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active 11 hours ago

Sean Stewart

I'm one of those who believes that travel can change lives for the better. This is something I learned at the age of 12 when my parents took me to Canada on a road trip. I barely had any sense at that age that the world held so many fascinating cultures and that I could actually see them for myself. Since then, nearly 35 years of travel later, I'm still learning and still exploring and this thrill of discovery is what I want to show my clients.
Having lived, worked and studied in Russia and Ukraine for 11 years, I bring my hard-won insights and my passion for the region to our tours.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"In Eastern Europe Explorer we specialize in cultural and historical discovery tours. We show you the big sites but our specialty lies in pairing the big sites with the lesser known sites to create a STORY. We give you insight and interpretation. For example, we'll take you to Moscow's Kremlin in the morning, then take you to a hidden illegal Bolshevik printing press where, in 1905, two men printed revolutionary pamphlets in 20 min shifts. It's incredible to think that the power of the Kremlin was ultimately laid low by the efforts of men like these, operating illegal printing presses in sub-basements. That is the interpretation, the story, that will stay with you.
We also focus on cultural immersion. You can learn some Russian, visit a Russian family to learn more about everyday life, and learn how to use the classic Russian banya. All this is rounded off by cooking lessons and walks through the city and the local area where you're staying. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"I started in travel early, thanks to a road trip to Canada. Two years later, aged 14, we went transatlantic to Ireland and the UK and the sense of wonder and the love of exploring cultures has stayed with me."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"Travel involves not only looking but also participating. As a historian, I look for travel experiences that have a connection to the past, to deepen my understanding of the past as well as of the culture I'm immersed in. Last winter, I had the chance to ride in a WW2 era Soviet T-34 tank, in Russia in the winter, on the old battlefields of 1941. Its one thing to read about that conflict, another to feel the hot engine at your back, be jarred around inside the turret as the tank drove over ditches and holes and feel how tight and confined the space was. I imagined shouting orders under fire, aiming the gun and trying to understand, through the limited field of vision offered by the tanks viewports, how I could have controlled the battlefield in front of me. Driving the tank is a heavy physical job and doing it in these conditions of peace was hard enough. Driving in and fighting from a T-34 in wartime must have been extraordinarily difficult. This travel experience taught me more about conditions faced by soldiers in WW2 than nearly any book I had ever read. This is the power of travel. To see, to experience, to learn from other cultures and other times. "

Featured trips & expertise

Kiev's cathedral of Sophia Square
Kiev Highlights - 6 Days

This short 6-day tour offers the perfect combination of history, natural beauty, and memorable cultural experiences. You'll visit Kiev's most popular attractions as well as those less frequented hidden gems. Discover what it was like to be part of medieval Kiev, the city-state that did so much to shape the modern nation of Ukraine.

Chernivtsi, Ukraine's National University's Three Saints Orthodox Church
Best of Belarus, Moldova & Ukraine - 16 Days

This 16-day itinerary introduces you to one of Europe’s least visited, but arguably most interesting regions. You’ll explore three countries that have developed diverse customs and a rugged sense of self, where hospitality to visitors is the norm in lands known for invasions and shifting allegiances. Prepare to fall in love with Eastern Europe.

Take a ride over Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle
Highlights of Central and Western Ukraine - 14 Days

Discover the best of Central and Western Ukraine on this two-week adventure. Featuring a combination of popular sites and off-the-beaten-track destinations, you will begin in the capital of Kiev, fly to Odessa on the Black Sea, and end your stay in Lviv. You'll explore medieval castles, stroll along extravagant boulevards, and hike to hilltop fortresses, ensuring a fascinating trip through one of Europe’s hidden gems.

Wooden churches in Khizhi
Grand Russia Tour - 20 Days

Start in Moscow to see the iconic Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, then head to the countryside to see 16th-century wooden churches in Vladimir and Suzdal. Take an overnight train to visit 9th-century Velikiy Novgorod, then continue to European-influenced St. Petersburg for world-class art in the Hermitage and the sprawling Peterhof estate. See wooden churches in Russia's northern Karelia region before returning to Kazan to see ornate mosques and Tatar culture.

Cathedral of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
History & Art in Russia - 9 Days

Visit Russia's iconic capital and discover European art and architecture in St. Petersburg. Start in Moscow and explore history in the Kremlin, see the Red Square, and ride the 90-year-old-metro. Take a train to Tula to visit Leo Tolstoy's summer estate, then continue to St. Petersburg to see the world-famous Hermitage art museum, ornate Rococo palaces, and the world's largest Orthodox Cathedral.

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
Moscow and St. Petersburg Highlights - 6 Days

See Russia's capital cities in a 6-day highlights tour. Start in Moscow and explore the iconic Red Square, Kremlin fortress, and 90-year-old metro system. Take an express train to St. Petersburg to see Orthodox Cathedrals, the world-famous Hermitage art museum, and European-inspired gardens. Visit the sprawling Peterhof estate to see ornate fountains and an extravagant summer palace that matches Versaille's opulence.

Recent trip reviews for Sean

Russia's Capital Cities & Golden Ring Tour - 7 Days · Russia - Sep 23 - Oct 1, 2019

Traveler: Diane P. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

Our trip to Russia was amazing! What a beautiful and interesting country.
Our guide in Moscow, Sergei, was full of local knowledge and so friendly as were Darya(Vladimir Guide), Alexander (Suzdal Guide) and Irina (St Petersburg guide). The city of Moscow was very interesting and we were surprised by the beauty and splendour of the Kremlin. Vladimir was full of medieval history with beautiful churches. Suzdal was beautiful, had a very laid back vibe and some beautiful buildings/churches. ... read more

Our trip to Russia was amazing! What a beautiful and interesting country.
Our guide in Moscow, Sergei, was full of local knowledge and so friendly as were Darya(Vladimir Guide), Alexander (Suzdal Guide) and Irina (St Petersburg guide). The city of Moscow was very interesting and we were surprised by the beauty and splendour of the Kremlin. Vladimir was full of medieval history with beautiful churches. Suzdal was beautiful, had a very laid back vibe and some beautiful buildings/churches. St Petersburg was stunning in its grandeur with huge and beautiful palaces filled with paintings, statues and treasures. We would recommend the Faberge Museum and also taking a boat trip on the canal/river.
The WhatsApp group was also a stroke of genius and ensured we always had a point of contact.
We paid more for our personalised trip with guides and it was so worth it! We don't think we would have seen half as much without these wonderful guides. Thank you so much to everybody involved in organising our trip - it was truly amazing!

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Many thanks, Diane, for your kind words! So happy you enjoyed your trip!

Andrew

history and art · Russia - Jul 28 - Aug 4, 2019

Traveler: Andrew M. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

This was our first visit to Russia, and fist time we have traveled with Kimkim.
St. Petersburg was very impressive and turned up to better than expected. Thanks to our knowledgeable guide and his excellent language skills we were able to absorb lot's of historic information in quite short time. Thanks to Sean from KimKim team we could design our custom tour and it was possible to tune up wile being there as we have a local guide just for us. All recommendations were very useful and we have... read more

This was our first visit to Russia, and fist time we have traveled with Kimkim.
St. Petersburg was very impressive and turned up to better than expected. Thanks to our knowledgeable guide and his excellent language skills we were able to absorb lot's of historic information in quite short time. Thanks to Sean from KimKim team we could design our custom tour and it was possible to tune up wile being there as we have a local guide just for us. All recommendations were very useful and we have wonderful time with ability to experience Russian cosine and a visit to Mariinskiy Theatre on more than one occasion.
Booked accommodation was a good choice and walking distance to attractions and restaurants.
We consider the cost of our trip very reasonable and a indeed very good value as we did not have to queue for hours to get in, as we have a prepaid tickets and curator as a guide for 4 of us in The Gold Room in Hermitage.
The process of creating our itinerary with Kimkim's assistance was very easy.
I highly recommend the Kimkim to any body for their traveling needs, as they using people with local knowledge and can accommodate any interests.
Thanks KimKim
Andrew

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you very much, Andrew! We're thrilled that you enjoyed your trip!

Peter

Ukraine · Ukraine - Aug 11 - Aug 20, 2019

Traveler: Peter H. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

Our 10 day trip to Ukraine, including Kyiv, Chernobyl and Lviv, was fantastic. Sean and Ulyana set up the trip exactly how we asked them to, and provided prompt and helpful advice. We were met by courteous drivers wherever we arrived, and the guides on all our tours were very knowledgeable and helpful. Lina, the local tour manager, kept in touch throughout the tour, and ensured we were promptly collected even when our trip back from Chernobyl ran late. The 2 day trip to Chernobyl was a... read more

Our 10 day trip to Ukraine, including Kyiv, Chernobyl and Lviv, was fantastic. Sean and Ulyana set up the trip exactly how we asked them to, and provided prompt and helpful advice. We were met by courteous drivers wherever we arrived, and the guides on all our tours were very knowledgeable and helpful. Lina, the local tour manager, kept in touch throughout the tour, and ensured we were promptly collected even when our trip back from Chernobyl ran late. The 2 day trip to Chernobyl was a highlight, The hotels in Kyiv and Lviv were comfortable, and the one in Lviv particularly well located. The Chernobyl hotel was more of a challenge, mainly because the room was extremely hot, but we wouldn’t have missed it. Although we were given dire warnings about the food and levels of service in Chernobyl, in fact the food was adequate and everyone we dealt with was reasonably helpful, once you established and accepted the rules they felt obliged to follow. Many thanks to everyone involved

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you, Peter! We're happy to hear you loved your trip to Ukraine!

Irvine

Russia 2019 · Russia - Jun 11 - Jul 1, 2019

Traveler: Irvine R. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

We both enjoyed the trip immensely. Good support was given by both Sean and Ulyana. Problems were quickly resolved.

Our main interactions ere with the various tour guides. Most were either very good or excellent. I wish to make special commendations for the tour guides in Suzdal/Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Minsk, Kaliningrad and St Petersburg. All tuned in to what we wanted and all spoke very good or excellent English.

Sean was also great in Moscow but the first local guide didn't... read more

We both enjoyed the trip immensely. Good support was given by both Sean and Ulyana. Problems were quickly resolved.

Our main interactions ere with the various tour guides. Most were either very good or excellent. I wish to make special commendations for the tour guides in Suzdal/Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Minsk, Kaliningrad and St Petersburg. All tuned in to what we wanted and all spoke very good or excellent English.

Sean was also great in Moscow but the first local guide didn't understand us. We first drove to a decrepit church out of town and then stayed in a central location. I was put off making efforts to isit some places. It was a wasted day. In fact although it was our first local tour guide, she did not set the standards for the others thankfully. The other Moscow tour guide was much better and we had a goodtime but her English was not so good.

Then there was Volgograd. The main guide was incredibly friendly and did what we wanted. He was also very eccentric (wonderfully and unintentionally entertaining) but his analysis of Stalingrad missed out an awful lot (that I have since found out by looing at YouTube documentaries). We expected the Soviet line to prevail but there was no analysis of what the Germans did wrong and an explanation of the successful Soviet tactics The commentary was all about evil German "Fascists" and clever and brave Soviet soldiers. He even criticised the German sht pronunciation of Stalingrad by saying they couldn't even be bothered saying it right. I explained that st in German is always pronounced sht for all words. I'm not sure he believed me. For all that, I would use him again as his pluses far outweigh the negatives but just don't trail him as an in-depth and objective analyst! (I am going to send him some Tottenham memorabilia for his son who enjoyed seeing Tottenham striker score twice for England in Volgograd during the World Cup last year).

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you very much for your kind words! We are happy you enjoyed your tour of Russia!

Russia 2019 · Russia - May 10 - May 18, 2019

Traveler: Rebecca P. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

The planning and execution of this trip was outstanding, as Sean (U.S. tour agent) and Ulyana (Russian tour agent) customized and coordinated a tour to meet my interests and exceed my expectations for the trip of a lifetime to Russia!

My itinerary included Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, and St. Petersburg. I was met/dropped off by an English-speaking assistant or tour guide and a driver at every airport and train station. I never had to worry about finding my hotel or catching the correct... read more

The planning and execution of this trip was outstanding, as Sean (U.S. tour agent) and Ulyana (Russian tour agent) customized and coordinated a tour to meet my interests and exceed my expectations for the trip of a lifetime to Russia!

My itinerary included Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, and St. Petersburg. I was met/dropped off by an English-speaking assistant or tour guide and a driver at every airport and train station. I never had to worry about finding my hotel or catching the correct train on time. Not only was all my in-country major transportation covered, but rides to and from stations, as well as door-to-door pick up and drop off for every tour was provided 100% of the time.

Because of the personalized nature of the tour, I never had to "wait" for others to board a bus, eat in a restaurant that didn't suit my tastes, or visit a museum that was of little interest to me. Drivers and guides were always punctual, and I was always asked for input on pick-up times, what types of food I liked, and preferences in destinations. I always had a number I could call or text if I needed assistance.

The tour guides were all personable, knowledgeable, and qualified--Olga (Vladimir/Suzdal regional), the other Olga (Vladimir/Suzdal historical), Svetlana (Moscow), and Tatiana (St. Petersburg). Not only did they explain the sights, arrange the days to avoid traffic, and offer extra stops they knew I would find interesting, each guide was willing to have lunch with me every day, engage me in conversation, and answer my many questions. Though I was a solo traveler in Russia, it was as though I had a friend in each city. Even my regular transportation assistant in Moscow, Eugene, was very engaging and willing to discuss cultural topics as he drove me to or from my hotel or waited with me for a train.

Unlike group tours that would have merely "hit the high points" in each city, this tour was arranged specifically for my interests and tastes. From the planning stage, Sean and Ulyana made suggestions and changes to my itinerary to meet my requests and requirements. On the trip, the guides were willing to slow down and go into even more detail when I asked questions, stopping to address my inquiries. They were also willing to move on when they realized I was ready to go to the next site. Since I was a group of one, each day was tailored to the pace I chose to keep.

The cost of this personalized tour was a bit more than a standard group tour, but considering the number of sites I visited, the insights and perspectives I gained from guides, the customized schedule, the personalized touches, the privacy of my own hotel room, and the absolute peace of mind I had through the entire tour, it was a bargain!

I highly recommend this tour to a solo traveler, or to a small or large group of like-minded individuals who want to see and do more than the "standard tour of Russia", tailored to their tastes and interests.

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you very much Rebecca, for travelling with us. We loved having you and look forward to seeing you again if you decide to return!

St. Petersburg · Russia - Apr 13 - Apr 20, 2019

Traveler: Jessica J. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

We first used Kimkim for our trip to Morocco and because it was such a great experience, we decided to use Kimkim again for our trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. Once again, it was exactly the experience we were hoping for. Our local specialist, Sean, was very attentive to our needs and questions and was very responsive. The trip was exactly what we wanted and he made it happen. Once in St. Petersburg, just like Morocco, everything ran very smoothly. When we arrived, we were picked up at the... read more

We first used Kimkim for our trip to Morocco and because it was such a great experience, we decided to use Kimkim again for our trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. Once again, it was exactly the experience we were hoping for. Our local specialist, Sean, was very attentive to our needs and questions and was very responsive. The trip was exactly what we wanted and he made it happen. Once in St. Petersburg, just like Morocco, everything ran very smoothly. When we arrived, we were picked up at the airport and taken right to our hotel and it was great not having to worry about that. On the first day of our planned activities, Margarita (the manager of our tour in Russia) met us at our hotel because she wanted to officially welcome us to St. Petersburg and give us our tour the first day. She was right on time along with our driver for the week, Vasiliy. We went on a city tour of St. Petersburg and visited the Peter and Paul Fortress. She was very knowledgeable and made us feel really at ease and gave us an overall view of the city and what our next few days would be like and a great first impression to the kind of service and vibe we could expect. For the remainder of the week, our guide Dmitri, along with our driver, always arrived on time. Dmitri was a great guide. He was very knowledgeable and spoke excellent English. He was very easy going and open and was very patient with all of our questions. He was always willing to accommodate any requests and made sure that we always knew what the plan was and he always had any tickets we needed ready. It felt like we were being shown around by a friend (which is why we were a bit sad to say goodbye at the end since we had spent the whole week together). We visited many exquisite palaces and museums and learned a lot about history and culture. All in all, it was a great experience and it was what we paid for -- a well-planned tour where we could just relax and not have to worry about the logistics of everything. We know for sure that this will not be the last time we plan a trip with Kimkim.

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you, Jessica, for your kind words. Great to hear you enjoyed the trip! Look forward to welcoming you back to Russia, maybe Moscow and beautiful Golden Ring this time?

Barbara

Trip to Ukraine · Ukraine - Aug 28 - Sep 5, 2018

Traveler: Barbara D. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

Sean couldn’t have done anything more to make Our trip to the Ukraine more memorable, from the moment we stepped off the plane in Odessa to the moment we said good-bye to our driver at the airport in Lviv. The organization of the drivers, flights within the Ukraine, first class hotels, the tour guides in each city, the private tour to find my Grandparents birth village, meeting with relatives I had never met, Yuri our driver helping with translation of the language. Our private tour... read more

Sean couldn’t have done anything more to make Our trip to the Ukraine more memorable, from the moment we stepped off the plane in Odessa to the moment we said good-bye to our driver at the airport in Lviv. The organization of the drivers, flights within the Ukraine, first class hotels, the tour guides in each city, the private tour to find my Grandparents birth village, meeting with relatives I had never met, Yuri our driver helping with translation of the language. Our private tour guides in Odessa and in Lviv had such passion for their country and cities, which make us want to come back to see more. Thank You Sean

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you so much for your words! I'm so happy you enjoyed your trip to Ukraine!

Moscow, St Peterburg · Russia - Jul 29 - Aug 16, 2018

Traveler: Sarah T. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

We had a fantastic time thanks to Sean and his team. We always expected that it would be difficult travelling with Toddlers and not knowing the language but the guides we had made the holiday a lot easier and we had a great time.

A special thank you to our Moscow Guide, Helena. She's a very thorough historian, great with kids and incredibly proud of her country. Thank you so much Helena!

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words and look forward to having you back!

natalie

Starting in Liev · Ukraine - Jul 10 - Aug 8, 2018

Traveler: natalie m. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

The portion of my trip to western Ukraine was the best. The driver Yuri was extremely friendly and his company was able to plan our itinerary so we got to see everything we wanted.

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks a lot, Natalie! We are very happy you enjoyed your trip!

Patricia

Trip to Russia · Russia - Jun 1 - Jun 2, 2018

Traveler: Patricia S. - Local specialist: Sean Stewart

Sean & his wife Ulyana Eastern Europe Explorer were absolutely brilliant! I gave Sean what I thought was an impossible dream at last moment & he turned it into a great adventure! We had all information upfront & detailed - all we had to do was physically execute & then RELAX & enjoy! All contacts were knowledgeable & professional-HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

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Sean Stewart, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks very much for your kind words, it was our pleasure! You are welcome back anytime!