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Forums » Russia » Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

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mohanapte

Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by mohanapte »

Folks,

I have planned a summer holiday with my family to Moscow and St Petersburg. The itinerary is as follows:

Day Date City
Thursday 30-Jun-15 Departure to Moscow
Friday 01-Jul-15 Moscow
Saturday 02-Jul-15 Moscow
Sunday 03-Jul-15 Moscow
Monday 04-Jul-15 Moscow
Tuesday 05-Jul-15 Departure to St Petersburg by Red Arrow Express
Wednesday 06-Jul-15 St Petersburg
Thursday 07-Jul-15 St Petersburg
Friday 08-Jul-15 St Petersburg
Saturday 09-Jul-15 St Petersburg
Sunday 10-Jul-15 St Petersburg
Monday 11-Jul-15 Departure to Moscow by Red Arrow Express
Tuesday 12-Jul-15 Departure to Mumbai

 

I get 5 full days in Moscow (the first day we will be a bit tired so will take it easy). Then the overnight sleeper train to St Petersburg - 6 days at St Petersburg, overnight train back to Moscow, go directly to the airport, and fly back home. Please critique the itinerary mentioned above. The intention is clearly to sight-see at a leisurely pace, eat local food, have a good time in general.

Will I need the services of a local tour guides or can one get by by using Lonely Planet Travel guides? This is the first time I am visiting a country where not only is language a problem, but even the alphabets used are different, which means one cannot simply match names mentioned in a guide book with those on name plates and get by. As I understand, not many signboards are in English.

Any recommendations on budget tour guides? The larger ones are very expensive packages - one quote I received was for USD 1200 for a 3 day tour of ST Petersburg, for 3 adults, all tickets included (no meals) with about 7 - 8 hour of sightseeing each day.

Look forward to hearing from you all.

Thanks,

Mohan

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mquartz

RE: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by mquartz »

You're asking if one can get by with a Lonely Planet book. From my experience I'd say yes, but you MUST learn the cyrillic alphabet. If you can read words, you'll find many of them make sense - it's often names you're looking for, etc., but if the letters themselves make no sense, then you can't decipher what the word means.

Also do a lot of homework - know the layout of the cities, know about the transportation options, book rooms in a central location from where you can mostly walk, especially in St. P. (walking gets you closer to the people and lasting experiences anyway).

If that sounds like a lot of work, divide the outrageous sums you would spend on guides into the hours of study, and you'll come out ahead... It's all on the internet, pictures and videos, teaching materials for the alphabet, and a minimal vocabulary to get by. And your local library probably has a DVD or two so you can get used to the sound of the language etc.

Do you have connections to student organizations or other entities that could result in more reasonable contacts for getting a guide? 

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mohanapte

RE: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by mohanapte »

Thanks a lot mquartz

I agree the charges for the guides are outrageous and I am leaning towards doing a lot of homework myself using the Lonely Planet Guides. I may also go some "Group Tours" which are cheaper.

Unfortunately I dont have contacts with any student organisations. What about tours by locals? How expensive are they?

 

 

 

 

In Response to Re: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides:[QUOTE]

You're asking if one can get by with a Lonely Planet book. From my experience I'd say yes, but you MUST learn the cyrillic alphabet. If you can read words, you'll find many of them make sense - it's often names you're looking for, etc., but if the letters themselves make no sense, then you can't decipher what the word means.

Also do a lot of homework - know the layout of the cities, know about the transportation options, book rooms in a central location from where you can mostly walk, especially in St. P. (walking gets you closer to the people and lasting experiences anyway).

If that sounds like a lot of work, divide the outrageous sums you would spend on guides into the hours of study, and you'll come out ahead... It's all on the internet, pictures and videos, teaching materials for the alphabet, and a minimal vocabulary to get by. And your local library probably has a DVD or two so you can get used to the sound of the language etc.

Do you have connections to student organizations or other entities that could result in more reasonable contacts for getting a guide? 


Posted by mquartz[/QUOTE]

 

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travler

RE: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by travler »

I am headed for boat cruise followed by 6 days in Moscow visiting the Golden Ring cities.  I am going to use a private tour guide since no group tours matched the end of my boad cruise.  The agent I am using cost $150 a day with their car and had a 5 star rating in tripadvisor.  I did not think that was excessive for the 2 of us and what I think a group tour costs.  Yes we could go around for maybe $50/day but I do not see traveling in Russia an easy task.  I do not read/speak russian and their alphabet makes no sense to me.  We probably could get to some places but there is no way I could read up on all the little things a tour guide would tell me about the people, what is neat about something, how people think or dress or all the neat things about a town or restuarant or what is neat to eat or drink.  I can read a book about and get to a place like the Grand Canyon, Yep, it is a big hole in the ground, OK what is next, but would never know all the things a local resident would tell me be about living there.  Be interested in what your experience since we go in Aug.

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travler

RE: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by travler »

We had 2 full days in St Petersburg off a Baltic Sea Cruise and took every tour the boat offered .  Lot to see. Most enjoyable was dinner and show at Catherians Palace.  Would suggest you try to make it.  Her palace is really neat and the dinner was fun.  Met us at the gate with Champagne and treated us like royality.   Might not be as neat after 10 days in Russia.  Might be looking for a Big Mac and Coke by then.  As to the cost of group tours, it seems that $150PP is about the going rate.  Way back when, I toured Europe on $5 a day.  Lost a little weght but those days are gone.

Bill

 

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mquartz

RE: Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides

by mquartz »

"Way back when, I toured Europe on $5 a day.  Lost a little weght but those days are gone."

You and Arthur both, eh?

I hitch-hiked around England and up into Scotland on 20 pounds total for three weeks, in 1962. Breakfast - as much as our stomachs would hold of the stuff they served in the youth hostels; lunch was bread and cheese, dinner was maybe soup and cheese and bread, and if we stuck to this, maybe we could afford a pint between the two of us.

The guide in Moscow, with car etc, for $150 for a couple sounds reasonable - I've been offered way higher fees in St. P.

Enjoy! 

 

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