Posted April 5th, 2007, 06:14 PM
To answer the questions about Stolle. I don't have the specific address. I had a business card but can't find it now. It seems like the Stolle cafes are a chain franchise so there would be a few in the city itself. I could be wrong about this. Ask your Denrus contact person. Actually, we were scheduled to go try Bliny House but our guide suggested that we may want to try the pies instead because it was closer to one of our sightseeing stops (maybe Church of Spilled Blood).
This cafe only took rubles. I had some local currency from our last cruise to Russia. But I had our guide take us to a money exchange location and she went in as a local to get me $300 of rubles (we enjoyed shopping at the dance store). She went into the money exchange location by herself and gave me the rubles along with the exchange receipt so I knew how much was the exchange rate and how much I was suppose to get back.
Whether to eat with your guide and pay for their meals is a matter of personal choice. My husand and I just felt that we spent so much money already (about $1000 for a family of 4) that treating our guide and the driver is not a big deal. We made a good impression with our guide & driver and they really treated us like good friends. Our driver always parked as close as possible to the sites and came out to escort us from the dance shop (where we spent some money) to the car so our purchases wouldn't be snatched as we were walking back to the car. Andre, our driver, carried my sleeping daughter from the van to the immigration hut after our 1st long day in St. Pete. Our guide always kept one eye for the restrooms and when there was a short line, suggested that we go immediately before the big tour buses came. We spent more time at the Petershoff fountains because our guide saw how much our kids loved the gardens and fountains. St. Petersburg really was the highlight of our Baltic cruise, not only because of the rich history and amazing architecture, but also from learning about how the Russian people live and what they think.
Thanks for the detailed response. I'm concerned about location just in terms of not having to go out of our way all that much to eat lunch, but it sounds like we could handle this.
I had sent an email to my Denrus contact, but didn't have a reply when I posted here. (That was a good suggestion of yours, though.) Yes, it is apparently a chain, but as you note, it offers a bit of variety and something we don't normally get.
All of us like the idea of eating with our guide and driver. The additional cost is not a big deal, and I think it's just another way to enrich the experience for us. We're planning on doing it.
Do you recall how expensive Stolle was? It sounds quite reasonable from your description, but there will be three unrelated families on this tour and I'd like to have all the information for them.
I really appreciate alll the details.