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Our Team

About Open Russia Tours

Open Russia Tours, founded in 2011, is a unique travel company that merges the considerable talents of three eminent Russian women academics, authors and cultural pundits. In addition to impressive resumes in the world of Russian travel, each of the founders is a scholar in history, music, arts and literature with individual credits as producers of major cultural events such as charity balls and ballet performances. They are also recognised as distinguished lecturers, editors and publishers of various books and articles and as museum curators. Each is a native of St. Petersburg, a graduate of the Literature and Language Department of the St. Petersburg University, fluent in English (speaking Spanish and French as well), and each is fully licensed with all of the major Russian museums.

With almost 25 years of combined experience, Open Russia offers the highest professional level service in guiding, organising and managing small and large tour groups, producing incentive programs and events and creating tailor-made itineraries for clients with special needs and interests. Open Russia will actively correspond with you prior to your trip to answer all of your questions and help you ‘fine tune’ your personal itinerary. They also attend to every detail from welcoming you at the airport, to carefully handling your luggage, to providing comfortable and timely hotel transfers, to booking seats at the finest restaurants and world class theatre performances, to giving the best advice on shops and places to visit and finally, to ensuring you a most pleasant and safe journey. If you are in the right mood, they’ll even read you a Pushkin poem. Or, if you are interested, they’ll happily share their considerable knowledge and experience of the flourishing contemporary art scene in Russia.

Simply put, the mission of Open Russia Tours is to serve and fulfil the highly personal vision of its guests while providing a genuine and authentic insight into real Russian life. As experienced world travellers themselves, these three have a uniquely keen insight into the special needs of the discerning cultural traveller and their impressive roster of clients is a ‘Who’s Who’ of celebrities in the world of culture, business and politics. In uniting a diverse range of talents and specialists, Open Russia Tours has become a travel company “whose sum is greater then the total of its parts” with an unparalleled ability to show you the best of Russia and its extraordinary history and culture.

Our Guides

Elena Gavrilova

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English

I was born in St. Petersburg and has lived here all my life. I’m a graduate of St. Petersburg State University Philological Department, specializing in English Language and Literature.

I have almost thirty years of experience as an English speaking tour guide, tour director and a consecutive Russian language interpreter and translator. I worked with numerous English speaking tour groups, special interest groups, corporate executives and governmental officials; interpreted at meetings with U.S. Senators and Congressmen, Members of Russian Duma and Federation Council.

I have worked with groups of professional artists, entertainers, and performers such as British Royal Ballet, BBC 1 film crews, Carry Fisher, Richard Gere, Jene Hackman.

I have travelled independently to more than sixty countries of the world and therefore can understand the traveler’s needs and concerns. My special interests are opera and ballet, I’m painting a little bit myself and St. Petersburg has always been an inspiration for me. I adore this city and all it’s peculiarities and I love sharing it with our guests.

Olga Koshutskaya

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English

Having graduated from the State University of St Petersburg, Department of Languages and Russian Literature, I was officially qualified by the St Petersburg government as a guide of the highest category. Fluent in Russian and English, I have licenses and permissions to guide in all major museums in St. Petersburg and its environs.

My 20 years guiding experience includes working with individuals, tour group, MICE, companies and Foundations such as World Monument Fund, Coca-Cola, Mitsubish, Abercrombie and Kent, Universities of USA and UK, Senators of US, New York Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; as well as Ambassadors of various countries to Russia and other VIPs.

Maria Zotova

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English

I am a graduate of the State University of St Petersburg, Faculty of Foreign languages, department of English language and literature.

I have 14 years experience as a guide. I love St. Petersburg, it’s great history and of course I do my best to show guests of our glorious city it’s beautiful sites and environs. I will be very glad to tell you breath-taking stories from the Russian history.

I have good experience working with organized groups, individuals, business travelers, MICE, English and American politicians and entrepreneurs.

Natalia Frolova

Specialty Region: Russia, Moscow
Languages Spoken: English

I started my professional career as a teacher of English at the university where I got my degree in English and French. Besides, I got experience working in travel companies as a manager and a tour leader around Europe. I’ve always been interested in Russian history, arts, architecture and theatre.

I’ve been working as a Moscow English-speaking guide-interpreter for 20 years since 2000 with individuals, groups and companies such as American Express, Stanford University, National Geographic, World Leaders Travel, Victoria Beckham, Royal Ontario Museum, Calgary Museum of Contemporary Art, People to People, Coca-Cola and others.

I’m happy that I can share my knowledge and love to Russia with international travellers. It is a great advantage of my job to meet and interact with people of different social status, age and profession. It’s so nice when travelers say that their trip to Russia, Moscow has exceeded their expectations, and they would like to come back.

Olga Bogdanova

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English

I graduated as a physicist and a technical translator from the Physical and Technical Institute and worked at several Trade & Construction and Scientific companies preparing contracts, translating correspondence and participating in the negotiations with the foreign suppliers and customers.

In 1990-es I graduated from guides’ courses and got licenses to work as a guide in St. Petersburg and its environs. Employed by several travel companies, I acquired a broad experience working with groups, individuals and VIP clients. I can boast a deep knowledge of history, arts and Orthodox church.

In their feedback my guests refer to me as reliable, trustworthy, flexible, bright, having a great sense of humour, cheerful and active.

Natalia Elert

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English, Spanish

I don’t even know how can you be anything but a tour guide living in St. Petersburg as the whole city is one big museum itself. So that’s why I am a tour guide with 20 years long experience.

Born in St. Petersburg, I’ve always been fascinated with its history & architecture. Though my degree at the Teachers Training University was Foreign Languages (English & Spanish), I started taking courses and lectures on Arts and Arts History at the Hermitage and Russian Museum and ended up becoming a professional guide.

My licenses allow me to work in the Hermitage, Peter-and-Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Saviour on the Spilled Blood Church, Peterhof, Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Yusupov Palace, Russian Museum, Faberge Museum and others.

I am friendly, cheerful, responsible and punctual, always trying to be attentive to my guest’s expectations and requests. I am very proud of my city and ready to share it with you.

Región de especialidad: Rusia, San Petersburgo
Idiomas hablados: Español, Inglés

Ni siquiera puedo imaginarme como uno viviendo en San Petersburgo pueda tener alguna otra profesión sino la de guía turística.Como toda la ciudad es un museo grande e increíble.

Nacida en San Petersburgo, desde la niñez me fascinaba tanto la historia y la arquitectura del lugar.Aunque me gradué de la Universidad de Profesores ( idiomas extranjeras Español e Ingles) siempre me atraía mucho el arte,la historia del arte. Asistía las clases en el museo del Hermitage y el museo Ruso.Y por fin, llegué a ser la guía profesional con ya 20 años de experiencia.

Tengo los permisos de guiar en la Fortaleza de Pedro y Pablo, la Catedral de San Isaac, la Iglesia de la Sangre Derramada, el Hermitage, Peterhof, Palacio de Catalina en Pushkin, Pavlovsk, el Palacio Yusupov, el museo del arte Ruso, el museo de Faberge.

Soy una persona sociable, amistosa, responsable y puntual, siempre atenta a los gustos y preferencias de los visitantes. Estoy enamorada de San Petersburgo y quisiera compartirlo con Ustedes.

Elena Khalavenkova

Région: Russie, St. Pétersbourg
Langues Parlées: Français, Anglais

Avec beaucoup d’amour pour Saint-Pétersbourg et ses visiteurs, Elena fait découvrir l’esprit élégant et unique de la ville, la dépeignant dans ce cadre historique fascinant.

Native de Saint-Pétersbourg, c’est depuis des décennies qu’Elena est en contact étroit avec la culture et civilisation françaises. Tout d’abord, en étant étudiante en français à la Faculté des Lettres de l’Université d’État, puis, en travaillant durant des années dans le service commercial de la compagnie Air France. La version française du site Internet où vous êtes actuellement, est aussi son travail d’interprète (sauf onglet hôtels), qui peut bien témoigner de sa maîtrise de la langue.

Elena a de très riches connaissances culturelles et expériences créatives en tant que pianiste et décoratrice diplômée, s’exerçant également à l’art de la peinture. Dans son répertoire de guide, on peut trouver toutes les beautés de la Venise du Nord qu’elle portrait comme une vraie artiste.

Son assistance est très personnalisée, elle adore la diversité des caractères de ses clients et respecte beaucoup leurs particularités.

Tatjana Mershvinskaja

Tätig in: Russland, St Petersburg
Gesprochene Sprachen: Deutsch

Tatjana Mershvinskaja ist 1972 in Leningrad geboren. Deutsch hat sie an der Philologischen Fakultät der Staatlichen Universität St. Petersburg studiert (Fachrichtung Germanistik, Schwerpunkt Deutsch).

Nach dem Abschluss ihres Studiums 1995 ist Tatjana an der Fakultät geblieben und arbeitete dort als Deutschlehrerin.

Das Interesse für Kunst, Geschichte und Architektur ihrer Heimatstadt hat Tatjana dazu inspiriert, Ausbildung als Reiseleiterin zu machen. Neben ihrer Fortbildung als Fremdenführerin hat Sie Ausbildung bei den bekanntesten Museen von St. Petersburg gemacht, damit sie als autorisierte Reiseleiterin bei diesen Museen arbeiten kann.

Die Tätigkeit als Reiseleiterin macht Tatjana viel Spaß. Seit 1998 begleitet sie Reisegruppen, Privatpersonen, betreut Incentive-Gruppen. Mit 20-jähriger Erfahrung als autorisierte Reiseleiterin in Museen von St. Petersburg sowie dessen historischen Vororten bietet Tatjana ihren Gästen hochqualitative und angenehme Begleitung an. Mit Begeisterung und Kompetenz bringt sie ihren Gästen nicht nur Geschichte, sondern auch das Alltagsleben ihres Landes näher.

Anna Udalova

Specialty Region: Russia, St Petersburg
Languages Spoken: English, Portuguese

I am Anna Udalova, born in 1973 in St Petersburg. I graduated from the Lyceum #2, one of the most famous in St. Petersburg. Two sons of Alexander Pushkin graduated from there in the 19th century and later the well-known conductor Mravinsky studied there too.

I started my career as a guide in 1994 before I graduated the University in 1997 as a philologist. Moreover, I specialise in Russian history, the history of the Romanov dynasty and world history. I have a deep interest for arts history and have acquired all licenses to guide in St. Petersburg museums and art galleries.

Working as a guide, I had an opportunity to meet different people from all over the world. I view myself as a knowledgeable, communicative, optimistic person with a personal approach to every client.

País / Região Especial: Rússia, São Petersburgo
Idiomas falados: Português

Anna Udalova nasceu em São-Petesburgo em 1973, estudou no Liceo #2, mais famoso de São-Petesburgo.

Dois filhos do poeta Alexandre Pushkin, mais célebre da Rússia, estudaram lá no século XlX. Além disso, mais tarde o destacado maestro Mravinsky estudava lá também.

Comecou o seu trabalho como a guia turística em 1994 antes de ter acabado a Universidade em 1997. Formou-se na Universidade em Letras, Filologia e História. Especializa-se na história das Artes, na história da Rússia e na história da família real.

Ela tem um interesse especial na história da família Romanov. Ao decorrer o tempo ela teve a possibilidade de se encotrar com muitas pessoas de todo o mundo. Ela è muito competente, sociàvel e otimista mostrando atenção pessoal a cada cliente.

Yaroslava Bilinkina

Specialty Region: Georgia
Languages Spoken: Georgian, English

Yaroslava is a graduate of the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and since 2012 has worked in the State Hermitage Museum, researcher of Georgian and Caucasian art and culture, exhibitions curator. Successfully lectures at Hermitage and other museums, in 2015-2017 participated in numerous scholarly conferences and seminars on Georgian and Armenian art history and travel projects related to the Caucuses. Fluent in English and Georgian. Tour guide and lecturer for tours to Georgia.

Yaroslava says: “I am a passionate musician and art specialist who works in the Hermitage and loves traveling. I am a representative of both, Russian and Georgian cultures, so Caucasus is not just a hobby for me. Exploration of that countries is a huge part of my life. According to an old Georgian saying, ‘a guest is sent by God’. I will give you a chance to understand and experience this Georgian wisdom”.