We just want to thank you once again for organising such a great tour for us.

Edwin & Douris

Hong Kong. August 2019


Thank you so much for your wonderful words! We really loved your tour! We arrived well in Germany and we will send you some nice pictures in the next days. We wish you all the best and maybe we see us again when we visit the beautiful St. Petersburg next time!
Ida and Arthur


Awesome and memorable trip to St. Petersburg

I would highly recommend natalia tours if you need a tour guide for st.petersburg trip. Natalia made our entire trip enjoyable and a memorable one... though our time is short, she showed us all the main places in the city.. she was highly knowledgable in most of the fields... her humor sense made our trip a enjoyable one..we will never forget our trip to the museums that she took. and we never forget about the history of faberge . The boat trip was a gosebumbing moment..really loved it... thank you so much natalia... God bless you...



28 July 2019


Great day in st. Petersburg

This was an amazing tour with natalia. First of all we had very less timing in our hand. However based on that short time she made tour very Interesting.. explanation were very clear. Information are accurate, which we learn later. Very funny & smart.
Clearly this trip was wonderful.. as per the planning all packages promised has been delivered.. thanks to natalia tours..
You made our tour fantastic... good work.. stay blessed.. highly recommending natalia tours



28 July 2019


Dear Natalia,

I have been thinking and talking about our trip to St. Petersburg  since we came back and telling everyone to go and get you as their guide. You made the trip for all of us so special. I too felt that we were one soul with you, I feel we have become good friends with you and will always keep in touch, you are a very special person Natalia.
My husband Michael was very happy to see me back, I must admit I was a little tired but I could not stop telling him all the wonderful things we saw and how the girls and I had such a lovely time with you. 

Te Rublev icon you gifted us is sitting on the mantle piece in the living room reminding me of the beautiful churches and cathedrals and the icons we saw in the Russian museum. Although St. Isac's was an amazing cathedral I felt that the Kazan cathedral was more spiritual and holy, somehow more intimate, perhaps because it was dark in there and we heard part of the evening service. 
Dear Natalia, I send you my very best wishes and much love and please let us stay in contact, I would love to hear from you. 

Irina , Anna, Nina, Catherine
15-17 March 2019


Hello Natalia and Andrew

Jenny and I would like to offer our grateful thanks to you both for making our time in St Petersburg so memorable. It is a beautiful city and you managed to show us all the highlights in a short time.
Thank you also for returning Jenny’s battery pack. She realised she had left it when we reached our room but thought you would have left by then.
The restaurant you recommended was fantastic. We found the Bortsh and Stoganoff that Jenny so wanted to eat and I had my first Sturgeon. So thank you for the recommendation.

If you and Andrew do manage to plan a trip to England please get in touch if you would like to. Jenny lives south of London and could help with all interesting places south, both in London and other places.
I live in a Derby - the Midlands- which is a very useful base for visiting, York, Chester, Nottingham, and the Lake District- Jane Austen and Wordsworth country. Also the Peak District which is very beautiful.

We both hope you have a successful summer, stay well and happy and enjoy time with your new clients.

Kind regards
 April 2019 


The Best Tour and Tour Guide Ever|

Thank you so very much for the most exciting and enjoyable tour we have ever had in any city! You are a fabulous guide and our newest best friend! 

To anyone who is considering a tour of St. Petersburg, I highly recommend Natalia. Her knowledge of the history and buildings of St. Petersburg is astounding. If you require a tour in English, her language skills are excellent.

But most of all, it is a delight to spend hours with her. Her sense of humor kept us laughing and her positive nature kept us alive all 3 days. 

She is the best tour guide we've ever had!

June 2018
Warren and Susan, Monterey, California

Read on Tripadvisor


Saint-Petersburg city tour with Natalia

A great time of learning while enjoying anecdotes! We are a family group, 4 adults and a baby, who enjoyed 3 consecutive days with Natalya. She is very knowledgeable. she shares her love and passion for Saint-Petersburg with pleasant sense of humour, a soft voice and clear English. Strongly recommended if you would like to get the taste of the city and its beautiful surroundings!
Thank you Natasha! 
Shady, Polina, Marc, Fady and Roula

June 2018, Switzerland

Read on Tripadvisor 


We would thoroughly recommend your services to anyone!


Dear Natalia, 
Ann and I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed our visit to St Petersburg under your guidance. Your knowledge and expertise made our time in the City absolutely wonderful - 3 days was really not long enough. 

Our time together was made all the better by the fact that we became friends so quickly and able to have so many laughs together - it was also a delight to meet your son, Sasha. 

We would thoroughly recommend your services to anyone.



 Ann & John Hawley 
July 2017



Thank you for sharing your country's history with us as well as your yourself! You are truly an amazing guide with so much knowledge and passion for her beautiful country! You touched our souls with the love of beautiful St Petersburg! You made our three days the most memorable of cruise experiences! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and souls!!


Alice and Jerry,
Texis, the USA
August 2016



 Dear Natalia,
     Last evening three friends and I arrived in St Petersburg, Russia, from Fargo, North      Dakota, for a two night stay. In order to make the most of our very few hours we arranged    a personal guide to introduce us to the city, its beauty, and sorted history. A stranger    picked us up at the church where we attended Mass near our hotel first thing in the morning, and a friend delivered us to our final destination, a Russian folk show at the end of a magnificent day. Natalia is like a walking encyclopedia (or google search engine) and tells the story of her city and homeland with a heart that beats with a deep love born of knowledge and experience coupled with a great desire for her students to come to know and love her country as she does. She moved us along at a comfortable pace while filling us with information about every sight. She made time at the end of each historical landmark for Q and A. She reviewed the information presented several times through put the day, so that we would come to associate, time period, ruler, world event,etc. At the end of the day she went above and by presenting US with gifts and arranged for a driver to pick us up at the end of the show. She left us not only with important information about a country very foreign to us in a way that made us want to return and learn more but planted seeds of love for the people of Russia and their history. If that day should happen, surely we would contact Natalia Bazhenova to continue as our guide. 

Mary, Doreen, Ashley, Stella
Fargo, The USA
11 December 2016




         Informative and passionate experience
Had 3 days in St Petersburg and Natalia's insight and wealth of information, excellent English, really helped to showcase and understand a little of this fascinating city. Together with her colleague/driver Vladimir, who navigated the city as only a local can they were both professional, always on time, never appeared to be stressed especially when we experienced extremely adverse weather. Natalia handled our visas for the time we were in St Petersburg. We were a group of 4 mature travellers from Australia who have never been to Russia. During our time in St Petersburg we did an orientation tour of the city plus visited the Peterhof gardens, 3 metro stations, Catherine Palace and Park, visit to a local market (not a must see) lunch at Restoran Tarkhun featuring typical Georgian cuisine - fabulous, Russian Museum, St Peter and Paul Cathedral, canal boat tour which gave us a different perspective of the city and last but not least several hours at the Hermitage. 

Natalia is passionate about her culture and provided indepth knowledge of all the places we visited and many many artworks we were privileged to see. 
It is absolutely worthwhile to engage Natalia's services for a personalised, informative and intimate tour of St Petersburg. I have attached a photo which shows the enormous queue of people waiting to gain entry into the Hermitage which we were able to avoid.

Ingrid, Hans, Peter and Robin
July 2016



    Hi Natasha and Natalia! 

   Thank you so very much for the most exciting and enjoyable tour we have ever had in any city! You are a fabulous  guide and our newest best friend!  

 Sue and I hope to see you and your husband and your son in California soon. You are invited to stay at our houses when you come. Then I can be the tour guide in Monterey and San Francisco for you. That is a serious invitation!

 I have selected a few photos of us. Please let me know if you receive them so I know if I have your email address correct. I will send them in 2 emails. 

Thank you again!

Warren Anderson, 
August 2016, 
the USA


           Intense , informative, and unforgetable.  

     We (two of us) were travelling to St. Petersburg for only 3 days in early April of  2015 .    Knowing        how many different places we wanted to see in and around the city, we decided to have a               personal guide.      I am very glad we made that choice. Having a very short time right                      before our trip, we worked     on  a very intense schedule with the tour company. It allowed                us to visit as many interesting   historic     sites as possible. 

    After arriving in St. Petersburg by train, we were met by our personal guide NATALIA. 
    We went on a 5 hour city tour with multiple stops by well-known sightseeing points to take               some  excellent photos.
    After a brief checking in at the hotel we continued with the tour to the Yusupov palace- the               place     where Rasputin had been killed. NATALIA showed deep knowledge of the facts of the    event    and    was able to answer all of our questions regarding places we seeing.
   The next 2 days we had a similarly intense schedule to explore one of the richest historical city      of Europe, a city which has the Hermitage- one of the biggest museum in the world, many          fortresses and Christian’s orthodox holly sites, i.e. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.        That church was built on the spot where the assassination of Czar Alexander II took place.
 All of our time in St. Petersburg our guide NATALIA was very helpful and accommodating to our wishes, was able to answer all of our questions, and acted in a friendly and professional manner.
We were so impressed by endless historical sites of St. Petersburg and highly expertise and great attitude of NATALIA that we decided to come again soon, to have more time to discover beauty of that town.
We came again in July, 2015 and spent 3 great days in St. Petersburg with NATALIA. She was not only our guide this time but the driver (quality one) also. 
All those days she was with us as much time as we needed. We visited Carskoselʹskij-Aleksandrovskij licej, place where the greatest Russian poet Pushkin were studied at the young age.
But most gorgeous of all – Peterhof Grand Palace with huge park and fountains.
NATALIA was also able to advise us about best places for dinner and shopping.
She also met and brought us back to the airport.
We highly recommended visit St. Petersburg and definitely ask NATALIA to show you beauty and variety of that city. Thanks NATALIA! We are looking forward to visit Russia and see you again!

Igor and Marina 
The USA, California
April 2015


      The best choice for foreigners- and I guess for locals, as well.

   Natalya - is one of the best guides I've ever had.First - two years ago we had it with    my family. Son had literally felt in love with SPB. This year we already had 3 trips to    SPB and every time I asked Natalya and her team to help with navigating in city          and excursions: a couple who celebrated their dating in SPB, my partner from            Dubai and finally my parents. All - are just amazed with Natalya's hospitality ,        openness and professionalism. I strongly recommend this company to private and business occasions!

Thank you Natalya! Well done! 

Visited May 2015


           Nataliya the Fabulous

A Russian friend of the family said that we should definitely have somebody assisting us on our Russian holiday. And so we were connected with Nataliya -- what a brilliant interpreter of the culture, history, nuances of a people.
Nataliya was quick to respond to our emails, and planned an itinerary for our four-day trip to St Petersburg. The city is overwhelming - there is so much to see and do and experience that as a family we have voted to go back. Soon.
Not only was Nataliya very knowledgeable (she is a licensed guide) but it was apparent she loves her city and actually enjoyed showing it to us. And patiently answered all our questions. Some of the things I appreciated: she is charming, punctual, a very careful driver, very detailed, and also diligent - she wanted to make sure we saw as much as we possibly could. She handled all the tickets, and we moved smoothly through. One of the party is claustrophobic, and Nataliya made sure we took the first slot at The Hermitage, and started somewhere in the middle. Now if I had travelled by myself, would I have managed that? Possibly not. 
In conclusion, my usual question: would I go back? Yes. Would I call Nataliya? Oh, most definitely.

July 2015 
     Mind blowing experience


I am Lessley John  from India. Me, my husband and two our kids  made a pleasure trip to St.Petersburg on July 2013. Our trip was for 3 days. All   was new for us : country,  culture, language, people and traditions. We were  like lost until we saw Natalia. She is a very good human being. She is kind,    simple, humble and has lots of patience.. With kids we found it difficult to find a   guide but thanks for Natalia she accepted our offer. Her price is very    reasonable. May times we were delayed due to our kids even though she    tolerated everything. She even sang to my kids, gave them toys. She helped us  in finding good food, hotel and also many shopping places. She is so friendly  and extremely active. Her English is flawless. The trip was very organised that  we mostly saw all the places at St.Petersburg in 3days.  If you want to get knowledgeable information about the country and about St.Petersburg then no other choice_ Natalia is the one. I'm happy that we are still in contact. She is my big sister and we all love her. St.Petersburg is worth to be visited  Please do visit by taking Natalia as your guide and enjoy every bit of it.  We had a life time experience.

Lesley John, 
July, 2014 
 Petrohrad, nádherné dych vyrážajúce mesto
  Poďakovanie za neskutočne super pobyt v Petrohrade píšem trochu neskôr, ale o to srdečnejšie.   V Júli sme boli s manželom v Petrohrade prvý krát, ale práve tento náš 4 dňový výlet bol jeden z    najvydanejších. Videli sme všetko čo sme chceli vidieť, dokonca aj počasie nám prialo. 

 Toto všetko by ale určite nebolo možné bez precízneho programu, ktorý nám vypracovala a aj  zorganizovala p. Natália Bazhenova . Našou sprievodkyňou bola skvelá pani Eugénia. Výklady  pani Eugénie boli pútavé a veľmi zaujímavé, neúnavne a s absolútnou ľahkosťou profesionála  odpovedala na naše nekonečné otázky. Obe dámy boli úžasné a hoci sme s nimi boli iba pár dní,  ďakujeme im, že nám vstúpili do našich životov. 

 Celý náš pobyt bol vynikajúci , boli sme veľmi spokojní a preto sme sa rozhodli, že budúci rok  chceme vidieť ďalšie pamiatky tohto nádherného mesta. Samozrejme veľmi sa tešíme na stretnutie s pani Natáliou, ktorú opätovne požiadame o naplánovanie programu. 

  Mária  Kovalikovа
July , 2015


            See a lot in a little time!

    We had a one-day tour of St. Petersburg and with Only Saint-Petersburg Tours we had    a tailor-made tour to see the key sights of St. Petersburg including a few hours tour in    the Hermitage Museum. Having a guide is great because you get to cut lines and make    the most of every minute. Natalya and Tatiana were extremely warm and friendly and  you can trust you are in good hands. 

   Oly and Jasmine 
   October 2015 


 Friendly and engaging tour guide

Hello, Natalia… I just wanted to share a few of the pictures that I took while on your excellent tour of the Peterhoff fountains & Palace. The tour will be one of my best memories of my trip to St. Petersburg! Your knowledge of Russian History was evident throughout the tour and it was fascinating to better understand the evolution of the Palace, the fountains, and St. Petersburg overall. We couldn’t have asked for a more friendly and engaging tour guide! I wish you the best and again, really appreciated having you as our tour guide! Best regards 



Bob Cruse 
Olympia, Washington, USA 
August , 2015

        Unique and Experienced guide

My family and I would like to thank you for a very pleasant and unique tour of St. Petersburg with so nice attention to our son for which this was probably not his first choice of a summer holiday. You did an outstanding job in giving us a good impression of the city and making the most of our short stay. Thank you and I will definitely spread the word of you as a unique and very experienced guide of St. Petersburg. 

 Helle Juul Hansen 
August , 2015 


          Greetings from Curacao

We're back home but still remembering our fantastic time in St. Petersburg
Thanks to your professional and friendly guidance!
And thank you for your kind words.
Greetings from all of us!

  August 2014
Patricia , Alan, Vurenne, Charcha, Peggy, Edgard, Daniel. 


Dear Natasha, 

Lana and I came back from our European holiday today.

We loved meeting you in Russia and were very appreciative of your kindness and qualities as a dedicated guide.

Please, let us know your post address- I am going to send  a T -shirt of our national football team  for your husband and two my author books for you as a keepsake.

All the best,
Chris and Lana
July 2014


 Thank you , Natalia!

Natalia is amazing ! She made my stay unforgettable with her ideas and tours in this beautiful city . If you want to see almost everything in a short time , she tells the most important and interesting pieces of information, but if you are eager to know the whole history of Saint Petersburg , she takes time for you and starts telling and telling stories . She is not olny a perfect guide , but a very spirited, and jovial person , so I can only recommend her , and be thankful for every moment of my trip. I took lessons of the Russian language , as she is a professional linguist and language teacher , and learnt a lot from her.


 Sie ist einfach perfekt ! Natalia hat mein Erlebnis unvergesslich gemacht mit ihrer Anleitung und Ideen in deieser wunderschöner Stadt. Wenn du fast alles in kurzer Zeit anschauen möchtest , sie erzählt du wichtigste und interessante Informationen, aber wenn du die ganze Geschichte Sankt Petersburgs anhören möchtest , sie fängt an zu erzählen , und lässt Zeit dafür . Sie ist sowohl ein perfeker Fremdenführer , als auch eine geistvolle, lebensfraue Frau, also ich kann sie nur empfehlen , und sag vielen Dank für alle Momente meines Urlaubs.


Sie hat mir Russisch unterrichtet da sie auch eine professionelle Lehrerin ist, und ich habe sehr viel von ihr gelernt.  Ez  a nő egy csoda ! Natalia felejthetetlenné tette számomra a szentpétervári élményt ötleteivel, meséivel. Ha csak kevés időd van , akkor csak a legfontosabb dolgokat mondja el , és kiemeli az érdekes információkat , ha viszont Szentpétervár egész históriáját hallani szeretnéd , akkor időt szán rád , és elkezd mesélni és mesélni . Natalia nem csak egy tökéletes idegenvezető , de emellett egy talpraesett , életvidám nő , aki a kint töltött időm minden percét felejthetetlenné tette , csak ajánlani tudom ! Orosz nyelvleckéket is adott nekem , mert hivatásos nyelvész és nyelvtanár is , és rengeteget tanultam tőle .

Lidi Kenderesi,
December 2015


Formal Picture of Group2

Nine friends

Eight friends spent two very full days with Natalia in St. Petersburg, and we now have a group of nine friends! It was by far the highlight of our trip, and Natalia was the best guide we had during our two week cruise. She rented a beautiful 15 passenger minivan for us with a safe and wonderful driver. Natalia chose the highlights of St. Petersburg and we saw everything we could have possibly seen in two days. I wish we had had an entire week there!

In addition to being a knowledgeable tour guide, Natalia showed her emotion about her home city as she showed us the beauty and history of St. Petersburg. We also had amazing lunches at a Russian and a Georgian restaurant. Natalia helped us set up a night at the Russian ballet at The Mariinsky Theatre. It was truly beautiful and not to be missed.

There is no one I can recommend any more highly than Natalia for your tour of St. Petersburg. Our time there was personal, emotional, historical and beautiful. We can’t wait to go back and spend more time with Natalia in St. Petersburg!

Carolyn, Eda, Mary Janet, Leon Lamar, Woodrow, Corinne, Belinda, Ronald
the USA, Atlanta



Buzz and Mary

Thank you for a great and wonderful tour and visit.
This will be our happiest memory of Russia.
We will keep in touch and wish you well in all your endeavors.

Thanks again.

 Buzz and Mary Claire, US
October 2013



Raelynn with her familyTo Russia With Love

Few things compel me to write, but when I sat down to thank our guide and driver in St. Petersburg, I knew I had to chronicle the experience. It was an invitation from a dear friend to visit her in Finland that led us to consider visiting Russia in the first place. By train, the journey from place to place takes about 2 ½ hours. Can’t say that the country was on my A-list of places to see because for my generation, Russia was a closed subject; I knew very little about her. In preparation, I read a cultural history, several other books, and invested in Lonely Planet's St. Petersburg. Truth be told; however, I had no expectations. It's just as well, for no amount of study could have prepared me for what awaited.

Only God could have led us to our ideal personal guide. The internet is full of competitive agencies and contenders, and we had no references of whom to hire. From our initial correspondence through our final Skype which served as an interview and assured us that we could understand her English, Natasha was the one meant for us. On Saturday, she arrived promptly in person, and our time together far exceeded anything we could have managed on our own.

We’re off for an overview of the city. First stop, the cat statuettes (commemorated for assisting in disease control during the 900-day siege) and a side step into Eliseev Food Emporium, the lavish, gourmet shop of two brothers whose story is “rags to riches”. Delicate caviars and expensive vodkas are artfully displayed with scrumptious confectionary, cheeses and fine wines. A selection of oysters is visible under glass domes lit by neon blue lighting. In the flamboyant, art-nouveau décor whose centerpiece is a huge, floor-to-ceiling pineapple, a player piano sets the mood. There are too many choices of colors, tastes, and textures, so we leave empty-handed but not before stopping to enjoy the animated elves cavorting in the huge display window.

The city was born on little Zayachy Island where St. Peter and Paul Fortress was begun in 1703. This is our next stop where we see The Bell Tower, still the city's tallest structure, and a controversial statue of Peter the Great whose head and hands are disproportioned. In the baroque cathedral of mint green and pastel pink marble, we see the tombs of most of the entire Romanoff dynasty. Included are those of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. Anastasia lies here with her brother and sisters. Their family was recently canonized by the Mother Church. The tombs of Peter's first wife (whom he divorced and sent to a convent) and their son (whom Peter had tortured and killed in this very fortress) are in a small separate chamber. Indeed, there are dark sides to the Russian story, and we will learn more of them as our tour progresses.

Twenty minutes outside the city, we are served a delicious lunch at Podvorye where the Russian fare is rivaled only by the restaurant's rustic ambiance, and we're off to Catherine's Summer Palace (TsarskoeSelo). This is our first glimpse of the staggering size and opulence of a grand palace. With camera, I try to capture the spectacle, but it is virtually impossible to photograph an entire room's lavish interior. You will either miss the masterpieces painted on the chandelier-draped ceiling, the walls of gilded gold, the doors of tortoise shell boasting clawed handles with ruby knobs, or the floors of nine inlaid woods. One is not allowed to photograph The Amber Room, once dubbed the “ Eighth Wonder of the World”, "Do you know what is amber?” Natasha asks. I answer that it is a mineral. “It is tree sap which has hardened over time,” she says. Picture resin (translucent sepia gel) and imagine an entire room, walls and ceiling, comprised of this combination of texture and color. Accent it with gilded woodcarvings, mirrors, agate, and jasper mosaics and you will have a clear mental picture of this room. Of course, you can't, which is why you must see it for yourself. Natasha is thorough and full of historical insights as she leads us through the massive structure. We are entranced and astounded as we view the meticulous restorations, dramatically contrasted in photographs of the Nazi devastation.

The grounds of landscaped, rolling hills and lakes are no less impressive and include pavilions, bridges and gazebos-a colorful Chinese Pagoda among them. The huge, blue baroque palace was begun by Empress Elizabeth and is named for her mother, Catherine I. Neoclassical additions and the English gardens were the contributions of Catherine the Great, the politically astute, German-born leader who presided 34 years over Russia’s Golden Age of Enlightenment. Beneath the bronze girl who has broken her vase, our beautiful guide recites Pushkin. How can I have never heard about him or of Akhmatova or known of the poets' prominence in the hearts of Russians? Nor read Tolstoy, Dostoevesky, or Gogol? Thanks to Tchaikovsky, I had, at least, heard of Eugene Onegin, and I had seen Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, but that's about it. OK, I had also heard of Nabokov’s Lolita, but I never read it or saw the movie. There is much literature to explore in the years ahead. Natasha has noted that we are musical and arrives early on Sunday to take us to her favorite Russian Orthodox Church that we might hear the outstanding choir of cantors, all-male. How can basses sing so low? There are no seats in these services and congregants come and go as need dictates. Candles are lit ( Natasha brings two for us), and people quietly move reverently from icon to icon, praying, open-eyed, until a priest arrives, seats himself, and begins to hear confessions. All women wear head coverings and dresses except one. She wears long pants which she has tried to conceal with a too-short, colorful scarf. (Note to self: Pack a skirt in the future.) Side trips to a food market, where Natasha spots a stand from her native Belarus, and a flea market are unplanned. Not only do we get a feel for authentic Russian living, but I find the perfect souvenir, an Icon. Natasha has explained that painters of the ancient originals often fasted for a month, emptying themselves of their own spirits, that God might do the painting through them. I liken this to those who wrote the Bible under influence of the Holy Spirit and am awed and thrilled to have found such a meaningful memento. For lunch, our diligent guide has picked a Georgian restaurant and as per every meal, she has pre-selected a tasting menu. Borscht is not part of the fare here, rather we are served stuffed grape leaves, two unusual soups, delectable rolled aubergine with walnuts, and a puffed pastry main course. Dessert is a lightly sweetened Neapolitan. Next we tour The Usupov Palace, my favorite site so far. A manageable size-as if any palace could be- each room has a different décor, and the patterns, colors, and styles are infinite. I guess I'm a fan of Rococo after all...nothing proves too embellished for me. Four Russian boys greet us with folk tunes when we enter the ballroom. How delightful! We gladly sit for a moment to enjoy their harmonies, but Natasha wants to show us the spectacular home theatre. Trust me, you've never seen one to rival this one in grandeur: a sea of golden chairs with red-velvet cushions, glittering gold adornment on all walls, and a draped, family box in the balcony! On a pale mint, arched ceiling, swan-drawn chariots carry foreshortened, cherubic figures to the heavens. The theatre is a miniature version of The Bolshoi in Moscow. On its intimate stage with hand-painted curtains, Pavolova, Shalyapin, List, Chopin, and Glinka all performed for the Usopovs and their invited nobility. It remains a functioning theatre, and in fact, there was chamber music here last night.

Next, we are three in the twenty who are allowed into the powerful Felix Usupov's private cellar quarters. Here, there are two wax figure scenes depicting those who conspired to kill Grigory Rasputin, aka The Mad Monk. Hired as a controversial mystic/healer to relieve the pain of Nicholas II's only son, a hemophiliac, Rasputin was suspected of becoming too politically influential. You can sense the tension among the conspirators as the huge man with penetrating blue eyes eats the sweets laced with potassium cyanide. The juxtaposition of the contrasting values of the day is all too real in this utterly stupefying home.

Tonight, as we scurry off to see the ballet, Spartacus (Khachaturian), we pass a performance on a public square. From blaring speakers, a familiar operatic chorus fills the air for city blocks on end. It is Faust, and there must be a full company on stage singing for all to hear. How can we pass up this unexpected musical opportunity? The scene reminds me that Shostakovich premiered his 7th Symphony in a similar way. With Hitler's armies surrounding them, The Leningrad (St. Petersburg's Soviet name) Symphony had been evacuated. Retired instrumentalists, recruited army musicians, and a reduced Radio Orchestra of 15 performed the symphony in the bombed-out Great Hall of the Philharmonia in 1942.

As the people of the city congregated in the hall or gathered around loudspeakers to listen in the street, a turning point was reached. Ordinary citizens were brought together by music; they felt united by a sense of their city's spiritual strength, by a conviction that their city would be saved…

1 Many people cried to show their joy; others because they had lived through what the music was expressing with such force…

2 We are tempted to stay and listen to the public music, but the new Mariinsky Theatre, opened in April, beckons as does our recollection of the ticket prices we have paid in advance, so we rush on. With 2000 unobstructed seats, its understated façade of glass and limestone bears no resemblance to the ornamented green and white original Mariinsky (Kirov) next door. This theatre rivals The Bolshoi (the Russian word for big) as the premiere ballet theatre in the world. After all, it gave us Nijinsky, Nureyev, Balanchine, and Baryshnikov among many others. As per St. Petersburg, everything is done extravagantly, and the opening number features all 150 troupe members in celebratory Roman costumes, a huge elaborate set, and two live horses on stage! On Monday, Jerry and I rise at noon, having caught up on some missing sleep. This is our "free" day and much needed. Since we toured Stockholm before arriving in Russia, we are still fighting jet lag. There is an 8-hr. difference for us. Did you know that Russia spans 8 time zones-so vast is its land mass? We enjoy a leisurely lunch at Café Singer on the second floor of St. Petersburg's premier bookstore, Dom Knigi. Occupying the marvelous building which was formerly headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Co., the bookstore is directly across from Kazan Cathedral, the Mother Church of Russian Orthodoxy. Here, after a main course of beef stroganov ( named for Count/ General Stroganov), we drink lattes, share a delicious piece of cherry pie, and watch the hundreds of pedestrians crossing the intersection below.

Styles are indeed varied on the street. Though men display no interest in fashion, women in folk dress, teens in tights and sheer tops, and fashionistas stroll by . On the unrelenting concrete of the Nevsky Prospect, the central avenue whose lengthy city blocks must equal two of NY's, over half of these females wear high heels! In a culture so long repressed, this is perhaps an affordable statement of growing affluence. Indeed, St. Petersburg is bustling, Entrepreneurs are seizing the times, businesses are springing up in the city as renovations continue in the suburbs. Lifestyles are improving in leaps and bounds. The rebirth of Peter's City is in full swing!

Since it is July and the white nights make days much longer, we ascend all 242 steps of St. Isaac's Cathedral around 8:00 p.m. At the summit, we are greeted by a booming Russian voice accompanied by loud triumphant music. Is he celebrating our arrival? Yes, he is surely congratulating us our feet’s feat (sorry), and as we gaze the magnificent panorama below, we actually began to feel a bit Russian. It is true, at least for me. I am absorbing Natasha's pride and love of her city's culture and history. The class divide which sparked the revolts and revolution of her ancestors has been integrated and come full circle. Indeed, it is the unrivaled opulence of the Tsars' estates that incites worldwide tourism which, along with new leaders and policies, is sparking fresh optimism and prosperity for the progeny of peasants.

What am ambitious schedule we have planned for our last day. We are admitted early to the famous Hermitage. As a professional artist, I am blown away. Natasha tells us that if one spent a single minute on every piece, it would take eight years to finish seeing all the treasures, not counting those in the vaults and archives. Among the 4-building cluster of 365 rooms comprising The Hermitage is the Winter Palace of the Tsars. Much of art is displayed here. Breathtaking, the museum is visual overload-master upon master displayed in the massive dimensions of magnificently ornamented interiors. Whether to view the palace itself or the art within is a constant struggle for the visitor. This is, after all, the building where Catherine the Great hosted spectacular balls and masquerades and upon whose staircase the Russian Revolution began. The Malachite Room, a ballroom whose walls were surely touched by Midas, the Red Room where portraits of the Romanoffs and military leaders rise to the height of the towering ceiling-so much art, so much history! Natasha has extensively studied the art of her city, and it is her vast knowledge of the stunning collection that brings canvases and sculptures to light. Rembrandt, daVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and the Flemish painters are all represented. The Spanish painters are here too; in fact, not many are missing in these astonishing galleries. The collection of Impressionistic paintings is arguably the best in the world, especially considering The Hidden Treasures revealed in the 90's. Kept secret since they were confiscated by the Red Army from Germany at the end of WWII, they are among the museum's most impressive. The centerpiece of Pavilion Hall is the incredible Peacock Clock. Displayed under glass, a revolving dial in a toadstool tells the time, and on the hour, the life-sized peacock spreads its wings, and the toadstools, owl, and cock come to life. As we reluctantly leave with only an overview of what is here, I now understand well the comment of my Israeli friend who said to his wife upon exiting the museum, "Let's go again!" And they did.

Did we see The National Museum before lunch? Can't say. It houses famous Russian artwork including many by master, Repin. I particularly enjoy the work of the artists whose fairytale illustrations allow insight into the folklore of this country. Despite the evident European influences, St. Petersburg’s artists, musicians, and writers have long looked to folk culture for inspiration. At the School Door ( Bogdanov-Belsky) is poignant. It pictures a ragged peasant boy longingly peering into a village classroom. Christian Martyrs at the Colosseum (Flavitsky) moves me to tears. Lunch is Ukrainian and served in the most charming country décor. There are flower baskets hanging above us, an old rural stove, a market tableau, and waiters in native dress. Of course, we pose with them for pictures. Appropriately, we are given props of a straw hat for Jerry and a fruit basket for me to complete the illusion that we too belong here.

At some point, we see the mosaic interiors of the famous landmark, Church on the Spilled Blood. Restoration of this Russian Revival marvel took longer than it did to build since it was used as a warehouse for potatoes and theatre sets when Stalin closed the churches in the 30's. The spilled blood is that of Alexander II who is renowned for having freed the serfs. His tomb and canopy of rhodonite and jasper mark the spot where he died from injuries suffered from a crude, terrorist bomb. The church reopened in 1997, and its 7.000 sq. meters of mosaics are nothing short of spectacular. Having seen the Byzantine mosaics of Tuscany in April, I can attest to the stunning work of the Russian masters. They chose to do the church's entire interior in tile, thus decreasing future restoration expense. As a Christian, I am warmed by the reopening of the city's churches, many of which are holding services again.

Sometime later, we visit The Museum of Ethnography where we view the exhibits of the over-150 ethnic cultures which inhabit Russia. In primitive conditions, the Asian-faced people of the frozen north eke out a living from the abundant Reindeer, the hides of which both clothe and house them. Simultaneously, rural peasants further south manage to make shoes and baskets from the same Birch trees that fashion their weapons and utensils. The sections on Transcaucasia and Central Asia are fascinating. They include colorful rugs and two full-sized yurts (Nomadic tents).To visually contrast these stark living conditions with those represented by the luxurious palaces we’ve seen underscores the circumstances which eventually led to the Bolshevik uprising.

Peter built a city of canals and intended that the populous should use boats as their means of transportation, thus the city is often called "The Venice of the North". Today, the water on the Neva is choppy, so our trip to Peterhof by hydrofoil is foiled. (sorry) Not to be deterred, our resolute, licensed Russian guide will drive us there pointing out St. Peter's first Cinema on the way. Its basement was used as a place of torture under Stalin. We pass Strelna, now Putin's Presidential Palace, and where the St. Petersburg native stays when in town. His guests stay in The Baltic Star Hotel/Cottages on the grounds. You too can sleep like a Tsar if there are vacancies. Each cottage has its own swimming pool among other luxuries.

When Peter spent summers at Peterhof, over 250 mansions of wealthy aristocrats lined the street. Only a few remain and thankfully, are being restored. Rennovations of palaces, estates, gardens, and museums continues, so one can anticipate future excursions to sites not yet opened. Traffic is slightly slowed due to an accident. When we pass the cars involved, Natasha, upon seeing the slumped driver, simply says, "He is dead". Her certainty somehow implies that she has witnessed death before on her travels. We drive on.

"Hof", we are told, is a Dutch word meaning court. So Peterhof is Peter’s court. This afternoon, the magnificent yellow Grand Palace with shining gold domes is silhouetted against a bright blue sky. I am at once sorry that there is no time to tour inside. When we walk around to the back side; however, all sadness dissipates. A spectacular sight, The Grand Cascade is the largest and most impressive of the 150 gravity-powered fountains on the estate. Fourteen or more large scale golden statues flank its wide parameters. The central figure is that of Samson tearing open the lion's jaws. It celebrates, as do many things in St. Petersburg, the victory over the Swedes.

At 10 a.m., accompanied by music, the fountains are turned on for the day. We have arrived in time to see the ceremony repeated as they are shut off at 6:00 p.m. Breathtaking is far too diminutive an adjective to describe their splendor. Simultaneously, water is shot high into the air and descends in tiers from its checkerboard marble precipice to The Gulf of Finland far into the horizon. Water Avenue is a canal crisscrossed by bridges and dotted with smaller shooting fountains. The symphony of sight and sound proves too much, and I am overcome with emotion.

Unparalleled beauty! We stroll the gardens and find several fountains that unpredictably spray the visitor. The virile designer, 6' 8 Peter- visionary, reformer, shipbuilder, craftsman, and amateur dentist- also had a hearty sense of humor.

Sadly, our 4 days come to an end. Considering all we have experienced, we are surprised when Natasha declares that we would be disappointed indeed were she to tell us all we have not seen (A good reason to return). If you go, and you should, allow at least a week, preferably 10-14 days. These colossal sites are spread out, Russian style. In tourist season, there is congestion and traffic. Better perhaps to go in late spring or early fall (before November). Rates are better and crowds diminish. Additionally, you may be able to see an opera or the Symphony, both of which are dark in Summer. Just consider the great Russian composers: Rachmaninoff, Glazunov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, et al. Where else would their music sound any better? Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory often showcases its musical students but again, not in the Summer. So we reluctantly say goodbye to Natasha who has taught us so much, been sensitive to our interests, and given 150% of her energy to show us her city. "I would be honored, "she says,"if you would come to my flat to meet my family. We can have a light supper and I will drive you back to the city." Without hesitation, we accept.

Natasha bestows gifts: cookies in a tin of Russian design, chocolates, a pink horseshoe to invite happiness for me and bees' balm and ear candles to help Jerry who has complained of hearing problems during our tour. Then she takes the instrument. "How do I translate these lyrics which are essentially, a poem?" she asks. Verbatim translation always seems to lose essence, but Natasha tries. [It says, "You honor me so much by sharing the things I love." I try to sing my joy.”] With a full heart, she sings, and with a full hearts, we receive the most special gift of our trip. Do I need to confess weeping?

Indeed, in our time together, we have bonded. We share many similarities, she and I: we both like cats (I got to meet hers), we are partial to the color pink, we are musical and artistic, and we are born under the sign of Scorpio. But there is much more. Our souls have touched. Yes, I know, first hand, something of the "elusive Russian soul". The great divide of continents and cultures, of histories and languages, of ages and differences is erased. We are aware only of our love for each other. Thank you, God for this precious moment in time. It is no coincidence that many of her tourists invite Natasha to visit them, such is her endearment. We embrace outside our hotel but not before I have, of course, invited them all to visit us in the US of GA.

St. Petersburg, Natasha, we came as strangers; we departed as friends. May you too have so joy-full an experience.

Raelynn Bierly July,

Jeff Sheron and me December 2012 2 Jeff and Sharon

Natalia is an experienced guide whom we found through google searching. Though our trip in St. Petersburg lasted for only 2 days, getting her to be our guide was the best decision ever made. Her hospitality and enthusiasm portrayed from the way she presents herself shows how much passion she has in sharing the wonderful things that Russia has to offer. She is also well organised and very flexible with the itinerary plannings to suit our needs.
Even though the weather wasn't working to our advantage, her presence more than made up for it. And if it wasn't for her, we would be struggling to get around the city in melting snow and fighting the horrible winds.
I highly recommend her to anyone who wants to know more about Russia's language, culture, history and the people living there. Her charging rate is absolutely reasonable when you compare it with other guides. Give her a try and you won't be disappointed.

Jeff and Sharon
Hong Kong
December 2012


Joan and Ralph  2 Joan and Ralph

Dear Natalia,
I apologize for being so slow in writing to you. We just can't thank you enough for the wonderful three days you guided us around St. Petersburg!

It was a perfect introduction to Russia for us, getting us acquainted with so much of the history centering around St. Petersburg and the czars and their families. You are truly a fine guide!

Thank you for the gifts you gave us when we left. The candy was delicious and we snacked on it through the entire train ride. The book about the wives of the czars was fascinating to read. As soon as we returned home, I mailed it to our grandson who is studying the czars in his history class at the university now. Also, giving us the icon which has meant so much to you was a very touching gesture.

Our friends told us you are coming to Albuquerque at the end of October. You will be staying with them, but we really do want to see you, too. Perhaps we can spend a day with you, taking you places you would like to see. I'm trusting that he will tell us when you are arriving.

The Golden Eagle train was a totally different experience for us. We've ridden on trains before but never for so long a time or for such a long distance. We spent many days off the train and in buses touring the area. There were 77 passengers who were divided between three tourist coaches. Each bus had its own guide. Our day in Mongolia 's capital, Ulan Bataar, was very different. For one thing, many more signs were in English than they were in Russia.

Thank you again for being our guide and for giving us keepsakes to remember you by.

With love,
Joan and Ralph
September 2012


Marcie Richard    Marcie and Richard

Hello Natalia
I just posted this review to Trip Advisor. It may take a few days to appear. Please feel free to use it in any way that will be helpful to you. I am sure there are other places besides Trip Advisor where guides can be obtained. If you need me to send it, just let me know the link. I have saved it. I can't tell you how much we all enjoyed and appreciated your able assistance over three days. You did NOT have to give us candy and vodka to convince us that Russians are extra specially nice people! But thank you just the same! I am most sincere when I say I hope you will come to San Francisco. We would be pleased to show you our big city. Nevada City is a very small one, but fun nevertheless.
I am also going to send you the link to Richard's You Tube video. He has about 186,000 "hits" from all over the world which is not so bad for a grampa. He has several CD's, and if you will give me your address I will send you one when I get home. Once again, many thanks for the special treats and excellent help. You really made our stay in St. Petersburg so much more enjoyable that it would have been if we had not met you. Most sincerely, Marcie
Sent from my iPad:
We are two couples in our mid sixties traveling to St. Petersburg for an all too short eight days. There is so much to see in this wonderful city, and alas, not enough time to see more than a smattering. We had engaged a guide to assist us, but she became "busy" and turned us over to one Natalia Bazhenova. Our lucky day! We could not have been more fortunate. For three days Natalia and her excellent drive Misha drove us from sight to sight. Although we would owe her for our tickets at the end of the day, she bought our ticktets to the attractions and navigated the seemingly endless queues allowing us to enter the Peterhov and the Catherine Palace without waiting in line. My husband is a bit hard of hearing, but her diction was so EXCELLENT, he could hear her every word. Her lively commentary was intelligent, informative and passionate. And may I say she is not only attractive on the outside, but on the inside as well. She knew I had hurt my knee so she brought me a magnetic, electronic resonating machine she thought would help. We liked her so much it is our hope she will one day come to the US so we can show San Francisco to her. Do yourself a favor, be you a casual tourist staying in a hotel or a part of a ship.
Hire an excellent guide -- Natalia Bazhenove, e-mail bnspb5@mail.ru , tel: +7-921-415-55-35. And P.S. Her rates are quite reasonable!.

Marcie and Richard,
the USA
September 2012


Peter and his wife from AustraliaPeter and Narelle

Dear Natalia,
We would also like to thank you sincerely for the time and effort you put into showing us around your city, St Petersburg. We had a wonderful time with you and will recommend you highly to anyone we know who is looking for a guide in your city.

Peter and Narelle,
August 2012




TurkeyFeray, Cigdem, Nuket, Zuhal

Dear Natalia,
We hope you are fine. We are at home now after a long travel. We want to thank you again for everything. Our trip to St Petersburg was magnificent with your perfect and friendly guidance. Your knowledge on art and history made our visit especially to Hermitage, Pushkin and Peterhof so impressive.
We are sending some photo of us, our smiling faces are because of your success in your work.
Thank you so much for your warm hospitality and friendship.
If you will come to Istanbul, please let us know, we will be happy to meet you in our country.

We wish you all the best in your life.
Feray, Cigdem, Nuket, Zuhal
August 2012


indiaaaaMurali Rao

We are a family of four from India with 2 young children. We visited St Petersburg recently, and had the opportunity to visit the Hermitage. We had engaged the services of Natalia, a fabulous English speaking guide.
We had a fascinating 3 hour tour of the Hermitage. Natalia has a very good knowledge about all the details that any traveller intends to know. We were told that she is a teacher herself, and was very friendly, forthcoming, and very interactive, much to the delight of our children, not to mention ourselves. She was fully involved in the conversation and managed to capture our attention for the entire duration, which is certainly creditable.
There is so much to see, and three hours just doesn't seem enough. We had prioritized our interests, and she focussed the tour on those areas, making it enjoyable and worthwhile.
We are glad we chose Natalia to be our guide, and would certainly recommend any traveler to consider engaging her professional services, and you are assured of a memorable time.

Best regards,
Murali Rao
July 2012


Eva2 Hungary 2012 June1

Dear Natalia,
It has been a real pleasure to get to know You and discover interesting places through You.
We do appreciate that You have done a great effort to get us in to those palaces we have visited. Without You we had no chance to get in to any of those. One of the Hungarian group we met on the flight back has mentioned that they had a booked time slot in Pavlovsk, but in spite of this they were not able to get in. So we do understand the effort You have done for us.
It was also a fun time to be with You!
We wish You a great success and joy in your life. I would like to stay in touch and ask if You plan to come to Budapest make sure that we meet each other.

Wishing You all the best,
July 2012


Dany Alen

Dear Natacha,
Being back in Belgium for about a week ,we still enjoy at home your Russian Cookies(box on the salon table) very much. Even better are our memories of St.Petersburg and especially your guidance : you are not simply a good guide,you were simply the best we ever had.
This evidence I sended five minutes ago to Cruiseplus,who is the biggest agency for luxurious cruises here in Belgium and whome we always travel with. I want to add also in this mail,dear Natacha that I was touched by your warm personality and sensitiveness that one finds only by a person of rare beauty inside.

With kindest regards,
Dany Alen
June 2012


norwCecilie, Bjørg, Lone, Helèn, Hanne, Annik and Mona

Hello Natalia
Thank you for the most interesting day we could hope for in your beautiful city of St. Petersburg.
You are a fantastic guide and we wish you the best in the future.

Cecilie, Bjørg, Lone, Helèn, Hanne, Annik and Mona
From Kirkenes
September 2011



Dear Natalia ,
I do like to thank you again for the nice morning and lunch we had. I enjoyed it very much and was impressed by the knowlege you have about the history of your country. Hope to see you again one day.

Best regards
August 2011


Anne and Claude

Hello Natalia,
We left St.- Petersbourg and we are coming back in Belgium. I want still to thank you- we didn't do it enough. Our visit to Pushkin was really wonderful. A very very nice day, thanks so much to you! If, one day, you come in Belgium, or in France, please, let us know, we'll be happy to help you. Bye

Sincerely yours,
Anne and Claude
June 2011


Mietka Zieba

Dear Natalia:
My apology for the delay reply. I took few days off and spent time in Poland, only arrived here few days ago.
I just wanted to thank you so much for your PROFESSIONALISM and for being a lovely person. Please keep in touch.
By the way, I met Ian yesterday at the airport, his first question was, do I have your email address- he simply wanted to thank you very much as well .
So again, my invitation is open if you ever decide to visit Canada. Ian is saying he would be so pleased to host you in Vancouver. Cheers. Mietka

Mietka Zieba
Senior Trade Consultant
CMHC International
June 2010


polPaul Ross

Dear Natalia,
Thank you again for your warm, friendly introduction to St. Petersburg. You are a fantastic guide, very patient, very interesting and I learned a lot from you. It was a pleasure to meet you and spend time with you touring the history of your beautiful city.  You made St. Petersburg a very memorable visit.  Someday I hope to return.
I have attached a photo of you in the Summer Palace; maybe you can use it as a promotional photo for your tour business.

Warm regards, Paul
(we exchanged business cards)
Paul Ross
CP Ross Consulting Group Inc
May 2010


Hogan 2Hogan Woo

Dear Natalia,
How are you today?
I was back well in Korea.
First of all, I appreciate your hospitality during my visit.
And I would like to tell you thank you very much for so interesting excursions !
You are a real guide - with a wide knowledge of history and art, your fluent English, understanding of Asian and so on. You gave me a “new look” for your city-it’s really the cultural capital of Russia!
Thank you once again!
Have a good day!

Best regards
Hogan Woo
Tu-Dee Diamond Industrial Co.,Ltd
November 2009


Mária and Jozef Kovalikoví 

  Petersburg is a beautiful city.” I am writing my thanks for a super stay in Petersburg later, but more warmhearted. In july we were with my husband in Petersburg for the first time, but this 4 days trip was one of most successful trips. We saw everything what we want to see and actually the weather was great. All of this wouldn´t be possible without precize program, which was drawn up and organized by madam Natália Bazhenova. Our tour guide was great madam Eugénia. Commentaries of madam Eugénia were absorbing and very interesting. Madam Eugénia was ansvering on our questions tirelessly and with absolute easiness of profesional. Both of madams were great and even we were with them only few days, we are grateful, that they are entered to our lives. Whole our stay was outstanding. We were very satisfied and that's why we decided that next year we want to see more historical monuments of this beautiful city. Of course we are looking forward to meet madam Natália, whoes we ask to plan a program.

Sincerely Mária and Jozef Kovalikoví
Visited July 2015


Hogan 2Fabian and Sarah

Informative, Exciting, great perspective of Saint Petersburg! My husband and I went on a tour of both the Hermitage and the old town of Saint Petersburg (each tour 3 hours in length) with Natalia. We thoroughly enjoyed both tours - and were lucky enough to learn so much about such a wonderful city in the short amount of time that we had there. Natalia is full of information - as well as all of the facts & figures - every room, building, street corner has an interesting unique story which added an element of depth to our understanding of the city and the things that we were seeing. She knows a huge amount about art & architecture too in addition to learning about the city, we also learnt about this along the way! As well as being a wealth of information Natalia was wonderful and personable, speaks perfect English and really made sure we were enjoying ourselves and seeing/learning things that interested us - she was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with! I can highly recommend a tour with Natalia – and would also like to thank her again for the wonderful tours & time we spent together.

Fabian and Sarah
April, 2015