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alice in travel land

Tour Companies and More

by alice in travel land »

 

Following our Uniworld Cruise ending August 10, we are spending 3 nights in St. Petersburg.  We are considering hiring a private guide for 2 days. We can't just sign up for a standard tour because we will have seen many of the places on our included tours from the boat.

1.  Do you have any recommendations on which company we should use?

2.  What should we expect to pay?

3.  Is it possible to visit places on our own, or is there a language problem, transportation issues, etc. or is it best to be with someone who knows the city?

4.  We are using our Marriott Points and staying at the Renaissance.  Should we just rely on their concierge or is it better to book in advance?

We just received a quote from a company called TJ Travel of $200 Euros per person per day  ($1,055 U.S. dollars for two days)  Lunch not included.  

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kringenwally

RE: Tour Companies and More

by kringenwally »

$1,055 U.S. dollars for two days

For much less than that sort of money you can get a concierge-provided car with trusted driver (not just any old taxi) to take you wherever you go. And don't forget that walking is great fun. Make it a point to learn the alphabet so you can read signs etc.. You'll be in walking distance from the Moyki canal, the Alexander Gardens (not to be confused with the Alexander Park across the river) and the river embankment. 

Then use guidebooks or apps on your smart thingies when you get to the sights and museums.

You can always email the concierge of your hotel in advance, asking him if he can provide a guide on the spur of the moment or what he can come up with and by when he needs to know? He may have his trusted contacts (with kickback, of course), and they may be more reliable than somebody out of the blue. As to less expensive - who knows, they take it from the living these days, what they charge foreigners is grotesquely out of step with what ordinary workers earn. But we keep paying, so they keep upping it...

Wish for good weather and look forward to it, it's a great place!

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by Caroline »

     

Here's some signs you may or may not be able to read.     

We went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg last fall and we went Independently but we are very experienced travelers too.  In the major cities, there's usually someone who speaks at least some English.   We didn't venture out to other towns, but I understand the further away from the cities, the less English is spoken.   In Moscow, some of the signage was also in English, but that was limited.  

Russia is quite expensive.  With respect to transportation, I'd never try driving in Russia since you don't know the language and thus the street signs.   They have a very good (and rather pretty) metro system that we used regularly.  It's best to look at a map before boarding and decide where you get off and count the stops and do the same on return since they move quickly and again it may be only in Russian.  Many of the hotelshave a limo service that will pick you up or take you to the airport but again they are quite expensive.   We did invest in that service though as we had no idea how to get to our destination and we wanted to get some rest.  When we saw the traffic problems, we were glad we made that decision, too.     

I look at the figure you were quoted of  $200 Euros per day and I question where they will be making your hotel reservations and where you will have dinner.   As I think back on it, our hotel and food was probably at least that but we were very careful to book our hotel near the sites we wanted to visit.  We have learned that if you book far out you can spend much of your time in transit especially if you are 'language challenged'.   I also took great care to go to different sites to see what others who had stayed there said about hotel safety, cleanliness, location, etc.  

We enjoy traveling and the challenge of the various languages.  That's part of the fun of vacation.   

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by PHeymont »

Quoted from Caroline:
I look at the figure you were quoted of  $200 Euros per day and I question where they will be making your hotel reservations and where you will have dinner.   As I think back on it, our hotel and food was probably at least that but we were very careful to book our hotel near the sites we wanted to visit.  We have learned that if you book far out you can spend much of your time in transit especially if you are 'language challenged'.   I also took great care to go to different sites to see what others who had stayed there said about hotel safety, cleanliness, location, etc.  

I think there is some confusion here--OP already has a hotel and is not looking for dinner--they are looking for someone to guide them around the city for 2 days, showing them what they have not already seen on their cruise tour.

The money is confusing, too: "$200 Euros" makes sense only if you note that the original post that used that gave it as a per day/per person rate for 2 people for 2 days, and translated to (USD) $1035. Given that, we are really talking about 200€, not $200.
 

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by Caroline »

Thanks for pointing that out PHymont.  I started answering her question about doing it independently and missed that.  Thanks.

It may also be worth pointing out that Russian Visas are somewhat expensive and cumbersome to get.  We used VisaHQ service to obtain the visa and if you will be staying in Russia you will need one.  

 

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kringenwally

RE: Tour Companies and More

by kringenwally »

The original poster's math was correct, and it was only for the guide who would also chauffeur the two people around:

"hiring a private guide for 2 days"

"$200 Euros per person per day"  

($1,055 U.S. dollars for two days)  Lunch not included.

800 Euros come to roughly 1035 USD (at the interbank rate) or, more realistically, 1100 USD at the rate you and I can get (today...). Anyhow, for alternatives at lesser expense, see above


 

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alice in travel land

RE: Tour Companies and More

by alice in travel land »

Many thanks for all this great info!

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by Mango »

A friend went with a company called East-West Tours which is run by Russian ex-pats here in the US. They set her up with a river cruise and then a tour and she said it was much less expensive than she'd anticipated and she thought the service was great. Sorry to have seen this post so late. Hope this advice helps someone. I have no affiliation with the company. But my good friend came back raving (I was sorry I hadn't gone with her!).

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by RealRussian »

200eu - is very expensive. There are local guides who one day stay with excursions and food costs 150 euros.

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RE: Tour Companies and More

by bizmail »

We will be traveling on a Baltic Cruise end of August-Septempber and found a tour group call TJ Travel (https://st-petersburg-tours.ru/baltic-tours) that will take us around St. Petersburg for 2 days, Tallin Estonia, Berlin, Helsinki and Stockholm for under $600. per person.  Has anyone used them? They have very good reviews on trip advisor.  They also provide the necessary papers (blanket visa) for time in Russia. They use Mercedes vans so it is much smaller groups then the cruise line would be and all in, it seems like a good deal.  Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Bryce

 

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