I booked a private 3 day tour
I booked a private 3 day tour (2 days in St. Petersburg and 1 in Moscow) for my elderly parents and myself. The company was extremely well run and they very clearly put a lot of effort in to training their people. TJ Travels totally made our trip. We saw much more than we would have on our owned and learned a lot about Russia’s history and culture.
We had a driver (Gennady) and guide (Tatiana). My mom uses a cane so I was extremely pleased with how kind and helpful Gennady was when helping my mom get in and out of the van. He was also very assertive about dropping us off and picking us up as close as possible to the various sites that we visited. Gennady was even kind enough to take us to a folk show and back to the ship one night. He also picked us up early on the day that we went to Moscow and picked us up when we returned. It was also really nice to be able to leave our stuff in the van with him when we were hopping out for a short period to see something and not have to worry about pickpockets or anything like that. Tatiana was the best tour guide that I’ve ever had without a doubt. It was clear that she was very passionate about history and art. For example, we were walking through the Hermitage and my mom asked about some seemly random painting and Tatiana was a able to rattle off the name, artist and year without skipping a best. I never learned to have much of an appreciation for art, but after spending time with her, I feel like I understand it so much better now and can enjoy seeing paintings much more now. Tatiana also knew interesting stories behind the buildings and statues that we passed by and symbols that we saw throughout the city. Her knowledge is truly incredible and she spoke English very well. She even gave us a mini lesson on the differences between the English and Russian alphabet and pronunciations. Tatiana and Gennady made it a wonderful experience.
Having a driver and a guide makes a world of difference. The ease of travel was such a luxury and Tatiana, as well as our guide in Moscow, knew all the tricks for navigating the masses and were able to “skip the line” everywhere we went. I think we only waited in one place for 10 minutes, at the most, which saves you so much time, especially when the lines are as insanely long as they were, and gives you the opportunity to see more things.
The trip to Moscow was easy. Gennady picked us up, took us to the train station and took us to meet our escort. The escort got us on the train and took us to meet our Moscow guide and driver (who were also excellent by the way). Then did it all again in reverse to get back to our ship. There were no concerns or stress about getting to Moscow and back.
Just a few tips... it’s not as dangerous as the western media would have you believe. Like any big city, there is crime, but we never felt unsafe and I didn’t hear about any of the other groups having any concerns. The food was amazing everywhere we went... I was a little worried about that, but they took us to some very good places (as a part of the tour) that were our favorite meal on our month long trip.
If you’re going to a Baltic country, I highly recommend booking TJ Travels. I can’t say enough about the wonderful experience that they created for us. My only disappointment is that I didn’t book them for other cities, but certainly will in the future.