What are people saying about our tours? Let’s let these folks, and their testimonials, speak for themselves.
Abbott Sergei ROCOR Australia
It has been hard finding an Orthodox tour agency that you feel has integrity and a proper sense of the holy places. Having worked with Orthodox Tours, I can recommend them as one of the most authentic and efficient agencies in my travel experience. I take pilgrim groups from around the world regularly and working more recently with Fr Ilya Gotlinsky from Orthodox Tours has made the logistical requirements so much easier for us. And their generosity and Christian spirit of making sure that every step of your journey is one of comfort and constantly addressing any personal needs has brought so much gratitude and thanks that its impossible but to stick to this good formula and wish Orthodox Tours the very best to keep doing their great work and efforts.
Brian Bubbers, Melbourne, Australia
Been home just about 6 weeks and we are still digesting what we saw and learnt in “Balkan” as Ivan was in the habit of calling the area. The trip was memorable for a whole variety of reasons. The content which you selected and the wonderful God given images we saw; the hospitality especially at the monasteries; a very nice group of people on the bus who seemed to get on very well together; the daily rhythm of prayer on the bus and at meals; the particularly moving short liturgy to mark the death of Ivan’s 91 year old grandmother; the wonderful scenery and the archaeological sites; the excellent contribution by Ivan; a particularly jovial and erudite group of priests for whom it was never a problem to answer questions from heretic western Christians! Thank you for your vision and hard work at Orthodox Tours, it is greatly appreciated, as also is the forbearance of your wife and family at your absences.
Kai and Teresia Lerche, BC, Canada
Thanks for your guidance and patience on the trip. It was a great experience and you have won us over into the Russophile camp (although, I always had a week spot for Russia and its history, I never thought I would actually one day see the land and its people). We had a great time and will visit Russia again.
Carmela Biggs, Florida, USA
Thank you, Father! Greece trip was the trip of a life time. As I look at the pictures, I wish I were standing in those holy sites once again. We covered thousands of years of history and thousands of miles … Please let me know about future trips.
Joanne Clay, Oregon, USA
Fr. Ilya has an inspirational and dynamic presentation as a tour leader. I am grateful to have visited Russia in his group. It was educational and enriching for my life as a student and lover of the icon.”
Herman and Maria, California, USA:
Dear Fr. Ilya,
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making possible this trip to Holy Russia; it was the answer to our prayers and dreams come through. After walking in such a Holy places our lives will never be the same. Thank you again for being such a good and loving shepherd.
Irene White, Connecticut, USA
You did an excellent job with this trip of Greece and I appreciate all the hard work that you did to organize it. Let me know what’s next and hopefully we can join you again in the future.
Charlene Hanks, Florida, USA
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the trip! It was (is) my lifetime adventure, so far. I miss all the “cats,” you and our Russian friends.
Mark Frappier, California, USA
Dear Ilya, I wanted to thank you for all your passion, patience, hard work and attention to detail. To be a shepherd of cats is indeed a specialized field. What an amazing journey with you having so many keys to so many doors. A very special thank you for all your hours of translation….I don’t know how you did it?
John de Bruin
Dear Father Ilya, First of all, Alec, Nadia and I want to thank you for the extraordinary pilgrimage we experienced with you to the Holy Land. You were knowledgeable, inspiring, and we could not have asked for more. The people you brought in were just amazing from Svetlana and Kyril to Michael. We are truly grateful for your creation of this trip. Thanks so much.
Marek Czarnecki, Meriden CT
These are not typical vacation tours- they are for people serious about knowing a place or subject in depth. I went on the three-week tour of Russian Icons. It would have been impossible to visit these monuments of Orthodox iconography on my own. Our tour guide at the Tretyakov Gallery was one of the best known iconologists in Russia, and we visited the studios of some of the best iconographers working today. There are always unexpected extras, the places only an insider could know about: a trip to a village church with the largest icon of Our Lord in Russia, or to the restoration studio of a friend who has spent 20 years rebuilding a shattered 12th century chapel. He has a sociable personality that makes friends and opens doors all over the world. I would go anywhere in the world with Father Ilya.
Marianna Case-Colyer, Wales, UK
Dear Fr Ilya THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU – it was a fantastic trip. I keep wanting to pinch myself and wake up from a kind of wonderful Aurora-like dreaminess: “did I really visit all those amazing places and drink in all the beauty, sacredness, Russian atmosphere in general?!” The trip was all and more than I had expected. It was also so good to finally meet you. You are in my prayers.
Rev. Michael and Jane Tan Creti, Nebraska, USA
We sincerely thank you and have been enriched with out visit to Russia, I feel I have a better understanding of Orthodoxy through it history and iconography. We will hold on to this experience and try to pass it on to others.
Michael and Alan Bennett, Indiana, USA
Dear Fr. Ilya, We thank you for all the Akathist and for a great chance to participate to the Holy Liturgy at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.
Michele Cale, Oregon, USA
Greetings fellow travelers: I went on the first Russian Icon Tour that Father Ilya hosted. By day three I remember saying that if I went home then, I would have had my moneys worth. Every day just kept getting better and better. It was as close to heaven on earth as I could get. I was worried that a Russian Orthodox priest might be a bit stuffy (sorry, Father) but what a surprise to find a warm, funny man whose knowledge base was incredibly expansive. I find myself still savoring the trip and I am still chuckling at his quick wit. I will travel again with Father Ilya. Wonderful.
Randa Aoun, California, USA
Dear Fr. Ilya, I’d like to thank you for the wonderful trip you arranged for us. I enjoyed it very much and pray that one day I’ll be able to go again. …We all still in wonder how in short time we were able to see that many places. Thanks be to God and to you for making it possible.
Susan, Dunbury, Connecticut
Dear Fr. Ilya, Glory to Jesus Christ! I know you are not looking for praise regarding the trip but we did want to give you some feedback that will perhaps be helpful in planning future trips. First, we must say that we were thoroughly pleased with the arrangements you made for the trip. As we journeyed from place to place we realized that we would never have seen as much as we did and have had as enjoyable, low-stress time without all of your careful planning. It was also an excellent value for the cost. Our entire group was very impressed with your skill and I believe everyone on the trip would highly recommend you.
Janet Harrer, California, USA
Dear Fr. Ilya, I really enjoyed the trip and am just now starting to digest all we saw and did. I am ever amazed at the opportunity you gave us to visit places and see things that a regular tourist would never have been able to. I am in awe of the doors opened to us!
Hello Fr. Ilya, I just wanted to say thank you, I know you put in a lot of effort to arrange everything as well as you did. I don’t think it could have been any better. … I really had no Idea about the history of Russia and of the church in Russia, I learned a great deal. The Icons were truly awesome and the frescos as well. I will never forget this trip. You did a wonderful job of putting it all together. I am very appreciative. Thank you so much.
Maria Belford, New Hampshire, USA
Hi Father Ilya, Just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know I arrived home safely and all is well. I do miss being in Russia quite a bit though. I’m so glad to have gotten this incredible experience, and as I mentioned before, it wouldn’t have happened in such a wonderful way if it weren’t for you. I initially thought that perhaps going to Russia would just be a one time experience – I’d see it, be content with that, and maybe never return. But after being there, I know I have to return one day. I loved it. I’m almost considering re-taking a Russian culture and history class that I took a few semesters ago.
Mary Maas, Florida, USA
Hello Fr. Ilya, I’m still talking and dreaming of our trip to Greece….we did see everything ….it was a trip of a life time…many of my Greek friends want to go.
Anni Shaw, England, UK
Dear Fr. Ilya, I want to say thank you for such a wonderful journey through Russia – through its country, its history and more importantly its soul and spirituality, it was more than I had ever expected. Thank you for getting us into all those special chapels, churches, restorations and studios, which I know on our own we would never have seen, they were real gems, along with such eminent people that we had to guide and talk to us. It was also wonderful to see all those icons close too that one has only ever seen in books before. The colours radiated and their beauty shone. My many many thanks for all your hard work in organising such a memorable trip.
John and Evridiki Anderson, Essex, England
We had been wanting to visit holy sites in Russia for some time when our son discovered Father Ilya’s planned pilgrimage. We “signed up” , with some little apprehension as it seemed we were only non-USA members so we had to do everything by email; however Father Ilya made this a relatively painless process. We flew out from UK Monday 30th May, meeting rest of group and Father in Moscow “Golden Ring”hotel that evening. Starting next morning, we had a fantastic time; we covered so much each day, whilst tiring it was very fulfilling. “Group dynamics” good, others very tolerant of a Brit and a Greek. I can’t imagine it possible to cover more in 11 days:Moscow, Kremlin, train to Nizhniy Novgorod, coach to Diveevo, train to St Petersburg, boat to Valaam, then finishing in St Petersburg and surrounds, eg Kronstadt, Hermitage museums etc. I guess our favorite part was boat to Valaam, beautiful serene place, lovely weather helped. Local guide, Kiril, added to visit Father Ilya was great leader, had time for everyone, good humoured throughout.