Reviews of this trip

My husband and I are registered for the August 15, 2018 trip to celebrate our 50th anniversary. I hope some of you that have taken/will take this tour this year will give some feedback, travel tips and other thoughts about your experiences and the trip in general.

Comments

  • We did this trip in 2015 so there may have been changes. I found the local people to be very welcoming in the Baltics and in Russia. Their willingness to strike up a conversation with visitors over a drink and discuss politics was disarming.

    There is far more walking than I had anticipated because there are areas that are being preserved (e.g., medieval town centers) and vehicles cannot get close. The Kremlin property (in particular) seemed to be built for tall males, so bring your walking stick. The rise on some of the stairs rival those on the Great Wall of China! Wear tough supportive shoes and be very careful of the spaces between the antique paving stones, lest you twist an ankle.

    There are many mansions and elaborate interiors to take in. The tsars lived very well. The grounds-keeping is meticulous. You may need a fur hat (even in August) when you are out in the country. Unfortunately, my strongest memory of this tour involves vodka. While we were lunching in a country inn -- complete with peasants playing the balalaika and a stuffed bear -- the vodka glasses were never empty and fellow travelers decided to compete by taking shots. (There would be a bus ride back to the city so I guess they planned to sleep.) My advice is to learn how to take vodka shots without feeling the impact.

    My other strong memory is of a couple who could not seem to stay with the tour group. They got lost in the Kremlin (which is a massive property). We spent time searching for them and missed some connections because of it. Although we still saw the ornately decorated subway, we missed a few choice stops because of them. You will be astonished at the care that is lavished on the subway! The tour's Moscow hotel provides an excellent view of the Kremlin property and it is easy to understand fellow travelers' desires to see more, but they should have done it a la carte. There is ample free time between group excursions and tour guides should not have this extra headache.

    We happened to be in the Red Square area over a period when thousands of cadets were attending a conference so bleacher seating was erected in the square and the festival atmosphere of the area was enhanced. It was intimidating to see so many cadets in military uniform. It reminded us of how large a population lives in Russia.

    The tour covers a vast area that most travelers only dream of seeing. The Baltics are full of early history and it has been cared for well. The U.N. peace keeping force ate breakfast at a very prominent table in our glassed-in breakfast restaurant on the very first morning (so they could watch events in the town square). We breathed better knowing that the area is orderly and safe for visitors. Shopping in the local stores is surprising. You will have fun and it will make you think carefully about current events.
  • Thank you for your review of this trip. This particular trip has not been on my radar, however, I have been looking at a Russian trip. You have made me reconsider this trip for the future.
    I am sooo disappointed to hear about one couple who was inconsiderate enough to cause the entire group to miss some of the planned activities. We have never experienced anything like this in 15 trips, which is one of the reasons we travel with Tauck (and the type of travelers they attract). I have an “off with their heads...find your own way back” attitude when it comes to situations like this. I am sorry your TD or local guide, if there was one at this point, did not deal with them and move the group ahead without them.
  • I recommend the trip to see a "slice of history." As for the couple who wandered off while we were inside the Kremlin, no matter how upset the TD may have been, she remained calm. The group stayed together and we found them. The couple were not American (which is no excuse), but the TD may have anticipated bigger problems if that couple were challenged by the security force. Everybody was told (when we were in Moscow) if one were lost from the group while in the massive Red Square area, to go stand under the tail of the horse featured in a statue on the river side. While we were searching, we swept that area repeatedly. The couple probably went for an a la carte visit to see the expensive jewelry inside a part of the Kremlin that one could go back to see during free time -- without a thought for the rest of us. The local guides stood by the exits out of the Kremlin (with cell phones to coordinate) until they found them. We never even looked at them for the rest of the tour.

    The local guides in Moscow are full of juicy tidbits about who lived in the Kremlin after 1917 that will crack you up. The three little Baltic countries are Viking treasures. Finland is very progressive and they were probably the nicest group of locals of all. The warning about the fur hat (and gloves) in August is real. You might as well be comfortable while gawking at Peter the Great's masterpiece of architecture. It was a worthwhile visit for us.
  • This was my 1st Tauck trip -- and it was fabulous!! I loved the Baltic states - so much unique history and charming towns. The local guides were amazing--so much history and unique experiences. Russia was truly the icing on the cake for me. Having a hotel room across the street from the Kremblin was an experience to remember always. Touring Red Square was nothing like what I was expecting- rather it was like Times Square with various costumed people, who charged money to have your picture taken with them...Castro , Disney characters and various US presidents were there!! Again, the history and architecture was fascinating. We even saw protesters!! and St. Petersburgh - the art, the gardens, the building, the stories - and THE JEWELS. Yes, the tsars lived well.

    Thankfully our group of 44 stayed together - no one strayed far! Mostly we were split into 2 groups of 20-22. This is an incredible adventure!

    Nancy

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