On Baltic Germany

Although it seems so long ago, our cruise ship left Amsterdam and headed north. After a full day at sea, our first stop was Warnemunde – a quaint, beach resort town on Germany’s northern coast.

We were in port for more than 14 hours. Whereas many passengers went to Berlin, we didn’t want to spend half the day on the train to and from that famous city. Therefore, I did my research to determine what we could do with less travel. Given Germany’s rail system, we were able to get a one-day regional pass for about $10 each – a great deal! On this day, we boarded a train from Warnemunde for a trip to the town of Schwerin.

Given this region was part of Soviet-dominated East Germany, English (as a whole) was not spoken well.

In Schwerin, we walked from the train station toward town central – and we discovered that not many towns have a quaint lake within its core

Schwerin’s lovely town square

We exited the square, turned the corner, and then a wow moment – the prime reason for our journey.

We toured the wonderful  Schwerin Castle that housed the rulers of Mecklenberg

The castle grounds provide an excellent park-like setting.

On our walk back to the train station, we got a pleasant surprise – a boat racing festival – so we enjoyed watching several heats of 20-person dragon boats competing in sprint races.

Because we experienced some rain, we returned to Warnemunde, thus passing on our planned walk in Rostock (a city for which Warnemunde is a suburb). After dinner on the ship, it walked the resort community with an eventual stop for some German beer.

The day was a good one for us. The next day was a cruise day as we were bound for Tallinn, Estonia. Click here to join us in Tallinn.

On Amsterdam

Figure it’s about time to share some of our recent vacation trip, which started with spending 2+ days in one of the world’s great cities – Amsterdam.

We saw a lot during our short stay – and wish we took a pedometer to determine the number of miles we walked. In other words, for those who enjoy walking, go for it because Amsterdam is very walkable.

Our 9-room hotel, a canal house build in 1652, was a great find – but meals in the city are more expensive than my normal life.

Through our strolls, we visited the Anne Frank museum (fabulous), took daytime and nighttime canal cruises (the later with wine, cheese, and nuts), visited the vibrant Red Light District and the Jordain neighborhood, toured a diamond cutting facility, took a wonderful walking tour of the city, and generally took in the ambiance of this great city.

I really enjoyed the architecture. The different tops of the buildings with their hooks for hoisting furnishings continually captured my attention – and, of course, some buildings leaning to the left or to the right.

Whether the ladies in the windows or the scent of burning marijuana, tolerance is an important word for observing Amsterdam – but we were not offended. Interestingly, the Dutch seem to be drifting to the right, so I wonder how much will change in the next 10 years.

We didn’t visit any of the great art museums because our time was short and the weather was fabulous!

There were some surprises.

  • The number of bicycles! It’s a common mode of transportation for many, so the need for a large, bicycle-only parking garage at the train station. In other words, walkers beware!
  • The beauty of many of the ladies in the windows; thus not the skanky stereotype some may expect.
  • The amount of litter, especially on Dam Square: but city workers seem to keep up with the cleaning operation.
  • The number of wind turbines located in the industrial area.

The walking tour is free – well, the guides operate on tips-only. It’s a great tour, so here’s the link. Meanwhile, enjoy a few pictures.

Hotel Brouwer

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From a Bridge of Sengal Canal near the hotel

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Street along Canal Sengal near the hotel

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Buildings along a canal

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One of the first sites that caught our attention

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A leaner

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At night, a close look will show other bridges in the distance

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The packed, multi-level bicycle garage at the main train station

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A sculpture on the street in the Red Light District

Time to get on the ship. After a day at sea, see you in Warnemunde, Germany (click to visit)

On a Safe Return

Greetings! I’ve missed my regular encounters with the friendly bloggers who visit my humble little site, and visiting your sites as well. Consider this as the start of me easing back into a regular routine. Then again, because of the side effect I have from the motion meds, I must limit my computer time for a few days as part of my plan of avoiding a very disturbing case of motion sickness.

We recently returned home from our belated (April) 35th anniversary celebration cruise of northern Europe on the Celebrity Constellation. Interestingly, this trip has been ten years in the making because we originally planned a similar trip for our 25th anniversary, but 9-11 caused a change in plans.

Besides the 2 ½ days we had in Amsterdam before departing on the 12-night adventure, our wonderful journey involved smooth sailing on a beautiful ship with good food, entertainment, dancing, activities, and glorious ports. The icing on the cake was being way from the political ads, conventions, and the accompanying crap of this election season.

Below is a snapshot of our ports. The interesting animation in the video uses the 2009 route that had the same stops but in different order and a route through the canal in Denmark instead of going around it.

Amsterdam – Bikes everywhere in this vibrant city with bountiful offerings. Wish I had worn a pedometer.

Warnemunde – A vacation town on Germany’s Baltic coast. Interestingly, this region was part of East Germany, so good English wasn’t common.

Tallinn – The capital of Estonia with its charming medieval sector is a treat.

St. Petersburg – As Russia’s second largest city, it was interesting to see how far they’ve come since the Soviet era, but with still a way to go. We had two great days here.

Helsinki – The youngest of the cities we visited. The Finnish language is supposedly one of the most difficult to learn, thus their long street names made self-navigation a bit of a challenge.

Stockholm – Passing through the 24,000-island archipelago was the biggest surprise of the trip. The city itself was awesome, and is the one we to return to the most.

Copenhagen – A beautiful city filled with friendly people who enjoy life. Interestingly, we spent time with a young man we know from our church.

Meanwhile, I look forward to reconnecting. Besides, I have a celebratory announcement to make soon. Have a good weekend.