terem Palace uses the Palace's own guide, so a guide there is not necessary but our guide was more insightful than the mandatory guide and was a nice addition. In Moscow we stayed across the street from Red Square, I think it was the Ambassaid Hotel?. I hope this is helpful.

ktw
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 08:56 AM
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Thanks very much, KTW.

sgsg
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