Baltic Sea, Sweden

Sightseeing in Stockholm

Top Places to Visit in Stockholm

Stadhuset

This morning we arrived at Stadhuset’s tower ticket office by 9am. We were one of the firsts to buy our ticket for the 9:15 entry. Our group was allowed 35 minutes in the tower…ten minutes to climb 348 feet, 15 minutes to look around, and ten minutes to go down. Our climb included a variety of stairs, some appeared newer than others, and then a ramp of bricks that seemed to spiral up and around the tower in straight, narrow passage ways with a slight jog every now and then. After the fifth time around, we wondered when it would end! The top of the tower offered lovely panoramic views of Stockholm. In the middle of the tower, several models which were entered in a competition for statues around the city hall were displayed. It was quite interesting. Continue reading “Sightseeing in Stockholm”

Baltic Sea, Sweden

Super City: Stockholm

Arriving in Stockholm

We arrived in Stockholm around 7 or 8 in the morning. It took a while before we could disembark, but soon enough we grabbed our bags and walked to the Sheraton in hopes for an early check in. As we approached, Suman noticed the American flag was upside down! That was a first for me. With Brian’s status, we were able to get one room where we dumped our luggage and headed out. Suman had a travel book, “Top 10 Stockholm”, so we figured we try checking the major sites off the list.

Top Places to Visit in Stockholm

Gamla Stan

After an indecisive start we opted for lunch in Old Town or Gamla Stan, the site of Stockholm’s 13th Century origins. This island town was established in 1252 for trade. The buildings, including the fortress built by ruler Birger Jarl, were made of logs. Stock (meaning logs) and Holme (meaning islet) is the origin of the name. The log buildings were subject to many fires and buildings were replaced.

Now cafés and stores line the narrow, cobblestone pedestrian streets where tourists stroll. We found a cafe on a corner with outside seating and ordered pizza for lunch. I ate reindeer which was lean and slightly gamey like Venison, but it was local and better than herring in my opinion. After lunch we strolled around Old Town. First we found its narrowest street, Marten Trotzigs Grand, only 35 inches wide. With its steps, it seemed more like a sidewalk. We followed it up to a few more streets, passed some more shops and a few statues to find Stortorget, Old Town’s main square.

Stortorget

Stortorget is Stockholm’s oldest square and the site of the bloodbath in 1520. Toward the end of Danish Rule, 80-90 people (mostly clergy and nobilty who supported the Sture party) were executed one by one at the square. Now a water fountain with drinkable water stands in the middle. Cute, old buildings with cafés surround three sides while the Nobel Museum housed in the old stock exchange stands on the other.

While we were standing in the square, music began playing, so we followed the tune where we found the changing of the guard at the palace. We only caught the very end, but as we were debating on what to see next after the tourists cleared out, a group came marching by and entered the palace, so we got a fantastic view.

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Kungsgatan

From the changing of the guard, and a short stop for Suman to check out a church, we meandered across the bridge to Kungsgatan in an area called Normmalm. Here we found an Olympic Day festival taking place in a giant esplanade. We sat in the shade and watched kids kayak in a small pond, try their hand at cricket and fencing, and play tennis and soccer.

Stadhuset

We kind of had a slow day, and all of us but Suman were “sight-seed out.” Suman took a short detour to NK, a fancy department store and upon her return, we trekked over to Stadhuset on the other side of our hotel by the docks on Kungsholmen, one of the many islands of Stockholm. The city hall was built in 1912, but still had a very old appearance. We really wanted to see the views from its tower so we checked into tickets. Since it was a sunny day, the tower tickets were sold out. None of us were really interested in the guided tour of the city hall, so after sitting on its steps a bit and enjoying the atmosphere we returned the hotel as it was late afternoon anyway. We planned on visiting the tower first thing tomorrow as we had another nice day in the forecast.

Pelikan

Our travel book suggested that we visit Pelikan, a historical beer hall that serves traditional Swedish food. This took us for a very long, yet interesting walk past the more local side of town. Those who know me, know that I am always naturally cold, so when I say this place was stifling hot, it was HOT. No A/C in Stockholm! The service was just as bad. The waiter seemed to have forgotten us and placed the wrong order. By the time we got our food, we all wanted to leave. My potato dumplings with chanterelles were not good. Brian left most of his “fried steak” on his plate. Suman liked her meatballs. While my three travel companions thought the herring was good, but this is not a place I would recommend. ETB

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OTHER POSTS ABOUT CRUISING THE BALTIC SEA YOU MAY LIKE

Boarding the Boat…Wind Surf

Visiting Bornholm

Kayaking the Motlawa River in Gdansk, Poland

Klaipeda, Lithuania and the Curonian Peninsula

A Day at Sea

LOVED Tallinn, Estonia

Helsinki Hell

Imperial St. Petersburg

Through the Eyes of the Russian People

Sightseeing in Stockholm

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Baltic Sea, Russia

Through the Eyes of the Russian People

After yesterday’s tour with the masses, I found myself thankful we didn’t go to the Hermitage. I recognize it is St. Petersburg #1 attraction, but I heard it was worse than the palace we visited in terms of mobs of people and it was difficult to even enjoy the art. Perhaps I will have to return in the off-season and suffer through the cold to enjoy a few of the attractions peacefully along with the ballet that we had to forego in order to go to the evening reception at Catherine’s Palace last night. Those that know me are probably saying, “yeah, right…she doesn’t even like Denver’s winter.” Yep, I may not ever make it back, especially with all the other places to see in the world, but who knows. At least I got a taste of tourism in Russia. Continue reading “Through the Eyes of the Russian People”

Baltic Sea, Russia

Imperial St. Petersburg

Sightseeing in St. Petersburg

We arrived at St. Petersburg early Tuesday morning as we passed by industrial docks ladened in a dump yard of discarded metal as well as piers of churches adorned in gold. We signed up for a full day tour called “Imperial St. Petersburg”. Choosing a tour option provided by the cruise ship eliminated the need for us to personally apply for a Visa. This was handled for us. I suppose the negative to this choice was that we were limited to going on land unless we were with a tour, but at the same time I read in a travel book that tours are the best option as taxi driver’s don’t speak English. Continue reading “Imperial St. Petersburg”

Baltic Sea, Finland

Helsinki Hell!

We arrived in Helsinki, Finland at 7am and had to leave by 12:45pm. Before we set foot on land, we felt gypped by this schedule. We were really looking forward to touring this city of 590,000 people. Our original tour was cancelled, so we turned to the travel book. Suomenlinna, a sea fortress, was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it required a 15 minute ferry to the 6 islands and four hours according to Fodor’s. As such, we opted for the other popular sites in Helsinki…Senate Square and its green domed cathedral which towers above the city, the Olympic Stadium constructed for the 1957 games, the Sibelius Monument, Temppeliaakio Church which is carved into the rocks, the Esplanade and its Havis Amanda statue, and finally the local market. Continue reading “Helsinki Hell!”

Baltic Sea, Estonia

Loved Tallinn, Estonia!

Cruising to Tallinn

Tallinn, the capital and largest city of Estonia was quite enjoyable. It may have been our favorite city on the tour thus far. Perhaps it was a pleasant surprise because we hardly knew anything about Estonia or this medieval city whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue reading “Loved Tallinn, Estonia!”

Baltic Sea

A Day at Sea

We are at sea today with sails fully trimmed. This morning I finally visited the bridge. I checked out a few monitors and spoke with the second officer. She clicked on the ships on the monitor to show the details of each vessel. That was kind of neat. I could also see the path we were taking around a shallow area and learned that the Baltic Sea is relatively shallow and warm, at least for whales and large sea life. I suppose I won’t be outside looking for Orcas today. Though I’m not sure how much time I will spend outside anyway. While the sun is out, there is a cool breeze! Continue reading “A Day at Sea”

Baltic Sea, Lithuania

Klaipeda, Lithuania and the Curonian Peninsula

Touring the Curonian Peninsula

Today Suman, Brian, Erin and I took the 7 hour “Explore, hike, and lunch on the Curonian Peninsula” tour in Lithuania. The activity level was rated “strenuous”…perhaps for the average age of the cruise which is likely 65 years old.

Our boat arrived in Klaipeda, Lithuania’s only port at 8am, and after being greeted by music playing, we hopped on our bus to begin the tour. A ferry transported our bus across the Curonian Lagoon to the Curonian Peninsula, a 60 mile long spit which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue reading “Klaipeda, Lithuania and the Curonian Peninsula”

Baltic Sea, Poland

Kayaking the Motlawa River in Gdansk, Poland

The skies were clear when we awoke today and the forecast called for mostly sunny in Gdansk, Poland. While I was hopeful, the barometer in my head suggested otherwise. My head turned out to be right. The day turned colder and wetter by the hour, though fortunately we were able to get most of our tour in before the drizzle. Continue reading “Kayaking the Motlawa River in Gdansk, Poland”

Baltic Sea, Denmark

Visiting Bornholm

Cruising to Bornholm

Well, we travelled to Bornholm last night in four foot seas. The boat didn’t seem too rocky to me, but those who get motion sickness could feel it moving around.

Bornholm is a Danish Island east of Denmark and south of Sweden in the Baltic Sea. Its main industries include fishing, arts and craft, glass production, and dairy farming. Bornholm has a long history that goes back to the Vikings. It was a well established trading point with Sweden, Germany, and Poland all within 100 meters. Now Bornholm is a popular travel destination for summer tourists. Continue reading “Visiting Bornholm”