Lisbon

We had a good four days in Lisbon before waving goodbye to Lois this morning as she jets back to the USA. I know we both will breath a sigh of relief when she texts us this evening that she has arrived in Miami and successfully made it to her hotel for the night.

She is staying tonight in the same hotel we stayed in 17 nights ago inside Miami Airport. But the really big sigh will be when we get a text from her on Friday that she is back in Danville.

We rented a two bedroom/two bath Airbnb for our short stay in Lisbon. The apartment was great except that it’s eco air conditioning system didn’t seem to do anything to cool the apartment off. Thank goodness the temperature at night dropped to the mid to lower seventies and we could open the doors and use the two fans to help make it bearable.

We laid low the first full day in Lisbon as it had been a rough travel day-left our stateroom on Breakaway at 7:30, off the ship around eight, then the joy that is checkin and security at the airport for our flight. Lois got to enjoy the comfort and food in the SAS business lounge as she was flying her return ticket on TAP. Mike and I got to sit at a coffee stand and pay $15 for a cup of coffee, one of tea and a sweet roll since we were flying our return Econ ticket from Mike’s infamous birthday flight from Lisbon to Copenhagen.

Monday night we ate at one of the restaurants at Lisboa’s former market which is now half market and y’all food hall. Readers from last spring will remember we are here several times. lol

On Tuesday we visited the cloister of the monastery in Belém (and had pasteries!) before we took a sunset cruise (ah, the weather was so comfortable) up and down the river on a 55′ sailing yacht. There were a total of 7 guests and two crew so it was very personal and enjoyable.

On Wednesday we rode the train to Cascais, the beach town Mike and I enjoyed so much in the spring. There were more tourists this trip (maybe the heat was bringing them to the beach) so while beautiful, we think it might not be the great town we initially thought.

This morning we left the apartment at 7am..ok 7:08 for the airport. Lois’s flight took off about 10:30 am and Mike and I have spent the day in the lounge waiting for our 4:30 flight to London. Only two more hours!

Copenhagen to Lisbon

We left the ship about 8:30 this morning and after a taxi, a lounge wait for Lois while Mike and I had to slum it in a coffee shop, a flight on TAP, a bus ride from the runway to the terminal and an Uber (of course there was a taxi strike taking place!) we got to our Airbnb in Lisbon about 4:45 this afternoon.

It is lovely as promised and has a great view of the river.

Unfortunately, it is 94 degrees in Lisbon with a high closer to 100 predicted for tomorrow. UGH. Not sure how much sightseeing we will get done!

Stockholm

Due to high winds, we were unable to port in Stockholm. While I think we are all somewhat disappointed I KNOW we all enjoyed having a sea day. We was tired!

The ship threw on lots of activities but I didn’t take advantage of the line dancing, napkin folding or fruit carving demonstrations. Instead I grabbed a drink (or four) and enjoyed reading on one of the outer decks until it got too windy ….which led to a wonderful nap.

The next day (Saturday) which was our scheduled sea day was a repeat!

Helsinki

Our stay in Helsinki was relatively short-8 am arrival and all aboard at 3:30 pm. We elected to do the HoHo bus for ease of seeing as much of the city as possible in the time available.

We rode to the center of the city to the esplanade and the daily market where we had a hot chocolate as it was windy and chilly. Even though we thought it was cold, there were a number of people swimming in the floating pools-even the unheated one!

We then climbed up the hill to the Russian church because why not!

We then reboarded the HoHo and rode back around (past the ship) to the Rock Church. This relatively new space was drilled and blasted into solid rock. Its roof is a combination of metal and glass.

The time to get back to the ship was getting close so all the HoHo buses were quite full. I ended up riding back sitting on the stairs!

Helsinki was a beautiful city and I was most impressed by the variety of architecture-historic and contemporary. I hope we can get back sometime to really explore it.

St. Petersburg

We had a great two days here in the royal capital of Russia. It is a huge city and has much to see, too much for just two days.

We had joined one of the two private tours arranged by one of the folks on our Cruise Critic roll call. Ours was with “Hey Russia” and I was very pleased with value received.

Our guide Daria and driver Guinea (not right but that is how it was pronounced) were both friendly, very helpful and accommodating. The van was new and more than large enough for our group of 15.

The only problem with the tour is that everything is rushed in order to get even a glimpse. Imagine going to Paris and trying to see the Louvre, Notre Dame, another Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, a boat ride down the Seine, riding the metro and going to Versailles and another Versailles all in two days. Oh and at the sane time as a zillion other folks are all trying to do the same. Anyway, glad we did what we did but hope I get back someday in Winter when all the sights are free and supposedly empty!

Below are some of the many many pictures we took. It is a beautiful city and has beautiful structures most of which have been restored after destruction during wars and revolutions. Peter and Paul Church at their fortress.

The Hermatage, formerly a palace, now a huge museum. I did like that each room was decorated to reflect the art within it.

Church of the Spilt Blood

Boat ride on the Neva River

Metro

Peterhof Summer Palace

Catherine’s Palace including a very quick walk through the Amber Room. The palace interiors are a replica as in addition to war and revolutions, a fire destroyed much of the building. It is still impressive!

Tomorrow Helsinki….I need a sea day!

Tallin

While the day didn’t turn out as planned it wasn’t a complete bust. We rode the HoHo bus so we saw a little bit of Tallin. We hopped off at the gate to the upper city and walked around inside the old walled city a bit. It was long enough to go in two churches and for Lois to buy jewelry.

If the sun had of been out it would have been great fun as the town looks lovely and the people we met were all very friendly. Especially those from the bus company who help locate our drawstring backpack we left on the bus and returned it to the information kiosk at the port. We realized it had been left behind when we needed the umbrella! LOL

Made it back to the ship around 1:30 and had had lunch and am now writing this from “The Waterfront”, Norwegian’s feature on its new ships. This is a promenade off of which there is outdoor seating for restaurants and lounges. During the day it’s a great place to sit and contemplate the world. Here is my current view-the sun is starting to show itself!

Warndemunde

We are sitting inside this lovely building in Schwerin waiting for our train headed back to the ship which is waiting in Warndemunde.

We had a lovely day despite a rain shower (“get the umbrella out of the backpack Mike, it’s not there Clay, didn’t you pack it? I thought I did, sorry”. Cut to three hours later we’ll after the rain. “Oops Clay I just found the umbrella, you did pack it!”) visiting Schwerin which is the Capitol of the state of Mecklenburg.

It’s a lovely city of approximately 100,000 and we were here during their Saturday market where we saw a really cool wood fired grill.

We had a delicious lunch in a cafe just before the rain came. Lois had tomato soup & a puff pastry with veal in a creamy sauce, Mike had grilled pork in an amazing mustard cream sauce with Arby’s potato cakes and I had onion soup and a thick slice of bread buttered with smoked ham and pickles. And beer-obviously Lois wasn’t a fan of Mike’s and my beer.

We came here as it is the location of the Schwerin Castle or palace. A royal house has stood here since 974. There have been many renovations and replacements since then. The palace we toured was a renovation/addition done in the 1800s. The building served as the duke’s palace until the royalty was abolished after World War 1. Since 1990 it has served as the parliament of the state. The castle is located on a small island on Lake Schwerin.

After the castle we rode the train back to Warndemunde. We missed the four o’clock train but got on the five o’clock. We almost missed our connection in Rostock as we were sitting in the platform for the train to Von Warndemunde not just Warndemundemude. Thankfully Mike saw our real train one track over!

After that short ride we made our way through the cruise festival-bands, food trucks, etc and back onto Breakaway. For the finale of the festival, there were fireworks as AIDAmar led the two ship parade out of the Warndemunde-Rostock harbor. Quite an exit-could they have been that happy to see us leave???

Due to slow data speeds I was unable to publish this post until after we arrived in rainy Tallin,Estonia. We had a lovely relaxed sea day yesterday and are currently finishing breakfast after which we hope to survive the rain enough to visit the medieval town here. However, 15 minutes after the ok to go ashore they closed the gangway due to the arrival of Sapphire Princess so unless you were on a Norwegian excursion you are currently stuck on the ship. Given “all aboard” is 4 pm, we are only going to have a short visit.

Aboard!

12:30 pm and all have the first of our “free” drinks. Mike and Lois got theirs downstairs so they are in “proper” (as Marie would say) glasses. I waited to get mine on deck so mine is in plastique.

And Lois in to intrigued by her pickle/olive garnish. Others of us think it has a slightly inappropriate connotation!

We left the hotel at 11:13 and were aboard by noon (no waiting at all at checkin!).

Future blog on our last gloriously sunny day in Copenhagen but for now off to lunch.

Finally The Sun!

Oh it was so nice to finally see sunshine this afternoon. Unfortunately the predicted 40% chance of rain between 10am and noon became 100% about 11:30. But we didn’t let it ruin our day. Heck we didn’t even let the fact that we weren’t allowed entry to the two churches we wanted to visit stop us.

We left the hotel after another delicious breakfast (danish pastries are REALLY good!) and rode the HoHo bus to its second stop, the Gefion Fountain. To quote Wikipedia:

The fountain depicts the mythical story of the creation of the island of Zealand on which Copenhagen is located. According to Ynglinga saga, the Swedish king Gylfi promised Gefjun the territory she could plow in a night. She turned her four sons into oxen, and the territory they plowed out of the earth was then thrown into the Danish sea between Scania and the island of Fyn. The hole became a lake called Lögrinn though tourist information about the fountain identifies the resultant lake as Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake, citing the fact that modern maps show that Zealand and the lake resemble each other in size and shape.

The fountain is quite impressive. We particularly liked the use of water to represent the plowed earth and the mist from the bulls nostrils.

Nearby is the English Church which we had hoped to enter. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations.

We then walked along the flower and statue filled promenade between the beautiful park like grounds of an old pentagram shaped fort and the sea headed for the symbol of Copenhagen, The Little (and I mean really little, she is tiny) Mermaid (TLM).

Just before we reached the hoards at TLM the light missed turned to a heavy drizzle and before we were in position to say hey, howyurdurin to TLM, the monsoon had started. Lois found shelter under the awning of a souvenir vendor while Mike and I joined others under some nearby trees. Of course neither of us had our rain jackets or mini umbrellas we’ve been toting since March….don’t it figure the first time we really needed them we wouldn’t have them? So I apologies for the dreary pictures below but if I recall Hans’ tale correctly about TLM it was pretty dark so I think these may be perfect.

Here is one that I’ve digitally brightened up.

We jumped…ahem, hopped back on the bus and rode to the last stop which was near the central train station. Since this is Lois’ first trip to Europe we thought it important for her to experience a grand train station. On the short walk, we stopped in a restaurant for a warm up coffee (and comfort break). Alas after seeing the desserts we asked to see the food menu for this Turkish restaurant since no one liked my idea of having dessert here and lunch later! LOL

Lois picked a breakfast dish made of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, peppers and crumbled bread. It was very tasty and she LOVED it. “We ought to come back here and eat again”. Mike and I split a salad with feta, veggies, nuts with a pomegranate dressing and a sampler plate of Turkish meat and veggie filled pastries. I enjoyed all. Unfortunately dessert which had been what we all wanted to try was just meh. Doesn’t it figure!

The train station was built in the early 20th century replacing a structure from the early 19th. It was renovated in the 1980s to add shops and such…I desperately tried to get a single picture with the big three US stores but could only get two at a time. Lois got lost in the 7/11 which was more like a Whole Foods.

Copenhagen is a bicycle city and all the guidebooks talk about being careful I. Traffic, but it wasn’t until we saw the bikes parked at the station that we realize just how many there must be. According to the narration on the HoHo bus, 40% of commuting is done on bikes…I can believe it given this was the view on just one side of the train station.

From the station we walked around the perimeter of Tivoli Gardens, Europe’s oldest amusement park peaking through the fence. Lois would like to ride some of the scarier rides so we may go back tomorrow and pay yo go inside.

We then reboarded the HoHo and rode it to Christiana, a neighborhood which declared itself independent in the 70s and now which serves as the bohemian, artsy, and hemp center of Copenhagen.

We had hoped to go in the Church of the Holy Savior which is adjacent to Christiana alas, it closes at 3 and although it was only 2:42, the doors were shut and padlocked. For the second time in one day we were locked out of a church! So much for ” welcome, rejoice, and come in” 😢. While none of us wanted to climb the 400 exterior steps of the spiral steeple (which can be seen all over the city) I had wanted to get inside since this is the first Church I’ve seen with all clear glass windows…maybe tomorrow.

We then walked back to our hotel using a really cool bike and pedestrian draw bridge across the Copenhagen River separating Christina from Nyhavn. In addition to its interesting architectural design it’s also an engineering marvel. Rather than the draw going up to allow tall boats to go through it, the bridge splits and the sections move on rails towards the shore to create the opening. I’m hoping to see it in action before we leave but here is a YouTube of it opening: https://youtu.be/Ce5ktjl02D4

You can see the tracks in the pictures below

For dinner tonight we had intended to eat seafood at a small inexpensive boat docked at the end of the bridge above. Unfortunately I’m still not completely fluent in military time and failed to realize it closed at 6 pm. So we wandered the neighborhood for a bit checking menus. We had stopped at a boat docked in the Nyhavn canal across from our hotel and while reading the menu, the waiter/busker of a certain aged flirted with Lois and next thing we knew we were seated inside as the only guests. By the time we left there were a few more patrons. We all enjoyed our meals. Lou’s ordered the seafood symphony which was their version of a captains platter- salmon, hake and cod each cooked differently served with a crawfish, a couple of roster oysters, and mussels all on a bed of saffron cream. Mike got the “traditional” flatfish while I opted for what was billed as a ” smaller plate” of fish cakes along with a bowl of fish soup. All the dishes were tasty, Mike’s fish and the fish cakes in particular. My soup was basically heavy cream with a bit of fish, lobster and a few veggies. For dessert I ordered and we all shared Rhubarb Cake. I loved it. The cake had rhubarb in it and was served with a rhubarb compote, cherries and whipped cream. While not cheap, we all enjoyed our dinner.

This was our view of sunset from our table…here’s hoping that the adage “pink sky at night sailor’s delight” holds true…if that and the weather man are right, we should have a perfect last day here to take our HoHo boat tour of the canals!