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Baltic Cruise Trip Report, Hi jacketwatch

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Sep 2nd, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Baltic Cruise Trip Report, Hi jacketwatch

Just back from a Baltic Cruise from August 20 - 31.
The cruise started in Copenhagen on the Star Princess.
I arrived 3 days earlier to tour Copenhagen .
I stayed at the Marriott and had a waterfront view ,from my room I could see some of Copenhagen famous landmarks.

I had a private tour guide for one full day and then did the rest on my own as I knew where almost all the places were.

Grethe my tour guide took the four of us to many famous places in the city ( like the palaces of Rosenborg, Christianborg and Amalienborg) and then we headed to the countryside town of Hillerod to visit Frederiksborg Castle with Neptune Fountain at the main entrance.

We then went to Fredenborg to see the Fredenborg Palace , the official residence of the Royal Family... again another lovely place with immaculate gardens.
From here it was off to Elsinor to tour the Kronborg Castle.

Kronborg Castle sits on a penninsula on Zealand Island.
This is the closest point between Denmark and Sweden..so from the Castle you can look across the water and see Sweden only 2.5 miles away,it looked so close.

But on the way to Elsinor we had to stop off for lunch as I told Grethe I wanted to have a Real Danish meal.

She said she knew just the place and as we drove the country road , she turned into a long driveway that had a nice country style cottage with a thatched roof.

I thought to myself, hmmm just the kind of place that would serve a good Danish meal.

Well!!!! what do you know , the place turned out to be Grethe's home. What a surprise !!!
and her husband was waiting for us and had the table all set and we had a terrific Danish meal.

On the way back to Copenhagen we drove down the coastline known as the Copenhagen Riviera.
We stopped to visit the home of Karen Blitzen( 1885-1962). As we walked the grounds and then down a cobblestone path we reached her gravesite under a huge oak tree.

Who is Karen Blitzen?!
She is one of Denmark's most famous authors and among other books she wrote "Out of Africa"
Robert Redford and Meryl Streep filmed parts of the movie right here.

Back to Copenhagen:

The Stroget ( Stroy- et) is the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
It has many shops, squares , monuments and dining places.
It starts ( or ends) at the Town Hall Square which you cannot miss because of the towering Town Hall.
It ends ( or starts) at Kongen Nytorv, a lovely circle square with historic buildings.
If you want to stroll along and shop and look...this is the street to do it on.

As you walk along you will see a large church calleed Hellgaandskirke which has a very tall centre spire and four smaller matching ones at each corner....something like St. Olaf's church in Tallinn which you will see when you get there.

When you get to Kongens Nytorv at the end of the Stroget, you will come upon Nyhavn.

Have a drink here at one of the sidewalk cafes and do take a Canal Tour as you will see a lot of places like the great Stock Exchange Building, The Church of our Saviour with it's external stair case spiral which you can climb to the top....I did and yes I was a little scared.!!

The views from the top were terrific.
As you take the Canal Tour you will past by buildings number 18, 20 and 68.
This is where Hans Christian Andersen once lived.

Oresund Bridge..... this is the bridge that crosses from Copenhagen to Malmoe Sweden.
We hired a taxi to take us over this unique bridge and over to Sweden.

First you go into a tunnel...now you are under the sea!!!...then you come up and you are on a false island...this is where the bridge begins..in the middle of the water from the fals island , amazing and its on to Sweden.

I also climbed the Round Tower just a block or so off the Stroget.
This is where Peter the Great rode his horse to the top in 1716.

The Little Mermaid is just that...little !!!
Also toured the Carlsberg Beer Factory, it is a very nice looking red brick building.

And of course we spent many hours at the Tivoli Gardens.
Want to see the Hans Christian Andersen statue...well it is at the Town Hall Square, right across from the Tivoli Gardens .
Whew!!! enough already.

Next part will be Stockholm

Percy





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Sep 3rd, 2007, 07:04 AM
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Hello Percy and I will await your TR. Your description of Copenhagen is amazing! And what a neat experience to have your guide take you to her home for lunch. Its times like this that make traveling so special. I'll be interested to see how you compare Gamla Stan to Stroget though it seems its one long street vs. an entire mass of streets, etc. Cheers, Larry
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Sep 3rd, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Percy - what was your itinerary and ports?

Enjoyed the first segment - will look for the rest!
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Sep 3rd, 2007, 05:27 PM
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Hi Again:

I was on the Star Princess and the ports of call were as follows:
Copenhagen
Stockholm
Helsinki
St. Petersburg
Tallin Estonia
Gdansk Poland
Oslo Norway:

Okay now for Stockholm.
Percy

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Sep 3rd, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Stockholm Sweden:

We ran into some strong headwinds when we left Copenhagen for Stockholm...it was so windy I could not walk the deck outside the ship!

Then the Captain came on the intercom and said we will not be able to make the port in Stockholm where they usually dock in Stadsgarden ( grrr!!!)for our 10 AM docking ...But we will dock instead at the port of Nynashamn...but this is now an hour drive almost from Stockholm, however will will have an extra 2 hours more added on to the departure time .!

Talk about having to scramble, from the cruise ship I e-mailed my friend in Stockholm and told him what the situation was and he e-mailed me and said "don't worry I will come to Nynashamn to get you."
Whew !!!

You have to have some plan to visit Stockholm and see all the major sites.
Here is my plan for you:

1. Go to Vasa Museum first, you really want to see this Vasa ship that was hauled out of the water and after 333 years.
The restoration job they did on the ship is fantastic
This place gets crowded so get here first.
2. Go to Drottingholm Palace..I know it is 6 miles west of Stockholm and is the home of the Swedish Royal Family, but is is also UNESCO World heritage site.!!

This place resembles Versailles and the grounds are immaculate.
It cost about 10 $US , or you can just walk the grounds in amazement!

3. Next on your way back to Stockholm , do the City Hall tour , this takes about a good hour(a little more !) and cost 8 $US.
From the City Hall you can almost walk to Gamla Stan, but don't do it !!
It is in the City Hall that the Nobel Prize banquet is held( in the Blue Room).
The Prizes are actually awarded in the Concert Hall.
You will see the Gold Room with is superb mosiacs.

This is not the common City Hall we usually think of.

4. Gamla Stan:
Here you can spend the rest of your time and there is lots to see.
I will try to list some places:

Royal Palace ..there is a changing of the guards ( I saw this and took pictures).

Storkyran:..this Cathedral is right next to the Royal Palace.
Go inside , it cost 3 euros( that is what I paid).
The baroque pulpit inside is fantastic.
( all baroque means is that something is ornate,or fancy carved or even too lavishly done)

Also inside is a 500 year old wood carving of St.George slaying the Dragon.
Okay ,back outside the Storkrykan( church), you will see an Obelisk dedicated to the people of Stockholm in supporting King Gusta lll war with Russia.

Okay from the Obelisk look straight ahead toward the water.....that statue you see is of King Gustav lll ....and straight behind Gustav across the water is the National Museum building.

Okay now you are still at the Obelisk...start walking towards the statue...on your left of course is the Royal Palace....but on your right is:
The Finnish Church ( 1640) the orange colored builing... then comes Tessin Palace, the light pale yellow building.

Why is this building import?

Because many believe it to be the nicest building in Gamla Stan.
also
Tessin was the architect of the Royal Palace ( right across from it )
also
The Govenor of Stockholm has lived /worked here since about 1968.
It has a fancy door entrance.

Okay lets move on:
As you walk past the Storkyrkan to the front of the building ( the Obelisk is at the back !!)turn to your LEFT.

Walk about half a block and you will come to an open square called the Stortorget.
You will see the Town Well here ,right in the middle of the square.
Distances from the City centre were always measured from this Well... so if you lived 5 miles away , it meant you lived 5 miles from the Well!!!

Okay now as you are facing the Well ,that building to your left is the Stock Exchange but it houses the Nobel Museum.
Okay now walk straight ahead for a block...well,well(pun)!!!! what do we see again, ...a statue of St.George slaying the Dragon....it is quite the statue and you will for sure take pictures of this.

Look I am not going to name all the buildings for you that you should see, but since you are in this area, you have to walk a few block to see the Riddarholmskyrkan Church...yes you saw it as you were coming into Gamla Stan ...the one with the Tall Iron Steeples.....this is where the Monarchs are buried.

Also on the other side of the Royal Palace is the Parliament Building, the part facing the City Hall has a unique curve to it.

Gamla Stan means old town.
The areas in Stockholm are named after the church in the area with the exception of Gamla Stan, its church is called the Storkyrkan ( you were just in there remember !!!)

Therefore in Riddarholm you have the church called Riddarholmskyrkan and so on.

"kyrkan " means church as in
Riddarholmskyrkan and Storkyrkan etc.

Gamla stan is composed of 3 islands...so the Parliament building is on its own island and part of Gamla stan.

Also Riddarholm is an island and has the Riddarholmskyrkan church on it ...this also is part of Gamla Stan.

I also went to Kunstragarden just about 3-4 blocks past the Royal Palace and across the bridge.
This is a very old and nice park with all kinds of activites , food courts and little kiosk shops.

I also went to some terrific view points that gave me panoramic views of all three islands of Gamla Stan.

Did I need local currency?
No ,I used $US,euros and my Visa card whenever I had to purchase or pay for anything!
Like a Swedish Beer!!

To compare the Stroget in Copenhagen with Gamla Stan in Stockholm...you are right jacketwatch,it is easier to do the Stroget than to go in and out of the streets of Gamla Stan.

In Gamla Stan also is:
The House of Swedish Lords...very nice.

The Rosenbad Place...houses the Prime Minister Office.
Sager House ... home of the Prime Minister.
Birger Jarl Tower..(Founder of Stockholm) ( little white tower across the water from City Hall loking to Gamla Stan.

Okay enough, I have to run as I have to get all the way back top the Nynashamn Port, remember !!!

Next stop Helsinki

Percy












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Sep 4th, 2007, 07:59 AM
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I hope the weather in Helsinki was tolerable for you. It was windy and rainy for us and limited our tour there. Cheers, LArry
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Sep 4th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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Helsinki:

In Helsinki you dock about 2 miles from downtown.

Almost everything centres around the Market Square right in front of ther main harbour.
If people watching is for you , this is the perfect place.!!!

First have some coins available in case you have to go to the bathroom.
50 cents ( 1/2 euro will do).
Right beside the Blue City Hall across the street are the bathrooms...they always have the white CW sign..now you will not have to squrim around !!!!

I think that this is way to use up the day here:
1.First go to the Sebelius( Say Bay Lee Us) Park ( see the monument to this famous composer.

2.From here go to the Rock Church(you really should not miss this.)It is a church carved right our of solid granite rock.
It has this huge Copper Dome...see an aerial view on this place on a postcard.
It is in a busy area and parking is at a premium.!
After seeing it inside,go up to the second floor and outside and see the views of the City from here.

You cannot walk to the above two places.

3. Now you can go back to the Market Square which is loaded with shops and eating places ...it is from here that you can walk to all the other places.

Okay let us get orientated a bit from this location...just in case you are doing a tour on your own or a private tour.

You are now standing in the Market Square with your back to the water behind you.

That blue building across the street is the City Hall...now scan a bit to your right...that light chocolate brown building is the Swedish Embassy...okay a bit more to your right and to the rest of the block , this is the Royal Place, how cannot you miss this nice building with the guards and gold ornate gate.!!!

Okay now keep looking to your right, over , over and up the hill a little...ah you see that huge lovely towering Onion Domed Church..that is the Uspenski Catherdal( 1868)... before your day is over go inside here,not only is it gorgeous inside but the views from outside looking back down at the Market Square is very nice.

Okay we are still standing in the Market Square.
See that Obelisk( to your right or left) depending on exactly where you are in the Market Square)...well that is the Monument to Czarina( 1835) the wife of Nicholas l..it has a gold double headed eagle on top( The Russian Emblem).

Okay to your left for sure now you will see this lovely statue on a lady...this is Havis Amanda, she has four seal fountains at her base spouting water and fish fountains at her feet.

This is what you should do to begin your walking tour.

1. From your spot in the Market Square, turn left to walk towards Havis Amanda.

2. See that nice greem tree lined park just ahead.! that is The Esplanade and is about 3-4 blocks, with Statues and Monuments.
The first monument you will see is that of the Patron Muse of Finnish Poetry.... she has six books at her feet...a nice statue.

Okay keep walking until you come to the number #1 street in Helsinki...The Mannerheiminte( yes,yes ,I know it is a long name, just remember Mannerheim thas is good enough).

You will see on the corner the biggest department store downtown,the Stockmann( go in if you want to see and browse.)

It is on Mannerheim street that you will walk down and see all the famous building in the next 4 -5 blocks.

But first are you a little thirsty and want a beer.?!!
Okay, here is the best place.
walk a few blocks down Mannerhein( cross the street to your left...you have to cross it anyway a bit further up.
Ask anyone for the Torni Hotel(it is just another block to your left after you have crossed the street but just in case..I am giving you the name.

At the Torni Hotel take the elevator to the top floor...you are now in the Ateljee Bar..... get a beer and sit OUTSIDE in the open air lounge...Wow!! terrific views from up here isn't it !!
From up here you can see all the places a few blocks further up that you will be seeing back on ground level.

Remember ..The Torni Hotel.!

Okay back down and back to Mannerheim.
These are the places you will be seeing as you walk along over the next 3-4 blocks:
The Parliament Building
The National Museum
The Kisama Museum (modern curved building)
The Finlandia Hall.
The Olympic Stadium and Tower( The Olypics Games were here in 1952..was to be in 1940 but postpobned due to WWll).

Now cross back over Mannerheim tothe other side and go to the Central Train Station.... what a building with it's 160 foot clock tower and those four tall stern look men holding those lanterns in their hands... they are the Gurdian of Travel.
Now ..
next to the Central Station is the nice Square....that building set back at the Square is the National Theatre and that statue in front is Alexis Kivi...the Romantic Poet writer of Helsinki!
Now
look across the street....
nice building isn't it!!!
that is
The National Gallery.

Okay time to head back toward the Market Square.
You can find your way back because all you made was one large loop...so you are on your way back.

But don't go back to the Market Square because one block back of the market Square is the famous Senate Square ...
this square has the most photographed church in Denamrk.

Okay you are at the Senate Square...Wow!!! look at that White Luthern Church perched up on the hill.
That statue in the middle of the Square is of Alexander ll.

This Square is Helsinki's Times Square every New Years Eve.
So when you see that ball coming down in Helsinki on TV..this IS the place.

Climb those tall stairs to the Catherdal and go inside the church..the price is right FREE!!!

When you come out of the church you are facing the Senate Square.
Okay now, with your back to the church...that yellow building to your LEFT is the Council of State Building...
that yellow building to your RIGHT...is the University building ...they look almost identical BUT how many difference can you pick out!!!!(I did 7 !!!)

I will stop here ,the rest is just sightseeing and the Market Square is just one block ahead from the Senate Square.
Pssst!!!
Wanna see a another nice building..go one block back of the nice White Church to see the Bank of Finland.

Okay back at the Market Square.
Wait wer are NOT finshed yet.

It is time to take the 15 minute ferry ride to Suomenlinna Islands.
Yes you have time!!..
This is UNESCO World Hertigae Site.

The Swedes built these fortresses in the 16 century.

Take a walk around here ,many places to see and the views back toward Helsinki are great.. from the top of several hilltop location.

The ferry runs every 15 minutes so you can come back anytime.

Okay that is it.
You are back from Suomenlinna Island and just about time to head back to the cruise ship...maybe just some last minute postcrads or little gift.

Next : St.Petersburg Russia

Percy




















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Sep 4th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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Good Morning jacketwatch!

The weather in Helsinki was terrific.I was lucky thatI had good weather almost everywhere.

I just did the Helsinki Report.

Take Care
Have to run and catch up on 3 weeks of back log like bills and mail!!!

Percy
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Sep 4th, 2007, 07:43 PM
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St.Petersburg:

I am not going to describe what you are going to see in St.Petersburg..the sites are just too mind boggling!!!

The cruise ship docks about 6 miles from downtown St. Petersburg.

What you will see is about 50 cranes sticking up in the air to assure you that you truly are in a ship dock yard!!!
There were no taxi's to be seen.

If you are planning a Baltic cruise and going to St.Petersburg, then you either take the cruise ship tour , a private tour or you need a Visa

A Visa is about $80.00
As you get off the cruise ship you will have a brass band playing for you as you line up to go through customs.

The customs building looks like a flat roof construction site trailer .
it has Bertha 32 written on the side in big letters (!!??).

For a private tour you will need your passport, a copy of your passport , your tour tickets that you received from your private tour company in St.Petersburg and they may ask for the intinerary of your visits for that day.... so I had all four with me when I disembarked.

I booked my 2 day tour visit in St. Petersburg with Alla Tours and I highly recommend them.

Also keep a few things in mind... you will be lining up outside so if it is very hot or raining or whatever, be prepared.
If you had 3-4 cups of coffee at breakfast, then go to the bathroom before you disembark!!!

I guess most cruise ship tours start at 8 AM and later because here is what happened to me :

I got off the ship at exactly 7 AM walked right into the Customs place ( not a single person in line),she took the copy of my passport and handed me a red card and off I went.

Alla Tours was waiting for me( 4 of us ) on the other side of the building.
We got into the van and were off at 7:11 AM ( Wow!!!)

Because of our early morning start each day we saw many extra places.

At Catherine's Palace ( 16 miles away),we had another brass band playing for us.!!
Wait till you see the inside of this place.
I did my homework well and knew all the places inside and I was totaly amazed.
I would recommend that you look an an aerial view of Catherine's Place , so you have an idea of the general layout.

The tour guide is not beside you every minute... so you want to be able to ( for example) look at the Grotto bldg. and know what it is.

Okay that is it for Catherine Palace..now it is off to Peterhof (about 4 miles away)

Let me tell you that no matter how many pictures you have seen of the Grand Cascade at Peterhof ,when you actually see it ....WOW!!!!
Fountains everywhere.

No I will not describe the inside of Peterhof Palace...how do you start.

At Peterhof we also toured all of Monplaisir Palace right beside the Gulf of Finland...this was Peter's favourite place..... from here on a clear day you can see the Dome of St.Issac's Cathedral in St.Petersburg.!

There is a website site entitled,"The Fountains of Peterhof",I would advise you to Google it and look at all the fountains, you will be glad you did.

Leaving Peterhof and going back to St.Petersburg we drove part way and then took the subway part way( out guide wanted us to have a "taste " of the subway) and then drove again.
We then toured several sites on the way, saw many monuments dedidcated to various causes.

We arrive at Yusupov's Places.
This is the place where Rasputin was murdered and you will see the exactly where although he did not die right there.

You know the cruise ship was saying that on their tour the people will get a special private tour of Yusupov's Palace as they have a special opening for them (cruise ship)....hmmm
Really!!! then what am I doing here first , and seeing it before the cruise ship people do.

What is Yusupov's Palace like..amazing.
This was a private residence of a wealthy family and not a Tsar's Palace.

No, I will not tell you about the secret passages behind library doors and the hand carved chandeliers !

Yes, I had some Russian beer and some red and black caviar!

St. Peter and Pauls Cathedral is where all the Tsars except for Peter ll is buried... so you will see Peter the Great's Tomb.

The Hermitage and Winter Palace!
What can I say to try to describe what you will see hmmm!

First let me say that at the Hermitage( which Winter Place is part of),if you looked at ONE item every 10 seconds , it would take you 11 years to see everything.....and you have a 3-4 hour tour ,Good Luck !! do some homework.

Oh yes , that Peacock Clock when it chimes on the hour the Peacock's tail sways with the chime ( a 250 year old golden clock !!)

Church on the Spilled Blood:
You of course know why it is called this .
Note this,....there are NO paintings inside the church, what you see( and think they are paintings) is mosiac tiles, put your hand on them and feel them...imagine ,millions and millions of mosiac tiles..no wonder it took over 30 years to complete.

St.Issac's Cathedral:
The inside is nicer than the one at the Vatican.
This is the third largest dome church in the world....do you know the other two!?

You will spend along time in here ,so just let me say, if you downed a few beers at noon lunch...there are NO toilets here, some people in our little group had to go but (where !!!).

Let me just list a few of the other places we saw and or visited.

1.Bronze Horseman
2.Admiralty
3.Summer Gardens and Field of Mars
4.House of Faberge
5.Peter's Summer Place
6. Cruiser Aurora
7. Peter the Great's original Log Cabin
8.Drive down Nevesky Propekt( main avenue.
9. Marble Place
10. Drive along all four river in St.Petersburg.
11. Kazan Cathedral
12. Mariinskiy Theatre

If there is some place you want to see,then ask the tour driver to take you there.

It would also help if you knew the sequence of the ruling Tsars,starting from about Ivan the Terrible.

It is not that difficuly to learn and it gets easier as you come closer to the Russian Revolution...really it does.

So when you tread or the tour guide mentions names like Alexander l, Nichalos ll, you will be able to place them in your mind.

If a dummy like me learned all of them , so can you.

Finally for a few point about St.Petersbug:
1. Gas is $3.00 US per gallon
2.Salary average is $1500.00 a month
3.Mortgage rate is 14 % so no one can afford to buy a house,they rent apartments
4. You pay $1.00 / month for gas(heating) no matter how much you use.
5. You go into the Army at age 18 for 4 years BUT if you go to University,then it is only for 18 months.
6.Unemployment is 0.8 % only ,so it is easy to get a job.
7. Medical Services is free.

Happy looking at all the opulence in the palaces.

Next is Tallinn

Percy





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Sep 4th, 2007, 08:03 PM
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Percy,
Thanks for your excellent trip report.
We are taking the same Princess cruise on 9/9/07. Your information very timely.
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Sep 5th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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SGC

You are in for a treat!
You are taking the last Princess Cruise to the Baltics , as after yours returns to Copenhagen, they will be doing a re-positioning of the ship to the Mediterranean.

Have a good time and I wish you as good a weather in all the ports as we had.

Percy
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Sep 5th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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Tallinn ( pronounced Tel-Lynn).

Your cruise ship will dock near town and you can walk to the Old Town.

English is being taught in schools here so they do speak English.
You can use credit card or euros or US$.

You do not need to do the ship cruise here BUT if you are going into the Old Town on your own ( which you can do) then know where you are going.
A simple map will do.

It is not exactly a short walk to get to the gate/archway into the Old Town.!

My best advice to you is know the steeple of St. Olaf's Church...it is the tallest church in Tallinn...that is your entry and exit point, so if you get lost in the Old Town's cobblestone winding streets....then just look for St.Olaf's Church.!

However, when you come up to the entrance, you will be going through the archway that is fused to the Fat Margaret Tower. It is a cute round building.(Do you know why it is called Fat Margaret !!)

Once you have gone through the archway you are IN the Old Town.
The name of the street is Pikk street( remember that name because Pikk street takes you all the way to Upper Town.)

The two streets you should know are Pikk street and Viru street.

Viru street has a lot of neat little shops with red canopies .
The Viru Gates that you will pass through separate the Old Town from the "new" Town.

In fact when you are at the Viru Gates in the Old Town, then look through the Viru gate and you see the tall new Viru Hotel in the New Town.!

Okay back to the entrance.
As you come in through the Fat Margaret archway, then straight ahead is the famous and expensive "Three Sisters Hotel". It is just three house together.!

Okay just walk and look going down Pikk street until you come to the Old Town Hall and Town Square... this IS the focal point.
Walk around ,browse around and shop and have a drink a little later.

Once you are done in this area , you will want to move on to the Upper Town.

The best way to do this and see more is to take Long Leg Street to Upper Town and then Short Leg Street back down again.

There are very nice view point in Upper Town of the (lower) Old Town that you just left.You WILL even see your cruise ship in the distance.

Some places you should see in the Upper Town which is called Toompea( Toom - Pay - Ah) Hill are :

1. The Dome Church(Church of St. Mary)
Go inside this church ( 1215),what do you think of those pews!!
2. Alexander Nevesky Church( you will not miss this believe me)
This church was built as a crushing symbol to the Tallinn citizens by the Russians.
3. Toompea Castle...with the pink Parliament building attached .
That is Hermann Tower with the Estonia flag on top( since 1991).
4. Kiek in de Kok Tower !!
( This means "Peep into the Kitchen) and it is so called becasue the soldiers that manned the tower centuries ago, were high enough up so they could "peep" in to the kitchens of nearby homes !!

Here is a list of some places you should be able to pick out as the cruise ship comes into Tallinn:
1. St.Olaf's Church (of course)
2. Church of the Holy Spirit( 1/2 block from Old Town Square)
3. St. Nicholas Church
4.Dome Church
5.Alexander Nevesky Church
6.Dome Church
7.Hermann Tower( flag on top)

Why all the Churches!!,well I will tell you why:
St.Nicholas Church for the Germans
St.Olaf's Church for the danes and Swedes.
Holy Ghost Church for the native Estonians.
Alexander Nevesky Church for the Russian.

You can see all of these very easily from the cruise ship.!!

Oh yes in Old Town Square with the Old Town Hall,look at the top of the tall slim tower of the Town Hall....that weathervane is called "Old Thomas"
he is holding a sword and shield and looking over everyone,so you better behave.!

One more thing,since you are right here...walk over to the Oldest Pharmacy building in all of Europe. It is over 500 years old.
Hmmmm.... I wonder what they were selling back then.

Okay enough BUT here is an IMPORTANT point.

You have from 7AM to 1PM in Tallinn.
So get off the ship as soon as you can after 7AM...now it is too early to go into the Old Town...so do this:

1. Hire a taxi at the dock.
2.Tell him to take you Kadriorg Palace ( 2 miles only East of Tallinn , 15 minute taxi ride)
This was Peter the Great's place when he came here.
It is not over powering and you will see the changing of the guards( 2 guards !!).A nice rosy pink Palace

The grounds and the park surrounding the Palace are nice to walk through ...you will like it.
3.
Next ,very near by is the Russalka Monument dedicated to the Russian Soldiers who died when the Russalka ship sank.
There is Winged Angel on top of the monument looking out to sea and holding the Russian Orthodox Cross.

Okay it is time to head back now as the stores will now be open. But first look over to the Left as you face the water and there is the tall TV Tower with the Galaxy Restaurant at the top.

Now tell the Taxi driver to take you back and drop you off in FRONT of Fat Margaret..now walk through that archway and do some shopping,you are on PIKK street now.

Next: Gdansk Poland

Percy










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Sep 6th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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You got lucky in SP Percy. We took the ships tour and actually ours was their LATEST offering which began at 0715 and yes we did have to stand in a long line. I do wonder if June cruises are fuller. Do you remember what the band played/ For us it was "New York, New York." Pretty weird to hear that in Russia at 0715! What beer did you have there too? I had the baltica. Not bad but a bit heavy for my taste. I hope you tried the Tyskie in Poland.
Do you buy and linen stuff in Tallinn? Larry
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Sep 6th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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Good Morning jacketwatch:

Yes I got lucky in St. Petersburg, I was expecting about a 45 minute line up ,I was shocked when I got off the cruise ship and no one in line !!!

About the beer , I am looking at the picture now and cannot seem to make out the brand as it is wrtiten in Russian but it is a 500 cc Blue Can!!

The band was playing,"When the Saints go Marching In."
At the Winter Palace, as you enter ,the band asks you where you are from and then they play your National Anthem!!..of course you tip them.

No I did not buy anything in Tallinn ,in fact I had a local beer in everyport..only one...heck they are in 500 cc cans or bottle( beyond my limit!!)

Yep, in Poland it was Tyskie,others tried a different brand and we sort of tasted around .

Have to do Poland report now.
Have a nice day.
Percy
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Sep 6th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Poland:

When you get to Poland the ship docks at Gydnia ( not Gdansk).
So you have about a 40 minute taxi ride into Gdansk, but you will be going through the city of Gdynia and Sopot and then get to Gdansk.

Sopot is sort of the beach resort place and where the wealthy live.

Credit cards euros and US$ are all okay here.

When you get off the cruise ship you will have to bargain for a taxi.
Our group of four paid $240.00 US$ for the full 7-8 hours and the taxi driver/guide was with us for the day, but gave us time to go shopping about in the main downtown of Gdansk.

We wanted to only pay about $200.00 for the day, but Peter(our taxi driver) was so nice and his English so good that we did not argue for the other $10.00 more per person!

Have a plan as to what you want to see or he will just take you to the main tourist sites.

On the way to Gdansk,for SURE stop off at the Oliwa Church...it has a 7876 pipe organ which you will hear at 10 AM.. admission free. You HAVE to see and hear this 800 year old organ!!

Next we were taken by Lech Welesa home( you know all about him from the ship dock workers strike in the 1970's)

Now it is on to down town Gdansk.
We parked the car atSt.Mary's Church,the largest brick Church in the world.

Go inside, take a picture of that 1470 Astronomical Clock.
Also of the carved Madonna of Gdansk.

Don't miss that nice orange building by St. Mary's Church...that is the Royal Chapel.

When you come out of the front door of St.Mary's Church....look straight ahead and you will see that terrific looking huge building about a block away.
That is the Arsenal (1609), isn't the facade just a brickwork masterpiece.!!

After taking pictures of the Arsenal your taxi driver/guide will take you through the Golden Gate...... those red brick buildings fused withthe Golden Gate used to the the prison and torture chambers .

Once through the Golden Gate you are inside the Old Town....now look straight ahead that building on the other side (about 4-5 blocks away is the GreenGate, (it has 4 arches to pass through)( Lech Welesa has his office on the 3rd floor here.)

Okay now you can just shop around and people watch...of course you see the very tall City Hall( what a nice building)and the Neptune fountain in front of it.
Some buildings of note are:
1. The Artus Court...ornate white building right by Neptune Fountain...this was the meeting place of the rich merchants.

2. The Golden House.. with gold placed ornaments.

3. Green Gate.. ( 4 arches) go through here and turn LEFT, you will see the Gdansk Crane and the Motlawa River is right beside you....walk aong the river sidewalk to the Crane and read all about its function..there are shops along the way.

It is here(downtown area ) that you will be spending some time and looking for Amber (maybe !)

You know this pedestrain walkway from Golden Gate to Green Gate has several names and you can get confused if you are doing some reading at home.

Long Street
Long Market Street
The Royal Way
Ulica Dluga and Dlugi Targ
these
all refer to the SAME place.. never mind the names just walk along and shop/ browse/have lunch.

Okay now on the way back to your crusie ship...remember you have a bit of a way to go to get back to Gydynia where your ship is....tell yourtaxi/guide to take you by :
1. The Masket Square(it is nearby and on the way)
2.The Catherine Church( next block past Market Square)..these are nice ornate buildings.

3. Now it is on to the Tri- Crosses Memorial(Tri-Crosses because there are 3 crosses at 60 degree angles to each other).
This is the memorial to the Fallen Shipyard Workers( 27 who died at the Lenin Ship Yard.) it is now named Gdansk Shipyard.

Look at the bottom of tthe pillars of the 3 crosses....see the broke conrete at their base..this is togive the effect that monument erupted out of the ground, the way that the dock workers erupted to take control of their destiny !

Of course take some pictures here.
After leaving here tell your driver to take you to the :

Westerplatte Memorial.

This is the memorial to the fallen soldier of WWll at this site.
The FIRST shots of WW ll were fired right HERE !!

You will see some bombed out Garrison just as they were that September 1 1939 day.

it is ( almost ) on the way to the ship...well not really but not that much out of the way.

You will have to take a ferry,but the ferry only goes directly across the river it takes about 5 minutes (they shoul build a bridge but it would have to be aa draw bridge and that is too costly ).
The taxi vehicle goes on the ferry.

Once off the ferry it is a 3 minute car ride and you park at some souvenir shops and walk this wide paved sidewalk for about 3 blocks seeing bombed out places on the way....then here you are...walk up to the top..nice view ..it is from the river below that the Germans were firing.

Okay back to the car ..back to the ferry..and back to Gydnia... once agin along the way ask the taxi driver to take you past and apartment building that is almost 3/4 mile long..........yes one continuous building... I never saw anything like it...better not have a fire in the middle part !!

About Amber, 80%( of world supply ) comes from the Baltics.
It is fossified resin from trees.
If an Amber has an inclusion like an insect or something then it is very valuable....soif someone is selling you an Amber with an inclusion for $200to$300 ..it is a fake!

Let me just add that Lech Weles is a very rich man now.
His Party is not popular.anymore In the last election they got only 1% of the vote.

Gillette Razor Company offered him $1,000,000.00 to shave off his moustache with a Gillett Razor and he turned it down ..yep, he must be rich !!!

Next and Final report is on Oslo Norway

Percy






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Sep 7th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Final Port of Call:
Oslo Norway:

This will be your most convenient docking of the whole cruise.

The ship docks at Akerhus Castle...I mean right across the street from Akerhus Castle!!
From the Promenade Deck of the Star Princess you can get a very nice look of Oslo and the City Hall .

Everything is available by walking (well almost everything).
You dock at 7AM and you leave at 2PM.

You can see a lot if you are well organized.
First let me say that Oslo is the most expensive city in the world ...it beat out Tokoyo last year for this dubious honor!
The sales tax is 21 %.
Ahh, there is nothing like having oil right to oil in the Norwegian Sea!

The number ONE place to see is Vigeland Sculpture Park.
It has about 650 statues in bronze, granite and wrought iron.

It is a beautiful walk over a bridge and a wide paved walkway that is about a mile long.( it does not seem like a mile).
Admission is FREE and it is open 24 hours per day.
Thes best way to see the sculptures is like this:

Just walkalong at a nice pace and look...if a certain sculpture strikes your fancy them walk up to it and take a picture or whatever!

The "Angry Boy" is the most photographed sculpture. He is not easy to find,solet me tell you that he is on the bridge on the LEFT hand side( about 2/3 of the way across the bridge).

Next most photographed is the Monolith( actually I think the monolith should be #1 !


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Sep 7th, 2007, 04:27 PM
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..oops somehting happened and it posted!!! before I was finished ( hmmm!)

The Monolith is a granite pole with 121 nude carved figures on it.
Gustav Vigeland (died in 1943)had 3 men sculpturing 13 years to complete this pole.

Oh! I forgot to tell you, all the sculptures are nude.
This is a Do NOT miss place.

From here you go the Bygdoy Peninsula to see the Viking Ship Museum , The Fram Museum and the Kon-Tiki ship Museum.
Fram is the ship (boat) that Roald Amundsen journeyed to the South Pole in.
He was the first man to reach the South Pole.
The building that houses the Fram is unique and you get to go on the Fram and take pictures and turn the steer wheel!
Admission is 7euros and it opens at 9 AM.

Right next to the Fram is the Kon-Tiki Museum. ( admission 5 euros).
The Kon-Tiki looks too fragile to be able to do much but Thor Heyerdahl sailed it from Peru to Polynesia in 1947 ( foolish boy!)

Also at the Kon-Tiki is the Ra ll,( made of papyrus reeds) Heyerdahl sailed this one from Morocco to Barbados. (boy oh boy!)

The reason I am telling you about these places is because when you get off the ship just after 7 AM....it is too early to walk to down town.

They will tell you on the cruise ship that taxi's are hard to come by and that you will find few places that accept anything but their own local currency.

Don't believe any of it.

We got off at 7: 15 AM, took a taxi to Vigeland Park (about 15-20 minute ride) and stayed at the park until 8:45AM...there is no rush because the Fram and Kon - Tiki Museum do not open until 9AM.

After visiting here for about 30-45 minutes ,tell the taxi driver to drop you off at the City Hall right at the harbor...you can see your cruise ship several block away now!!.

On your taxi ride from the Fram Museum to the City Hall, you must take a picture of the very unique Stave Church...it is on your left hand side.

Once at the City Hall, you are off walking for shopping and sight seeing.

Note this that the City Hall that is facing the harbour is the BACK of the hall and the other side is the FRONT.

You can turn left when you are at the BACK of the hall and go shopping down Aker Brygge...it only goes about 4 blocks.
You will see the lighthouse clock and the Eternal Flame at the end.

The water is to your left as you walk Aker Brygge and you can see your ship across the inlet.

When you are done with Aker Brygee you will go back to the City Hall....in the FRONT are many mural to see by just walking around .

One more thing, from the City Hall just walk straight ahead about 1 to 1 1/2 block to Karl Johan Gate..this the the MAIN avenue in Oslo.

Turn left to go to the Royal Palace about 3 blocks away... take a picture with the guard.

All the main sites you want to see are along Karl Johan Gate, so you can go at your own pace and take in all the sites.
here are some of them
1. University Building and National Gallery(Munch's "The Scream" painting is here)
2. National Theatre (across from University)
3.Parliament Building and Park.
4. Grand Hotel (across street from Parliament)
5.Domkirke Cathedral ( too bad it is under renovation)
6.Finally ..The Central Train Station and Square, at the end.

From here walk back to your cruise ship and now you can do Akerhus Castle.

All you have done is made a big walking loop,from City Hall...to Royal Palace...down Karl Johan Gate..to cruise ship.

Take in The Norwegian Resistance Museum at Akerhus Castle...take all the time you want now as you are right across the road from your cruise ship.

End of the Baltic Cruise

Percy




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Sep 7th, 2007, 04:36 PM
  #18
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Percy,
Thanks for the final post. we are leaving in 15 minutes for our flight to
Copenhagen and the princess.
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Sep 7th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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Percy,

Thanks for such a comprehensive report.

Comments on why you picked Princess over other cruise lines? Haven't taken one of their cruises. Did Oceania last year and they too offer a Baltic itinerary so would like to hear your input on Princess.

Thanks, Pat
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Sep 7th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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SCG:
Bon Voyage!! Good Luck, Have a good time.

patandhank:

I chose Star Princess because of their ports of call.

I went over all the other Baltic Cruises that were offered and did not like either the ports of call,or the time duration in port.

Although I may have taken the Holland American Prinsendam Ship that went in July 2007 ( only 798 passengers), it was for 14 days and I found that the extra 4 days did not offer anything more.!!

It was just 2 more days at sea and also going through the Keil Canal near Germany, which did not appeal that much to me.

As I stated in my reports, if you are well organized in those ports where your time is shortened...you still can see a lot.

I wanted to have the two days in St.Petersburg for sure.

In Oslo ,I saw everything I wanted to see, in fact docking that early ( 7AM) was good because,the places I wanted to see before I hit the downtown area were all open before the downtown was.

Take Care
Percy
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