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.

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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!

Drizzly Day

Awoke after 11 hours of glorious sleep in a comfy bed and a cool room (thanks to the open window and great desk fan) to clouds and drizzle. More on today’s adventure on the Hop On (Don’t) Hop Off (much) bus in a bit but first some info about our hotel and last night’s dinner.

We are staying at Hotel Bethel upon the recommendation of our cruise buds, Peggy & Lowell who stayed here prior to their Baltic cruise last year. Copenhagen is EXPENSIVE and hotels are crazy here. A standard Hampton Inn type room is rarely under $200 bucks. This hotel is smack dab in the middle of Nyhavn, the “new” harbor which is an area with lots of cafes and the harbor of course.

Lois (Mike’s Mom) paid $100 more (over four nights) and her room over looks the canal. Those are her two windows in the upper left part of the yellow just below the curved roof. Our room is across the hall, is slightly smaller and opens onto the courtyard. The staff has been great and very friendly. So far all Danes have been.

After checking in yesterday, we all “rested our eyes” for a little bit and then groggily awoke thanks to the alarm I set and walked across the bridge to a traditional restaurant for dinner. We all ended up ordering pork and we each shared with the other. The first was roasted sliced pork with red cabbage, broccoli salad and potatoes. Next up was what was advertised as traditional pork and potatoes. The pork was “fried” in butter so was very crispy. The sauce was nothing special. The last was said to be the dish typically made of leftovers. This was pork, potato and pickled beet cubes sautéed together. It reminded me if corned beef hash. All were very tasty!

After dinner we skedaddled back across the canal to the hotel and were in bed before nine.

After our great sleep, we had the delish breakfast included in our hotel price. I’ll take some pictures and post about it sometime soon. We then joined the top of this post pictured HoHo bus at our corner. Mike and I don’t usually do the Hop on buses but since our time here is short we thought it the easiest way to see “everything”. There are two competing companies here, one offers 48 hours on the bus and boat while for the same price the other company sells a 24 hour ticket for their bus along with one sixty minute boat tour of the canals, but wait! Act NOW and we will make the bus ticket good for 72 hours! Being the bargain hunters we are we decided we would do that since the HoHo boat loop was the same on both, we just won’t have the ability to hop off of it…or do it more than once.

Due to the drizzle, I didn’t take ant pictures on the bus, but a good lunch at a cafe around the corner, we re-boarded the bus and rode it to Rosenborg Castle.

This was originally the royals country place…it’s located all of a 15 minute walk from the city palace. Crazy…oh to be royal! The castle includes the King’s garden which is now a park open to the public.

The interior’s are pretty fabulous and compared to Versailles (which was said to have influenced this castle) a more intimate scale though it’s still pretty grand.

The thrones above (surrounded by three sterling silver lions) have been used for all the coronations. The king who built the castle had another throne that got even more use. It even flushed!

The basement of the castle serves as the Treasury and exhibits the more valuable collections of the royal. In addition to the guns and jewelry pictured below there are rooms of ivory, amber, and silver.

And most importantly the crowns!

We elected to walk back to the hotel which just happened to take us by the Ice Bar (which Peggy, Lowell and their grandson Caden had recommended-I’ll let you ask Peggy why she let an eleven year old behind the bar to serve shots to Grandma). We all had a great time and enjoyed our cocktails in glasses made of ice.

Everything in the bar (seats, tables, art) is made of blocks of ice from a lake in Norway and the entire space is cooled to between -3 and -8 degrees centigrade (26.6-17.6 Fahrenheit). It was certainly cold after the first five minutes, I was hugging my parka close! The decor is based on different Hans Christian Andersen tales. You can see me wearing the Emperor’s new suit and sitting in throne decorated with the original princess from Frozen (not the Disneyied version) Any warmer and the ice gets cloudy, any colder and its too brittle.

Mike and Lois took the Irish bartender up on his offer of a complimentary aquavit shot. I’ll let you decide what Lois thought of it.

We then continued our walk on to the hotel and stopped for a danish hotdog. The Danes think theirs are better than ours. I didn’t see a lot of difference though they did have some roasted onions (think the onion chips on an everything bagel) which were tasty. Turns out our dogs were just an appetizer as we also stopped a little closer to the hotel for some middle eastern food. Mike had a schwarma gyro, me a falafel one, and Lois a chicken schwarma platter. Needless to say we aren’t going hungry.

All in all a fun day, Lois said she had a great time and isn’t too warn out even though we walked over two and a half miles today. While we hope tomorrow’s weather won’t be as dreary, it will hopefully be just as enjoyable!

Copenhagen

After an uneventful flight from Lisbon (with a delicious second breakfast) and a death march through Copenhagen airport we rode the metro to the center of town where we had a 10 minute walk to our hotel.

Unfortunately, construction blocked the most direct route but we finally made it, cobblestones not withstanding.

Now waiting for Lois’ room to be ready, she’s getting one with a view in the hotels breakfast room which has a great view of Nyhavn (new harbor) though at the moment after three days of travel I think what she really wants is a view of a bed….I just want a shower!

Almost there!

After landing on time in Lisbon, we hit passport control along with several other planes and only two customs officers working the non EU cattle corral. After about 30 minutes we made it through right at six am. Then followed the green line towards our connecting gate and lo and behold had to go through security AGAIN!

Got to our gate just as boarding was starting. Unfortunately it was onto a bus and then we apparently drove most of the way to Copenhagen! Eventually got to our plane but weren’t allowed off the stifling hot bus (my hair looks like it has had a shampoo) until the cleaners had finished just as the sun was coming up.

But they are shutting the doors so next stop better be Copenhagen!