Planning a trip to the Baltics

Old Nov 29th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Loved those unique pictures of Finland, tower.

Pegontheroad:
Actually I liked Gdansk ( has largest medieval Red Brick Church in Europe, The Church of St. Mary )

and found there was lots to see for two days and you can take a side trip to the largest Medieval Castle in Europe... The Malbork Castle.
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Old Nov 29th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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Thanks for the pictures, Stu. My only memory of Helsinki is that we saw "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" there after a long train trip from the depressing Soviet Union of the 1960's.

It was great to be in a capitalist country!

Thanks for the links, Stu and Gertie.

Hmmm, Gdansk. Maybe I should add one more destination to my trip. The Germans call it Danzig, don't they?
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Old Nov 29th, 2014, 04:50 PM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...CPXAnry1qZrIEQ

Peg..my guess is that you can emotionally handle Treblinka for an homage visit a lot easier than Auschwitz/Birekenau or Dachau. As I said, we were the ONLY visitors, popping in after they closed at slightly pre-dusk. No big wall of fence, just a kiosk with nothing to secure entry. A driver can take you there and back in approx three hours. We were driving on our own. There are no buildings to see, only what I've shown in these pics.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 10:53 AM
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Percy..sorry that things are going so slowly.

Peg..Byron Wesley is a USC grad (ugh!). Not UCLA.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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I want to go to Warsaw more or less to honor those who fought and died in the ghetto.

Truly most commendable statement, Peg. I salute you for caring. I want to honor your statement by sending you one of my new novels, which covers perhaps the greatest escape from a deathly K-camp. There is a goodly mix of fact and fiction in this regard.

On the site of the old ghetto, there is a most famous memorial to the ghetto fighters, and a short walk away, the site for the destruction of Mila 18 (the actual address of one of the buildings where the last of the poorly armed fighters perished..after engaging heavily armed Nazi troops for more nearly two months. A handful did escape through the sewers.

Send mailing address to [email protected]
Thank you, again.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 11:36 AM
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Peg:
Leon Uris' "Mila 18" (he also wrote "Exodus") tells the story of the ghetto resistance, blending fact with fiction. He was an inspiration for me when I decided to concentrate more on writing historical fiction rather than non-fiction, about 20 years ago. The blending is very sensitive if done properly, with balance.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 03:51 PM
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BTW, when I was there in 1995, I was surprised by how residential the area of the Warsaw Uprising seemed. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that! Worth seeing (I thought); I mention it in case the advance warning helps.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 04:36 PM
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Regarding travel to St Pete's.
If you wish to stay for longer than 72 hrs you will need a visa.
If you travel by overnight ferry on the St Peter Line from Helsinki to St Petes you can stay up to 72 hrs visa free.

http://www.stpeterline.com/en/Goodto...afreerule.aspx
http://www.saint-petersburg.com/russ...a-free-travel/

We traveled to St Pete's this way and really enjoyed our visit. The amount of time was a great intro to the city.

Regarding the stipulation that you must take a city tour to qualify for the visa free stay: The 'tour' involves you paying about $20, and signing up for a 'tour' when you book your St Peter ferry. Once you disembark in St Pete you will board your 'tour' bus right outside the terminal which is essentially a ride into town, with about four stops along the way. You disembark wherever is closest to your hotel or B&B.

You return to the bus stop and catch your bus back to the ship for your return to Helsinki. It is very very easy. I will be happy to answer questions you might have regarding the process.

We stayed here: http://www.nevskyinn.com/rooms.shtml for two nights and loved it. Very centrally located near the Hermitage, beautiful rooms, huge breakfast and lovely owners. (If you decide to stay here let me know and I will give you precise directions). The owner even wrote me a note stating we had paid for our stay. We needed to show this at embarkation in Helsinki. The B&B does not require payment until arrival.

I would highly recommend this way to visit St. Pete for the first time. Could always come back with visa and spend more time.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 05:45 PM
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kja....perhaps a matter of semantics, but the Warsaw Uprising has no connection to the 1943 Warsaw ghetto (revolt, uprising, resistance, etc), By time the Poles rose up in summer of '44, there were very few of 3-million Polish Jews atill alive...either they had perished in the ghetto fighting or in a death camp like Treblinka. By that time, with the Russians at the gates, the Polish insurgents aim was to drive out the remaining Nazi occupying forces. Secondarily (or maybe primarily)the Poles wanted to resist a communist form of government, certain to come into power with the help of the Soviets. The wily Stalin had his armies stop just short of entering the city hopeful that the Polish Resistance army would be crushed, thereby making eventual Russian occupation much easier to establish. After all.... there was still a force of Nazi's "protecting" Berlin which had to be taken and a ferocious Nazi counter attack on the Western Front had begun to form in December.

It would be another six-seven months before the war ended. Partially because of the Soviet's delaying game plan, who knows how many Allied deaths could have been avoided.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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Stu, thank you so much for this correction! I was referring to the area that had been the ghetto and regret any misunderstanding I created.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 07:48 PM
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kja...this has been a common mistake since I was in the army myself...the underlying fact is that the ghetto uprising, battle, etc
took place on Passovereve in April 1943. The Warsaw uprising was more of an organized army with a different set of characters (all Polish, no Jews) and started in August 1944. It lasted about two months and was finally all but disbanded as the Russians took over occupation of the city
with overwhelming force and arrest of those Poles bearing arms.
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Old Nov 30th, 2014, 07:50 PM
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Again, thanks for the info, Stu! We are fortunate to benefit from your expertise.
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Old Dec 1st, 2014, 08:05 AM
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KJA:
Important to note: Murders directly attributed to the "pogrom of Kielce" in central Poland in July 4th 1946, when 51 displaced Jews who survived the holocaust, returned to reclaim their properties in that mid-sized town (apartments, houses, shops, etc) The local populace would not hear of this and wiped out those claimants with gusto, sanctioned by town police and nearby Polish army officals. No one was ever indicted.

I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated "incident"... In fact, post-war violence against Polish Jews (mostly for, or similar to the reasons above), resulted in more than 1,500 murders scattered throughout the country. As a result, in the next few years, 90,000 returning Jews left the country when the government (in an effort to get rid of the remnants), issued a moratorium on the need for exit papers for Jews. Many finally found their way to the west or to the new state of Israel (after 1948).

There are about 15,000 Jews still living in Poland...out of a pre-war population of over 3 million. More or less, the original Nazi plan for the final cleansing of Poland's Jewry is complete.

Man's inhumanity to man is still alive throughout our planet.
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Old Dec 1st, 2014, 08:12 AM
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Michele: Thanks for the information. I was starting to think about getting a visa for St. Petersburg. It looks like I can take the ferry from Talinin and travel visa-free that way.

I had planned on making Helsinki my last stop, so I don't want to take the Helsinki to St.Petersburg ferry.

Actually, it seems like the best way would be ferry from Talinin to St. Petersburg, then ferry from St. Petersburg to Helsinki.

As far as you know, would that work? From the links you posted, it would appear so.

I need to do homework for my German class now, but I'll get back to this later and explore more thoroughly.
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Old Dec 1st, 2014, 01:36 PM
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From the schedule on the St Peter Line website it looks as though you must take the overnight ferry from Helsinki to St Pete and back because there is not a ferry from Tallinn to St Petes in June and July. http://stpeterline.com/en/Schedule/Schedule.aspx#

This is not a problem though. You can take the Linda Line Express boat from Tallinn over to Helsinki. There are other boats but this is the one we took. The boat trip takes a couple hours. Just Google Ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki for lots of websites.

Depending on the boat line you will arrive at one of several ports in Helsinki. From here take a taxi over to the LÄNSITERMINAALI(West Terminal) where the St Peter Line overnight ferry departs.

Passport control and check in at the LÄNSITERMINAALI(West Terminal)is from 2-5:30pm. If you take a boat from Tallinn to Helsinki around noon you will have plenty of time to get to the ferry.

No need to tour Helsinki at this point, do it when you return from St Petes. No need to get to the overnight ferry super early either as there is not a ton to do on board.
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Old Dec 1st, 2014, 04:10 PM
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"I was starting to think about getting a visa for St. Petersburg. It looks like I can take the ferry from Talinin and travel visa-free that way." But only, I think, if you just want the tiniest taste of St. Petersburg. Longer stays still require a visa. Getting a visa is not that difficult IME and as already mentioned, St. Petersburg easily merits a minimum of 6 days IMO.
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Old Dec 1st, 2014, 11:24 PM
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@ Tower – Thank you for your further remarks. I appreciate the additional information and agree that (as you put it) "man's inhumanity to man is still alive throughout our planet." I'm sure that you and I and MANY others do everything we can in our daily lives to divert or diffuse inhumanity, even when the effort seems doomed. I choose to think that each small act is beneficial. I CHOOSE to think that, even if I am wrong. And even as I fear that I am mistaken, I hope I am not. It is, I think, hard to avoid cynicism in today's world....

Maybe you can shed some light on something else I observed while in Warsaw (1995) – I visited an old Jewish cemetery that was, as I recall, near the former Warsaw ghetto and near the preserved fragment of the station from which many residents of the Warsaw ghetto would have boarded trains to Auschwitz (another place worth visiting, IMO, Pegontheroad). I could be mistaken about the location, but can probably find it on one of my old maps, if it matters. There were some incredibly moving monuments and many areas that held more modest memorials; some were so old and weatherworn that they barely revealed their shapes, others were closer in time to WWII. All spoke to the love of those who lost relatives and friends. But the cemetery was heartbreakingly overgrown – which was not surprising, given how few Jews from anywhere in the area survived (as you noted, above). While tracking the long-dead is clearly trivial in comparison to embracing and supporting those who live, I appreciate the significance that people accord their ancestors and the ways they choose to honor them. As I recall, I saw signs near the entryways asking for donations to help preserve it. Do you know anything about what happened to this, or other, Jewish cemeteries in the area? Thanks, Tower, for any information you can offer.

(And my apologies, Pegontheroad, for this digression.)
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Old Dec 2nd, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Stu, I realized later that Byron Wesley came from USC. All those southern California schools are the same to me. (Heh, Heh, Heh)
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Old Dec 2nd, 2014, 11:43 AM
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KJA..I will address your queries above by private email.I don't want to continue interferring with Peg's thread... and the info I can share is on the gruesome side as you can imagine. If you've seen pictures of the unburied in various stages of decay on the streets on the ghetto....'nuff said. Thank you for your continued interest,
Stu
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Old Dec 2nd, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Don't worry about hijacking my thread. Anything about this part of the world, especially in the 20th century, interests me.
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