Baltic Cruise (Sept 2010)
(see pictures by clicking on light blue links)
We visited several major cities along the Baltic Sea and took train from the German port city of Warnemunde to Berlin. The map to the right shows only the Baltic Sea tour. Actually, we flew from Denver directly to London and spent a couple of days there before starting the cruise at Dover, England and sailing to Copenhagen and returned to Dover after the Baltic cruise. We wish we could have spent more time in London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, but the fast-moving tour didn't allow it. That's one of the bad features of cruising - too much time is spent on the ship (four days at sea) and not enough at the ports. However, we were able to get a flavor of the cities and countries we visited that we couldn't get from the Internet, books, or magazines.
St. Petersburg was the most interesting, even though the tours were very structured - wandering around and taking pictures was not possible. Russians liked to have strict control. We toured the elegant summer palace on the Bay of Finland, where they used gold leaf like I use spray paint on lawn furniture. Another elegant place was the Sheremetev Place (more gold leaf), where we enjoyed some selected famous opera pieces sung by two men and two women, with absolutely beautiful voices, accompanied by a ten-piece orchestra, in an intimate, elegant setting. We made a stop at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, where the remains of most of the famous czars, including Peter the Great, are located. It could be called the Westminster Abbey of Russia.
Speaking of the Westminster Abby, it was the highlight of our limited tour of London. We also saw Winston Churchill's WWII bunker and Hyde Park.
We barely scratched the surface of historic Berlin with visits to the Berlin Wall and the square where the Nazis' famous book burning took place, as seen some documentaries.
The Scandinavian cities were interesting, but not special. There were more bicycles than cars on the streets of Copenhagen. Populations of Copenhagen, Tallinn, and Helsinki are all about the same as Colorado Springs. Stockholm is a little bigger. St. Petersburg is a bustling seaport with a population of 4.5 million.