Spend a Day in Tantalizing TALLINN…

Spend a Day in Tantalizing Tallinn…

Surrounded by medieval walls, the UNESCO old down of Tallinn is a sensational display of the historic Baltic Sea. The capital of Estonia is steeped in Russian, Finnish and even history of the Huns.

There are several points in the wall were you can climb the stone staircases into the turrets. The fort is a museum open to tourists, where you can see the old battlements and even stone drop toilets.

Tallinn’s Churches

Home to 4 major churches and numerous small chapels, Tallinn shows a variety of different denominational places at their most beautiful.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the most iconic church in Tallinn. It symbolizes the time of the Russian Occupation in the 1800’s.  The architecture is fabulous, and the orthodox icons are spectacular.

St Mary’s Cathedral is a must see, although it is plain and white it is filled with the real coats of arms of the important families in Estonia, dating back to the medieval times.

St Nicholas’ Church at the center of Tallinn is full of ecclesiastical art, and features an amazing museum with artwork dating back to the 13th century.

There are many more old chapels dotted around, some hard to find. They are full of old wooden panels with painted iconography.

The Vibe of the Town is Terrific!!

This is a town where culture, food and drink come together in a market town square. Cobble stones bounce laughter and clinking glasses with the buildings creating a noisy and atmospheric energy, making the afternoon and evening into a really lively event. The beer is cheap, the food is fulling – I tried an Estonian delicacy of bear stew with a beer. Yes there are a few stag nights, but sometimes this adds a good vibe… even if you have to cringe inwardly on occasion!!

Tallinn has so many hidden alleys offering cafe’s and wine bars so you don’t have to stay in the town center. We found an amazing wine bar off an alley that was lined with old tomb stones dating back to 1500’s!!!

Tallinn is a jewel in the Baltic’s crown. It really does offer history and culture!!

 

A Day Trip to Schwerin Palace

Spectacular Schwerin – Palace, Town and See…

Mecklenburg Vorpommern – The North East of Germany

When all the fellow Baltic cruisers are making their 9 hour round trip from Warnemünde to Berlin, why not spend a day in the beautiful surroundings of Schwerin Palace.

The large external was added to the 16th century interior in the 1850, during the time of the Eastern Prussian Empire. It is so imposing alongside one of the largest lakes in Germany, and is featured on the Schweriner See.

The town of Schwerin

Not quite UNESCO – due to a fire in the early 1800s. It was rebuilt in a similar fashion but the roads were widened by meters – therefore it did not meet the strict requirements. Still, the old romantic lanes, with wooden beams make it special.

Inside the Palace and Gardens

Grand enough to rival any of the large castles and palaces of Europe, Schwerin Palace offers parquet floors, wooden inlays, baroque furniture and spectacular paintings.  The internal courtyard displays the original 16th century beginnings of the palace, mirroring the wooden beams and carved eaves of the old town.

Schwerin Palace is situated on a mini island. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens, willows, swans and an orangery. There is also a grotto, which is always fun!!!!

How to get to Schwerin???

If your on a Baltic Cruise, there is more than likely a tour to the Palace. It usually starts with a boat tour on the lake, and a tour of the town. Finally a guided tour of the palace and time to spend in the gardens.

If you want to do it yourself you can catch a train from the Warnemünde docks to the town of Schwerin. There is usually a change, however the travel time is usually similar to that of the coach. Check at the docks if there are other tour operators working independent of the ship. You could save some money. But- like any independent day journeys – make sure you get back to the ship on time!!!

A Cruising day in Copenhagen

A Cruising Day in COPENHAGEN

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Get that Hygge Feeling…

Copenhagen is right up there of popular places to visit in Europe – and we can see why. On a sunny day (which are apparently on the rare side) Copenhagen has a warm an vibrant feeling. I’m sure it has the same feeling on a rainy day, but be sure to rug up!! As the first stop of our Baltic Cruise we docked into the port and our first stop was the ‘Little Mermaid’. I think as tourists we are expected to overwhelmed with every national icon and memorial, but I am standing tall and announcing that we were underwhelmed with slightly compact statue that, if it wasn’t on our path into town, we would have been slightly miffed. It is a bit of a schlep along the docks.

Nyhavn

It’s the central focus of the waterways in Copenhagen. With our luck in the weather department on this cruise, we were able to enjoy it at its finest. The colours of the building lining the dock, as well as the old fishing boats create a really cool atmosphere and there is plenty of icecream to be had!!! In fact every second shop along the dock is an icecream parlour. It seems to be a bit of a Copenhagen specialty.

 

Palaces and Gardens

Copenhagen is home to the oldest royal family in Europe. Amelienborg Palace makes one of the main squares in Copenhagen, home to the current day queen, Margrethe II and Prince Henrik. In a similar set up to Buckingham Palace in London, there is a changing of the royal guards at 12pm every day.

The Royal Library and Gardens are a lovely courtyard garden to have lunch or coffee at the cafe. The gardens are situated between the Christianborg Palace and the Royal Library.

The Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park situated close to the town hall. It was opened in 1843, making it one of the world’s first amusement parks. This is a great place to visit at Christmas time.

Rosenborg Castle is one of the oldest castles in the town of Copenhagen. It has extensive gardens and art installations. Fortunately, it is on the walk back to the ship, and leads towards the old Fort of Copenhagen, which is worth looking at too. It features windmills and military barracks, dating back to 1664 it was created in the shape of a star with a moat at high earth mounds.

 

2 and a Half Days in Munich

Munich

Day 1-3 of the Central European Alps by Train

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As part of an Alps Train Journey, we decided to start our adventure in the beautiful city of München!

Munich is a very vibrant and festive city, with beer halls, picturesque gardens and modern shopping areas.

Day 1 – The city and a Beer Tour

We arrived from the airport right in the heart of Marianplatz. The bells were ringing and a band was umparing away under the spectacular Rathaus.

We stayed just south of the main square in a homestay. It was a quiet neighbourhood in Buttermelkerstraße. We walked through markets with local produce and fresh food, including some fabulous cheese and salami shops!

In the evening we joined a Beer and Brewery Tour, where we learnt about and got to taste some of the popular beer in Munich. My favourites were the dark Augustina beer and the Unfiltered Paulina Hell (lager).

Day 2 – Neuschwanstein Castle

The beautiful castle of Neuschwanstein was built only 150ish years ago by King Ludwig II. He wasn’t really mad- I think he was just an oppressed homosexual. Sad really.

Neuschwanstein is about 2 hours from Munich, and we went with a tour group.

The views are gorgeous and the inside is small but intricate! Complete with its very own Grotto! Haha!

This is an all day event. We left at 9:15 and arrived back at 19:30. I highly recommend going with a tour, as it is hard to navigate to the castle by yourself.

Day 3 – Munich Residence and the English Gardens

With a leisurely start to the day we reached the Munich Residence late morning. I could safely say that there is nothing quite as big or as extravagant as this palace in Europe. It was mostly destroyed in the Second World War, but the restoration is spot on and the palace is vast! The religious relics are a little creepy. Well worth the €7 entry. We didn’t get to the treasury, but I think it would be worth seeing too- maybe next time for us.

The English Gardens are a beautiful display of city woodland, complete with its own surf river!

The Chinese Tower is a great place to grab some lunch and drink beer. We sat listening to a German Band in a Chinese Tower in an English Garden!

As warned by our German teacher in high school, the Germans are not afraid of sunbathing naked. Lots of naked Germans!

Castles of Transylvania 

 

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Bears, wolves and mountain lions couldn’t keep us from the beautiful Carpathian mountain in Transylvania. In the foothills of the mountains stand two of the most stunning castles of the region-  Bran Castle (home o Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula) and the former summer residence of the King of Romania Peles Castle.

Bran Castle

Built by the Tutonic Knights, a Saxon order from the conquests of Palestine, started the foundations of the castle in 1211. It was used to defend the region from invading Ottomans from the east. Later the castle was home to the Princes of Transylvania including Vlad of the order Draganus and his son Vlad the Impaler. The Castle was rebuilt in the unification of Romania in the mid 1800’s.

 

Peles Castle

Set in the picturesque town of Sinaia, a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains, is Peles Castle. This castle was built by the first king of Romania in the 1880’s. It is an intricate display of the best of European turn of the 19th century style. It features rooms from the German, French, Italian, Moorish and Turkish styles.