We stayed down the road at the Atrium, but went inside the Spasskaya Hotel to sign up for two English speaking tours in their tour office. This may be the only place in the city to get an English tour. I had a tour that my husband's interpreter found (he's from Moscow) but it turned out she was a freelance and her English and knowledge of the city wasn't great. So I went to the Spasskaya to find a better, more professional tour.
I didn't go past the Spasskaya's lobby which is sort of dark looking and sits up higher than the front door. My freelance guide, who lives in Vologda, said this is considered the best hotel in the city.
When booking my tours at the hotel, I spoke with one of the women in the office who speaks some English. She does better than my Russian, so we muddled along and I managed to get the tours I wanted. Because we were there in November, English speaking guides are tough to find as most work in schools and have full time jobs.
I got two one-on-one tours. One for around the city's historical areas and museums and the other to the nearby monastery. The two guides I had were great and I learned a lot from them. Andrew, my driver for both tours, was a sweetie. He knows as much if not more than the guides about the city but doesn't speak English. But he was great at finding little known spots to tell my guides about.
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