Well, this truly was the trip of a lifetime. We have traveled a lot but both agree this is the best one yet. At every turn, your people were standing there with signs to greet us. We had absolutely no problems with anything on the entire trip.
The first morning when we walked to the Monastery to hear the Male Choir was a great experience. It couldn't have been better. David decided he wanted to get a better view and insisted that we climb the spiral staircase, only to find out that is where the Choir sits. They were kind but motioned for us to return to the mainfloor. The service was beautiful and was a true Russian experience. The fact that you were able to get us to tickets to the Bolshoi Theater to see the Nutcracker on our first night was unbelievable. The seats were on the main floor, 5 rows back center could not have been better.
The guides were remarkable. The one in Moscow couldn't have been more knowledgeable. We were stunned at the amount of information he was able to share with us. We were given such a comprehensive view of Russian history that it made it come alive for us. While in Red Square, he saw one of his friends who is a Bass in a singing group called Doros. He said we will see and hear him later. In St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, he took us to meet his friends in one of the chapels who did indeed sing for us. It was a truly moving experience.
The amazing Kremlin Armory was so worth doing. I expected it to be all about weapons and armor, but that is just a small piece of it. It was not at all what we expected. The finery, Royal Coaches, gifts from foreign countries and Crown Jewels were jaw dropping. As we were leaving Moscow, we were stuck in a traffic jam and our driver was impressive. So good at what he does. We were late because of the traffic so our guide grabbed two of our bags, helped us jump the lines at security and raced with us onto our coach, got us on board, said goodbye, hugged us and ran for the door as the train was starting to move. He went over and above what was expected of him. We can't wait to hear what he will name his new baby which will arrive sometime very soon.
In St. Petersburg, again the driver met us with a smile. Our guide there also is so good at what he does. I can understand why the company employees these guys. They are totally professional. At the Hermitage, he guided us through the maze of palaces and showed us the highlights, while keeping us safe from the pick pocket teams that were waiting to pray on the tourists. We sort of feared for him as he had been threatened by them if he pointed them out to his clients. He took us to some wonderful places to purchase Russian treasures which were of outstanding quality, much different that we had seen in other stores and shops. The Vodka tasting was a unique experience. We both loved it, although David struggled with shooting the shots instead of sipping.
We were able to take over 1000 photos many of which we shared on Facebook. The comments from people were mostly... "Thank your for letting us see your photos and share in your adventure." Many were stunned to see the beauty of Russia. It is so different from what our perceptions were before we left. We were glad we were able to share it with others.
In Helsinki, we were again met by our smiling driver. What a kind gentle man. Our guide was so accommodating and a breath of fresh air. The first thing he said was "Do you want a Sauna?" I wanted to try it, but David was a bit hesitant. When we went to the place they had planned, it was packed with people who were enjoying the time off for the holidays. We opted to try that on another trip. We were taken to the most beautiful sights. We also did our share of shopping. The hotels that were booked for us were spectacular and the staff helpful and very friendly and most had excellent English.
I want to say how impressed we were with how smooth the process of getting the Visa's was. You made it almost effortless on our part. Your company is to be commended for such an outstanding job. Especially helpful with our questions and fears and quick to answer any of our concerns. We couldn't be happier that we found the company to help us discover the magic of Russia. We definitely want to return when we can spend more time in your beautiful country. Thank you again for everything. Rob Anderson
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