THANKS SO MUCH FOR MAKING OUR ST. PETERSBURG STAY WONDERFUL. Marina was a pleasure to be with. Pasha was a breath of fresh air. Julia and you were so hospitable. And Feodor was just CUTE. THANKS.
We really had a great time under your care. I hope we will have many opportunities to meet again. Please send me Pashas email address. Hes a remarkable young fellow. I d like to stay in contact with him.
Greetings from sunny, but cold, San Francisco. (I m making blinis this weekend, in an effort to recreate Julia s feast.)
I m not sure about the cause of the change for the River Cruise return time. I made my air eservations based on a 7 AM 7 June arrival back in SpB at the the end of February. None of our subsequent emails mentioned any change to that time. I believe we were both surprised to see it posted on the ships bulletin board on 2 June for 10 AM on 7 June. Your solution was probably the best possible answer to the problem, and I am thankful for your quick thinking and action. The ride back to the Azimut hotel went well, but not exactly smooth, since the first 20 miles were on an unpaved logging road.The driver arrived early and was very helpful at the hotel, both with the luggage and the reservations, despite knowing very little English. I didnt catch his name, but please extend to him our appreciation for his services. I will need a receipt for the 6500 Rubles; we did purchase Trip Insurance, and I will need a receipt for the drive to recoup that extra expense. You did warn me that the River Cruise would be mostly for Russian people; but I must admit I was expecting some English-speaking travelers and staff on board. We only found 2 other people on board who spoke English: an American from Alaska, and his companion, a lady from Ekaterienburg. The guides were excellent, however; in particular, Svetlana in Valaam, who was extremelyhelpful and friendly. At the risk of sounding like the proverbial Ugly American, I must comment on the accommondations and food on board. Defintely not up to Western Standards, not at all. The room was the size of an RV inside, particularly the bath room. The salads and deserts and bread were quite good, but the main courses were not really edible -- with the exception of one supper, and the BBQ in Mandrogi. The breakfast buffet was an absolutely fiasco; fortunately, the hot water boiler was opposite our room. so we could make coffee in our room in the mornings.The trip to Peterhof was also a bit of problem. There were only 4 of us on the tour, and we ran into a 3 hour traffic-jam on the way there. The guide was probably the poorest guide we encountered; her English was not particularly good, her attitude was hostile and surly; the driver did a much better job adapting to the circumstances than she did. But Peterhof was worth all the trouble.
That, in many ways, sums up our entire 23-day Russian odessey: there were a lot of hassles, but the sheer beauty of what we were seeing in Karelia, and the friendly attention of the guides more than made up for any of the discomfort we felt. In many ways, it became a microcosm of Russia itself: sometimes the bureaucracy and the crumbling infra-structure and the unfairness of it all gets to you: but then a complete stranger goes out of her way to help you, and when you part, she says Christ be with you! and you know she really means that. And you realize, despite all its faults, this is no ordinary country...
I just wanted to let you know how much Diane and I enjoyed our tours with Marina. She was an excellent guide with a wide range of knowledge and a great sense of humor. I d recommend her to anyone and wish that I had more time in St. Petersburg to take additional tours.
NIcholas was also excellent. He drove through the crowded streets extremely well and was very solicitous of our comfort.
Message: As for the tour itself it was extremely well organised. Our hotel was cost effective and in an excellent location and we were able to walk to restaurants in the evening. The driver was lovely although possibly the only comment I could make is that it might have been nice to be able to ask a few questions on our way from the airport about what we were seeing just to help us orientate ourselves more as we arrived. Sergei was very friendly but didnt have very much English.
I must say though that what absolutely made the holiday for us was your excellent guide Julia. There didnt seem to be anything she didnt know and she really helped us make the absolute most of our time in St Petersburg. She even seemed to be able to get us to the front of the queues at the attractions and we felt like VIPs! Please pass on our sincere thanks to her from all of us. I feel uncomfortable that we didnt give her a tip and I wondered if you felt it would be appropriate to send her a small gift from the UK?
We had a lovely holiday and it has been very pleasant dealing with you and thanks again for looking after us so well.
Message: I m very happy to give you feedback about our trip. We had very, very good trip and had fun too.First we appreciate a lot that you helped us with checking. That was good customer service.
Here below is detailed information.
BOAT Exactly what we hoped, not a luxury boat, but cosy, not huge like Viking Line s and Silja line s boats, between Helsinki and Stockholm. M S Vissarion Belinsky had old fashion atmosphere. It was good to notice that it smoking was not allowed on board. Cabins were clean and enough room for two people and quests. First night we all slept well. It was warm, but the second night was rather cold. None of us touched any air-conditions switches. Anyway we could sleep, but not so well. On your website there is mention that there is sauna on the boat, but there was not. Personnel told no sauna.
RESTAURANTS and BARS Personnel were friendly and helpful, so no complains except meals, which were not very delicious. On Saturday there was arranged a long dinner table for a big group and they had special menu. We looked quite envy, when the waiters carried different kind of meals and fruits etc. So for the next time I would very happy if we can order advance such a luxury menu at least for the second evening.
GUIDED TOUR in VALAMO We participate in the morning walking tour with the American group. It was really good. Beautiful views and buildings. The path from skiita to another was not very easy for Americans (a little bit older people than us), so the walking speed was slow. Therefore we left the group after 2-3 hours and continued by ourselves. First we took a tractor lift to the Main Monastery, it was really fun, sitting on tracto s trailer, where had been potatoes before us. Before returning to the boat we visited other skiitas with a taxi.
SUMMARY Like I told in the beginning of the mail, trip was good, relaxing and we had a lot of fun. Weather was beautiful, no crowded of tourists on the island. Perfect trip, except few small things mention above.
I decided to travel to St. Petersburg after taking a basic Russian course at Indiana University. After doing some initial research about how to enter the country and plan travel arrangements I knew that I wanted a company to support my travels. Slava Bockov happened to be the first person in Russia that I contacted. I am quite deliberate in my decision making but I knew from my first exchange that I wanted his firm to handle all the arrangements. He answered my initial email almost immediately and that was quite impressive considering the time difference. His command of English made both written and verbal communication perfectly clear. After I engaged Slava he became more of a partner in my travels than a basic service company. Everything from visas, transport, living arrangements, was handled seamlessly. Sight seeing, entertainment, and recommendations to see the special places only known to locals were all provided for me. I spoke very basic Russian when I arrived and needed to rely on others as I was a stranger in a very beautiful city. I never once had to worry or be concerned for anything. I have traveled extensively and St. Petersburg remains my favorite place ??“ the entire experience which lasted about seven months afforded me an opportunity to explore an amazing city knowing that any problem or concern would be taken care of by Slava and his team. I would recommend them to anyone thinking of traveling to St. Petersburg. My chances to travel have been less as I focus on my career but would welcome any inquiries from interested parties.
JK Smith Director of Business Development National Yellow Pages Media and Yellowword1.com, Independence, Ohio, USA
Message: Travel company <parallel 60> organized the excursion program for our partners during the Conefernce <Laser Refractive and Periocular Surgery>, held in St.Petersburg on June 6, 2007. We asked them to make some non-standard and interesting tour, as our Belgium guests came to Russia the first time after 20-year break and <parallel 60> did exactly what we wanted. First of all I would like to say that the website www.parallelsixty.com is highly informative and up-to-date. The manager Vyacheslav proved to be very professional and responsive. He made several options of the tour and helped us to select the most appropriate one in our case. Our guests Dr.F.Guzz and his wife were very pleased to have such a wonderful introduction of St.Petersburg, they were thankful to the guide Julia for her high professionalism, great English and so interesting stories. The driver was also good as well as services in the restaurant. St.Petersburg branch of <KARL ZEISS> express its thanks to the management and staff of ???parallel 60??? and looks forward to working together in the future.
Director of St. Petersburg branch of KARL ZEISS Seredkina O.A.,
Department of Medical Equipment of St. Petersburg branch of KARL ZEISS Glazova E.M.
Message: Hello Slava, The excursion to Pushkin and Pavlovsk on June 30th, 2007 was very good. The car was good and comfortable and the driver was carefull, so the journey was very pleasant. Our guide - Julia did a great job. She spoke very good English, her guidance was interesting, informative and very professional. Everything was well organised. Even the weather was good! Thank you for everything.