Moscow and St Petersburg - please critique the itinerary, suggestions for tour guides
I have planned a summer holiday with my family to Moscow and St Petersburg. The itinerary is as follows:
|Thursday||30-Jun-15||Departure to Moscow|
|Tuesday||05-Jul-15||Departure to St Petersburg by Red Arrow Express|
|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.