But today's blog post isn't about where we're going - it's about where we started, which is Saint Petersburg, Russia. Why here? The simple answer is that Paul and Dave, the company founders, took a trip to Saint Petersburg not long after the idea for ToursByLocals was hatched. While the trip's aim was primarily pleasure, Paul and Dave made a point of meeting several local guides to get a sense of their thoughts regarding the ToursByLocals business model. The response from the guides was extremely positive, and ToursByLocals was officially born with the enthusiastic Saunt Petersburg guides leading the charge.
Three and a half years later, our guides in Saint Petersburg are still a strong presence in our worldwide network. We have 15 of them listed, many of whom have been with us since early 2009. As they will tell you, it's a delight being a guide in a city that leaves visitors grasping for enough superlatives to describe its beauty.
Having a good guide in Saint Petersburg really is a must. Practically speaking, Saint Petersburg's attractions are spread over a vast area; the grand palaces, like Peterhof and Yusupov, are located outside of the city, some close to an hour away, and having a knowledgeable driver-guide means you'll get to see more of what you came to see, without getting lost!
Culturally, Saint Petersburg knows no bounds: its art, architecture and theatre performances are the city's true treasures, and having an expert along with you is like having the key to the treasure chest. For example, Irina, a ToursByLocals guide since March 2009, has a Master's in Fine Arts and is currently working on her PhD dissertation on the history of St. Petersburg architecture. Imagine touring the stately Hermitage with your own private guide explaining the many significances of one of the largest art collections in the world.
Recently a ToursByLocals traveler sent us a couple photos (see above) from his trip to St. Petersburg. While there, his group of four took tours with guides Irina and Alexander to see such sublime places as Yusupoff Palace and the summer home of Catherine the Great. Along with the photos, they left 5-star reviews for their obliging and extremely knowledgeable guides.