Natalya in St. Petersburg

By Fred Koehler
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For our stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 21-23, 2012, during Oceania Cruises’ 14-day Stockholm-Dover cruise aboard the Nautica, our group of 12 preferred to have a private guide rather than take the ship’s big-bus tour. An ITN subscriber had given rave reviews (April ’09, pg. 59) to the guide Natalya German Tsarkova (phone +7 921 391 1894, email natalygerman@gmail.com, www.original-tours.com). I contacted her in January. 

As have other ITN readers, we slightly modified Natalya’s standard 3-day tour. We paid $430 each, which included a Russian visa, the guide services of Natalya on all three days, a driver in a comfortable stretch van, one lunch and all admissions. 

Natalya shared the wonders of St. Petersburg with us. Her flawless English, level of knowledge and fluid delivery captivated everyone in the group. Artwork in the Hermitage was brought to life by her detailed descriptions. (She was trained in ballet, spent several years as a fashion model in New York and graduated from the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts.) 

A special moment was looking down the Grand Canal at Peterhof: the fountains came on in the Grand Cascade just as we approached. (The fountains are operational 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April to October.) A stroll through one of St. Petersburg’s manicured parks each afternoon allowed time for people-watching and an ice cream cone. 

For those not interested in returning to the ship for dinner, she offered an optional “stroll and shop downtown” tour ($30) and, on the second evening, an opportunity to see a Russian folk dance performance ($45). 

Natalya arranged to have lunch ready for us on day three at an Uzbek restaurant specializing in plov (also called plohf), a rice dish cooked with lean cuts of lamb. 

FRED KOEHLER

Orange, CA 

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

For our stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 21-23, 2012, during Oceania Cruises’ 14-day Stockholm-Dover cruise aboard the Nautica, our group of 12 preferred to have a private guide rather than take the ship’s big-bus tour. An ITN subscriber had given rave reviews (April ’09, pg. 59) to the guide Natalya German Tsarkova (phone +7 921 391 1894, email natalygerman@gmail.com, www.original-tours.com). I contacted her in January. 

As have other ITN readers, we slightly modified Natalya’s standard 3-day tour. We paid $430 each, which included a Russian visa, the guide services of Natalya on all three days, a driver in a comfortable stretch van, one lunch and all admissions. 

Natalya shared the wonders of St. Petersburg with us. Her flawless English, level of knowledge and fluid delivery captivated everyone in the group. Artwork in the Hermitage was brought to life by her detailed descriptions. (She was trained in ballet, spent several years as a fashion model in New York and graduated from the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts.) 

A special moment was looking down the Grand Canal at Peterhof: the fountains came on in the Grand Cascade just as we approached. (The fountains are operational 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April to October.) A stroll through one of St. Petersburg’s manicured parks each afternoon allowed time for people-watching and an ice cream cone. 

For those not interested in returning to the ship for dinner, she offered an optional “stroll and shop downtown” tour ($30) and, on the second evening, an opportunity to see a Russian folk dance performance ($45). 

Natalya arranged to have lunch ready for us on day three at an Uzbek restaurant specializing in plov (also called plohf), a rice dish cooked with lean cuts of lamb. 

FRED KOEHLER

Orange, CA