May 29, 2014
Review about Imperial Capitals by Madelyn Hoffman
Writing just to let you know that I'm back from my tour of Russia -- and I have to say it was eye-opening, informative and just plain wonderful!
I have some feedback to share with you, all in the context of how to make an excellent tour even better.
1. Maria Ganina is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people I have ever met. Her knowledge of art and art history, as well as the history of Imperial Russia is simply amazing. She seems to have examined every painting and every item in the Hermitage and in every room of every palace. Her English is also very strong, so she can share information with us in great detail - in a way that is easy to understand and remember. She is a true Renaissance woman. Not only that, she is an understanding and helpful person who understood and addressed the needs of our group at all times.
2. I think the tour schedule was well thought out and while packed with activities, also gave us time at night and in the morning to collect our thoughts and get ready for another day. My only suggestion is that instead of visiting so many cathedrals/churches/monasteries perhaps we could have had a tour of the synagogue in St. Petersburg (I visited it during my free time, but perhaps it would have been worth adding it in); a visit to one of the larger memorials to World War II; and perhaps a visit to the Russian Ethnography Museum, so we could have had an understanding of all the diverse peoples who have made Russia what it is today. Thankfully, Maria mentioned the synagogue and the Russian Ethnography Museum so I could visit the synagogue during some free time and will visit the museum through their website.
Once again, thank you for all your help in making sure I was prepared to take this trip -- it was fantastic! Sincerely, Madelyn Hoffman