Crown Princess (Baltic) - May 28 - June 9th, 2008

Baltic Sea Cruise
Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Gdyndia & Gdansk, Poland; and Oslo, Norway
Crown Princess
May 28th - June 9th, 2008
Bob & Debe Canaday

Heading into the Baltic Sea is a first for us. So come join us on this exhausting trip that includes three days in Copenhagen, Denmark, followed by 10 days on the Crown Princess visiting the countries of Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland and Norway before heading back into Denmark and on to Paris (please see next blog for Paris) This trip was filled with many things to do but with no rest time. It seems we wanted to soak up all we could in this beautiful part of the world. So come along as you take an adventure of a lifetime.

After a long flight, it was off for a train ride to the Grand Station. Our hotel was one block from the station and across from Tivoli Gardens at Town Square. We found that our hotel was one of the stops for the hop on hop off bus so we purchased tours for the days in Denmark. We had prepurchased a Copenhagen card that would get us into many museum and discounts also on many things. We first did the Mermaid Tour and Christain Tours without getting off the bus. Lunch was a box of chinese (everything is super expensive - even a bottle soda almost $5) and we were in bed by 5 p.m. Long day. The next day - back on the HOHO (as it is called by frequent travelers) and a canal tour. (fabulous) The Royal Yacht was even in the harbour. Some of the visits we made were in the Christainborg Palace, to the Llittle Mermaid statue, Angel Statue, Gifeon Fountain, and the museum for Hans Andersen Christain. See some of the photos below.

Hav'n Canal is in the picture on the left and Tivoli Gardens entrance on the right

Europe is known for the many people who ride bikes but here in Copenhagen, it was shocking the amount of bikes.

On the left, Gifeon Fountain and on the right Little Mermaid Statue.

On the left is the statue of Hans Christainsen while the other two photos show Steples on some of the church/buildings. The first one has a staircase going around it while the other one is of dragons with their tales intertwined.

Our first port of call was beautiful Stockholm, Sweden. It was more like spring here and the beauty came in flowers, baby geese, and the streets filled with people. What a nice day. We took the HOHO ($20 for us both) here also which was a boat hop on hop off. We got off at many stops including the Royal Palace, Opera House, Vasa Museum and other places. Here are some of my favorite photos.

On the left is the Opera House with some beautiful flowers in bloom. On the right is a church located close to the Opera House.

Changing of the guards at the Royal Palace is in the left photo and on the right is the view down the canal. Gorgeous buildings.

Sweden also has its own small version of Tivoli Gardens called Grona Lund Tivoli(pretty much are like a Six flags with many restaurants) and on the right you can see the ship in the Vasa Museum. This boat was built for the Swedish King whom kept adding to it to make it the biggest. It set sail only to sink immediately in 100 feet of water where it stayed for more than 400 years. The Baltic Sea water preserved it very well as you can see in the picture.

Sailing in and out of the islands that make up Sweden is amazing in itself. You see some of the most beautiful homes/buiding and light houses among other things.

Our next stop, Helsinki, Finland. As you can see - we were back to the hop on hop off buses for this stop. The HOHO's had a pickup stop right at the dock so it was very easy. (stop #7) The weather was a little cool and had some rain but didn't stop us from seeing Finland. We saw statues, embassies, flea market, churches, among other things. Take a look at the photos.

In Senate Square you will find this Lutheran Cathedral in the right photo, that had a massive organ inside and chandeliers. The center of the square is where this statue of Russian Czar Alexander II stands.
Here you can see the King's Palace and just across the street is the harbour and the local Market. Great area to shop and pick up that souvenir.

Another church that stands out in Helsinki is this German Protestant Church as it sits up on a hillside to be seen by most of Helsinki. On the right is the Sibelius Monument which caused a huge amout of controversy. It ended up having to have his face added.
A trip to Helsinki, Finland would not be complete without visiting the Rock Church. This church (outside and inside photos) was built into the rock giving it unbelievalbe sound and acoustics.
Each stop just keeps getting better but going into Russia, well, we didn't know what to expect. What we found was so much history and things to see. It is very very very hard to pick out photos to share since there are so many. So I have done my best to cut them down to as few as possible. Russia holds alot of history as Rome, Athens and other places do. And Kings and Queens came and went as they were killed for so many reasons. The homes these Kings and their families have are unbelievable. How could so many Russians live so poorly while the elite lives so high. Come take just a small look into St. Petersburg, Russia. I do want to mention that we did not book tours in Russia with the ship. (they tell you that you must because a visa is needed) We instead booked with DenRus out of Russia. They get your visa for you and you don't have to worry about a thing. And they did a great job and saved us big bucks. Lunches both days of tours were included.
The photo on the left is my favorite church building I have ever seen. It is so much more beautiful to see in person. It is called the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood. (you should google and read the history of it) It is literally built on the exact place that Alexander II was assassinated. The church on the right is St. Issac's Cathedral. This church was beautiful and filled with gold.
Located in St. Issacs Square - this monumnet for Emperor Nicholas I is the only statue that is a horse being balanced on only one leg.
On the left, sitting directly across from St. Issac's church in St. Issac's square is Mariinsky Palace built for Grand Duchess Maria, daughter of Nicholas I. Now it is home to the City council. On the right is Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre built in 1859. We were hoping to attend a Russian Ballet there but instead we saw "Swan Lake" at the Conservatory.
Oh the left you can see this huge building that houses the General Army. Directly across from Palace Square is the Winter Palace and in the middle is the column you see in the picture on the right. It is called Alexander Column and was built to honor himself. If you look close, you can see me standing in front of the column and then you realize how massive this column is.
Peter and Paul Cathedral which sits on the Fortress of Peter and Paul. (built 1712 - 1733 & is home to the graves of the Emperors/Empresses. On the right - the entrance into the church.
Hermitage, or Winter Palace, built for Emperor Elizabeth who died before its completion. Catherine the Great was the one to live here. This is now a museum that holds many of the paintings, art, etc. from Peter the Great and Catherine. We did tour the inside of this museum.
On the left you will find St. Nicholas Catheral with its many gold domes. On the right is Gosotiny Dvor - built 1757 - 1785 as the first shopping mall in the World.
On the left is the Aurora Battleship while on the right is a statue of The Bronze Horseman, ordered to be built by Catherine the great for Peter the Great.
These Rolstrum Columns were some of my favorite sites to see. These were used to display the bows of ships they battled and won. (look close on the columns and you can see those are ship bows) On the right photo, behind the Rolstrum you can see the Stock Exchange Building.
On the left is Yusupov Palace. This is where Rasputin, the spiritual advisor for the Tsar, was murdered by others. They felt he was gaining political power by using his spiritual powers. This was one museum that was very interesting to tour. On the right is Mikhailovsky (St Micheals Castle). Built for Paul I (son of Carthrine the Great) He was assasinated in his bedroom here.

From the canal boat ride we took, we got a great view of Menshikov Palace, built for Alexander Menshikov - good friend to Peter the Great and made a Duke in 1707. He was later exciled from Russia. On the right, also viewed from the boat ride is The Admiralty Building - one of the 1st bldgs built orignally for a dockyard. Later as Naval Headquarters and now as the Naval College.

On the left is The Narva Gate. Gates of entrance monuments were usually built for when you enter an area. This was built to commemorate the victory of Russia. Most are built to show a sign of victory also. As we headed towards the summer palace, I took a great photo of this cathedral.
Here is a photo of one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. This is the Summer Palace called Peterhof Palace.(this picture does not capture all of the palace. either) The palace is filled with gold statues and alot of the original furniture and dishes from back in the days. It is the most popular tourist attraction in St. Petersburg. It also has acres and acres of gardens with beautiful flowers and fountains, not counting the fountains and gold statues directly at the back of the palace in the below photos.
On the left is Bob and I standing at the canal that flows out to the Finland Sea. Between the trees you can see how far the palace gardens and fountains extend to. And along this canal are small fountains that spray water into the canal. On the right is a photo of one of the flower gardens further down by the sea.
Shopping in Russia consist of finding the lacquer boxes, wooden dolls and faberge eggs. Of course, you can pick up the "fake" ones or give up an arm or leg for the "real" stuff. lol Some of the items weren't so bad for real ones if small but the famouse Faberge Eggs you see in the cases on the right - well, you can buy a small house for some of them. I stuck with buying the "fake" ones outside St. Issacs Cathedral when vendors were every where to be found.
Bob and I with our Russian Ballet tickets in our hand to see "Swan Lake!" Here is a photos of the finale at the ballet. (ok, glad we did it but won't be attending any more. lol)
After two exhausting days in Russia we were on to Tallinn, Estonia. Where the heck is Estonia? lol I mean I have never even heard of it. But what a great change in pace. We picked a ship tour and headed out for the Upper Town and Kadriog Palace (not sure if we can't stand to see much more art though)
In the upper town we visited two churches. ON the left is the Alexander Nevesky Cathedral, Russia Orthodox Church, and its beauty. On the right is the Dome Church, known for its tombs buried under the floor so as to be walked on. It is also called St. Mary's Church.
The upper town was surrounded by a wall used for protection and gate towers that filled the landscapes. It was uniquely beautiful as you can tell in the photos. We have visited medievel places before but this was picture perfect to what I have assumed they would look like. Awesome.
Before heading out of the Medival upper town, I snapped a shot of this sign for souvenirs. That really explained it all. lol On the right - after leaving the upper town and heading to the next palace, this statue could be seen from the palace down at the sea. (At the harbour)
Here is a picture of the Kadriog Palace from the front and from the back with the gardens. (I think they need to trim those bushes in the front of the palace) Kadriorg palace was the summer palace for Peter I & wife Catherine I. He didn't live to see it complete. His daughter Elizabeth lived there. We did tour this palace and some of the rooms were awesome but the gardens were very beautiful and I couldn't get a photo of all of them with the fountains.
Now we head into Poland. Ok, no jokes from me. lol We walked into the town of Gdynia since we had an afternoon tour and nothing to do. There wasn't alot there and they wouldn't take dollars so no shopping either. They did have an old battleship set up as a museum at the dock along with other boats you could tour.
On the left is a picture of the town in Gdynia, Poland. On the right you can see two monuments. The monument on the left that looks like the sails of a ship - that was built for the sailors. The monument straight ahead I think it was for the fisherman but can't remember for sure.

Our tour took us to the town of Gdansk. Along with Gdynia and Sopot they are known as the tri-cities. Gdansk had an old town that took on more of a German charm. A number one tourist spot kept old town filled from building to building.
Here is a photo, on the left, looking into "Old Town" or Stare Miasto. The tall building is St. Mary's Church. This impressive structure is the largest church in Poland and the largest brick church in the world. There are 470 stairs you can climb to get a beautiful panaroma view. (Cost $2) It survived the WWII but needed some restoration. On the right is a photo looking into the river. The bldg on the left side of the river, extending out over the river is called The Crane. It was used to place mast on ships and load cargo.
It seems all along the Baltic Sea we find statues of Neptune. Here in Gdansk was the nicest Neptune Fountain of them all. Located right in the center of old town before getting to St. Mary's Church. In the right photo is the Monument to the fallen shipyard workers erected by trade union Solidarity in 1980. Part of the memorial wall can be seen behind the large monument.
Now, we enter the waters of Oslo, Norway. That alone is a site to itself. Coming and going into Oslo is worth getting up on the decks and watching the view. Even though alot wasn't going on as we headed towards Oslo, coming out was amazing. To see the sailboats, kayaks, among the cargo and cruise ships was awesome. But the view heading into Oslo you could see the many layers of the countryside. A true beauty.
In the left photo you can see the downhill ski jump called The Holmenkollen ski jump. As of Oct 2008, this has been closed down as they prepare for the FIS World Cup Nordic. This includes the Ski Museum, Jump Tower and rest of the ski arena. On the right photo you can see the locals grabbing sun on the grounds of Fort Akershus which dominates the port with its magnificent position. In the olden days it was the royal residence for King Hakon, who built the fort.
As you walk off the ship - the City Hall of Oslo (left photo) and its huge building dominates your view. Over to the left of the City Hall you will find the Nobel Prize Building. (right photo)
In the left photo is the Royal Palace. But as you can tell in the right photo, the Royal Palace is the view from the streets of Oslo. As you walk past the bars, restaurants and stores - the Palace is always in your view.
Below, you will find random photos from the cruise. Taking a Baltic Sea cruise should be on anyone's list that wants to see the world. Seven countries in ten days isn't the most relaxing trip but well worth it. You can relax when you are dead I say. So take a look at just a few photos while on the ship. Just keep in mind - we had very little ship time. lol
Our cabin with our names on the door.
On the left is our cruise critic group on this cruise. On the right - a day at the pool.
Nothing like movie under the stars. The only problem was this ship wasn't a covered deck for the screen/seats and it was a bit cool for a movie. With blankets and hoodies, we suffered though a couple though.
Great las vegas type shows as expected.

As we traveled through the Baltic Sea, you could see their alternate enery source - windmills. Lots of them. And nothing like a beautiful sunset on the Baltic Sea.

Thanks for taking yet another adventure with us. This was truly an experience we will never forget and I do hope you enjoyed it. From Denmark to Russia to Norway, wow what a vast difference in what you see. This trip was very hard to cut down to a few pictures but hope you didn't get to bored. Russia just has so much there and every country had a lot to offer. Thanks again for taking a trip along the Baltic Sea with Bob and I.


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