Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Ultra-Belated Baltic Travel Report

Well, I should probably be sleeping, but I am actually starting to feel guilty about not blogging. Please enjoy this journey through my Baltic cruise. Or don't. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 27 - I drove up to Felicity's house, getting there at a late, late hour.

Wednesday, May 28 - After getting approximately four hours of interrupted sleep, I got up and somehow made it to the airport on time with Felicity. Long flights ensued. I have nothing to report about those.

Thursday, May 29 - We arrived in Copenhagen early in the morning. We crossed a significant number of time zones, so I was totally whacked out. We dropped our luggage off at our hostel and proceeded to wander around town like sleep-deprived zombies.

Of note: Hans Christian Anderson everything, the Little Mermaid, a tasty pastry, the Amalienborg Palace, a Danish hot dog from a stand, coconut gelato, me picking up beer can litter on the boat tour, coconut gelato, "American Indians" dressed in Navajo garb playing Andean music, Tivoli Garden, a Denmark Pop Idol concert, the Church of Our Lady, the neighboring University, sleeping quickly and soundly that night.

Friday, May 30 - Breakfast was good, and we were off to Rosenborg Castle. We spent a bit of time there. This being my first real castle, I was blown away by the ... stuff. The trinkets. They had hundreds and hundreds of years of stuff there. It was amazing. And the intricate designs were impressive. I'm glad that I don't own that stuff. Or have to dust it.

We later took a bus to the pier. There was a crabby old lady on the bus that yelled at me. And others. Then we got on board our ship. They informed us that they had had a Norovirus outbreak on the cruise before us, so they were being extra careful with the sanitizing. And were they ever... they were crazy about the anti-bacterial gel. And it tastes awful on your hands.

Saturday, May 31 - Day at sea. WooHoo. Games, trivia, and relaxation ensued.

Sunday, June 1 - Stockholm, Sweden. We had this excellent tour where we went around to the Vasa Museum and later we went to the Stockholm Palace where we got to see a changing of the guard on horseback (so cool). We also went into the basement of the palace where they have their sort of museum. My cousin Brianna looks like the crown princess of Sweden. Also, I think that we are gypped here in the U.S. of A. The only Royals that we ever really hear about are the ones in Britain. Well, if you ask me, Prince Carl Philip is the prince to hear about. So intriguing. So good-looking. Let it be known that he is the prince for me. He seems like a regular and cool guy. I could so enjoy letting him drive me around in a car of his choice. By the way, when we were there, it was so fun because they were having a parade for his great-uncle, I believe, where people would drive around all sorts of cool cars.

Monday, June 2 - Helsinki, Finland - We took a walking tour of Finland. We went to the library, saw a (sort of creepy) monument to Sibelius, went to the Temppeliaukio Church (to me, it looks like a spaceship from the outside, no irreverence intended), and the Olympic Stadium. I probably slept in a church or two here, and I also ate a crepe. It was delicious.

Tuesday, June 3 - St. Petersburg, Russia - We went on a tour that involved places like Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Peterhof Palace, and the Hermitage. We saw other sites from the bus, but sadly, I slept for some of it. While I think I actually saw everything, it is not ingrained in my memory. The Hermitage was amazing, though. I got to see my favorite Pissarro (third one down), and a bunch of other original artwork from other cool famous people. It was a little overwhelming.

We also got to go to the ballet that night at The Opera and Ballet Theatre of St. Petersburg Conservatoire named after Rimsky-Korsakov (yes, that is the entire name)! Hooray for me! I got to see Swan Lake in St. Petersburg, and it was excellent. And I had the perfect seat: close, but not too close (if you know what I mean), and straight up the aisle, so I had a clear view (but not too clear).

Wednesday, June 4 - St. Petersburg, Russia - We went to Catherine Palace. The grounds were amazing. Also during this tour, we were able to delight in such fantasticness as trying to figure out if a couple was father-daughter or husband-wife and me being told that I "preserve well" by a lady when she found out my age. I guess I look younger than I am. Both lunches while we were in St. Petersburg were excellent. The second one, especially, reminded me of the USF greenshow for some reason. Only it was Russian, not English. Also of note, I could still read some Russian and say about 10 words in Russian. That was delightful for me.

Thursday, June 5 - Talinn, Estonia - We took a walking tour, again here. Thank you, Rick Steves and my cousins! The old town of Talinn is so beautiful. It is totally structural eye candy. The gates, the towers, the stone streets, the flowers, the music... well, it was delightful. It was like stepping back into mid-evil times. Talinn has a very interesting history. Of note, we saw some old KGB offices with a cranky-looking man in the window.

Friday, June 6 - Gdansk, Poland/Gdynia - I could live here. This tour entailed way too much bus time, but it was pretty good because I could nap. Also, our tour guide was super-cool and informative. We went on a really quick tour to the Malbork Castle. We had some good Polish food, and went back into the main city to a really cool street where I bought a green amber ring and had some delicious ice cream. It was great. I also saw a stork and a stork nest on our drive.

Saturday, June 7 - A day at sea. And we all rejoiced.

Sunday, June 8 - Olso, Norway - We took our own tour of this city as well. We went to the Vigeland Park. I can't say that I particularly appreciate Vigeland's art. It was interesting, though. Also interesting: their bus system. We also saw city hall and Akershus Fortress and other stuff. I ate some more ice cream and went to my favorite, The National Museum, where I got to see "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.

This was also the day when dub was in the Spelling Bee finals and the finals for Princess Pop Star. Yay for her. I also met a cool 21 year-old who I hung out with a bit towards the end of the cruise. Oh, and I can't forget about the underwear incident where some of my underwear was inadvertently taken from my room by the room steward, and when I informed him of that, the laundry was kind enough to return ... a pair of men's underwear to my room. Laughter and near wetting of my pants ensued.

Monday, June 9 - We got into port. We hung out around Copenhagen. We saw some of the same sites we had seen before, and we also got to go to a cute fishing village nearby. In addition, I ate some ice cream.

We flew, we arrived in Chicago, we slept.

Tuesday, June 10 - We flew in, and I, in my nasty traveling state, was referred to as beautiful by cash's coworker. Dub and I hung out with her for a bit and went to the Red Iguana so I could stuff myself with some excellent mole. I also was able to visit banana in her ultra-pregnant-anyday-now state. (Hoorah for a cute new nephew!) And then I had that alien sagebrush moment and finally made it home.



Countries Visited: 7
Cool travel companions: 8
Fun tasty foods eaten: escargot, crawfish, lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, anything crittery from the water or sea
Marriage Proposals: 0
Weird seat-mates on the plane: 0
Artwork Viewed: 545,537,941,381,731,812
Artwork Purchased: 1
Souveniers Purchased: 3
New Royal Crush: 1
Underwear Lost: 1
Books read: 0
Trivia Games Won: 0
Decks of Cards Begged off of the Purser's Desk: 2
Days I enjoyed: All
Number of times this post has the word "also", including this one: 15


Heidi said...

So fun!! I think I would love to take Jared on that cruise because it includes Denmark.

(The underwear story is hilarious!)

Cassie said...

Awesome Awesome! That would be so fun!! I'm looking forward to my cruise coming up but it's only domestic. I'm gonna have to look into this cruise for someday in the future.

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

What an incredible experience. It would be so fun to visit all those places! You give me such great travel ideas - I just need to turn those ideas into reality...

Anonymous said...

Here's a post idea... what would be your itinerary if you could go around the world in 80 days? You can decide how long you would stay in which destination. And, of course, how you will travel to each destination. :)

Laurel said...

Awesome trip! So jealous! Someday...
Love your counter at the end.

dub said...

Great trip summary, Cardine! Just one correction that I have to make, though: we saw Peterhof on Wednesday, June 4 after we saw Catherine Palace. And the grounds at Peterhof were fantastic. (Maybe you were confusing Catherine Palace with Peterhof, which is totally understandable. I thought it was all kind of overwhelming.)

I also feel the need to mention that you performed Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" with amazing confidence. You totally should have made it to the Princess Pop Star finals.

tearese said...

There was so much stuff I thought of commenting on, but now I can't remember. I am going to come back and visit all of your links. Looks like an awesome trip!

julie said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip - and ate a lot of ice cream. I swear it's a cruising law that one must consume large quantities of ice cream! Mmmm.

Aaahhh. All the places you were and able to visit and all the things you were able to see! How cool. Next year - Jerusalem??

Cardine said...

Heidi - Yay! Thanks for stopping by! I love the photos on your blog.

Cassie - Your cruise sounds like one that I would like to go on, too. I know you'll have a good time.

Jill - I definitely think you should take a cruise sometime. If I were to suggest one thing to you that I think is important, it would be that you should make sure it has a track that wraps around the entire ship on one of the decks. None of the partial deck tracks have been terribly good.

Sarah - I'll have to ponder that post topic. Stay tuned. Give me at least a year to comply.

Laurel - Thanks!

dub - You're right. I got so confused when I wrote it last night. I'll probably change it to be correct when I get home. I do think the garden photo is of Catherine Palace, though.

Tearese - Don't be too excited about the links. I think they're mostly wikipedia. But, yeah, they're also pretty interesting.

Julie - I didn't realize how much ice cream I had eaten until I wrote this. Felicity influences me a lot in that area. She is constantly pointing out ice cream places. Yes, next year: Jerusalem. And I've found a tour that I am interested in. :)

compulsive writer said...

Yay! for you for taking a vacation and seeing some sights (although 7 countries in such a short time may not have been much of a vacay). And especially Yay for all the art and for bringing a little home with you.

Booklogged said...

I was just telling Julie this past weekend about a cruise I saw that went to Copenhagen, Stockholm and St. Petersburg that I wanted to take. She informed me that you did that this summer. Ohhhh, my goodness! How wonderful for your. If I never get to do this at least I know someone who did. Well, I kind of know you.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

Adhis said...

Huh. I always thought you to be a boxers girl.