What’s the difference between a nautical mile and a land mile? A nautical mile is more expensive…heheh…..
I’m back! In case you were wondering where I have been the last three weeks, I was in Amsterdam for a few days then on a 12 night Baltic Sea cruise. Before the cruise I was planning on writing a blog post about getting ready for the trip, but I’ve already done one post like that and then we had the unfortunate luck of being chosen for a TP-ing job on our house (we just bought our house a year ago and don’t even know any teenage kids so not sure why we were chosen, thanks corner house) the day before we left so my husband didn’t want me to advertise we were going to be gone for a while.
We went on this trip for my husband’s birthday and chose the Baltic because he has always wanted to go to Russia and I wanted to get away from hot and humid Virginia. It was our first ever cruise and it was such an amazing time. We completely disconnected from the Internet, so I didn’t check in at all for over two weeks (we did have some Internet in Amsterdam the first few days though).
We left Tuesday, July 16th with a red eye, arriving in Amsterdam Wednesday morning at 8AM. After getting our luggage, a train ride and a cab ride, we made it to our hotel around 11AM and waited an hour to check in. We were able to check in early so we went straight to bed to recover from our lack of sleep on the airplane. Then we woke up and walked around the city and took a canal cruise. It was so beautiful in Amsterdam!
Thursday, the 18th we spent the day at the Rijksmuseum and then the Van Gogh museum. I liked both museums although I preferred the Rijksmuseum. Friday, the 19th we started out early and went to the Anne Frank House. We waited in line for 2 and half hours-I would definitely recommend buying tickets online and choosing a time to go to avoid the line. The Anne Frank House was very moving and I’m glad I saw it, although I don’t think I would wait 2+ hours again. Visiting the house also made me want to re-read the book, the Diary of Anne Frank. I haven’t read it since high school and while I remember most of the book, a refresher would be nice.
The 19th was also the date that we started our cruise. We embarked on our cruise in Amsterdam. We had one day at sea and then stopped in Germany where we took a train down to Berlin. After Berlin, we had another day at sea before doing a marathon of 4 cities in a row. We went to Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St Petersburg, Russia; and Tallinn, Estonia. We had another day at sea before our final stop in Copenhagen, Denmark and then one more day at sea before disembarking back in Amsterdam.
The days at sea were so nice. My husband and I would sleep in, hang out by the pool, relax and read then go back to the room for an afternoon nap before getting ready for dinner and the shows. Every night our cruise line put on very entertaining shows. My favorite show was a comedian juggler. I had never seen anything like that before.
The trip to Berlin was a little rough. It was a 3 hour train ride down to Berlin and then a 3 hour train ride back to the cruise ship. We did an excursion for Berlin where they took us to a lot of tourist destinations like Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. We also did a canal ride around Berlin which was really nice because it was a beautiful day out.
The weather changed overnight and cruising into Stockholm we hit some rough seas so we had to re-route about an hour south of Stockholm in Nynashamn. We couldn’t pull into the port so we had to take tender boats from the cruise ship to the dock and then take a bus on an hour ride into Stockholm.
The cruise ship didn’t have enough tender boats to take everyone at once so we waited about 5 hours to finally get to Stockholm and then we only had an hour and half to see Stockholm. We cabbed to the Vasa Museum and practically ran through the museum then took a cab bake to the city center where the bus was. We unfortunately didn’t get to see much of what looked like a beautiful city.
It was still cloudy out when we arrived in Helsinki but we didn’t let that stop us from having a good time. We took a ferry boat out to the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress and walked around the grounds. It was very unique and interesting to see and reminded me a lot of what my husband and I saw when we were in Ireland.
After touring the sea fortress we went back to the mainland and walked around the city, stopping at some of the major tourist places, including the rock church, before stopping to grab a beer and people watch before boarding our ship.
Next, we arrive in St. Petersburg and it was definitely the highlight of the trip. It’s other-wordly in Russia. The architecture is amazing; the language is so different; the history is so impressive. We did a two-day excursion for St. Petersburg which began the first day touring around the city on the bus before arriving at the Hermitage Museum which was unlike any museum I have ever seen. The evident wealth that the royal family had was opulent. After the Hermitage Museum, we had a Russian lunch which included a vodka shot and champagne. We continued the afternoon by touring the St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of the Spilled Blood. After our day excursion we went to see an authentic Russian Ballet, Swan Lake, at the Hermitage Theater. Our second day in St Petersburg began at Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin followed by another Russian lunch with vodka and champagne before arriving at our final stop in Peterhof. Peterhof was so impressive, it gave Versailles a run for its money. The sun also decided to come out when we got to Peterhof so we were blessed with a beautiful day.
We had a lot of very beautiful sunsets on our cruise but one of the coolest things to see was the “Midnight Sun.” Around Russia we noticed it the most where the sun would set around 11:45PM and rise around 2AM but it never got completely dark outside. It was very cool to see.
Our final city in a row was Tallinn, Estonia. We stuck to the Old Town part of Tallinn and it was my absolute favorite part of the trip. It was such a quaint old town with impressive architecture. The weather was a bit cloudy in the morning but then the sun decided to come out. Tallinn was also a city that my husband and I did on our own, no cruise excursion, and I think that is why we liked this city the best. It was so nice to be on our own and go wherever we wanted to or take as short or long as we wanted in a certain spot. I even gave archery a try while we were there (I wasn’t too good).
We had another nice day at sea before arriving at our last city, Copenhagen. Cruising into Denmark we passed under the Great Belt Bridge, which is the third largest suspension bridge in the world. It was cool to see and the ship even had a big party on the top deck for it.
We did a shore excursion for Denmark which took us to castles in North Zealand and a quick city tour of Copenhagen. The castle tour included Frederiksborg, Fredensborg and Kronborg, which is Hamlet’s castle. In Copenhagen, we saw Amalienborg Palace and the Little Mermaid Statue. The weather was beautiful this day and it ended up being a perfect way to end our cruise. We had one more day at sea before arriving in Amsterdam to fly home, last Wednesday.
I did learn the difference between a boat and a ship: a boat can fit in a ship but a ship can’t fit in a boat. I’m not sure if that’s actually the difference but that is what the cruise director kept telling us.
I took about 4,700 photos on this trip so these were only a very tiny fraction. I do love taking flower photos so I found a very pretty flower in Denmark:
It was an amazing vacation and while I’m sad to be back, I’m happy to reconnect with the Diabetes Online Community-I missed ya’ll!