On Copenhagen

A new day and the final new port of our Baltic Sea cruise – Copenhagen, Denmark.

This day gave us the most beautiful weather day since our pre-cruise days in Amsterdam – and we awakened to this view from our room of Trekroner Søfort (Three Crowns Sea Fortress) that guarded Copenhagen’s harbor for 200 years.

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Our special treat was spending the day with a delightful young man from our church, who happens to be on an experience of a lifetime. He graduated from college last spring and received a funded, personal-growth journey in Europe for one year. Oddly enough, our one day in Copenhagen coincided with his 3 days. Thanks Aaron for the company!

Because we had a good experience with the free walking tour organization in Amsterdam, we decided to try it in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the meeting place was quite the hike from the ship’s dock, but we like to walk, so we saw extra sights.

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Copenhagen provided quite the variety of steeples and spires

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Frederik’s Church (Marble Church) from the square at Amalienborg Palace
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Christiansborg Palace is now home to the Danish Parliament
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Nyhavn (New Harbor) is a trendy rejuvenated, sailor’s district with a WW II memorial anchor
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The most photographed person in Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid
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… but look who found the nearby Big Mermaid
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Here are few more tours for you of this beautiful city. Take your pick of any or all – like this 3+ minute guided tour

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.. or this 2-minute slideshow

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… or a 2-minute tour from the water to a beautiful waltz

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We took this cruise to celebrate our 35th Anniversary (actually April). Our 15-day trip is just a blip in our life journey, and I’ve had a wonderful and loving travel partner. Meanwhile, the Celebrity Constellation and its wonderful crew returned us where we boarded – Amsterdam. So others can enjoy our trip, all the posts are linked, so start here.

On Stockholm

After a day in Helsinki, we were anxious to visit Stockholm, especially because my wife’s paternal ancestry is Swedish.

The night before, the cruise director encouraged passengers to see Stockholm’s 24,000-island archipelago, which we would be entering around 4 AM. We didn’t set the alarm clock, but as my eyes opened early, a quick glance revealed island – so I quickly dressed, and to one of the upper decks I went.

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Given the 4-hour trip through the islands each way, our time in port was short. Frequent drizzle and occasional hard rain was the order of the day, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for being there. Stockholm is home to 2 million people, and located on a series of islands connect by bridges and water taxis. Stockholm’s architecture intrigued us.

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Vasa was a grand warship that sank about 30 minutes into its maiden voyage. For over 300 years, it remained submerged on the bottom of Stockholm’s harbor – yet, a salvage operation discovered much remained intact. After a length restoration, it is now in a worthwhile museum.

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With it shops, churches, the Royal Palace, and old buildings flanking the narrow, stone streets, Gramla Stan (Old Town) is picturesque and charming.

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At the end of the day, we went to a specialty restaurant on the ship’s upper deck as that was our night to celebrate our 35th anniversary (which was actually 5 months earlier). Given the view of the islands from our window table, it was a fabulous way to end the day – the day that our oldest nephew was getting married back in Ohio.

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Of all the ports on our trip, Stockholm remains the city that beckons our return, so enjoy the videos below of this beautiful city.

This 2+-minute aerial tour of Stockholm is outstanding, so hop aboard!

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For narration, The Expeditioner guides your 4+ minute video tour

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Viveka, a Swedish visitor here, provides this post about her recent visit to Stockholm. In her honor, as well as my wife’s family, enjoy this 2-minute video of Sweden to Du gamla, Du fria – the Swedish national anthem with beautiful images.


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After a 5-day whirlwind touring cities and with four time changes, we were ready for a full day cruising on the Celebrity Constellation … but Copenhagen yet to come … just click here to join the tour.

On Helsinki

Note: Whether you watch this video or not, at least have the beautiful strains of “Finlandia” playing in the background as you are going through the post.

From St. Petersburg, Russia the day after, the next day gave us Helsinki, Finland. Because Helsinki is a relatively new city compared to other cities in the region (founded in 1550), I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, I picture Europe as old, but Helsinki has no medieval past.

Our port was in the city’s west docks, which is a long (but walkable) journey to the city center. If you ever get there, remember that a city bus route is available at this point.

Helsinki is a modern, vibrant city with a variety of architecture – but its layout turned out to be quite a challenge. Nonetheless, the weather was great, so enjoy your tour.

Not far from port, we discover some Finns enjoying a morning dip in the Baltic

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The Esplanade, the main shopping street with a park down the middle
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The Lutheran Cathedral, a beacon in the sky atop Senate Square – the inside may be sparse, but the pipe organ is grand


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Uspenski Cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox and its interior is not sparse

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The very modern Church in the Rock

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The monument to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, the creator of Finlandia

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A classic car for car enthusiasts to admire

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It’s all-aboard the Celebrity Constellation as we are bound for Stockholm. Good news is that another time change works in our favor – and we’ll need it because the ship enters the Stockholm archipelago around 4 am. Meanwhile, four time changes in five days have been interesting. (Click here to join us in Stockholm)

As we depart Helsinki, enjoy these two short videos about Finland’s main city.

On St. Petersburg: The Royals

Whereas the first post focused on a few of St. Petersburg non-Royal sights  (here’s the first), today is about royalty, so “opulence” is the word of the day.

An appropriate red sky greeted our second day
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Catherine’s Palace (quite a small, humble abode)
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There’s a tad of gold in most rooms, but they prohibited photos in the awesome Amber Room (here’s a video of Catherine’s Palace for those wanting more)
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The fountains at Peterhof are an architectural marvel (See more of Peterhof’s 234 acres in this video)

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Hermitage: a palace turned into the world’s fourth largest art museum
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The Hermitage’s grand entrance (well, part of it)
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We would love to attend a dance event in the Hermitage’s ballroom
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Our last day ended by visiting Rasputin
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Hope you enjoyed a glimpse of the royal opulence in St. Petersburg. As the Celebrity Constellation sails away for Helsinki and a chance of us to gain an extra hour of sleep, enjoy these short videos recapturing some of the beauty this city has to offer. (Direct link to Helsinki post)

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On St. Petersburg: The City

As part of the whirlwind portion of our eastern Baltic cruise, the Celebrity Constellation arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia. As one raised during the Cold War, visiting the Giant Bear of the North was something we never imagined.

Russia requires visitors to have a visa. However, cruise passengers need not apply for one as long as they are participating in a government-approved tour agency. Therefore, we booked the two-day St. Petersburg Royal Tour with Denrus, who provided a great two days with a delightful tour guide and driver.

Because both days were fascinating, I will give St. Petersburg two posts, with today’s post focusing on some of the non-royal aspects. Enjoy!

St. Petersburg Factoids

  • Peter the Great founded the city in 1703
  • Located on 14 islands with rivers and canals
  • Peter the Great was fond of his time in Amsterdam
  • Population: about 4.8 million
  • Also called, Petrograd and Leningrad
  • Getting a border agent to smile is not easy
  • The non-smiling faces of the older residents is a stark reminder of the past

The old, walled fortress city (Russian royals buried at the tall church)

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Old Navy ship for military enthusiasts to research
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Many Khrushchev-style apartments are in the city (Interestingly, we didn’t see many homes within the city)

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Across the river to St. Isaac’s Cathedral

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St. Isaac’s Cathedral’s huge doors
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St. Isaac’s interior

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Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in Peterhof (outside St. Petersburg)
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Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
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Besides the longest escalator I’ve ever been on, the subway stations are like museum (To see more, checkout this 3-minute video)
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The nesting Matryoshka dolls for the American tourists
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We’ll return to St. Petersburg after tomorrow’s mid-week satire post. (Click here to join us in St. Petersburg.)