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Reviewed June 7, 2019

I booked a tour for me and my grandmother as a part of our European trip and Baltic cruise. My grandmother’s friend had recommended that we go on tour with this company and to ask for Mila to be our guide. So, we contacted Experience Russia and we were able to easily arrange Mila to be our guide in St. Petersburg.

Before we decided on which tour to book, we were able to get in contact with them to answer our questions. We ended up choosing their “custom private tour”, because who knows when we will be in St. Petersburg again? We let the staff know our preferences and asked for a few recommendations and before long, we had our own personal itinerary planned. Throughout the process, they were very patient and informative, sharing their recommendations while still being accommodating.

Our final itinerary included all of the museums and palaces that we had heard about before, plus a few places that we hadn’t. We were offered restaurants that fit our dietary needs and we signed up for an evening show-ballet in the Mariinsky theater.

After we booked, we received our “tour tickets” (it acts as a visa waiver) within a few days, and all that was left to do was show up.
We loved every item in our itinerary! My grandmother especially loved Pavlovsk palace, The Faberge Museum, and The Church on the Spilled Blood. My favorites were the canal boat trip and all of the fountains in Peterhoff park. The ballet in the Mariinsky was the cherry on top

Regarding our tour guide, Mila, there are no words to describe how terrific she was. It was as if she was the Mayor of St. Petersburg – she knew everything and everyone, even many of the museum employees! She managed to lead us through awful crowds and show us all the best things, it seemed like she had some secret weapon (or a spell) to make everything smooth. She was also very considerate and attentive, she always ensured that we were comfortable, and she planned ahead for extra stops that were needed on the way for my grandmother.

To sum up, every single step of the process was a pleasant experience, which we really enjoyed. Me and my grandmother highly recommend this company and especially Mila.

Date of experience: May 2019
Thank Linshee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Experience_Russia, Owner at Experience Russia, responded to this reviewResponded June 8, 2019

Dear Linshee,

Thank you so much for sharing the details of your trip, it brought back all of the great memories that I made while taking you both around St. Petersburg. Don't hesitate to let me know if you ladies plan on coming back. It will be my pleasure to show you around some more!

Best wishes,
Mila

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 1, 2019

My wife and I spent several days touring St. Petersburg with Mila. We had an excellent experience. I can’t imagine seeing and learning about the city without her! She is a certified and highly-regarded guide and is fluent in English. All official guides are certified – but some are better than others. We thought Mila was the best. Her knowledge of St. Petersburg is exceeded only by her pleasant and friendly demeanor. We looked forward to seeing her every day. We would have been lost without her.

Mila is a native of St. Petersburg and her family lives in the city. Her native language is of course Russian but she speaks colloquial English with on only a slight accent. We learned that she has studied in the United States (U. Of Oregon – Go Ducks!) and is familiar with American travel customs and expectations.

My observations, as an experienced traveler, is that in St. Petersburg, perhaps more than in other European cities, it is helpful to have a native as a guide, buffer, guide, advocate and counselor. She filled these roles superbly.

Date of experience: June 2018
Thank Thraxp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Experience_Russia, Owner at Experience Russia, responded to this reviewResponded April 2, 2019

Dear Thraxp,

Thank you for sharing your kind words, it was my pleasure showing you and your wife around St. Petersburg.

Don't hesitate to let us know if you plan to visit again, I'd be happy to arrange another tour of St. Petersburg for you both!

Best wishes,
Mila

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Reviewed March 16, 2019

It has taken me WAY TOO LONG to write this review. I traveled to Russia last summer and thanks to Mila, I had the MOST amazing time. From the time that I reached out to Experience Russia to inquire about a tour, the company helped me figure out exactly what I should do while in St. Petersburg. I was only going to be traveling in Russia for a few days, and having Mila and Experience Russia help me decide what I should spend my time doing was invaluable.

We ultimately decided to go to L'Hermitage and the Church of Spilled Blood, and we also walked the city with Mila as she gave us a true taste of history of the city. From the beginning, Mila was insightful and fun, and she definitely kept us entertained the entire time. She just knows EVERYTHING there is to know about Russia! I am a huge history buff, and I was constantly being annoying and asking her questions throughout our tour, and she answered every single one!

Mila made sure to help our group feel comfortable and at home in a place where we absolutely could not understand any part of the language. She went to the next level with helping us order food while on the tour and figuring out where to eat for dinner. She even helped to hook us up with a reservation at an awesome restaurant!

Overall, I would recommend this company to anyone who is going to Russia at any point. This tour is 100% the number one reason why I want to go back to Russia again.

Date of experience: July 2018
Thank amandamarieco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Experience_Russia, Owner at Experience Russia, responded to this reviewResponded March 20, 2019

Dear Amanda,

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience, I deeply appreciate the kind words.

It was my pleasure to share a bit of Russian history and culture with you through the many sights and meals that we shared together.

It's always a treat when guests share my passion for this wonderful city. It was wonderful to be your guide, thank you for entrusting your trip with us and I will be waiting to show you both around the next time you come to St. Petersburg -- Winters are very beautiful here too (wink wink).

If you know of anyone who might be planning to visit St. Petersburg in the future, we'd truly enjoy the opportunity to show them around!

Warm wishes,
Mila

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Reviewed March 16, 2019 via mobile

From the moment we arrived, Experience Russia made sure we felt right at home. As Americans, we were a bit intimidated by the inevitable culture shock we would experience in St. Petersburg, but the staff was so friendly and helpful in showing us the best restaurants, nightlife, and popular sights so we always had something fun to do when we weren't on tours. The tours were extremely insightful and full of learning. The staff made sure to go at a pace my group and I could keep up with, and always went above and beyond to explain every detail no matter how many questions we had. Aside from ensuring we learned loads about the history, they wanted to make sure we got familiar with the urban culture, which included lunches at traditional restaurants, shopping at local stores and visiting popular sport venues. Overall, Experience Russia made our first trip to Russia a lifelong memory, and is a main reason as to why we'll be going back!

Date of experience: July 2018
Thank Vidalinho10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Experience_Russia, Owner at Experience Russia, responded to this reviewResponded March 20, 2019

Dear Vidalinho10,

I am truly grateful for you sharing your experience here on TripAdvisor.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to show you both around the city and provide you both with a memorable experience so soon after your engagement. Congratulations again to you both. :)

We always strive for our guests to have well-rounded experience, and it seems like we were able to provide that for you.

Thank you for choosing us for your first visit to Russia, we'd love to have you both back again! Stories like yours are what makes showing guests around St. Petersburg so rewarding.

If you ever hear of anyone who's interested in visiting St. Petersburg or Russia in general, we'd be honored if you would give us the opportunity to assist them.

Best wishes,
Mila

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Reviewed January 6, 2019

I had toured St. Petersburg with Mila in the past with another company and was delighted with my experience. I wanted to be sure that the group (7 of us in total) that I was travelling with would enjoy themselves as much as I had a few years ago, so I reached out to Mila directly to plan our visit.

This time, Mila far exceeded the already high expectations that we had for her. Since we last saw her on tour, she has started working on building her own company and she has pulled out all the stops in doing so.

Since I had already visited in the past, I had an idea of what places my family would appreciate, and we all wanted some quality time together, so I decided to arrange a two-day private tour for us. I contacted Mila and explained that we wanted to tour Catherine's Palace, The Hermitage, The Church on the Spilled Blood, and Peterhoff Park, and we were open to suggestions for other places to fill our itinerary. I also mentioned that it was essential for our group to have lunch at Stolle at least once, though we were also open to suggestions in this area as well.

Mila responded warmly with a list of her recommendations for places to visit based on the information I gave her about our group. After checking with everyone else, we decided that we wanted to also go on a canal cruise, visit Grand Maket, the Soviet Arcade Museum, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and its colonnade (I did a brief write-up of them at the bottom).

Admittedly, I had never heard of either of Grand Maket or the arcade, but she assured us that these were proverbial "hidden gems" and would give us a chance to get away from the crowds that the main attractions tend to draw in. We decided to give it a try nonetheless and we were all glad that we had.

If you have the opportunity, you absolutely must visit St. Isaac's Cathedral. Its interior evokes the same feeling of inspiration and wonder as St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican with a scale that is nearly as impressive.

During our tour Mila once again proved that she is an expert at navigating small groups of people through large crowds and makes it look effortless in the process. At every one of the museums, palace, etc. that we visited, Mila explained to us the historical backgrounds of each of them with her usual sense of humor and wit. If she would have been my history teacher in high school, I would have gotten much better grades!

While on tour, she paid special attention to the older members of our group and invited them to sit whenever it became clear to her that they were starting to fatigue. It truly did feel as if an old friend was showing us around the city as her guest.

Overall, everyone in our group was extremely pleased with our private tour and we couldn't have hoped for more. Further, since we went with the private tour option, we were able to make changes to the itinerary (slowing down, speeding up, or stopping for a snack), which just isn't possible with a larger group of strangers.

I've encountered tour guides in the past who insist on going through every word of their script, regardless of if the group was interested or not and needless to say, it was not pleasant.

Mila is a wonderful tour guide with a delightful personality and a great understanding of what we needed, often before we even realized what we needed ourselves! She was friendly and personable without being imposing or intrusive, guiding our visits while allowing us to enjoy each other's company. If you find yourself with the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg, you'd be remiss if you didn't contact Mila to help plan your stay.

******
I'll forgo further descriptions of the usual sites (Catherine's Palace, etc.), since they've been written about exhaustively and I'd like to shed some light on these less well-known attractions for anyone reading this who might not otherwise look into these options.

St. Isaac's Cathedral Colonnade

This is another one of those "must-sees". After climbing a few hundred steps up a spiral staircase to the colonnade below the cathedral's cupola, we were greeted with an incredible panoramic view of the city. Because of the city's design, namely - all "usual" buildings being limited in height, we were able to see over the tops of all of them. This view really put into perspective for us how beautiful of a city St. Petersburg is and we were able to see all the major sites that people come from all around the world to see. If you are physically able, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to the colonnade for the view alone.

Grand Maket

Grand Maket is a huge miniature (the oxymoron isn't lost on me) of Russia and depicts scene from all around the country. All throughout the model are many little playful and witty "Easter eggs" and life-like depictions of scenes, many of which are activat1ed by pressing a button on the outside wall of the model.

Among these were a group of protestors holding signs such as "Move your hands away from us!" (referring to guests who might not be able to overcome the temptation to reach into the model) and "They break us!". Another scene depicted a fire truck dousing a forest fire that was breaking out, complete with smoke and a simulation of a stream of water dousing the flames.

The attention to detail throughout the model was fantastic and the scenes from the various regions of Russia gave us a better perspective of what lies outside of the usual destinations- St. Petersburg and Moscow. This was much in the same way that Disney's EPCOT would give children a better perspective of the cultures in a few countries of the world.

These scenes raised many questions for our group and Mila was available the whole time to explain what life is like in other regions of Russia, though we were free to explore the layout on our own. Overall the model was very enjoyable and was a welcome change of pace from the rest of the itinerary.

The Soviet Arcade Museum

Before we decided on visiting this museum, which doesn't sound very compelling on its own, Mila had explained to us that it is more of an "Arcade" than a museum. In other words, though this museum features many arcade cabinets from the times of the Soviet Union, they aren't housed in glass to be observed from a distance. Instead, these cabinets are out in the open and are available to interact with. Let me clarify, these were not reproductions, but actual vintage arcade cabinets available for use.

When we arrived, we were each handed a small paper pouch with a stack of actual (from the 1960's, hammer and sickle and all) 15 kopek coins. This instantly took me back to visiting the arcade as a child with my father and it was a great feeling. Mila gave us a quick run-down of her favorites after showing us how to use the soda dispensing machine, which I had previously only seen in movies.

Like in The Grand Maket, we were able to enjoy the museum independently and at our own pace, but Mila was available the whole time to help us understand how a given game worked or to interpret the signage for us. In the center of the arcade is a small full-service cafe with a wide selection of teas, coffee, and espresso drinks. With our inner-children taking over, we opted for ice cream, which really rounded out the experience.

Date of experience: June 2018
Thank floridatraveller300
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milla l, Owner at Experience Russia, responded to this reviewResponded January 13, 2019

Dear floridatraveller300,

It was wonderful to see you again and to have the opportunity to show you and your family around St. Petersburg. We are very pleased that you all enjoyed your private tour so much.

We are especially pleased that everyone was happy with the custom itinerary which included the more obscure sites, the Grand Maket and the Arcade Museum. Thank you for sharing your experience on TripAdvisor, it truly means the world to us.

If you know of anyone who is planning to visit St. Petersburg, we'd love to show them around!

Best wishes,
Mila

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