We are now back in Austin, Texas and the trip went very well. Here are some observations and suggestions:
1. After a very long flight and even after a night’s sleep, the first day of the tour was too long.
2. The overnight train ride was a great experience but it is difficult to sleep.
3 Our tour guides were great in both cities.
4. The drivers were on time but we had a problem with the driver who met us at the Taleon Hotel in St. Petersburg to take use to the train leaving on May 21 at 23:55. As you know, the driver was supposed to take us to the rail car to make sure we found our way. The Moscow driver did this and waited to make sure we were safely on board. The driver in St. Petersburg, however, dropped us on the street in front of the train station and pointed to the entrance. He could not speak English. I used Google Translate to advise him that he was to take us in the station to the rail car. He shook his head and said, “No”. It was not easy to find the toilets or the proper train but after asking 3 policemen, we found one who spoke English. The Moscow train information is posted in English but not so in St. Petersburg.
5. The hotels were great and so were the people working in them.
I had no idea how sophisticated were the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg and the Russian people were very friendly.
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