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I wrote this on Saturday when we returned, but am just now getting around to posting on Tuesday…
Our debarkation time was 6:30am, so Daddy and I had breakfast at 5:30 in the Horizon Court before heading to our meeting place in the casino.
After leaving the ship we boarded a motor coach and headed through Copenhagen to the airport. We had a lot of problems getting our boarding passes in Copenhagen. When Daddy and I got to the counter they said that there was a problem with our tickets, and this ended up being true for most of our group.
Our final day of the cruise was a glorious day at sea. This is perfect timing for a port heavy cruise that ends with a long day of travel back across the pond.
Daddy and I met Patsy, Ben, Win, and Anita in the Concerto Dining Room for breakfast. We had eaten every other morning in the Horizon Court, but decided to step it up a bit for our final full morning.
Next came a very interesting tour of the kitchen that is used to service the dining rooms on the ship. All through the line there were different types of potato preparations. I’m guessing there were well over 100 types of potato dishes.
Nynäshamn, Sweden was the only port on our itinerary where we had to board tender ships (the cruise director called them “water limousines.”) Fortunately we had calm seas and nice weather, so it was a pleasant ride to join our tour.
From Nyanäshamn we boarded a motor coach for a 60km drive to Stockholm with our guide Mecki. She was originally from Finland but moved to Stockholmn 35 years ago.
After breakfast in the Horizon Court, Patsy, Ben, Daddy, Win and Anita Keith, and I met in the Princess Theater for our tour and then departed the ship in Helsinki. We boarded a motor coach with our guide Violet and headed for the town of Porvoo.
On the way she told us a lot about Helsinki and the country of Finland. It was established in 1515 as part of Sweden. It became the capital of Finland in 1812, when under the control of Russia. It remained under Russian control until the Soviet revolution in 1917 when Finland gained its independence. The country joined the European Union in 1997.
Today Helsinki has 612,000 inhabitants. The population of Finland is 5.45 million. Both Finnish (90%) and Swedish (5%) are official languages due to their history. All signs have both Swedish and Finnish.
We had an early morning in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. After breakfast at 5:30, Daddy and I joined up with Patsy and Ben in the Princess Theater. Upon leaving the ship we had to go through immigration, and I got a Russian stamp in my passport!!
We boarded a motor coach for the day 1 of the tour with our guide Konstantin, who is a native of St. Petersburg. Our first stop was Peterhof Palace, in the town of Peterhof, which was over an hour from the port.
Today our ship docked in Tallin, Estonia. Estonia is a former Soviet republic that gained their independence when the Soviet Union fell in 1991. The country joined the Europian Union in 2004.
Patsy, Ben, Daddy, and I were met at the port by Jakob Remmel, who is a missionary that Patsy and Ben’s church supports. He is a native Estonian and planted the 3D Church in Tartu that has a second campus in Tallin.
Jakob took us on a tour of Tallin that started with the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia. This is essentially the Presidential residence. It was a striking pink structure that was built in 1938, and located in a beautiful park area outside of town. Since Estonia has a parliamentary government, the president is selected by the Parlaiment.
Today my goal was to do as little as possible and REST. I slept in until 10:00am, then grabbed some breakfast with Daddy in the Horizon Court and then found a nice lounge chair on deck 17.
I napped in sun and breeze until about 3pm. I was wearing pants, a long sleeved shirt, and put my hat on my face. However I got ROASTED on my ankles, wrists, and neck. I also got burned on my face a bit, which is strange since it was covered by a hat. Regardless, it was still nice to get some rest.
We were originally scheduled to dock in Warnemunde, Germany and take a train to Berlin, but due to gale force winds the port was closed. So, the ship instead docked in Kiel, which is the 3rd largest port in Northern Europe. It was great that we had an alternate option, but this meant that the train ride to Berlin was an hour longer each way (4 hours instead of 3).
Daddy and I boarded the train around 7am, and I was able to catch a little sleep on the way to Berlin. When I was awake I saw that we passed through some beautiful countryside and the city of Hamburg. We had a guide named Chris who had driven in that morning from Warnemunde and helped us with questions, information, and snacks during our train ride.
I’m actually writing this from the morning of day 7. We had to meet at 5am for our train ride to Berlin, so I went to bed fairly early last night.
We didn’t arrive in Aahrus, Denmark until 1pm yesterday, so I was able to get in a 3-mile run on the dreadmill and then enjoy a leisurely breakfast with my dad in the Horizon Court. I didn’t run on deck because we woke to heavy rain, 50° temps, and “gale force winds” (captain’s words).
Well, I think I jammed about all I could into today. The captain told us yesterday that we would be entering the Oslo Fjord at approximately 5:45am on our way to arriving at the city of Oslo by 10am. The word on the street (sea) was that the scenery would be beautiful by 7 or 8am as the Fjord narrowed.
I wanted to make sure I experienced this, so I got up at 6am and took a gander outside. It was cool and rainy with a low hanging fog, so land was very difficult to see. Since I was already up I decided to head to deck 18 for a 3-mile run on the track (21 laps!!). Most of this was completed in a driving rain, but it was still an enjoyable run as the land on either side of the Fjord grew closer and closer.
Well, we finally got our luggage about 5 minutes before midnight on Monday, which was a HUGE relief. Since I now had some more clothes, I was finally able to go for a morning run in Copenhagen before breakfast.
I love to explore new places on the run and it was awesome to run through this fabulous city. I started out in the Ørestad area and ran 2.5-miles down Ørestad Blvd. to the edge of the downtown area and back for a total of 5-miles. Most of this route was on a crushed gravel path running beside the street, which is just about the best surface you can hope for. It was neat to pass hundreds of bikes with people going to work. Many of them were dressed in full business attire.
Let me just say that I fell in love with Copenhagen, and I wish we had more time to explore this great city. It is very clean, the people are ridiculously friendly, and it is stunningly beautiful. Most of the buildings are fairly short (there is no “skyline”) and are a mixture of very old and very modern. I also love that it is on the water with lots of waterways and harbors. Also it is a huge plus that almost everyone speaks fluent English.
After a nice breakfast at the Hotel, we boarded a motor coach at 9am and headed into the city of Copenhagen. Our tour guide for the day was named Anna, and she was awesome. We learned that the population of Copenhagen is around 575,000 and that the overall population of Denmark is over 5 million. There is very little bandwidth for traffic in Copenhagen, so the primary method of transportation is bicycle. It was very difficult for our bus to navigate the 2-lane roads of the city with all of the congestion.
Our first stop was at Christensborg Castle. This castle has burned down twice and the current structure was built in the 17th century. We did not go inside the castle, but walked around the grounds and saw the entrance to the Denmark parliament, which is located within the castle. I found it interesting that they have no idea who the figures are who are carved above the entrance, so the people of Copenhagen call them headache, earache, toothache, etc. because of their poses and the position of their hands. In the back of the castle was a statue to Christian IX, who is known as the father-in-law of Europe because of how many children he had, and how many of his daughters ended up as royalty in other countries.
Not sure I’ll have enough Internet connectivity throughout this trip to blog every day, but gonna give it a shot:
Well, Saturday began a two-week trip with my Dad to Europe / Asia for an 11-day cruise of the Baltic Sea on the Regal Princess. The first two days have been all about travel. This included flights from Nashville to Atlanta, Atlanta to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Copenhagen. It was hard to leave my girls in Nashville, but I’m excited about my first trip to Europe and Asia, and especially excited about two weeks with my Dad. This group from Wilson Bank & Trust has 48 people and it is nice to have a tour director who is taking care of everything.