Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baltic Cruise

Where to begin?
This year has been a treat for adventures in our household and after this last cruise i think we are happy with just day trips possibly weekend get aways for the remainder of our time here.
Our cruise kicked off with two days of relaxing, enjoying each others company and watching the boys entertain themselves. On our second night we decided to have a family meal in the dress up restaurant and to our surprise both boys were quiet as mice, eating some what tidy and even giving us an opportunity for a family picture.

We had six ports of call over the 12 days starting with Copenhagen, Denmark Which was one of the favoured European capitals. It is situated on Sjaelland the largest island in Denmark and is also the largest city there. Walking through Copenhagen was such an uplifting experience, the atmosphere was incredible and people seemed so relaxed through out the town. We stopped at the famous bronze statue of the famed little mermaid though the story is slightly different. Then we headed to see the Amalienborg Palace followed by a canal boat ride through the city which the boys enjoyed. This was a great way to see the sights and history with the boys since they have a passion for boats.

Our second stop was in Tallinn, Estonia. It's quite a small place which has had many rulers in her time and has only been a free country for the last 16 years. Sadly the country is behind with the rest of the world so they seem as if they are in fast forward trying to make up for it but the town of Tallinn has beautiful medieval houses and cobblestone streets full of craft shops.

Here we move on to our third port of call in Warnemunde, Germany. For us it seemed quite silly to take a private train to Berlin when we only live a few hours away so we opted on staying in the town and much to our surprise found ourselfs relaxing on the beach with a pleasant stroll through the peer and amongst the locals in the many shops dotted around.
This will definitely be a place to revisit this summer learning about the 800 years of history and enjoying a day or two at the beach.

The fourth stop was a two day adventure in St. Petersburg, Russia. Home of the czars and their courts fulled with extravagant palaces, museums and serene canals. St. Petersburg was formed by Peter the Great and fashioned by his favourite European cities. Russia is also known for the many days of rain and snow, 305 each year to be exact so it was no surprise that we looked like drowned rats the entire time we were there. Though getting the chance to see St. Petersburg was good we found ourselves unimpressed with the city it's self. However it was a great experience and we very much enjoyed the Cathedral on spilled blood, The canal boat ride through the Neva River and more importantly the Peterhof Palace and Gardens.

Now on to my Favourite stop of the cruise, Helsinki, Finland. The Country for me was overwhelming and i can not wait for the chance to explore Finland's culture and country more.
Almost all of our tours on the cruise were walking and boat ride tours as for us the boys behave so much more then long hefty bus tours. The town of Helsinki reminded me a little of Malta again as people were very polite and Had a good sense of humour, not to mention there food was amazing. From the Danish to the chicken, melon, curry salad crepe that i had for lunch.
Our tour consisted of the elegant Lutheran Church, passing through the Finlandia Hall, Olympic stadium, Parliament house and then to the Rock Church where we were greeted by unexplainable music from a very talented pianist. During our time in Helsinki we enjoyed a stroll through one of the parks that followed by a coffee and snack break before spending a few hours shopping in the many markets and soaking up the life here.
Finally we have our sixth port of call Stockholm, Sweden. Which is the capitol of Sweden. Set at the point where the waters of Malaren rush into the Baltic. Stockholm was a very beautiful place yet quiet. Full of twisting medieval streets, waterside promenades and Royal Palace. Sweden is made up of 14 small islands which were a sight to see as we sailed passed a few of them. Sadly our stay in Stockholm was short so we rushed about trying to soak it all in with a short tour and then just enough time to see the town and it's many statues and Medieval homes.
I was however shocked to see a female guard standing guard at the palace and that in the Swedish Army you are allowed to where Gold hoops. Yes we found Grown men with large earrings while in uniform. And so we have it our cruise came to an end but not without having two sea days which we enjoyed with friends. For us this has been our best family vacation so far, Caden was surrounded by toddlers his age, Rhys had a schedule jammed packed at the kids club and thanks to Adam i had a trip to the spa every day and a ladies night with champagne that ended up being free. It was nice to go without Internet and just soak each other's company without problems. Oh i must not forget Adam enjoyed his trips to the casino. Though i was ready to get back to normality it was quite sad to say goodbye to people and leave the UK once more.

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