Last night I received the skeletal itinerary from the "other" travel specialists for Russia. The specialist warned me that my budget (which is hefty) may not be hefty enough for their line of travel. She "downgraded" the hotels to still pretty expensive options, only gave me 4 days of private guide and driver and didn't include airfare, visa or insurance costs, and still came in about $2000 over my budget. Sheesh!
The more I mull over my first option, which provides private guide and driver every day, covers exactly the sites I want, and puts me up in more reasonably priced but still centrally located hotels, the more I like it. I'm still awaiting Olga's revision to get me an extra day in Moscow. Once I receive that, I'm pouncing on it.
It is sort of depressing thought that this trip would be about 7 1/2 months away! A whole spring and summer away!