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St. Petersburg guide

Old Jul 10th, 2003, 03:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 16
St. Petersburg guide

My husband and I shall be visiting St. Petersburg for a week in early September. We looked into guides, and got preliminary quotes from American Express (in the U.S.) and from the concierge at the Grand Hotel in St. Petersburg. I also checked the web, and found a neat webpage:, featuring Julia Nekrasova as a guide and Alex Polenov as a driver with car.

Their rates are more than reasonable (@$10 per hour), but my husband is reluctant to book with them because we know nothing about them. I have been emailing the three contacts shown on their website as volunteers for testimonials, but have not received any response, and my search for confirmation of phone numbers indicates that only one number is listed -- the others reverse queries yield nothing.

I read that Olga is recommended by various persons on this message board. However, since I have commenced communications with Julia (and based on our very brief emails, think that she and Alex would be more than acceptable), I would like to follow up, if I can, with these persons first.

Has anyone heard of them?

Any suggestions? Or, would you simply give up on saving money and go with the hotel concierge's recommendations (at probably two and a half times the cost?)

pancho_cisco is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2003, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
We used Olga. I don't think you can go wrong with a licensed guide. Most have PhD's and are supremely knowledgeable. Olga was still working on her masters and she was absolutely magnificent. All the local guides everywhere we went, hired by Viking, were excellent, notably Irina in Moscow. Irina told me that, to get a license, at least one year of school is required, then each museum/cathedral/palace has their own "course" and seperate guide license (Olga had a purseful of licenses).

The phone numbers may be cell phones and, therefore, not in the directory.

If you have some sort of idea of those places you wish to visit, inquire as to whether she has separate licenses
If your e-mail communications are congenial and she writes in excellent English, you should be just fine.

Olga was far better than I anticipated. She told us that many, many students obtain guide licenses for summer work between school terms.

Not to be missed, with your guide, is a canal cruise (none are offered in English).
djkbooks is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2003, 04:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 10
I had seen a previous recommendation on this forum and contacted Tatiana ([email protected]). She replied to my emails promptly, understood my interests, and put together a wonderful day-long agenda for me. She is sophisticated, extremely knowledgable about the art at the Hermitage and Russian Museum, speaks better English than I do, and is most personable.
itsfred is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2003, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 253
We booked a guide through Pallidium and she worked out great. We hired the guide and driver for palace day trips.
We also got train and plane tickets from them. They did great for us.
Tuni01 is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2003, 08:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 54
I would also reiterate the recommendation to make sure your guide is licensed. The requirements are very rigorous, and guides are tested on their local knowledge and history.

If your first direction does not pan out, I too would recommend Olga. I spent a few days with her last year. Besides being very knowledgeable, she was infinitely good-humored, energetic and adventurous. I actually talked her into taking me inline skating in a park near St. Petersburg. She had never skated before!

She's a gem.
Carson is offline  
Old Jul 16th, 2003, 02:30 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 16

we also had Olga as our guide for the hermitage last year in September and I can only join into the recommendations. She is indeed fun and good-humoured and very knowledgeable - and perceptive of what her customers interests are etc. Have a good trip!

kdl is offline  
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