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!!!

Lake Como

Lake Como

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Day 9 of the ‘Central European Alps by Train’

Lake Como has been one of the highlights of our tour and is a must see day trip from Milano.

Situated an hour from Milano, I can recommend visiting as a group tour. Currently Como Train Station is a refugee camp for migrants – and Como itself isn’t the main attraction.

Our group tour took us on a short journey through Como, and gave us an hour to explore the streets of Como ourselves. Como is the old centre for silk production so there is plenty of markets and silk shops. It also has a spectacular Cathederal and great coffee.

We then caugh the scenic cruise that zigzagged its way up one of the branches of the lake, stopping at small towns and passing stunning villas such as Versace, Clooney and others that have features in Hollywood movies.

After a surprising delicious salmon trout meal on the boat, we arrived at the Jewel of the crown of Lake Como: Bellagio. This cruise took 2 hours and it was breathtaking.

Bellagio is famous for its picturesque streets, spaghetti parmigiano, silver and the best gelato in the world at Hotel Splendid.

After two hours of wandering the streets the group met up and caught the small ferry across the lake to meet our bus. We wound through the lakeside streets back to Como and returned to Milano by 1830. A spectacular outing and really not to be missed!

Norwegian Fjordlands

Norwegian Fjordlands

Norwegian Fjordlands

To say we weren’t knocking off the usual suspects in our first holidays from London also befuddled us. However, if there’s a travel deal we will take it!

We found ourselves standing on deck of our very first cruise. and not just any cruise! A real pensioner’s cruise. Sean and I could have had 17 children and we still wouldn’t budge the average cruiser’s age below 70. But – we were sailing to the beautiful Norwegian Fjordlands on a 2-4-1 deal. Sweet.

Sean and I discovered something very important on our first day in the lovely Eidfjord.
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We both love kayaking,  and as you can see from the photo – we are quite good at it.

We are looking forward to our next kayaking adventure in 3 weeks.

Due to the remote locations of the Fjords we were unwilling to risk organising our independent activities suggested as a cost saving activity by savvy cruisers.

Instead we opted to participate in the organised cruise excursions.

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Cruising through this majestic scenery is just awe inspiring. There are huts, waterfalls, bridges and the occasional dolphin to watch from the deck whilst we drank our copious amounts of cocktail of the day. We received many sideways glances from the ‘tea drinkers’ as our colourful and umbrella endowed highballers passed by.

Of all the slightly annoying behaviours the pensioners got up to on the cruise the tea drinking was the worst. It took up far too much time and space. Tea drinking added another hour onto dinner, leaving minimal tables available for people who did not eat at 6pm on the dot every day.

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Europe’s largest glacier, Briksdalsbreen, is an amazing site, both from near and far.

Although, sadly, on the walk up towards the glacier you can see the evidence of global warming. Signposted at various intervals are the measures of where the glacier ended over the various years. It has receded by over 100m in the last 100 years.

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The gorgeous village of Flåm was another of our stops. There was evidence of dislike for the larger cruise ships spotted around the town ‘Na Grand Navi’.

Sean and I took a leisurely stroll to the old church, dated from the 1600’s. Made of wood, it had intricate carvings and paintings to decarate both the inside and the out. Looking at the graves, we decided that Ingaborg was definitely the most popular name in the village.

The Flåm Railway is famous as one of the steepest railways in the world. It links the village and the edge of the fjord with the main fjordland railway from Oslo to Bergen. The train stops halfway up the mountain at a large waterfall. In true kitsch tourist style there is a beautiful maiden who portrays the Norwegian folk law siren who lures the young viking men into her cave behind the waterfall with promise of love and marriage. Legend has it that as soon as the marriage is consummated the beautiful siren turns into half hag, half cow, and forces her new husband to do all the housework. I guess the moral of the story is that even though the women of the village may be plain looking, at least she won’t make you do the washing up? Mind you, I am still to meet an unattractive Scandinavian woman!

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Finally, our last stop was in Bergen. Beautiful Bergen, I like to call it. The waterfront reminded me of my home town of Hobart, Tasmania. Even as we sailed away, with the mountain in the background I felt a little homesick.

Bergen, as I have been told, has the most rainfall of all the European cities. The record is 90 days of non-stop rain. Luckily we did not experience such weather. The climb in the funicular rail to the top of the mountain rewarded us with spectacular views over the city, and a lush pine forest to weave our way through back down the hill. The fish market at the bottom, by the water, was particularly good. The fresh seafood was divine, and cooked in front of you.