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.

 

Bath Christmas Markets 

Bath Christmas Markets

The magic of Christmas is contagious- and this year it has thoroughly ravished the beautiful regency town of Bath in Somerset, England!

It is exciting and festive! Featuring all the essentials to make this Christmas Market equal to the traditional German scene!

The best thing about these markets is there are local products, gifts and ideas to emmerse yourself! There are some fantastic stalls including Somerset Christmas smellies, Devon Lavender cosmetics, Chocolate wine, Elderberry Port….. the list goes on!!!

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A test of a good Christmas market is the mulled wine… and it is good. Ranging from £3-3.50, some even include a truffle or a mince pie!!!

Two Travel Europe will be back next year!!!!

Luzern

Luzern|  Switzerland

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Day 11 of ‘Central European Alps by Train’

Our journey today took us from Milan through the mountainsides of Switzerland to Luzern, but not without some complications! Out Trenitalia train malfunctioned and terminated its journey at the Lake Lagurno. We were forced to change several times in the mountains to reach our final destination. However, as the scenery was so stunning we where not too fussed!

Luzern was very warm! If there is one recommendation I can make for accommodation in Switzerland in the summer- make sure you have air conditioning!

 

We spent the day wandering the old town, crossing the Chapel Bridge and watching the majestic white swan. The flowers on the Chapel Bridge were in full bloom, making the river so picturesque.

In the evening we found a brilliant local restaurant that specialised in cheese fondue and chicken. Unicum Luzern had super friendly staff who introduced us to the art of eating fondue! It was delicious!

Cooking in Milano

Cook and Dine

An Italian cooking class

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Day 10 – ‘Central European Alps by Train’

We had a wonderful lunch time (usually evening) Italian cooking class through Cook and Dine Milano. Aurora took us through the ingredients and instructions to cook a magnificent 4 course Italian feast!

Tagliatelle Bolognese, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, Aubergine Parmegana followed by Tiramisu. Prosecco and Cianti Classico essential!!

Verona

Verona

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Day 7 & 8 – ‘Central European Alps by Train’

I have to say that the train ride from Innsbruck to Verona was one of the most picturesque of the trip! We wound through mountain valleys, past spectacular waterfalls and emmerged trough the alpine into the Dolomite Mountains with their foothills covered in old grape vines and apple trees.

Verona is a friendly and relaxed city. If you want to get away from the major tourist centres of Italy, this old Roman town offers food, shopping and historic architecture, and a spectacular view from the top of the Castel San Pietro.

Our apartment was in the centre of the old town, and we can highly recommend it. Corte Realdi was contemporary, yet keeping with the renascence these that heavily features in Verona. And what more so than the Casa do Giuletta, inspiring Shakespear’s story of Romeo and Juliet.

The atmosphere at Arena do Venrona is buzzing during the evening. A large crescent of eateries offer traditional Italian food. We dined at Restorante Liston 12 and ate spaghetti di vongle. If you are looking for something slightly off the beaten path, I can recommend Di Trentin Agostino in Via Fratta near the Castelvecchio. They prepare a mean platter di mare!

We are sad to be leaving the land of Aperol Spritz, as I think we could recommend staying and exploring new the region of Verona and its neighbouring countyside full of medieval castles.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck

Day 6 of the Central European Alps Train Journey

To be honest Innsbruck is really only a connection between Salzburg and Verona. However, this charming city in the Tyrol Valley offers spectacular views and a particularly colourful old town. We wandered the old town and picked up some local Tyrolian cheeses to drink with out Austrian Weißburgeren wine, while enjoying the spectacular views from our aDLERS Innsbruck hotel room with floor to ceiling Windows!

Salzburg and Hallstatt

Day 4-5 of the Central European Alps Train Journey


imageWe took the train from Munich and arrived in the picturesque city of Salzburg in under 2 hours.

Day 4 – Salzburg Cruise, Dinner and Concert

Before our very cultured evening we strolled around the Mariabell Palace taking in the immaculate gardens and spectacular view over the fortress in the distance.

Our cruise on the river Salzch took is past the medieval old town. We were guided along the river with interesting points of history, identifiable buildings and of course the reason behind the rivers name- Salt and the mining of it over the centuries.

Our dinner was delicious and featured spectacular views over the city from the panoramic terrace of the fortress. We had a divine bottle of Austrian white wine- a Weißburgener.

The Mozart concert was held in the Golden Hall of the Salzburg Fortress. The octet with a featured pianist pliers through Mozart’s better known pieces. It was a slightly surreal experience Bing in the birthplace of Mozart and listening to his music played high above the city!

Day 5 – Leopoldskronschloß and Hallstatt

Leopoldskron Schloß is the external film set for the von Trapp family in the sound of Music. You know the bit where the Countess is having drinks and telling Ct. von Trapp to send the kids to boarding school after they are married? Well it’s that bit. It’s situated at the back of the fortress and the walk is about 2 hours round and back over the fortress to the city.

Hallstatt is 1.5hrs drive from Salzburg. It was really the jewel in the crown of our time here in Austria. It is UNESCO- and from the pics you can see why! It isn’t easy to reach by train; you have to change trains and the station is on the opposite side of the lake- so you have to catch a boat. But….maybe this place is worth a bit of hassle!

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!