Chris and I took our first ever cruise this summer. We absolutely loved the ports we called at but found the actual cruising experience rather limiting. If we do it again, perhaps when we are less fit and energetic, we would choose a larger ship with more opportunities for exercise.
I nearly didn't include this photo on the blog, as every one knows The Little Mermaid. The one below is Nyhavn, also in Copenhagen.
These next two photos are details of images from the Viegland Sculpture Park in Oslo. We took scores of photographs here. There are over 130 sculptures in a large park dedicated to Viegland, who we understood from our tour guide was not a particularly pleasant man. However, his work is exquisite, and the sculptures progress through from childhood to old age.
The site walks you round the park and museum, and Viegland's biography mirrors the conception of the park as 'Man's journey from cradle to grave, through happiness and grief, through fantasy, hope and wishes of eternity'. Viegland made a Mephistophelean pact with the city of Oslo in 1921. He traded all his sculptures, drawings, woodcuts and models for a studio to be converted into a museum after his death.
We took several hundred photographs altogether on this trip, and had to spend ages when we got home sorting through to find the best ones.
St. Petersburg was the high spot of the trip. On the left of the image above is The Church of the Spilled Blood, so called because of the murder of Alexander II, whose blood was spilled here at the time of his assassination. We did not have time to go inside, but are told it is full of mosaics. St Petersburg is one of the places on our list to return to, we were totally surprised by it.
The Winter Palace was the home of the Russian Emperors until 1917, and today is part of the world famous Hermitage Museum. The museum has fascinating and extensive collections of works of art and was still collecting them in the 1950's, much to the incomprehension of Ray, the egalitarian Australian on our tour.
On the second day of our stay in St. Petersburg we visited Peterhof. We understood this to be the Summer Palace of the Imperial Family, a favourite residence of Peter I, after whom it was named. The parkland covers over 1000 hectares, and as well as being splendid inside, has numerous fountains in its grounds. Chris and I got thoroughly soaked by one!
Stockholm's Gramla Stan,(above) in the Medieval part of the city was beautiful, we encountered our only rain of the two weeks away while we were here. We also had a bit of a panic while in Stockholm, as we had set off on our own and got a bit lost trying to find our way back to the ship. Being built on several islands we crossed the wrong bridge and found ourselves on the wrong side of the city, we did make it however with half an hour to spare before sailing time. Chris' usually unerring sense of direction had let us down, and as we were in Sweden we had left our passports on board. Until we realised that we were consoling ourselves that we could fly to the next port if need be.
The photos above and below are Tallin, Estonia
Before we came back to the UK via the Kiel Canal we stopped at Wernemunde, where among other things we took a trip on the Molli train to the site of the last but one (I think, when Blair was still in control) of the G8 summits. We were in the former DDR and were reminded frequently of the restrictions that these people were living under not so very long ago at all.
The Molli being a steam train, virtually every man was wielding his camera!! And it was a 4 am rising to see our entrance into the Kiel Canal the next morning, although I have to admit that when it got light enough to see, it was extremely interesting.