The Mother of all War Tours and a Farewell to Arms!
Let me declare an interest first.
I have visited as many of the major World War 2 (and 1!) sites over the years as has been possible.
Normandy, Arnhem, Bastogne, Verdun etc. (even Khe Sanh at one point!!)...there is nothing like seeing on the ground what you read in books.
It's been the most glorious, stimulating, gut-wrenching and life educating time of my life.
But there was always lurking in the background...the ultimate destination, the highest blood price, the most horrific battle of all time: Stalingrad.
It called out. It beckoned. There was always a reason not to go. The distance, the weather, the visas...whether to see it in the Winter or Summer...etc. etc..
I finally took the plunge this month and in choosing Sputnik Travel Company and Mikhail in particular I struck gold.
The visa process was surprisingly straight-forward with Sputnik sending the necessary email immediately. They were extremely prompt. You know that you are dealing with a well-oiled machine that values its clientele. I actually visited their office and they are 24/7 on it.
Of course every company is only as good as its representatives and in this Mikhail is a rock star.
I came with some photos from Angriff (Jason Mack) and the After the Battle magazine. I thought that Mikhail might be impressed...hah!!!
The guy is a walking talking encyclopedia of Stalingrad's tragic World War 2 experience.
I did the full 3 day tour which still was not enough but Mikhail was there to educate me, stimulate me and urge me on to celebrate our joint passion for History.
If you want to see lesser known sights like Pitomnik or Gumrak or Gorodishche then there is simply no alternative to Sputnik.
There are often no signs in these places and the information has simply been handed down through Mikhail's father and other keepers of the flame.
Sputnik I guarantee you are the only game in town and Mikhail is gold.
I saw photos in the Grain Silo that Mikhail had taken and were framed there. Again, photos of Mikhail as a teenager at war excavations with his father...something he is still engaged in every year when he finds time.
He is a friendly informative and professional guy who amazed me everyday with his passion and knowledge.
Everyone knows him and he gets you places no one else can.
We even tried to bribe a guard at the now closed Tractor Plant!! Milhail didn't flinch!! He is there for YOU!!
So go to Stalingrad. It is a vibrant happening city that was a World Cup venue and has all the amenities you need...not in ruins trust me!!
You have to use Sputnik...the only professional game in town.
As for me...well, the experience was so wonderful, so intense, that I have decided to end my War Tourism here. Nothing can match the Stalingrad experience.
Nothing matches Sputnik.
Mikhail I thank you for making my dreams come true...now if I could only convince the wife to come next time!
Date of experience: November 2019