I just wanted to share with you what an excellent experience Gary and I had in St. Petersburg, Russia using the services Sophia arranged for us.   It was excellent.  Our guide, Nadia was waiting outside of customs (along with about 25 other private guides) and she whisked us outside to meet our driver, Vladimir.  We were off on our adventure.  Turns out it was a holiday weekend (Naval Holiday, lots of sailors in town) and on Sunday they had a great big parade in the morning with a huge street concert in the evening.

Our tour of the city was very interesting as Nadia showed us the historic places and gave us history to go along with it.  They stopped often so we could take pictures, took us to the “Bazaar” store which also was a DCL recommended shopping spot and had a great restaurant lined up for dinner.  Nadia stayed with us through dinner and then wished us farewell after she made sure we were in the theater for the Folkloric show.  Vladimir was right there at the close of the show to take us back to the ship.l Sunday morning they were promptly at the pier at 9am and we were off for our busy day to Catherine’s Palace and Peterhoff.  It was an interesting drive thru and out of town as we didn’t take any “expressways” to get to Tsarkoe Village.  Nadia was worth her weight in gold as she got us right up to the front of the queue waiting to get into Catherine’s.  It was quite a site to see all these groups and independents lined up waiting their turn to enter.  She was patient but knew exactly what to say and do.  Her instructions to us were “stick to me like glue”.  Once inside the palace we were able to move ahead of some groups and thus avoid having to wait in line.  Her knowledge of the history and palace were amazing.  We walked around the palace grounds as well before meeting up with Vladimir again on the other side of the palace.  Lunch at Podvorye Restaurant was a delicious 5 or 6 course meal of Russian cuisine.  I was surprised once again that we didn’t take any “expressways” to get over to Peterhoff.  The weather both days was sunny, hot and humid but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beautiful fountain gardens at Peterhoff.  Our hydrofoil ride back to city center was a pleasant chance to sit down and rest our feet.  When we returned to town we went back to the Bazaar store as I had a return to make and Nadia had made the arrangements for us to do that. It was less crowded at that time as no cruise line guests were there. We had extra time so they asked us if there was anything we’d like to do.  They stopped at a 5 star hotel so I could go inside and do a site inspection and then they gave us some free time on our own to explore around the Palace Square (near Hermitage)  and take on the challenge of getting dinner on our own.  She had pointed out a couple of café’s that we might want to try.  We were pleased with the choice that we made.  The canal cruise closed out our evening and we were glad to have Nadia along as it was all in Russian.   Our drive back to the ship was interesting as the street concert I mentioned earlier had roads closed so Vladimir was great in finding ways around the congestion.   We tipped them for their services and bid them farewell.   We were very pleased with our time in Russia and all the arrangements you set up for us.  Thanks again for all your efforts on our behalf.   Sandy & Gary