Ekaterina first meeting through email was very helpful. We provided her with our itinerary and our likes/dislikes and she provided some suggestions immediately. We finalized on a 2 days package that included pretty much all the major attractions plus more. We wanted a river cruise so she included it into the package. We wanted to see a ballet show so she reserved us 2 tickets to see Swan Lake at the Hermitage theatre. We had a hard time finding tickets on the Sapsan train from Moscow to St. Petersburg so she went out of her way to help us find tickets but unfortunately the russian website didn't take many U.S. credit cards to purchase it. Nevertheless, the thought was appreciated. We were arriving very late at night 11pm so we were a bit nervous about getting a taxi that late so she arranged a private car to pick us up at the airport and also to take us from hotel to airport at 3 am a few days later!!! All this reserved without having to make any payments upfront besides a small deposit through paypal. The driver picked us up ontime at the airport and help us navigate the terminal to get our baggage quickly and off we went to the hotel. Our tour guide Pauline met us the next morning in our hotel lobby to begin our journey through St. Petersburg. Her english was excellent and her knowledge of Russian history and tidbits were very insightful. From roughly 9am to 6pm, we toured through the metro "everyday people palace" (beautiful and clean) to various palaces, museums, monuments, and castles via private car. The tour was very intimate and provided a vast array of information into the city and it's culture which made it very enjoyable for my wife and I. We saw so much more than we would have by ourselves and fell in love with this European inspired little Venice City. A few times we did some things that were not on the itinerary because we were curious and Pauline went out of her way to show us and offered her advice, such as taking us to a great Russian restaurant and telling us what to order. Pauline was fantastic and her drivers were all professional. It was great having a third person there to take pictures of us because it can be daunting to ask strangers to take pictures for us if we didn't speak the language. It was sad to wave goodbye to Pauline after the fabulous 2 days. With tickets in hand to see the ballet, Swan Lake was on our last night in St.Petersburg..a rightful ending to our memorable trip to Russia. I highly recommend this private tour versus the mass tour group because it was more one-on-one and got to skip most of the lines. Another great thing is all the time saved on not having to stand in line for tickets!!
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