Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baltic Cruise

The first day out of Kiel was at sea, we roamed the ship and never had a boring moment, are still on Tuesday finding new nooks and crannies to sit or look that we hadn't discovered before.
Riga was covered with a guided walking tour of the old town, and our guide Aja could explain everything. It is a beautiful town, even if the landing was at a lumberyard dock.
Tallin was the third day, and we "did" it on our own. It is even more beautiful than Riga, has a Russian Orthodox cathedral where the worship and standing ceremony evidently never stops. The only thing ugly was a strange concrete bunker like step construction from the foot of the old town's hill out to the harbor. No one wanted to explain it to us, until the vendor of juniper boxes at the ship was willing to talk about it in English. It was an over-dimensioned concert hall built by the Soviets that no one liked and that was abandonned with independence. The massive concrete is too expensive, till now, for anyone to invest in demolition.
St. Petersburg is glorious, if faded at the edges. The first day, with a walking tour, was tiring, as it is vastly laid out. Our guide Anja was an extremely proud St. Petersburger and set a walking pace nearing a trot, but otherwise we would have never covered everything in the allotted time. She was also our guide on the second day for a boat tour through the canals and on the grand river Neva, as well as to the original fortress of Peter the Great, where the Church of Peter and Paul stands with its long gilded spire and all Czars since Peter are buried.
Helsinki is ok, small, we've already walked it, quaint, some nice buildings, a beautiful main square with a giant Lutheran cathedral, but we are already back at 10:30 am local time on the ship and I'm trying to take the time to organize photos for further upload and to make these first notes about our cruise.

(The photos of the ship scattered in among the sightseeing pix and the sunsets and sunrises from ship board might give you a hint...)