My wife and I are beginning to plan a trip to Europe for October-November 2014. On previous European trips, we planned our flight and hotel arrangements by ourselves. However, on this trip we plan to visit St. Petersburg, Russia for 3-4 days and visit the Hermitage. This will be our first visit to Russia.
While we would like to make our flight reservations independently, we are wondering whether it would be advantageous to use a travel agent to arrange for our hotel and visa. After visiting St. Petersburg, our intent is to travel to Berlin, Munich, and Austria for two weeks. As I understand, the Russian visa process can be a bit complex.
Could someone experienced in the process of obtaining a Russian visa and making Russian hotel arrangements give us some advice and point us in the right direction for planning this trip? In addition, is it a good idea to arrange for a guide in St. Petersburg to get us around the city and properly see the sights? These are the questions on our minds as we begin to plan this trip. Your insight and recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.