Dear Stani, I have read many of your replies to others and I am grateful for any advice you can give me. I will be in St. Petersburg with my 80-year-old Mother in a month. We will be staying at the Korona Guest House for 3.5 days. I am apprehensive about how to handle this because my Mother cannot stand or walk for long periods of time and is very slow. She cannot go on a metro - I have tried this with her before and she has great difficulty with walking through the stations quickly. I am afraid I will not be able to figure out the bus routes, even though I am trying to learn the Russian alphabet and some phrases. So I feel we must rely on taxis. I have read some bad things about taxi drivers (picking up another person, charging very high prices to tourists, etc.). I have read not to get into a taxi with more than one person in it. If the taxi driver tries to pick someone up and you say "nyet," do they listen to you or do they sometimes go ahead and do it anyway? What would you do if this happened? We would be defenseless. Or do you think this is not a problem in the downtown area near the tourist sites? If you agree on a price before you get in a taxi, do they keep to their word or sometimes try to change that later and charged more? This happened to me in Prague. I would also like to know if you can recommend a bus tour company that provides city tours that we can purchase? On your other postings I see the topic mostly discussed for cruise passengers. Are the companies you named for regular tourists as well who are on their own with tourist visas and not on a cruise ship? Being that my Mother cannot walk very far, I thought a city bus tour providing us with an overview of the city to begin with would be a good start. Another question I have is if we need a taxi, is it best to order one through our hotel? Do you know if there are wheelchairs available to rent at the Hermitage? This would help greatly for my Mother. For the Cappella theatre, can you tell me the address and how far it is away from Nevsky Prospekt? Lastly, I have looked at the possibility of hiring a personal guide for a day or two. Do you recommend this? We cannot do a lot per day - my Mother must sit down and rest in between standing/walking. I wonder if it would be wise to have someone guide us through a portion of the Hermitage, and also to take us to Pushkin to see the Catherine Palace. Would you recommend going to Catherine Palace over Peterhof - given the fact that Peterhof might be better to visit during the warmer months? We cannot do both, so I must choose one.
My apologies for so many questions, but I am a little afraid because I am responsible for all of the details on our trip and taking care of my Mother. This will be my 8th trip to Europe so I have confidence, but am also a little nervous.
Thank you for your assistance, Stani! You are very kind to help so many people. (By the way, do you guide?!)