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For Stani, city tour advice for elderly mother and other...

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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For Stani, city tour advice for elderly mother and other...

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?!)

Trish

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1. Re: For Stani, city tour advice for elderly mother and other...

Hello Trish

Considering your mothers difficulties in walking in this very walk-intensive city I would recommend hiring a car/driver/guide if there are a lot of dentinations you would like to cover during your 3 1/2 days.

Taxis are a problem only in that most do not speak English other than basic common destinations and how much to charge. You will not have a problem with charging more once a price is agreed on nor will he pick up others.

If you use one of the few taxis with a running meter you will find the normal rate is quite reasonable compared to what some drivers ask for . The solution if you use taxis is to know what a price is you are comfortable paying before opening the door. Getting a taxi through the hotel will be higher but if you call the same taxi's dispatcher number the rate will be a lot lower, in fact lower than you are likely to be able to negotiate yourself.

The Capella is 20 Moika reb. about 150 meters east of Nevsky Prospekt.

I am sure the cruise ship tour companies are all prepared to give private tours, that what they do for cruise passengers.

There are low cost bus tours that are nice to take when you first arrive. Most are in Russian only but several advertise English narration. Visit the north side of Gostinny Dvor shopping center on Nevsky prospekt and the corner of Dumskaya. There will be a dozen of so tour companies offering bus and day tours in various languages. The buses are there waiting for their groups to form so you can hop on after buying a ticket, there is no need to prebook.

If you are serious about getting the most out of this trip, I would get one of the tour companies who deal with walking empaired visitors( as many elderly cruise passengers are) I know wheel chairs are available along with a wheel chair equipped van is available through www.Denru.ru St Petersburg is NOT wheel chair friendly and neither is Russia overall so having some help would be a big help and make the trip as enjoyable as your mother hopes it to be.

How far on flat ground can your mother walk between resting? The Hermitage and palaces are very large and require a lot of walking so using a folding wheel chair or scooter will make it a lot for fun for her. The Hermitage does have an elevator.

So the recommendation is to use help if you can afford the extra expense or hiring a driver/guide at a minimum. Buses and trains go everywhere you want to go so after using a guide or a day or two, you will have learned enough about the city layout to be confident in exploring by bus and trams. Buses are 12 and 15 Rubles, roughly $0.50 and cover most of the city and do not require walking as far as metros do. A wheel chair can not be used in the metro.

Have a great visit