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Sailing through the Baltic countries.

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Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Sailing through the Baltic countries.

Postby Telynor » Tue April 7th, 2015, 7:56 pm

Well, my friends, it is that time of year again. (Time of life, actually) In May I will be away for a couple of weeks traveling through northern Europe. Right now, I am compiling lists of what I should see -- and to avoid. Ports of call include:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Warnemunde, Germany
Tallinn, Estonia
St. Petersburg, Russia (two days)
Helsinki, Finland
Stockholm, Sweden
Fredericia, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I figure that those of you who are history fans would have some sensible advice and suggestions.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue April 7th, 2015, 11:46 pm

Hey, Telynor! Long time no hear from!
I'm afraid I have no tour suggestions, just green with envy. Next time I get across the pond, I'm going to check out the Mary Rose museum in Portsmouth. But life, at the moment, is getting in the way. :o

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Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Susan » Wed April 8th, 2015, 12:27 am

I'll write some more thoughts tomorrow when I have more time. I've been on six cruises, one European, one Canadian, and four Caribbean, and I've been to most of the cities you are going to: St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
I'm sure you know a cruise just gives you a taste of a city. You need to be there, staying in the city, to really get to know it. More tomorrow.
~Unofficial Royalty~
Royal news updated daily, information and discussion about royalty past and present

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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Wed April 8th, 2015, 1:00 am

Hi stranger! No suggestions here, but can't wait to see what you decide.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Susan » Wed April 8th, 2015, 1:33 pm

Telynor, first, consider using some of the excursions offered by the cruise line. Learning how to get around an unfamiliar European city can take some time. Excursions take you to the places, include admissions and often include a meal. If you do go out in a city by yourself, leave plenty of time to get back to the ship. If the ship says it will depart at 5 PM, it will. If an excursion is late getting back, the ship will wait. If passengers on their own are late, the ship will wait for a bit and then leave. I was sitting on the pool deck in Nassau, Bahamas while in port and another ship was leaving. I saw a man and a woman running down the dock screaming at the ship. They had literally missed the boat!

My European cruise was used as a way to get to St. Petersburg. When we went in 2011, a visa was required to enter Russia unless you were on a cruise ship excursion. (Check that out). We flew into Copenhagen, spent three nights, and then took the train to Stockholm. We spent one night and then went on a 5 day cruise to Helsinki (1 day) and St. Petersburg (2 nights). Upon return to Stockholm, we spent four more days.

(I'm putting in Wikipedia links and/or some other links.)

I am an amateur royal historian, so seeing Romanov things in St. Petersburg was important. Luckily, there were two all day (8 hour) excursions involving the Romanovs. Both guides were excellent. I never, never thought I would get to see any of the things I saw, so for two days I was amazed! On day 1, the excursion focused on St. Petersburg. We made various stops (but did not go in) to see St. Issac's Cathedral, Church on the Spilt Blood, and a few other places. We went to the Fortress of St. Peter and Paul and into the cathedral there where the Romanovs are buried. Also we went to the Hermitage. Both places, especially the Hermitage, were very, very crowded with crusie ship excursions. The tour also included lunch with vodka and caviar at a local restaurant.

On Day 2, we went to Tsarskoe Selo, where the Romanovs had several palaces about 15 miles outside of St. Petersburg. We toured the beautiful Catherine Palace where the Amber Room (stolen by the Nazis and never recovered) has been restored. We had lunch at a local restaurant and were entertained by musicians. Upon returning to St. Petersburg, we took a boat cruise on the Neva River. I really recommend using excursions in St. Petersburg. The guides warned us repeatedly to never take out our wallets while on the street. While the city wants tourists, we just didn't think it's yet up to par with other European cities.

Helsinki is the only other European city I've seen on an excursion. Because I was in St. Petersburg for two days, I have some feel for the city and can visualize it. I can't do the same for Helsinki. We went with another couple, and because I was insistent on seeing royal related things on this trip, I let them pick the excursion. We drove around Helsinki and then went to a place that recreated a winter day in Finland inside (we drank vodka out of ice glasses in an ice bar, petted reindeer, etc.) and to the Church of the Rock which is a popular tourist destination.

Copenhagen was having a weekend festival which we hadn't previously known about, right across the canal from our hotel. We went on a boat ride with singers and musicians to entertain us and did some other things at the festival. Walking around the city, we felt safe and everyone speaks English (also true in Stockholm and Amsterdam). Nyhavn is a nice place to walk around and find some drink and food. We did not go to Tivoli Gardens, but we could see the giant swing from out hotel window. Of course we visited some castles and palaces: Amalienborg Palace and Rosenborg Castle. Our friends wanted to see the Little Mermaid. I was not impressed. It's smaller than I thought and it was difficult to get a photo because Japanese tourists kept posing next to it. We took a train to the town of Roskilde and visited the Roskilde Cathedral where the Danish royals are buried and the Viking Ship Museum.

There's a lot to do in Stockholm. It's a beautiful city built on islands with many bridges. We always went Gamla Stan to eat and drink. We visited:
Riddarholmen Church where some of the Swedish royals are buried, the Royal Palace, the Nobel Prize Museum, the Vasa Museum, Stockholm City Hall (beautiful!), Skansen, sort of like Sweden's Williamsburg. We took a boat ride to Drottningholm Palace where the Swedish royal family lives.

Be careful of all the bicycles in Amsterdam. I think there are more bicycles than cars. It's also very pleasant to stroll along the canals. Visiting the Anne Frank House is a must, a very moving experience. We also went to the Royal Palace, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, walked through the red light district, Heineken tour

Let me know if you have any specific questions. Whatever you do, you will have a great time!
~Unofficial Royalty~
Royal news updated daily, information and discussion about royalty past and present

Compulsive Reader

Postby Carla » Wed April 8th, 2015, 8:01 pm

You might find some suggestions on Gabriele Campbell's blog here: http://lostfort.blogspot.co.uk/. Gabriele is a history fan and lives in Germany. She often travels in northern Europe and posts pictures and historical information about the places she visits. There's a long list of archived entries on the sidebar of her blog, or if you contact her by email or Twitter she might be able to point you in the right direction.
Have a wonderful time!

Edit: I just realised Gabriele posted a thread on the forum about her travels with a list of places in the first post. Here it is: http://www.historicalfictiononline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2496
Last edited by Carla on Wed April 8th, 2015, 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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