Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Copenhagen,Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark was the final stop of our cruise. The day was sunny and warm...actually hot. We were some of the first passengers off the ship.
Fortunately we were moored at the closest dock to the city. It took us only ten minutes to walk to the iconic little mermaid statue. She is quite small and surrounded by tourists trying to get their picture with her.



Nearby, the smell of lilacs hung heavily in the air. There were some beautiful statues in the garden, but a large group of female Italian or Spanish ladies had taken over the area so we moved on.





St Alban’s Anglican Church and a majestic fountain created a beautiful picture. It seemed so peaceful despite being in the city.

We followed the sound of drums from the street. A drum group in the crowded street gave encouragement to the horde of marathoners running through the city streets. Only problem was that we needed to get to the other side of the street. After walking a ways without any path to cross, we finally jumped into the street and started to run with the marathon, gradually working ourselves across to the other side.











We walked through the Ameliaborg Palace Square and took a tour of the palace. We finished shortly before noon, just as the changing of the guard was about to take place.



They wear the big fur hats and navy wool jackets which must have been torture in the blazing sun.





Close by the palace is the Marble Church with its huge dome.  Almost next door is the smaller Orthodox Church.





I found Copenhagen a very walkable city. We easily made our way to Navyn (New Town). It is actually the oldest part of town with many old and colourful buildings situated alongside the canal which is where we caught a one hour boat tour.



















The day was slipping away so quickly. We quickened our pace and visited the pedestrian shopping area, the Round Tower, the university, Rathaus (city hall) and Christianborg Palace.

We stopped for a beer at a waterside terrace back in Navyn.



On our way back to the ship we stopped to admire the royal family’s yacht and took a few more pictures of the little mermaid in the afternoon sun.





After supper, we went to the “Tango Buenos Aires” Show. The star dance couple in this show were amazing. 

The next day was a day at sea. I tried the rock climbing wall and did marginally better than when I did it last (two years ago). We did some mini putt and read. 

Best of all, the lobster tails finally showed up and they were done to perfection. The acrobat show after supper was awesome.
Now to head home and step on the scale. Yikes.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rostock and Warnemünde, Germany

Saturday May 12- We had a twelve hour stop in Rostock, Germany. The cruise ship was charging $25 Canadian per person for a shuttle into town. However when we spoke to the port security guard he told us there was a local bus around the corner. A day pass for this bus was $9 Canadian. 

Since Graham speaks German we assumed after his conversation with the bus driver that he was checking that we were getting on the correct bus. Actually, Graham hadn’t checked with the driver (he was probably discussing the local price of eggs and milk for all I know) and we followed him onto the bus. After several stops John figured out we were on the correct bus but going in the wrong direction.



We got off at the next stop, walked a bit, took some pictures of the bright yellow fields of rapeseed plants, returned  and waited for the bus going in the correct direction.

We arrived fairly quickly at Lütten Klein train station and took the train into the Rostock HBF main station. We could have transferred to the streetcar but we walked for about ten minutes to the old town.







The town was very pretty with its old buildings, pedestrian walkway, beautiful university and St Mary’s Cathedral. The cathedral had an intricate clock from the 1400s.









We stopped for some beers at the Rathaus Square before catching a streetcar and train to the beach town of Warnemünde.









This town was much better than its write up. There were other cruise ships in this port. We crossed a busy pedestrian bridge filled with people and numerous street performers.

We immediately strolled down the restaurant lined harbour canal before arriving at the beach.

The beach was packed with Germans enjoying the sunny spring day. There was a huge area where many different games of beach volleyball was going on.  People were flying drones and many sailboats were in the water. Most dramatic was an area filled with kites. There were some incredibly large ones including an enormous ghost whose limbs moved in a lifelike fashion. It reminded me of a dementor from Harry Potter. There was also a large stingray and a couple witches that rode the air currents on their brooms. It was mesmerizing to watch.







After walking along the beach boardwalk, we explored the town, relaxed at a waterside biergarten. I loved the women’s washroom, it had a glittery gold toilet seat and attractive artwork.





 We caught the train and bus back to the ship at made it back in time for our 6:15pm supper, trivia time and the ABBA tribute band show.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Stockholm, Sweden






Thursday, May 10- at 6:15am the sun shone brightly as we walked around the upper deck. We were in Sweden, making our way through the archipelago towards the port in Stockholm. I’d never been to Sweden but it felt like I was passing cottages in the Muskokas; the rock formations, the islands, the trees and the buildings were so familiar.

The ship docked at 8am. We quickly disembarked and paid 42 euros (about $67 Canadian) each for a one day hop on hop off bus. 

We paid this because we had such a short time (only 7 hours) in port that we didn’t want to waste time walking or searching for other transportation. 

Seven hours is far from enough time in the beautiful city of Stockholm; I could have easily spent three days there. I suspect dockage fees are by the hour and fairly high in Stockholm.









Stockholm is made up of many islands. The city was gorgeous. Our first stop was the Djurgarden Island on which many museums are located. After walking around parts of the park-like island, we visited the Vasa Museum. This museum houses the world’s only surviving 17th century ship; built 1626-1628. 










On August 10, 1628 the warship Vasa set sail from Stockholm harbour on her maiden voyage and promptly sunk. Apparently the ship was too narrow and top heavy and a gust of wind caused it to list, take on water through its cannon ports and it sank in minutes. It lay at the bottom of the harbour for 333 years. In 1961 the ship was salvaged and eventually reconstructed. It is 98% original. Most of the elaborate woodwork and carvings were recovered and the entire ship which is quite large is housed indoors. The museum is very well done with many interactive displays. It even had the recovered skeletons of the crew members on display with lifelike busts of their faces recreated. I could have easily spent much more time there.





We hopped on the bus and ended up going through various parts of Stockholm and the port area before heading into the Old Town. The architecture, streets, cafes, statues and shops of this medieval area were utterly charming.









We walked around the Royal Palace which was protected by uniformed guards. 





I wished to have more time exploring Drottninggatan (a gorgeous pedestrian street near that ends at the Parliament Building).









I fell in love with the Old Town’s central square (where I also found some internet). The sun beamed down, a street performer played haunting melodies by stroking the rims of different glasses as people sat in cafes and admired their surroundings.







Things are very expensive in Stockholm (as in a lot of Northern Europe). A glass of wine was $18 Canadian and up.

I noticed a sign for nightly ghost tours. 







After wandering around the streets of Old Town the time came to quickly head back to the ship. There was so much more I wanted to see, so much more to explore.

After supper we spent the evening in the solarium, reading books and watching as the ship navigated through the narrow passages of the archipelago. It felt strange to be on such a large ship watching trees, rocks and cottages passing by so close to us. 

The next day, Friday May 11, was a day at sea. The evening was our second formal night. I was hoping it would be lobster night (because every cruise I’ve been on has a lobster night)...but so far there have been no lobsters in sight. 

Throughout the trip we dodged the many enthusiastic ship photographers. They seem to pop up all over the place when you least expect them; when your going to supper, departing the ship, boarding the ship, playing pool, eating supper, having an intimate drink while watching the sunset. Fortunately nobody with a camera has jumped out of my shower...yet.

For the first time on this cruise I found myself becoming addicted to the music quizzes. Every night at 8pm I would show up at the Schooner Bar for a half hour quiz....twice on sea days. Today they had a quiz to name 42 countries identified by a number on a map. Everyone was impressed when Graham won with a perfect score. 

We ended the night with a name that hit party and then a really enjoyable violin show(he even played good renditions of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You.