By: Marcia King-Gamble
I’m deviating from this month’s theme, Masks, to tell you a little about my vacation. Why? Because this was one special vacation for me. The Scandinavian countries and Russia have always been on my non-bucket list (I don’t plan on ever dying.) So when a cruise opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it, and a good thing I did. Every single minute of every single day was a melding of both fun and history.
I flew into Copenhagen and spent the night at this wonderful waterfront hotel, The Admiral. What made this city even more special was meeting up with an Internet friend of 10 years; a now retired doctor. Christian gave us a personal tour of this city he grew up in. We got to see the famous Little Mermaid, the Amalienborg Palace, home to the Danish Royal family. I got to take pictures next to a guard but I got the cold eye and could only get so close. We missed Tivoli Gardens because parking was non-existent, so the decision was to skip it and move on to dinner.
Copenhagen is truly an enchanting city and I would have liked to have spent more time there. But boarding the ship was the true start of my adventures.
Next day we headed off tor Rostock, Germany. Rockstock is approximately 2-3 hours outside of Berlin. The last time I visited Berlin, the wall was up. An especially poignant memory is chatting with a man who had escaped, but came to the wall every day to see his wife and children. Now Berlin has turned into a big urban city. There are huge high rises and malls, and the city has lost some of its charm. I did get to see the Olympic stadium built from 1934-1936, and the Holocaust memorial, interestingly set smack in the middle of the city. And I got to see what was left of the wall and that stirred up some memories.
After a six hour journey traveling back and forth to the ship (not counting the time seeing the sights,) a day at sea was welcomed. Then it was onto Tallin, Estonia and the rain.
Old Town, Tallin is adorable with charming cobblestone streets filled with restaurants and boutiques. Despite the rain, we were able to fit in coffee and shopping. A highlight of the day was finding a great shoe store where the designer makes one of a kind shoes, and only one in each size. I am now the proud owner of two pairs of size 10 shoes and no one else owns a similar pair in size 10 in the entire world.
Onto St. Petersburg, Russia we went. And yes the two days there were chilly. There are 32 days of sun a year in this lovely city that is often called Venice of the North. But brrr it was cold! Even so, we were able to enjoy two days on the water- one on a hydrofoil. I even rode the subway (see pic of subway below). We saw Catherine’s Palace and the Hermitage. Lunches both days were of the Russian kind and lunch wouldn’t be lunch without vodka served . Here I am with this cute Russian lady who graciously allowed me to take her picture. See below.
Next stop, Helsinki, a charming little waterfront town with lots of shopping opportunities, and the most delightful people you will come across. I got to witness a parade, visit a used book store, and do some serious spending damage at the market place, but hey my holiday presents are almost all bought.
Stockholm, Sweden, the next day, was a cool experience and well worth the $40.00 cab ride when we almost missed the ship. The antipasto (that delayed us) was delicious, and the vodka tasting at an ice bar exceptional. The chuckle found on a billboard in front of a restaurant made me realize the Swedes really are droll. This is not my political commentary. I'm just sharing some humor, so go easy on me.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, but next time the itinerary needs to include Moscow.
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