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 Tallinn

We started in Amsterdam, and after a stop in Warnemunde, Germany along with an hour time change ahead, we arrived in Tallinn, Estonia.

Tallinn, Estonia was one of the ports we were very anxious to visit. My wife had an uncle who fled Estonia with his family, and never returned. Just 59 miles across the water from Helsinki, Finland, travel guru Rick Steves called Tallinn with its intact medieval sector, “The most interesting city in that corner of Europe.”

From the port (our ship is on the right), it was an easy 10-minute walk to the Old City.

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Enter the Gates at the Fat Margaret Tower

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To stroll their the medieval streets and the bountiful offering of shops

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To discover some of the inner passages

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Along the inner walls where we would find unexpected visitors, possibly from the other cruise ship

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Finding signs along the way for guidance

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To a town square with outdoor cafes

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To the splendor of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral

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To the sparse, but beautiful St.Olaf’s (now a Baptist church)

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To outside the walls into the modern city searching for the one location where we would exchange old Estonian money for Euros

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So why not lunch at an outdoor café

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With an Estonian beer

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The intriguing Freedom Square on our return walk to the Old City.

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Who would have imagined a Marzipan Museum

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As we sail away from this Baltic gem with its medieval structures, we were given a sight similar to that my wife’s uncle painted of his final image. We smiled … and then wondered about the next two days in St. Petersburg, Russia – and another jump-ahead time change. (Direct link to St. Petersburg post)

Meanwhile, below the last picture is a delightful 2-minute video tour of Tallinn.

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