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Hello everyone!

I've been reading the boards for some time and seen a lot of first-hand-experience feedback about different tour groups in S.-Petersburg.

Does anyone know about Best Guides Group, there where just few comments about them???

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Kerry2travel,

 

we used Best Guides last July on our Baltic cruise. I highly recommend them. In fact I have recommended them to friends who used them and were equally satisfied.

 

When I was planning our Baltic cruise (just about a year ago now) I first researched the various websites for things to do in St. Petersburg - just as I suspect you are doing. I then created a list of things we were interested in. I sent that list to 6-8 different tour companies. After getting back the various replies I selected Best Guides.

 

the reasons I selected Best Guides were:

- we wanted a private tour (four of us) and didn't want to be aggregated into a larger group which many tour operators try to do

- Masha of Best Guides was very responsive to my questions via email

- all of the guides of Best Guides have many years experience even though last year was their first year operating together as a company

- their English language skills proved to be excellent (both written and oral)

- Masha was honest in terms of what was doable and what wasn't from my list. One tour company basically just outright lied because one item I wanted didn't fit with their standard tour.

- Masha made suggestions on sequencing the stops based on local traffic conditions and distances

- Best Guides and their transportation partner (Alexander) allowed us to bring lunch and eat enroute giving us more time for sightseeing (touring was more important to us than eating - although Anna did take us to an excellent restaurant for dinner-part of the plan)

 

The above were the criteria for deciding on Best Guides. So how did it work out?

Thanks to Anna (our guide) everything worked out exactly as planned. I am sure that almost all guides are good but Anna and Alexander made our 2 days in St. Petersburg something we will always remember. They accommodated every request, spending more time on things of interest and less time on other things. Anna was very adept at getting us through or around the crowds. As well we learned so much about life in Russia from them in our chats along the way.

 

Oh yes, price. For our 2 day private custom tour they were competitive with some of the more well known tour operators who say you are getting a private tour but really are just getting the standard A, B or C tour and as I said try to group you with others. Transportation was very comfortable in an air conditioned Mercedes mini-van (good thing because we were there during a heat wave)

Payment was such a non event. We just paid in USD while driving back to the ship, no wasting time stopping at an office.

 

I can recommend Best Guides without any hesitation.

 

If you want more details just give me an email address and we can PM.

 

Larry

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We also used Best Guides and found them to be wonderful. Anna responded to all my email requests and was most helpful sorting out our tour itinerary. Masha was our tour guide for two days and was equally amazing. We saw everything we wanted to see and we never had to wait in lines. They made our trip to St. Petersburg fabulous. I would recommend them to everyone.

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Thank you Larry for your feedback, its very helpful.

What was out of the standard tour you requested? And which restaurant did you go?

Sorry to be so specific, I am still collecting the information.......

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Kerry2travel,

 

For what its worth the things that were "customized" for our tour, although others have done the same or similar things were:

- russian ethnographic museum

- metro ride (several tour companies offer this but reluctantly because of the high incidence of pickpockets and drunks)

- a relaxed evening including dinner, a walk about through various courtyards and a canal ride

- early opening admission to the Hermitage - highly recommend this for 2 reasons, for the first hour there are much fewer people about and second unbelievably the Hermitage isn't air conditioned so it can get rather uncomfortable later on in the day with the hordes of visitors

- stopped at a local grocery store to get some snacks but also to get a feel for the local cost of living

- I had wanted to go to the Russian National Library to see a rare book. Unfortunately this didn't happen because while we could have visited the library, because I don't have academic credentials they would only allow me to see a facsimile of the text i was interested in. I decided it wasn't worth the time and cost (they wanted to charge me) to see a copy. Masha of Best Guides was willing to include it in our itinerary but did warn me early on that it was unlikely they would let me see the book.

 

I won't bother listing all of the museums and other sites we went to as they are pretty standard but we did pick and choose what we wanted to include.

 

the restaurant we went to for dinner was Kholst Maslo which translates roughly to "canvass and oil" in keeping with its proximity to the Hermitage. It was excellent. There is a current CC thread about restaurants so check that to get other ideas.

 

The one piece of advice I would offer is do your research based on your personal interests not on what others have done nor what a tour operator offers. If you are a history buff St. Petersburg has it in spades,(After we returned from the Baltic I read The Seige of Leningrad and was sorry that we didn't see first hand a bit more of that aspect of their history) if you are a fan of russian literature than go see things related to Pushkin and Dostoevsky.

 

Then pick a tour operator who will accommodate what you want - for us it was Best Guides. (The thing to note is that a tour guide in Russia has to be licensed for each site which means they have to pass an exam and pay a fee each year. For some locations which don't get a lot of tourist interest it doesn't pay the guide to be licensed so they don't offer to include it. The Russian Ethnographic museum is one example. Our guide Anna wasn't licensed for that museum but took us there and had arranged for a curator to talk to us about the exhibits we were interested in. The curator spoke in Russian and Anna translated. Worked out well.)

 

Good luck with your planning and enjoy your trip.

 

Larry

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Hi Larry,

Thank you again for your input, this exactly why I still didn't make up my mind about my preferences.: so much to see and so little time.!!! Have to do more research.....

 

Kerry

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I can also highly recommend Best Guides. We toured with Inna and Alexander last fall and were highly impressed, as other posters have pointed out, with their flexibility and genuine concern for the experience that visitors to SPB will have.

 

We were given an initial itinerary by Masha for our two days, which included a day at Peterhof and the Catherine Palace and a day in SPB itself. We customized it in advance by adding a visit to the Choral Synagogue and a canal tour and dinner one night, but no show after that.

 

Once we arrived, we made a few changes on the fly. I was reading Ten Days That Shook the World, about the Russian Revolution, and wanted to see some of the sights, like the Kshensky mansion which was Lenin's office for a while and the Smolny Institute which was the revolutionary headquarters. None of this was a problem. When we went to the Hermitage, I was more interested in the rooms in the Winter Palace associated with the Revoution, and we got to see them with hardly any crowds, passing by artistic wonders that looked like the New York subway at rush hour. We had originally planned to visit St. Isaac's Cathedral, but we were struck by exterior of the Cathedral on Spilled Blood and asked if we could switch tours to go inside that church. Again, no problem, on maybe two hours notice.

 

Inna is charming, and we learned a lot talking about living under Communism during the long drives to and from the outlying palaces. BTW, she teaches English at the University in SPB when she isn't guiding.

 

We paid Masha at the end in rubles, which we had purchased in advance (although there is also an ATM at the cruise terminal). If you pay in dollars, note that Russians are very picky about torn or folded foreign money; ideally, you will get fresh $20s and $50s from your bank and keep them flat in an envelope.

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Hello, its me again,

Sorry, I had a very busy month...I recently found out about Viking cruises. Had anybody done this kind of cruising? Any tips on similarity and differences with big ships?

Thanks in advance!

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Hello , I have read many comments and I am excited because this a unique tour that offers personaal interest catered to a client. I love.

 

 

I need feed back on this company, like was there was a problem getting

of the ship. Did they have a sign:

Edited by Hockey 123

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Hi Hockey 123,

Did you do Viking Cruise?

Last summer kept me in States, that gives me more time to figure out what I want on my trip to Russia:(

Did anybody go to S.-Pete this year? I wonder how is the summer there, how busy does it feel for touring?

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We toured this july 2011. It is very busy for touring, but, if you use a reputable tour company, that is not a problem. We used SPb, and our guide happened to be named Masha. Don't know if this is the same Masha you are talking about, but I do know that the guides are sometimes independent contractors. And it is not unusal to be reading about the same guide working for different companies. Anyway, even though the lines for all the big venues, i.e. Hermitage, Catherines, etc. were a mile long, we never waited a minute. Why? Because the tour company had prepurchased timed tickets and our itinerary was set and kept to like clockwork. Make sure that you are given this advantage when choosing your tour guide company.

Hi Hockey 123,

Did you do Viking Cruise?

Last summer kept me in States, that gives me more time to figure out what I want on my trip to Russia:(

Did anybody go to S.-Pete this year? I wonder how is the summer there, how busy does it feel for touring?

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We also used Best Guides Group this past Aug. Our tour arranger was Kira who answered all my questions promptly via email

Our tour guide was Lisa and the driver was Alexander. They both were excellent. It was my husband and myself on the tour and everything went smoothly. With a few exceptions we stayed pretty much to the prearranged tour. Some exhibit tickets were pre-purchased, the ones that weren't, meant waiting a few minutes while Lisa purchased them. We rarely had to line us, had early entry to the Hermitage, that was great, especially when you saw the lineups as we left. The worst lineups were at Catherine's Palace. Must of been many hundreds of people lined up but we were taken right to the front of the line and only had to wait a few minutes to get through the gate. Lisa was very knowledgeable of SPB and Russian history. She prepared us for the exhibit we were going to visit with historical information so that what we saw was so much more interesting and relevant. Both Lisa and Alexander had a great sense of humour. Lisa stayed with us throughout all the exhibits and places we toured and provided us with information about whatever we were viewing. Yet she didn't crowd us, she let us wander but made sure we didn't miss anything. Because of a health issue they were very considerate with our need to rest occasionally. We invited Lisa and Alexander to join us for lunch on the first day, which was interesting because we talked about SPB and Russian social, political info etc. The second day, we brought along picnic lunches and had them at the park at St. Catherines Palace. The third day was so full with the Hermitage and Peterhoff that we passed on lunch and instead returned a little earlier to the ship. Payment was in US cash at the end of the third day. No hassle, their great service earned them a well deserved gratuity.

 

I've been meaning to post this review ever since we returned and am glad I finally did as it brings back great memories of a beautiful city and a wonderful guide and driver. I would not hesitate to recommend The Best Guides Group. Mary Lou

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I am thinking of reserving a tour with the Best Guide Group for next August 2012. Kira sent me an e-mail with an attachment asking for our passport information. i am a little leary of giving our passport information to anyone. I trying to find out whether Best Guides Group asked you for this information and whether you had any problem with them when you did give them the information. thanks. tom

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I am thinking of reserving a tour with the Best Guide Group for next August 2012. Kira sent me an e-mail with an attachment asking for our passport information. i am a little leary of giving our passport information to anyone. I trying to find out whether Best Guides Group asked you for this information and whether you had any problem with them when you did give them the information. thanks. tom

hi

 

all the tour guides will ask you for your passport information-it's so that they can provide you with the "blanket " visa to get through immigration

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We used Best Guides in Sept, 2011, and were extremely pleased with them. We were able tailor our tour of ST.Petersburg to our own interests, and they complied beautifully. We were able to see a great deal more of the city and environs than we would have if we had gone with a large group from the cruise ship, (Rotterdam)and, I might add, for about half the price. Masha, our guide, spoke beautiful English, and was delighted to show us "her St. Petersburg". We did some research and found some places we wanted to see that were not on a usual tour, but she knew all about them, and her enthusiasm was contagious.

I would recommend this group without reservation.

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I was reading Ten Days That Shook the World, about the Russian Revolution, and wanted to see some of the sights, like the Kshensky mansion which was Lenin's office for a while and the Smolny Institute which was the revolutionary headquarters. None of this was a problem. When we went to the Hermitage, I was more interested in the rooms in the Winter Palace associated with the Revoution

 

I am looking forward to our visit to St. Petersburg - we have also booked with Best Guides. I would like to thank you for recommending this book, it breathes life into names and places mentioned in numerous guidebooks. I would really appreciate more advice on history based fiction books you should read prior to visiting St. Petersburg.

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Wow, thanks for all of the great book recommendations. We want to brush up on our Russian history before our visit to St. Petersburg, so this reading list sounds like great place to start.

 

We are also touring with Best Guides, and we're really looking forward to our tour.

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We are also using this company in May. We are so excited . I emailed Masha several times and customize a wonderfull unique tour for my husband and myself.

 

When did you pay the guide? on the first day or second day.

 

Did you pay in us or credit card?

 

Did you tip.

 

How much is a good amount??

 

Did:) you need your passport along with there papers for both days.

I truly appreciate this information.

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Kerry2travel,

 

we used Best Guides last July on our Baltic cruise. I highly recommend them. In fact I have recommended them to friends who used them and were equally satisfied.

 

When I was planning our Baltic cruise (just about a year ago now) I first researched the various websites for things to do in St. Petersburg - just as I suspect you are doing. I then created a list of things we were interested in. I sent that list to 6-8 different tour companies. After getting back the various replies I selected Best Guides.

 

the reasons I selected Best Guides were:

- we wanted a private tour (four of us) and didn't want to be aggregated into a larger group which many tour operators try to do

- Masha of Best Guides was very responsive to my questions via email

- all of the guides of Best Guides have many years experience even though last year was their first year operating together as a company

- their English language skills proved to be excellent (both written and oral)

- Masha was honest in terms of what was doable and what wasn't from my list. One tour company basically just outright lied because one item I wanted didn't fit with their standard tour.

- Masha made suggestions on sequencing the stops based on local traffic conditions and distances

- Best Guides and their transportation partner (Alexander) allowed us to bring lunch and eat enroute giving us more time for sightseeing (touring was more important to us than eating - although Anna did take us to an excellent restaurant for dinner-part of the plan)

 

The above were the criteria for deciding on Best Guides. So how did it work out?

Thanks to Anna (our guide) everything worked out exactly as planned. I am sure that almost all guides are good but Anna and Alexander made our 2 days in St. Petersburg something we will always remember. They accommodated every request, spending more time on things of interest and less time on other things. Anna was very adept at getting us through or around the crowds. As well we learned so much about life in Russia from them in our chats along the way.

 

Oh yes, price. For our 2 day private custom tour they were competitive with some of the more well known tour operators who say you are getting a private tour but really are just getting the standard A, B or C tour and as I said try to group you with others. Transportation was very comfortable in an air conditioned Mercedes mini-van (good thing because we were there during a heat wave)

Payment was such a non event. We just paid in USD while driving back to the ship, no wasting time stopping at an office.

 

I can recommend Best Guides without any hesitation.

 

If you want more details just give me an email address and we can PM.

 

Larry

 

Hello Larry:

Trying to get more information on the Best Guides Tour in Russia, what is their email address and what is the cost per person? Also, there is only the two of us, so do we have to find others to go with us?

Thanks

Seema

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Hello Larry:

Trying to get more information on the Best Guides Tour in Russia, what is their email address and what is the cost per person? Also, there is only the two of us, so do we have to find others to go with us?

Thanks

Seema

Seema,

 

I am not Larry, but I can tell you the email address for Best Guides. It is info at best-guides dot com. You can either arrange your own group (costs will vary depending on group size, where you want to go, number of hours spent touring, etc) or you can join a fixed itinerary for a minigroup of 8-12 people. The second option does not require you to find others to go with you. You can ask Masha (or whoever replies to your email) which fixed itineraries are available for your port days.

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Seema,

 

I am not Larry, but I can tell you the email address for Best Guides. It is info at best-guides dot com. You can either arrange your own group (costs will vary depending on group size, where you want to go, number of hours spent touring, etc) or you can join a fixed itinerary for a minigroup of 8-12 people. The second option does not require you to find others to go with you. You can ask Masha (or whoever replies to your email) which fixed itineraries are available for your port days.

I should have clarified that the first option does not require you to find others to join you either. The tour will just cost more for a group of 2 people versus of a group of 8-12 people.

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