1st May 2018 - 16th May 2018

A 16 Day Baltic Cruise

Well here I am 100 kilos heavier, but quite fit. The first because the food is great and the second because of all the walking tours. The ship is big and only has 950 passengers we all have balcony cabins and they are a reasonable size. We had the drinks package as part of our cruise package and have been taking full benefit of that. We are the bar flies in the Aquavit bar (I did drink through the first bottle of Jubileum).

We have stopped in port every day so have seen a lot of this area every town seems prettier and more interesting than the last. I find I have taken so many photos and cannot decide which is my best shots so they are all here. This website is for me to remember my trip and I want all my photo's, that means you are stuck with them too. Sorry.

Day 1- 2 Stockholm

Stockholm was a great place a little cold. We managed to see part of the changing of the guard. Spring had come, and the cherry blossoms were out in the park quite beautiful the cruise out of port was filled with little islands and bigger ones. Everyone was on deck and we were all taking millions of photos.

Day 3 Helsinki

Helsinki another city with an old town (this gets to be a theme of our tours) although today we do a foodie tour tasting the food of Finland, we visited the old market a beautiful old building all the stalls were lovely wood. In the market the locals were drinking their morning coffee and eating cinnamon buns which were huge. We got to taste lots of food. Salmon, herring and butterfish, smoked deer, boar (but not bear! Although it was for sale). Then into the pasties blueberry with such an intense flavour I had to try three to ensure I was tasting correctly, raspberry, cloudberry and a few others. My mouth is watering just remembering it. We then went to the outside market where we tried roasted meats (moose-balls!), fresh peas, more blueberries (fresh and raspberries), We then walked around the town and saw the magnificent buildings and in the cathedral square I managed to eat an ice cream (three scoops- raspberry, blueberry and rosemary), I am really loving the herb ice creams. They quite like Czar Alexander 11 in Finland, as he allowed them to use their own language and laws and generally gave them a lot of freedom while at the same time spending money on the rebuilding of the town so there is a statue of him in the main square.

Day 4 -5 St Petersburg

In St Petersburg so much to do and see, but this is where the extra tours start to really cost money, so we stuck to the included ones (Ross will not go to the ballet in Aust, so I could not get him to agree to pay $500 each to go in St Petersburg). The tours we did were great and the puffer jacket I purchase in Stockholm got a work out. We saw the church of the saviour on spilled blood were Czar Alexander 11 was killed. His son built the church on the spot of the assassination, so it has no congregation as such. The church was fabulous inside (covered in scaffolding outside, Well the main spire anyway). Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It can hold 12,500 people. It was nearly demolished 3 times and was saved three times. We also saw the church for Seaman where I had to leave fast as I was spotted taking photos (not allowed), by the security man. A few years ago, I would have been in the prison, but he allowed me to make a fast get away. We stopped at Senate Square, which was very imposing.

A cruise on the Neva, the Fontanka and Moika rivers, the next day gave us a closer look at The Winter Palace, The Hermitage and the Peter and Paul Fortress built to protect from the Swedish invaders. We sat upstairs so we could see everything, and it was freezing. I huddled in my jacket and a blanket, the blanket kept my ears from falling off most of the time. I was sad when the cruise ended but glad to be warm again.

I was a little disappointed in St Petersburg it seemed a little drab where there were not old palaces. The weather did not help of course. The Soccer world cup is about to be played in Russia so many of the more magnificent buildings were covered in scaffolding as they were being cleaned and repaired. I hope the soccer hooligans appreciate it. We also wonder how they will cope as the roads were jammed and very slow, how an influx of tourist will add to this I do not know. We saw a lot of army personnel and police which also makes it feel a bit dangerous. This was the only stop where not only did we have to take our passports (and were warned many times how difficult it would be if they were stolen), but we were not allowed much free time, only in Senate Square for about 30 minutes. We could not stay in the city after our tour and catch a shuttle back to the bus we had to go back as a group to the ship. I did love the look of the city from the river.

Day 4 Photos St Petersburg

Day 5 Photos St Petersburg

Day 5 Photos St Petersburg Cruise

Day 6 Tallinn

Estonia was our next stop we were so impressed with Tallinn; the old town is gorgeous, and The Nevsky Cathedral almost made up for the scaffolding in St Petersburg. The Estonians sung for their freedom from the Soviets 300,000 of them sang for freedom in 1988, and not a drop of blood was spilled. We had a great tour guide who was very enthusiastic about her town. After the tour we walked around by ourselves, I purchased a very unusual spoon from an antique shop, I do not know what it is for. We had been told to have lunch in the medieval restaurant great fun all old-fashioned food and everyone was dressed up. There is no electricity in the dining room, so we decided to sit outside in the sunshine. A visit to the bottle shop saw us clanking back to the ship with a few bottles.

We had now made friends with Gary and Sholeh two lovely Canadians who we joined for dinner most nights. We had some great conversations and discussed the state of the world endlessly.

We had a day at sea which was quite great a bit of a break for everyone, (most used the laundry). We took the opportunity for afternoon tea, quite fabulous, the stewardess was so sweet she said she had stayed up all night cooking especially for me!!

Day 8 Gdansk

The next day saw us walking around Gdansk another fabulous old town. We walked the Kings road and saw Beer Street (Ross’s favourite), Bread Street, Textile Street etc what a lovely way to know where to go for your shopping. Our guide gave us so much information I could not remember it all. I do remember seeing Fahrenheit’s house, with a thermometer outside, sadly Poland now uses centigrade. I was a bit panicked here as we did not have much time before the ship sailed but we still managed to sneak away when everyone went to the Amber factory (I got my amber on the ship) and ate pierogie’s, very tasty too. We did not have a glass of the Goldwasser as it was a hot day and a beer went down well.

Day 9 Warnemunde (Berlin)

We are in Rostock near Berlin. Most of the ship went on day tours to Berlin. Our Berlin friends are away and as we have lived in Berlin we decided to see Rostock. The tour was a bit disappointing in that we saw some lovely places and were told about the astrological clock in the church but as we had spent so much time in the shopping area we did not have time to see it. I think we also had some slow walkers with us which took up our time. We had 2 people who kept getting lost they would wander off and then blame the tour guide for leaving them. Stupid needs no explanation!!I liked Rostock so plan a weekend there next time we are in Berlin.

The ship was empty this afternoon a great time for catching up on our laundry and working on the cocktail Vlad and I had invented. We have got the colour right a lovely lavender rising to look like a sunset. Hence the name Viking sunset, one small problem it was either to sweet or did not have enough colour. More work needed.


Day 10 Copenhagen

Copenhagen again our relatives were on holiday or busy, so we had a late breakfast and a cruise on the river. We know Copenhagen well and recognised many of the sights, but they were different from the river and I enjoyed the cruise, also the sun shone as it has since we left St Petersburg.

Day 11 Alborg

We are coming to the end of our wonderful cruise. I would do it again I am enjoying it so much. Today we are in Alborg, Denmark somewhere I have wanted to visit, and it did not let me down it is a fabulous town. Well of course Utzon, designed a lot of it, the modern bits anyhow. We visited the Nytorv square and saw the amazing house built for Jen’s Bang, the Alborg castle not very castle like and were kidnapped by Vikings, what fun they feed us Viking food and drink and taught us a silly dance. Our guide was great fun getting into the mood of things. She showed us the fantastic paintings on the sides of houses that had been done by 12 visiting artists the ones we saw were all in out of the way places and we may not have seen them with out a guide.

Day 12 Stavanger

We sailed up the fjords of Norway to get to a town called Stavanger. Stavanger was one of the first oil drilling towns of Norway. Norway is now very rich due to oil and is investing the money for the future. They have one of the best education populations in the world. As this is an Oil town our tour went to the oil museum. Well the film was good; the rest was a bit boring. Stavanger itself is an interesting cobbled town with wooden buildings from 17th and 18th centuries. Not many towns still have wood buildings as they burn down when people are cold in the winter and leave unattended fires burning. That night we sailed on down the fjords to Eidfjord our next days stop. The scenery on the way was breathtaking but eventually one must eat, drink, chat and sleep so we let a lot of it slide by.

Day 13 Eidfjord

The scenery around us the next day was so gorgeous. The air was so clean and the sky so blue. We did the included tour which took us to the Nature Center. I would have much preferred to spend the time seeing the scenery rather than being in a centre looking at it on a screen. I can do that in Sydney. Out of all our tours this was the worst. A beautiful place which we did not really get to see. The Flam railway is close we should have done that. Next time I would, everyone that did it said how fabulous it was.

Day 14 - 15 Bergen

Then we are in Bergen where we finish our cruise. This is Norway’s second largest city we did a tour of the city and saw a lot of interesting things such as the old area of shops, Bryggen which are all angles and appear to lean against one another. The fish markets definitely another visit. We also toured past the hotel we will be staying at for a few days. More about Bergen later as we stay here for a few days prior to returning to England

The cruise was made fun by all the lovely people we meet, Aussies, Canadians and American’s all were well travelled and interesting. The crew was great fun especial thanks should go to the boys at the Aquavit Bar Vladan, Leo and Johnny. Leo is learning to juggle (but should not leave his day job yet). Johnny got blamed for everything even when he was not even around to have done anything. His smile was bigger than all out doors. Vladan who oversaw this merry band keep everyone plied with drinks and knew our names immediately. He helped invent the unsuccessful Viking Sunset. I hope he perfects it one day

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This is all my own work, any mistakes are mine please let me know if you think I should change anything or if I have added a photo of you that you would like removed. My apologise if I offend anyone. Please send me a message using the box above and I will action immediately.

Writer: Clare

Editor : Ross Lyon

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