Our experience with Travel All Russia has been a most enjoyable and valuable one. Let me give you a brief synopsis of it.
All our drivers were skilled, courteous and drove very safely.
On arrival at the hotel in Moscow (Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel) we were very impressed by its excellent appointments. But what impressed us so much more was the extreme courteousness of the Bell Captain and staff who greeted us most cordially, took possession of our luggage, and escorted us to the front desk. We were totally blown away by the very welcoming attitude of the lady who attended us at the front desk.
When we were completely checked in, we fully expected to be shown the elevator to our room. Instead, seemingly out of nowhere, a lady appeared at our side and introduced herself as the shift manager. She then escorted us to our room with a brief and high level overview of the various restaurants and other guest facilities on the way. Most delightful indeed!
The next morning we met our guide, who was punctual and ready in the lobby at the appointed time. I cannot overstate how much we enjoyed meeting and getting to know her and how much we were totally in awe of her thorough knowledge of the history of her country and more particularly of her city. Her passion and love for both of them and especially for her work was palpable. She was well prepared to answer every question we had, and of course we had many. She was patient and above all, tireless and charming to the end. Thanks again for her significant contribution to making our stay in Russia memorable, enjoyable and valuable.
Our train journey to St. Petersburg was pleasant, swift and comfortable. However, we were quite unimpressed by the unwelcoming demeanour of the carriage attendant, but I guess we were totally spoiled in Moscow. Could it also be possible that she was totally unable to speak English and therefore felt it psychologically safer to simply maintain a deadpan demeanour?
While our hotel (Grand Hotel Europe) in St. Petersburg was not as elegantly appointed as the Ararat in Moscow, it was nevertheless an excellent choice and we were well greeted there too.
The one opportunity for improvement I would mention, for what it is worth, is the service at the buffet breakfast each morning. The waiters/waitresses in attendance seemed to be focussed almost exclusively on the task of clearing used dishes, cutlery etc from the tables and replacing them with new ones. A formidable task I admit, but their intense focus on that function made it extremely difficult to get their attention when needed. One standout episode of poor service on the first morning was when I was served a cold cup of cappuccino; not a big deal in itself, these things happen. But when I brought it to the attention of the waitperson, instead of simply apologizing and bringing me a fresh hot cup of coffee she set about explaining to me it was not her fault and that she brought it to me “as soon as it was ready”. Seems to me to be a matter of training; she seemed quite young and new at her job.
As for our days touring the amazing city of St. Petersburg, we were again blessed with an excellently trained and most patient guide. She also impressed us with her thorough knowledge of her city and with the “craft” of her role as a guide. She was extremely well versed and prepared to answer all our questions and was very generous in sharing interesting and important anecdotes about the history and times of the cities tsars.
In summary, I single out our two guides for special commendation; and although my wife and I took great pains to express our appreciation to them before we said our goodbyes, I hope you wouldn’t mind passing on our appreciation and thanks to them.
And again we thank Travel all Russia for setting us up with this trip. Your coordinating skills were key to making our trip so successful. Thanks again.
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