October 12, 2019
Review about Stockholm - Helsinki - St. Petersburg - Helsinki by Ann Tubbs
We’d never done a tour before, but this sounded like a good way to see St. Petersburg, which everyone RAVES about. The “cruise” part of the tour was forgettable (food was quite mediocre, there were frequent announcements on the loud speaker, first in Russian then - supposedly - in English but after “Ladies and Gentlemen” it was mostly unintelligible. Getting off the ship in both Helsinki and St. Petersburg took a very long time and seemed disorganized, but perhaps that isn’t a problem the cruise line can address.
BUT then we started the tour in St. Petersburg! We were a congenial group of six Americans, with a very nice Mercedes van and driver who was with us for the entire three days. The first two days our guide was Ekaterinburg Leies - she was fantastic! Perfect English, whizzed us around and through everything on the tour plus extras (like a ride on the St. Petersburg subway). She made sure we saw the important art in the Hermitage. We learned about living in Russia. Our “late lunch” with her on the first day was quite special - a nice round table in a quiet restaurant, with good food and service. We stopped for coffee when some of us addicts felt the need. She gave each couple a little baggie of Russian coins as a souvenir. I can’t say enough good things about her. The third day the owner of the tour company was our guide and we were glad we arrived early to see the Amber Room (disappointed I have no photos to prove it!). The line to get in, as we left, was daunting. We could have skipped the long stop at a souvenir store (though I think all of us bought something).
Anyway, we have lots of great pictures and good memories. Thanks!