We sailed through the Kiel Canal, which separates the mainland portion of Denmark from Germany, and into the Baltic Sea. Then spend a day at the German beach resort of Warnemunde.
Next we experienced two full days in St. Petersburg, Russia's loveliest city, restored in many ways as it was during Peter the Great's reign (much work still needs to be done to clean up this city of dirty but beautiful buildings). Here, you can marvel at the treasures of the Hermitage, one of the world's greatest and most beautiful museums, and see the churches and palaces whose opulence will remind you of the reigns of the great czars. One thing that amazed me was seeing less than a thousand people on the streets in a city of five million people.
Our cruise ended with stops in the capitals of Scandinavia. Here we spent time in the pristine streets of Helsinki, and enjoy its innovative architecture. We explored Stockholm, sprawling across a Baltic archipelago whose islands are connected by lovely bridges and causeways. Delve into the lively Copenhagen Hard Rock Cafe, fanciful buildings, and spectacular Tivoli gardens of Copenhagen. Finally, we took a early morning two hour cruise up the Oslo Fjord into lovely Oslo, Norway's capital and center of the country's great seafaring tradition, before we ended our trip back in London.
The Tower Bridge & London's Fire Department The ship used during the filming of Horatio Hornblower
Inside the Tower of London with the Ravens
To Tele or to Post - which should I do?
Leaving Dover, England
On the ship in front of the White Cliffs of Dover ...
The Kiel Canal - East Germany
East GermanyMeklenburg Countryside & Molli Train Ride We began with a drive along the coast and through the typical rural landscape of historic Mecklenburg, a former duchy and province of the German Reich. Then we stopped for a visit at the monastery of Bad Doberan and had a chance to walk through the quaint park that surrounds the Minster. Next, on to the nearest Molli train station. The 30-minute ride on this narrow gauge railway, in existence since the early 1900s, was an interesting part of the tour. The train took us from the old part of Bad Doberan to Kuhlungsborn. Here we stopped for a refreshing piece of cake and enjoyed the beautiful view from a hotel situated directly on the windy beach. Finally we stopped at lovely Heiligendamm, a seaside resort with beautiful white buildings overlooking the water.
On the beach of the Baltic
St. Petersburg, Russia
Going to the Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg
Classical St. Petersburg As we left the pier, we passed Decembrists Square and the Bronze Horseman, a monument to the founder of the city, Peter the Great. A short drive brought us to one of the most renowned museums in the world - the Hermitage (one of my goals to see this amazing site was satisfied). What the Louvre is to Paris, the Hermitage is to St. Petersburg. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 as a private court museum, it now occupies the Winter Palace, which was the winter residence of the Russian czars, and four other buildings. We toured the State Rooms, with their impressive collection of Western European art featuring works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and others, as well as an outstanding French Impressionists Collection. We saw the Palace Square, and had an opportunity to photograph the 15-foot-high Alexander Column honoring Alexander I. Traveling along the Neva River, we passed Rostral Columns and the Peter and Paul Fortress on our way to the Aurora, the battleship whose shot announced the beginning of a new era for the nation in October 1917. Making our way along Nevsky Prospect to St. Issac's Square, we passed St. Isaac's Cathedral, with its impressive gold dome, and Smolny Convent. It's about 17 miles along Moscow Prospect and the Kiev Highway to the Egyptian Gates and the entrance to Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin). We thoroughly enjoyed a lunch of typical Russian fare here and musical entertainment while you dine. Then we entered Pushkin. Here, on 1,482 acres, stands Catherine's Palace, designed in the mid-I 8th century in honor of Peter the Great's wife. it was the summer residence of the imperial family from the reign of Peter the Great until the fall of the monarchy in 1917. Although the palace was almost totally destroyed during World War II, it has been magnificently restored and is renowned for its fairy tale interior. Its stunning aqua facade is nearly 1,000 feet long and adorned with gold and white ornaments. We viewed several of the rooms, including the Great Blue Room, Picture Gallery, Amber Room and the study of Alexander I.
The Hermitage and treasures of the last Czar
Getting ready for a Russian lunch
The Summer Palace outside of St. Petersburg
An office building in St. Petersburg
Helsinki, FinlandHelsinki City Sights was an orientation tour of Finland's sparkling capital, also called the "Daughter of the Baltic" and the "White City of the North." We passed the famous Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral with its brilliant gold onion domes en route to the Senate Square, site of several important buildings attributed to the neoclassic architect Carl Ludwig Engel. In the square's center stands a large statue of Alexander II, Czar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland during much of the 19th century. On Mannerheim Street, Helsinki's main thoroughfare, we saw the Parliament House, the National Museum and Finlandia Hall, designed by the famous architect Alvar Aalto. We then continued through lovely residential districts to the Olympic Stadium, host to the 1952 Olympic Games and passed the opera house, completed in 1993. We stopped at the Temppeliaukio Rock Church, a unique house of worship blasted into solid rock and topped by a copper dome. Then it's on to Sibelius Park where I photographed a monument constructed of 527 steel pipes honoring the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. Just past Embassy Park is the colorful open-air market that we bought some gloves made out of Elk skin and took pictures of the locals buying fish, fruit and other consumables.
We experienced a beautiful day in Helsinki while visiting the square in front of the cathedral, the olympic stadium and the market place on the way to the ship.
New Town Shopping Center
Stockholm, Sweden - Church near the Palace
Stockholm, Sweden - Old Town
The Castles of North Zealand - DenmarkAfter a brief orientation tour of Copenhagen, we headed out through the lush Danish countryside to Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod. This magnificent Renaissance castle is now the National Museum of History. In the small chapel, we found the oldest organ in the world, still in use today. The next stop was the charming village of Fredensborg and Fredensborg Palace, summer residence of the Royal Family. Continuing north to the town of Elsinore, we enjoyed a buffet lunch, or smorgasbord of typical Danish delicacies. Then on to Helsinger, where we explored the courtyard and ramparts of Kronborg Castle, dating back to 1582. The castle is perhaps better known as Hamlet's Castle, immortalized when Shakespeare chose it as the setting for his famous play. Return to Copenhagen along the coastal road, renowned as the Danish Riviera. On the way back to the ship we saw impressive views of manor houses alongside narrow ribbons of water.
Oslo Countryside - Art & Culture Begin with a 11/2 hour drive through Oslo's suburbs and Norway's rich farm country and woodlands. Your first stop is BlaafarvevEket, once Norways largest industrial company, The Cobalt Works, and today a cultural museum. The annual art exhibitions here are among the most important in Scandinavia. In 1999, the exhibition is by Edvard Munch, a pioneer of expressionism, and his contemporary, Arne Kavli, a well-known Scandinavian artist. The Cobalt Works was founded in 1776 to extract cobalt from the Modum mines. The mineral was used to make dyes for the worldis glass and porcelain industries. Enjoy a guided tour of the Works. view the exhibition 'iFrom Cobalt Ore to Cobalt Blue, and visit the mill with its cobalt-colored displays, purchasing some of the attractive glassware if you wish. Next you will visit the art exhibition Sun, Summer and White Sails. Each painter will have about 50 works on display here. Enjoy a delicious lunch buffet of traditional homemade food then relax as you stroll around the beautiful park on the banks of the Simoa River. Before leaving BlaafarvevErket, you'll stop briefly to admire the Haugfossen waterfall and visit an old fashioned country store. Your last stop is Nyfossum, where you'll enjoy the popular exhibition, "A Treasure of Culture," featuring patchwork quilts in all shapes and sizes. This tremendously successful exhibition has also been shown at museums in Sweden and~ Paris. Then visit a beautifully restored house built in the 1820s, its herb garden and fish ponds.
More photos to come.....
CREDIT CARDS: In St. Petersburg credit cards are NOT usually accepted in stores, restaurants, or other establishments. However, major credit cards are widely accepted in stores and restaurants throughout Scandinavia. Because Scandinavian banks charge an uncommonly high fee to cash traveler's checks, you may prefer to use credit cards for any personal expenses.
CURRENCY: The monetary unit in Russia is the ruble. On price tags, ruble is abbreviated to p. Rubles may not be imported or exported. U.S. currency is the preferred method of payment in Russia; we suggest you bring some U.S. cash in small denominations if you plan to shop. Bring new bills; even slightly worn ones are sometimes rejected. Finland's monetary unit is the markka (fink), which divides into lOO penni. In Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, the unit of currency is the krone, which divides into 100 ore. Please note, however, that krone can only be used in the country of origin -- they are not interchangeable.
London: while London's weather can be unpredictable, legends about its incessant rain are exaggerated. Showers are typically light and brief. The British capital is in the temperate zone. Summers tend to be moderately warm, with few days reaching above 750F. Hotter weather, however, cannot be ruled out. The summer of 1997, for example, was unseasonably hot with several record-breaking days of heat.
Kiel Canal: The Kiel Canal enables ships to pass easily from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. It is in Germany's most temperate weather zone, but is open to the changeable, stormy conditions from the Atlantic. Like much of northern Europe, its weather can be variable at any time of the year. Fall tends to be the wettest season.
St. Petersburg: The Gulf Stream keeps St. Petersburg's climate on the moderate side. Summer is often comfortably warm and bright, but hot spells also occur. You may see some showers, but most days are likely to be at least partly sunny.
Scandinavia: This region is at its best from mid-May to mid-September, when the Midnight Sun creates comfortably warm days and gloriously long hours of sun. Late spring and summer temperatures can be surprisingly high -- certainly comparable to those of Maine or Vermont, for example; and the sea is generally much warmer than you might expect, largely as a result of the Gulf Stream and the shallowness of the Baltic. The low humidity, too, makes it feel warmer than temperatures may indicate. Be prepared, however, for variable weather in which temperatures suddenly drop; rains are a possibility, too.
The following temperatures were published by the TIMES World Weather Guide.
SPECIFICATIONS OF THE NORWEGIAN DREAM
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