Joining my friend Jane on another cruise, we decide to head to Northern Europe and enjoy a cruise in the Baltic with 3 days layover in St. Petersburg, Russia. I meet her this time in San Francisco, California for the day to meet up with for quick car tour around San Francisco and then have lunch at the Fishermans Wharf before we fly out later than evening to our embarkation port of Copenhagen, Denmark. We are lucky to fly business class and it certainly makes the long flight more enjoyable and relaxing by being able to sleep laying down and get some rest overnight. I will write a separate blog about Copenhagen, since we spent several days there exploring all the sights!!
We have thoroughly enjoyed the few days in Copenhagen and now it is time to embark on our cruise ship for the rest of our 11 day cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia which ends in Stockholm, Sweden. Wonderful all inclusive Crystal Symphony cruise ship with less passengers than the cruise back in 2013, only 960 passengers, which is very few in today’s world of mega cruise ships.
Arriving to our first port of call Karlskrona, Sweden the next day we are treated to a World Heritage site because of its important Naval History. It is also known as a bathing resort with many small islands with many beaches just a boat ride away. Using tenders to get to shore and a little shuttle train, we just stroll around the center of town.
Our travels continue across the Baltic Sea, we head into the largest seaport in the country of Lithuania, the city of Klaipeda. As we enter the port, you can see the large amount of containers, cranes, and freighters being loaded and unloaded. It is obviously a big operation here to bring supplies into the country from places all around the world. This is a unique stop for a cruise ship as Tallin, Estonia is the normal stop in this area of the Baltic. The port entrance is very close to the downtown area, so we stroll along the pier front boardwalk and end up at the main square. Here we see many local vendors selling many handcrafted items, including a lot of amber products. I had to buy an amber souvenir here! One of the most interesting sights was the Black Ghost sculpture right on the wooden pier hear were we docked.
On our cruise across the Baltic Sea we are treated to a wonderful sunset!
We continue to explore new and different places with a stop the next day in Mariehamn, Aland. Under the sovereignty of Finland, this Baltic island is considered the Heart of the Baltic, as it is located halfway between Finland and Sweden. Once again we are close to walk from the ship to the main square and see the local sights.
Now it is time to move on to the big cities with a stop in Helsinki, Finland for the day. Too bad we encounter a rainy day, but we trudge through the puddles and make the best of it! Of course the Hop On Hop Off bus is in order on this rainy day and we once again take the route completely around and then decide where we would exit on the 2nd go around. Our first must stop at the Church of Rock aka the Temppeliaukio Church provides us with a special view of this project completed as a part of a design competition in 1969.
As I done several times before, I will skip over our 3 days stay in St. Petersburg, Russia and created a separate blog for this fabulous special city!
After the fantastic 3 days in St. Petersburg, Russia we continue onto our last port of call and disembarkation in Stockholm, Sweden. As per our normal routine, we take the Hop On Hop Off bus for an overview tour of the city after we disembarked and took the cruise ship transportation to the airport. We decided to drop off our bags there and then made our way via the Airport Arlanda highspeed Train back to downtown for the day. Our departure flight to Amsterdam was later than evening, so we had all day to explore this interesting city. The Hop On Hop Off took us around the whole city and then we got off to explore certain sights in more detail like the Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, Vasa Ship Museum, City Hall where the Nobel Prizes are presented, and of course the Ice Bar Stockholm. The city of Stockholm is situated on 14 islands where Lake Maralen meets the Baltic Sea, so there are plenty of bridges for crossing the waterways.
We happened upon the changing of the guard ceremony because the marching band came down the main street by the waterway from their barracks. This event takes place from April to August at 1215pm each day and lasts about 40 minutes. I would recommend getting their early, which we did not, so getting a good view was difficult.
Our next stop would be the Vasa Ship Museum, which is a museum built around a Swedish Warship from 1628. She was actually discovered underwater in Stockholm harbor in the 1950s, rescued, and placed inside a sheltered building. Worth the visit!
Our final stop is the Stockholm City Hall where the famous Nobel Prizes are awarded each year during an extravagant banquet.
What is Stockholm without a final visit to the IceBar??
Farewell for now Stockholm, but we will be back. Now on to Amsterdam, Nederlands this evening for the next few days!