North America, Europe, Asia · 11 Days · 31 Moments · May 2018

Jennifer and Richard’s Baltic Sea Adventure

3 June 2018

We did some dolphin watching from our balcony during our last night out at sea. And at 4:45 am I randomly woke up as we were passing Kronborg Castle. A great way to end our Scandinavian trip.

2 June 2018

On our last night at sea, June 2nd, we shared an anniversary celebration with 2 of our dinner mates (in the back - Ron and Susie). 11 years for us, 17 for them. Ron is a USAF officer stationed in Germany and was interrogated by Russian customs agents!

1 June 2018

While in Helsinki, we visited “Lapland Winter World”. A large warehouse converted into an ice bar - with igloos, ice slide, Alaskan Husky sledding, ice maze, sculptures, outdoor snow games, and free flowing vodka served in ice cups. We had too much fun.
Temppeliaukio (Rock) Church in Helsinki was very cool. Built directly into solid rock, the acoustics are great. Sitting quietly you could hear water flowing under the structure. Lot of rocky islands with small lighthouses on the cruise trip surrounding Finland.
Helsinki, Finland is a charming little country. Reminded me of a Scandinavian version of Savannah. It was a warmer day (compared to their usual) and many were outside enjoying it. The tour guide heavily emphasized Finland’s love for “Saw-nas”. Any kind of weather, any day, any time.

31 May 2018

Russian sunset on the water was awesome. We indulged in our bottle of wine and then got impromptu portrait photos.
As beautiful as the palaces were, other aspects of Russia were lackluster (Richard- feel free to chime in). There is a lot of poverty. Thousands of concrete apartments given away (for free to “well behaved citizens”) during communist times are now falling apart. And the people were not so nice. Not our favorite city, but we learned a lot about the culture and life of Russians.
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian Romanov monarchs. Today the restored palace forms the Hermitage Museum. With over 3 million paintings ( Catherine the Great’s loved art), it is the second largest art museum in the world. Richard and I saw works from DaVinci, Rembrandt, and Raphael - but the building itself was every bit as beautiful.
Next stop on our journey: St. Petersburg, Russia. Richard and I were quite nervous about customs. With a few awkward stares and a lot of stamping, we made it through. First stop was the Peterhof Grand Palace, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. Sometimes referred to as the "Russian Versailles", it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 64 fountains in the Grand Cascade —all operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade. For security reasons I used my camera to take photos inside the palace, so will need to post those later. High security and lots of pick-pocketers had us feeling a little on edge.

30 May 2018

Today we’re visiting Tallinn, Estonia- a beautiful old medieval town that has been able to maintain their culture through the control of many foreign powers. We visited St Olaf church and climbed 234 steep rock stairs to see the view and of the city (worth it). We are now enjoying drinks (Saku) and dumplings at Boca Pott - a cute, old world pottery shop.
Jen in front of Fat Margaret tower which guarded the entry gate of the town in medieval times. The start of our Estonian walk through Talinn!

29 May 2018

Skansen is one of the oldest outdoor folk museums. Several historic houses were moved to the location for viewing / touring. Richard and I enjoyed Fika - under a warm sun and blue Sky.
A Viking ship, Vasa sunk 20 minutes into her maiden voyage back in the early 1600’s. She was extremely top-heavy. The pictures don’t do this massive ship justice. Beautiful ornate carvings throughout.
After a day at sea, we woke up to this! The archipelago of Sweden. Just stunning.

27 May 2018

Medevac while at sea. Hopefully all involved are ok now. Danish coast guard had trouble landing on the small helipad so we believe they airlifted a gurney. This occurred during The Last Jedi movie on the pool deck.
Wind turbines are all over including at sea.
Copenhagen Lego store had lots of fun Star Wars sculptures.
Last day in Copenhagen. Cruise ship bound.

26 May 2018

Day 2 done: 19,000 steps. We’re beat.
Det Lille Apotech. Built in 1720, the oldest restaurant in Denmark. Richard and I both had Smorrebrod. Mine was topped with Herring and capers, to be dipped in raw egg yolk. Richard’s has pork and red pickled cabbage. Very good. Enjoyed a local soda and beer too. The restaurant maintains its original decor. Among the many who have visited The little Pharmacy are H.C. Andersen, Axel Sandemose and Peter Faber. The famous Danish poet frequented the The little Pharmacy every day in 1854, while he wrote The ugly duckling and enjoying the lunch and a schnapps. H. C. Andersen’s favorite dish was 3 kinds of herring with onion, capers, bread, fat and butter. Imagine what can come from a good herring and a schnapps…
The Rundetaarn, or Rundetårn (Round Tower in English), is a 17th-century tower located in central Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the many architectural projects of Christian IV, it was built as an astronomical observatory. It is most noted for its equestrian staircase, a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the top, and for the expansive views it affords over Copenhagen.
Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district lined by brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. The canal harbours many historical wooden ships. On our canal tour we saw H. C Anderson’s home, the Queen’s ship, a battle ship that blew up a town (by mistake, 1982), Amalienborg Palace (celebrating Prince Frederik’s 50th birthday), and the little mermaid.
We spent the first part of our day walking the stroget, and neighboring streets. Located at the centre of the old city of Copenhagen, it has long been one of the most high-profile streets in the city. The pedestrianisation of Strøget in 1962 marked the beginning a major change in the approach of Copenhagen to urban life; following the success of the initiative the city moved to place a much greater emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle access to the city at the expense of cars.

25 May 2018

First day turned out great! Goodnight. Built in 1905, Copenhagen’s City Hall (Danish: Københavns Rådhus) is the headquarters of the municipal council as well as the Lord mayor of the Copenhagen Municipality, Denmark. Palace Hotel is a residential hotel on the eastern side of City Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark. Influenced by the Art Nouveau style, the red brick building was designed by Anton Rosen and completed in 1910. A long list of celebrities and royalty have stayed here.
This evening we explored Tivoli. Tivoli Gardens (or simply Tivoli) is an amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark. Disney stole his ideas from Tivoli.
Danish Smorrebrod, local cheeses, and berry schnapps at Aamann’s 1921. Very good!
We decided to stop in Sweden before checking into our hotel. That earned us a trip to a local pub in Copenhagen - a favorite among the locals.
We’re here! Easy flight. Ate too much.

24 May 2018

Ponta Delgada “first flight” celebration at JFK.
This guy is famous but we can’t place him. $20 if you can. Clues: wearing Monday Night Football fleece, has a laptop case, tall, with glasses.
And we’re off!