A Baltic Cruise, Part 2

IMG_4639By Mary Jo

Part 1 of our Baltic cruise covered Stockholm, Finland, and Estonia.  The cruise is called Viking Homelands, and many of the places we visited were founded as Viking trading ports. Now some highlights of the rest of our journey.

Russia;

St. Petersburg, Russia was the easternmost stop of our voyage, and it's a city with more than its share of glamour and drama.  It was founded in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great as his "window on the west." At the time, the country was largely landlocked (Archangel, the only other port in European Russia, is far north on the White Sea and frozen for a good part of the year.)

Peter wanted to make his country 2017_Viking_Homelands Mapmodern and European, so he toured the great capitals of Europe for inspiration.  Built at the mouth of the Neva River, the marshiness of the area led to numerous canals as well as grand boulevards, elegant palaces, and splendid churches with characteristic Russian onion domes.

 

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The city is still splendid, though the shipboard newsletters gave dire warnings about pickpockets, as did the guide on the coach tour we took for an overview of the city.  She told us the ominous story of a couple who had passports and wallets stolen.  They would have to go to Moscow to the American embassy to get replacements, but that wouldn't be until Monday and it was Saturday. 

Plus, the only credit card they had on them was an American Express, which isn't widely accepted in that part of the world.  So they had to call family at home to get money wired to them before they could go to Moscow, and I can only imagine the stress!  By the time the guide was done with her warnings, I was almost afraid to get off the coach. <G>

But I did, and I fell in love with the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, built on the site IMG_4637 where nihilists assassinated the progressive Tsar Alexander II in 1881.  Built by the imperial family as a memorial, it's perhaps the most gorgeously colorful building I've ever seen.  It was apparently inspired by medieval Russian architecture in romantic nationalism mode, and it's a riot of mosaics and colors and voluptuous design.  (The Russians do churches really well!)

I got off the coach at another site and was admiring these fan tailed pigeons when a young woman scooped them up and put them on my arms, then demanded my cell phone so she could take pictures of me.  I figured there were probably enough people around that she wouldn't steal it, so I went along her. 

Obviously she would want a tip, and I thought five dollars seemed reasonable considering it only took her a few minutes.  I didn't expect her to whip out a printed price list that said the cost was $50 US.  I told her I didn't have the money. (True–I'd left my handbag securely in the coach.)  She was annoyed, but since I hadn't asked her to take the pictures, she settled for the five dollars and presumably moved on with her pigeons to someone else IMG_4621

Denmark:

Denmark is considered to be the happiest country in the world, and it may well be.  Copenhagen is the capital and largest city and was originally founded by the Vikings in the 10th century.  It's a very attractive, clean city and people are friendly.  We did a harbor cruise, seeing many interesting things, including a back view of the famous bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid.  (You can see how many people are on the land side.)   The story is very sad, but the statue is charming. 

IMG_4787We made another stop in Denmark, in Aalborg.  The fourth largest city in Denmark, it was founded by the Vikings in the 900s and is at the bottom of a long, scenic fjord.  (This whole area of Northern Europe was covered by glaciers in the Ice Age, and the spectacular fjords are one of the results.)

A welcoming committee danced and sang as we docked at 8:00 am, which was great fun.   We decided to hire a taxi to take us around the city, and a lovely fellow named Torben was an excellent guide.  He showed us the old city as well as the modern outer areas, then asked us if we'd like to see how a taxi driver lived. 

We said yes, so he took us home, and the answer is that taxi drivers live very well.  He and IMG_4813his family live in a spacious, airy three bedroom apartment with lots of sunshine, very nice art on the walls, with a pleasant mix of new and antique furnishings.  It was nicer than any apartment I've ever lived in!  (Denmark does not have the extreme differences in incomes that the US has.)

IMG_4899Norway:

The Viking Ocean home port is Bergen, Norway, so we made two stops on the Norwegian coast on our way to Bergen, where the cruise ended.   The first stop was in Stavanger, and we took a boat ride up a fjord to Pulpit Rock.  We stopped for a snack of Norwegian waffles, strawberries, whipped cream and coffee, then got up close and personal with some splendid waterfalls. 

Our last stop before Bergen was Eidfjord, and we took an excursion called "Secrets of Cider."  This involved a coach ride through spectacular and highly varied scenery to the Hardanger Juice & Cider Factory on the family owned Levke farm.  The area has a tradition of fruit farming that goes IMG_4914back to 12th century monks.  The owner has orchards of specially bred compact, narrow apple trees that don't require ladders for harvesting.

We were about 4000 feet high, so the view from the wide-windowed dining room was amazing. We were giving samples of the different products produced on the farm, from a simple apple juice through several types of cider and ending with a really fine apple brandy.  The production facilities were modern and gleaming bright.  As an old farm girl, I loved seeing it. 

I could go on and on, but I'm running out of time and space.  I hope you've enjoyed reading this mini-tour of our Baltic cruise.  Happy trails to you!

Mary Jo

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115 thoughts on “A Baltic Cruise, Part 2”

  1. Thank you for another virtual tour. Re: St Petersburg – The sites sound wonderful, but it sounds like the pickpockets weren’t the only thieves. Fifty dollars for a picture with your own camera? I thought that only happened in Times Square (smile).

    Reply
  2. Thank you for another virtual tour. Re: St Petersburg – The sites sound wonderful, but it sounds like the pickpockets weren’t the only thieves. Fifty dollars for a picture with your own camera? I thought that only happened in Times Square (smile).

    Reply
  3. Thank you for another virtual tour. Re: St Petersburg – The sites sound wonderful, but it sounds like the pickpockets weren’t the only thieves. Fifty dollars for a picture with your own camera? I thought that only happened in Times Square (smile).

    Reply
  4. Thank you for another virtual tour. Re: St Petersburg – The sites sound wonderful, but it sounds like the pickpockets weren’t the only thieves. Fifty dollars for a picture with your own camera? I thought that only happened in Times Square (smile).

    Reply
  5. Thank you for another virtual tour. Re: St Petersburg – The sites sound wonderful, but it sounds like the pickpockets weren’t the only thieves. Fifty dollars for a picture with your own camera? I thought that only happened in Times Square (smile).

    Reply
  6. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. Having been to St. Petersburg many moons ago, I second your enthusiasm. The churches are absolutely amazing, and the Hermitage is an incredible museum experience. It was the Imperial Palace, and has literally hundreds of rooms. I remember walking into the Malachite Room, which is a stunning space made with the semi-precious stone and a work of art in it’s own right. And then, to see Old Masters on the wall! It leaves you a little dizzy!
    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. Having been to St. Petersburg many moons ago, I second your enthusiasm. The churches are absolutely amazing, and the Hermitage is an incredible museum experience. It was the Imperial Palace, and has literally hundreds of rooms. I remember walking into the Malachite Room, which is a stunning space made with the semi-precious stone and a work of art in it’s own right. And then, to see Old Masters on the wall! It leaves you a little dizzy!
    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  8. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. Having been to St. Petersburg many moons ago, I second your enthusiasm. The churches are absolutely amazing, and the Hermitage is an incredible museum experience. It was the Imperial Palace, and has literally hundreds of rooms. I remember walking into the Malachite Room, which is a stunning space made with the semi-precious stone and a work of art in it’s own right. And then, to see Old Masters on the wall! It leaves you a little dizzy!
    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. Having been to St. Petersburg many moons ago, I second your enthusiasm. The churches are absolutely amazing, and the Hermitage is an incredible museum experience. It was the Imperial Palace, and has literally hundreds of rooms. I remember walking into the Malachite Room, which is a stunning space made with the semi-precious stone and a work of art in it’s own right. And then, to see Old Masters on the wall! It leaves you a little dizzy!
    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. Having been to St. Petersburg many moons ago, I second your enthusiasm. The churches are absolutely amazing, and the Hermitage is an incredible museum experience. It was the Imperial Palace, and has literally hundreds of rooms. I remember walking into the Malachite Room, which is a stunning space made with the semi-precious stone and a work of art in it’s own right. And then, to see Old Masters on the wall! It leaves you a little dizzy!
    The rest of the trip sounds wonderful as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  11. Mary T, I suspect this sort of thing happens in a lot of tourist places. When I was in Rome, the tourist area around the Forum had men dressed in Roman military outfits wandering around, and I’m pretty sure the idea was to pay them if you want a picture.

    Reply
  12. Mary T, I suspect this sort of thing happens in a lot of tourist places. When I was in Rome, the tourist area around the Forum had men dressed in Roman military outfits wandering around, and I’m pretty sure the idea was to pay them if you want a picture.

    Reply
  13. Mary T, I suspect this sort of thing happens in a lot of tourist places. When I was in Rome, the tourist area around the Forum had men dressed in Roman military outfits wandering around, and I’m pretty sure the idea was to pay them if you want a picture.

    Reply
  14. Mary T, I suspect this sort of thing happens in a lot of tourist places. When I was in Rome, the tourist area around the Forum had men dressed in Roman military outfits wandering around, and I’m pretty sure the idea was to pay them if you want a picture.

    Reply
  15. Mary T, I suspect this sort of thing happens in a lot of tourist places. When I was in Rome, the tourist area around the Forum had men dressed in Roman military outfits wandering around, and I’m pretty sure the idea was to pay them if you want a picture.

    Reply
  16. “The (little mermaid) story is very….”. What? My curiosity is high, but the word is missing from the blog’s 9th paragraph! Tell me, tell me!p

    Reply
  17. “The (little mermaid) story is very….”. What? My curiosity is high, but the word is missing from the blog’s 9th paragraph! Tell me, tell me!p

    Reply
  18. “The (little mermaid) story is very….”. What? My curiosity is high, but the word is missing from the blog’s 9th paragraph! Tell me, tell me!p

    Reply
  19. “The (little mermaid) story is very….”. What? My curiosity is high, but the word is missing from the blog’s 9th paragraph! Tell me, tell me!p

    Reply
  20. “The (little mermaid) story is very….”. What? My curiosity is high, but the word is missing from the blog’s 9th paragraph! Tell me, tell me!p

    Reply
  21. Ooh, Mary Jo, that last photo is as handsome as anything Ansel Adams produced! I’m so impressed!
    When I was walking near the same Church on the Spilled Blood a few years ago, I saw four people dressed in historical costume walking roward me. I automatically raised my phone and snapped a photo. Naive of me! One of the women started purposefully toward me, but one of the men grabbed her arm and they went on their way. Saved me from what I now see was going to be an “incident,” I’m sure. So I sympathize, but you did get a good travel story out of it, yes?
    By contrast, in Moscow while walking through a park from our ship to a small shopping center, my friend and I came across a babushka (an elderly woman with a sweet face) who was delighted to spend a few minutes with us and have a picture, even though she would never see it. I didn’t get the impression she hoped to be paid for it. (Though now … I wonder.) We didn’t know a word of each other’s language, but it’s one of my happiest memories of that wonderful trip.
    For me, it’s the people who bring travel alive, not the fancy monuments. I’ve made my last big trip now, but I’m so lucky to have all these memories. You, too, I imagine.

    Reply
  22. Ooh, Mary Jo, that last photo is as handsome as anything Ansel Adams produced! I’m so impressed!
    When I was walking near the same Church on the Spilled Blood a few years ago, I saw four people dressed in historical costume walking roward me. I automatically raised my phone and snapped a photo. Naive of me! One of the women started purposefully toward me, but one of the men grabbed her arm and they went on their way. Saved me from what I now see was going to be an “incident,” I’m sure. So I sympathize, but you did get a good travel story out of it, yes?
    By contrast, in Moscow while walking through a park from our ship to a small shopping center, my friend and I came across a babushka (an elderly woman with a sweet face) who was delighted to spend a few minutes with us and have a picture, even though she would never see it. I didn’t get the impression she hoped to be paid for it. (Though now … I wonder.) We didn’t know a word of each other’s language, but it’s one of my happiest memories of that wonderful trip.
    For me, it’s the people who bring travel alive, not the fancy monuments. I’ve made my last big trip now, but I’m so lucky to have all these memories. You, too, I imagine.

    Reply
  23. Ooh, Mary Jo, that last photo is as handsome as anything Ansel Adams produced! I’m so impressed!
    When I was walking near the same Church on the Spilled Blood a few years ago, I saw four people dressed in historical costume walking roward me. I automatically raised my phone and snapped a photo. Naive of me! One of the women started purposefully toward me, but one of the men grabbed her arm and they went on their way. Saved me from what I now see was going to be an “incident,” I’m sure. So I sympathize, but you did get a good travel story out of it, yes?
    By contrast, in Moscow while walking through a park from our ship to a small shopping center, my friend and I came across a babushka (an elderly woman with a sweet face) who was delighted to spend a few minutes with us and have a picture, even though she would never see it. I didn’t get the impression she hoped to be paid for it. (Though now … I wonder.) We didn’t know a word of each other’s language, but it’s one of my happiest memories of that wonderful trip.
    For me, it’s the people who bring travel alive, not the fancy monuments. I’ve made my last big trip now, but I’m so lucky to have all these memories. You, too, I imagine.

    Reply
  24. Ooh, Mary Jo, that last photo is as handsome as anything Ansel Adams produced! I’m so impressed!
    When I was walking near the same Church on the Spilled Blood a few years ago, I saw four people dressed in historical costume walking roward me. I automatically raised my phone and snapped a photo. Naive of me! One of the women started purposefully toward me, but one of the men grabbed her arm and they went on their way. Saved me from what I now see was going to be an “incident,” I’m sure. So I sympathize, but you did get a good travel story out of it, yes?
    By contrast, in Moscow while walking through a park from our ship to a small shopping center, my friend and I came across a babushka (an elderly woman with a sweet face) who was delighted to spend a few minutes with us and have a picture, even though she would never see it. I didn’t get the impression she hoped to be paid for it. (Though now … I wonder.) We didn’t know a word of each other’s language, but it’s one of my happiest memories of that wonderful trip.
    For me, it’s the people who bring travel alive, not the fancy monuments. I’ve made my last big trip now, but I’m so lucky to have all these memories. You, too, I imagine.

    Reply
  25. Ooh, Mary Jo, that last photo is as handsome as anything Ansel Adams produced! I’m so impressed!
    When I was walking near the same Church on the Spilled Blood a few years ago, I saw four people dressed in historical costume walking roward me. I automatically raised my phone and snapped a photo. Naive of me! One of the women started purposefully toward me, but one of the men grabbed her arm and they went on their way. Saved me from what I now see was going to be an “incident,” I’m sure. So I sympathize, but you did get a good travel story out of it, yes?
    By contrast, in Moscow while walking through a park from our ship to a small shopping center, my friend and I came across a babushka (an elderly woman with a sweet face) who was delighted to spend a few minutes with us and have a picture, even though she would never see it. I didn’t get the impression she hoped to be paid for it. (Though now … I wonder.) We didn’t know a word of each other’s language, but it’s one of my happiest memories of that wonderful trip.
    For me, it’s the people who bring travel alive, not the fancy monuments. I’ve made my last big trip now, but I’m so lucky to have all these memories. You, too, I imagine.

    Reply
  26. Your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go visit these places…maybe someday if I win the lottery…lol. Thanks so much for sharing you experiences and photos!

    Reply
  27. Your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go visit these places…maybe someday if I win the lottery…lol. Thanks so much for sharing you experiences and photos!

    Reply
  28. Your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go visit these places…maybe someday if I win the lottery…lol. Thanks so much for sharing you experiences and photos!

    Reply
  29. Your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go visit these places…maybe someday if I win the lottery…lol. Thanks so much for sharing you experiences and photos!

    Reply
  30. Your trip sounds amazing! I would love to go visit these places…maybe someday if I win the lottery…lol. Thanks so much for sharing you experiences and photos!

    Reply
  31. Mary M, I agree that people bring the trip alive. (Like our lovely Danish driver, and our guide in Tallinn.) My guess is that the babushka would have accepted a bit of money with a smile, but she wasn’t going to extort it.

    Reply
  32. Mary M, I agree that people bring the trip alive. (Like our lovely Danish driver, and our guide in Tallinn.) My guess is that the babushka would have accepted a bit of money with a smile, but she wasn’t going to extort it.

    Reply
  33. Mary M, I agree that people bring the trip alive. (Like our lovely Danish driver, and our guide in Tallinn.) My guess is that the babushka would have accepted a bit of money with a smile, but she wasn’t going to extort it.

    Reply
  34. Mary M, I agree that people bring the trip alive. (Like our lovely Danish driver, and our guide in Tallinn.) My guess is that the babushka would have accepted a bit of money with a smile, but she wasn’t going to extort it.

    Reply
  35. Mary M, I agree that people bring the trip alive. (Like our lovely Danish driver, and our guide in Tallinn.) My guess is that the babushka would have accepted a bit of money with a smile, but she wasn’t going to extort it.

    Reply
  36. Thank you for the tour. Together with following you wenches on your journeys, the best way I have to see sights is through a computer program called Jigsaws Galore (both mac and windows). It has taken me to Denmark, but not to the other places in your two-part blog.

    Reply
  37. Thank you for the tour. Together with following you wenches on your journeys, the best way I have to see sights is through a computer program called Jigsaws Galore (both mac and windows). It has taken me to Denmark, but not to the other places in your two-part blog.

    Reply
  38. Thank you for the tour. Together with following you wenches on your journeys, the best way I have to see sights is through a computer program called Jigsaws Galore (both mac and windows). It has taken me to Denmark, but not to the other places in your two-part blog.

    Reply
  39. Thank you for the tour. Together with following you wenches on your journeys, the best way I have to see sights is through a computer program called Jigsaws Galore (both mac and windows). It has taken me to Denmark, but not to the other places in your two-part blog.

    Reply
  40. Thank you for the tour. Together with following you wenches on your journeys, the best way I have to see sights is through a computer program called Jigsaws Galore (both mac and windows). It has taken me to Denmark, but not to the other places in your two-part blog.

    Reply
  41. This is Norway, where everything is well cared for. *G* What I found interesting was how those goats were casually munching on a near vertical cliff! There was a third goat just out of view, too.

    Reply
  42. This is Norway, where everything is well cared for. *G* What I found interesting was how those goats were casually munching on a near vertical cliff! There was a third goat just out of view, too.

    Reply
  43. This is Norway, where everything is well cared for. *G* What I found interesting was how those goats were casually munching on a near vertical cliff! There was a third goat just out of view, too.

    Reply
  44. This is Norway, where everything is well cared for. *G* What I found interesting was how those goats were casually munching on a near vertical cliff! There was a third goat just out of view, too.

    Reply
  45. This is Norway, where everything is well cared for. *G* What I found interesting was how those goats were casually munching on a near vertical cliff! There was a third goat just out of view, too.

    Reply
  46. But she was SO happy and enthusiastic I was afraid she might be insulted and deflated if I offered some. As I said, now I wonder.

    Reply
  47. But she was SO happy and enthusiastic I was afraid she might be insulted and deflated if I offered some. As I said, now I wonder.

    Reply
  48. But she was SO happy and enthusiastic I was afraid she might be insulted and deflated if I offered some. As I said, now I wonder.

    Reply
  49. But she was SO happy and enthusiastic I was afraid she might be insulted and deflated if I offered some. As I said, now I wonder.

    Reply
  50. But she was SO happy and enthusiastic I was afraid she might be insulted and deflated if I offered some. As I said, now I wonder.

    Reply
  51. He has many diffrent categories – I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. I mostly buy puzzles from his “beautiful earth” selections.

    Reply
  52. He has many diffrent categories – I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. I mostly buy puzzles from his “beautiful earth” selections.

    Reply
  53. He has many diffrent categories – I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. I mostly buy puzzles from his “beautiful earth” selections.

    Reply
  54. He has many diffrent categories – I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. I mostly buy puzzles from his “beautiful earth” selections.

    Reply
  55. He has many diffrent categories – I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. I mostly buy puzzles from his “beautiful earth” selections.

    Reply

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