Tag Archives: Europe 2013

A reminder from Norway 2013

As we prepare for our 2014 sojourn, this video shows brilliantly what the Geiranger fjord had to offer when we visited last year.

We will be re-visiting some places, but not Geiranger. We are sure however that we will see magic scenery.

Other videos from the 2013 trip are here.


Bridges, Boats and Planes

At Sea – Saturday 27 July

The Great Belt Bridge is the suspension bridge or East bridge which – together with the Öresund or Øresund Bridge is part of the bridge/tunnel system connecting Sweden with Denmark.  We have previously talked about the Öresund or Øresund Bridge (see this post) but we DID NOT sail under it on 19 July after our call in Aarhus.  Emerald Princess cannot travel under or around the Øresund Bridge (which is on the eastern side of Denmark and which we could see from our hotel room in Copenhagen) due to the lack of depth in the water for the ship’s draught.

The road through the tunnel for the bridge starts at Copenhagen airport.  The bridge has been instrumental in many Danes purchasing lower priced properties in Sweden and even living there.  At the airport we spoke with a Swedish lady who commutes from Malmo four days a week.

Emerald Princess needs to sail around the island (Zealand) under the Great Belt Bridge in order to get to Copenhagen.  We passed under the Great Belt Bridge between 2030 and 2100 tonight.

The Great Belt Bridge – see the panorama at http://tinyurl.com/k5tf7l7

Aulia – Bombe Alaska

Joy with Mariana

Copenhagen, Denmark – Sunday 28 July

airport-security1Except for security, our transfer from the ship to Copenhagen Airport and onward flights to Heathrow, Singapore and Sydney all went smoothly.  Having had the camera bag re-arranged and re-packed in Heathrow en-route to Copenhagen, Les had been careful to pack the bag so that various items could be easily extracted in need.  The system failed at the first hurdle as Les was unable to do the re-arranging.  Thereafter, the bag was disassembled prior to screening and re-assembled after screening – causing some congestion.  That system worked successfully at the next two security checkpoints!

At Home – Tuesday 30 July

We landed at 0500 and were home by 0615.

Looking back on our great trip (it was only six weeks):

  • Both cruises were really great
  • With the exception of St Petersburg, we visited many cities and places where we had never been before
  • We would certainly cruise again to North Cape or the Norwegian fjords
  • We would happily re-visit:
    • Geiranger (for the beauty of its fjord and mountain),
    • Bergen,
    • Denmark (to visit wider afield in places like Aarhus and to drive over that bridge!)
    • Stockholm (we only touched on it)
    • Berlin (we only touched on it)
    • Iceland (the small ship fear may dictate otherwise)
    • Crown Princess is still a favourite, but must try Ruby Princess
    • We will look out for a British Isles cruise with an Atlantic passage for the first Canada/New England cruise.
    • It is far cooler in Sydney than any place we visited!

A memorable holiday – hope you shared some of our adventure.

A foggy start

Stockholm, Sweden – Friday 26 July

During the night there was a lot of fog, judging by the repeated blasts on the ship’s horn.  An eerie sound in the depth of the night.

And so it was we found ourselves anchored at Nynashamn about 60km south of Stockholm.  Nynashamn’s main claim to fame – other than what we were doing – is that it was the host for the sailing events at the 1912 (?) Summer Olympics.

So gone was our scenic sailing up the archipelago and the return journey at 2pm.  And we hadn’t tendered this cruise so far!  So a slow exit (somewhat later than the planned excursion time) and a long bus ride to and from Stockholm.  We missed out on a photo opportunity but otherwise our excursion was mostly as planned.

Emerald Princess in Nymashamn, Sweden

The highlights of our tour was the visit to City Hall (where the annual awards – other than the Peace Prize which is presented in Oslo – are given at a gala dinner in the Blue Room, and to the Nobel Prize Museum in Gamla Stan, or the Old Town.

A great day in Stockholm – a place to re-visit and spend some more time.

Our last formal night and ‘What a Swell Party’.

Tomorrow is cruising at sea towards Copenhagen where we disembark on Sunday morning and head for home.

City Hall

A view in the old town, Gamla Stan – Nobel Prize Museum

See all the photos in this blog [print_gllr id=686 display=short]

See our Baltic album on Flickr

Finnish Capital

Helsinki, Finland – Thursday 25 July

We arrived into Helsinki at 7.30, overcast but fine.  The day warmed up later, as seems to be usual in these parts.  Back to long midnight sun days.

This morning we caught the local bus to the Temppeliaukio ‘Rock’ Church.  30 or so of us were boarding the bus but the fare was waived by the driver, presumably in the interests of saving time.  We waited a few minutes for the church to open and then enjoyed a pianist – there is always music in the church.


Temppeliaukio ‘Rock’ Church

We then walked back down through the city to the Design Museum, back to the Market Square and up to Senate Square and the Cathedral.

Senate Square and the Cathedral

Senate Square and the Government Palace

Down the Esplanade from the church to the Shuttle pick-up point and back to the ship.

Prior to 1917, Finland was owned by Sweden and then by Russia and a lot of development is due to the Russians.  After independence, there was another attempt by Russia to re-annex Finland.

Queen Victoria was in port upon our return to Emerald Princess.

Queen Victiria in Helsinki

A view in Helsinki

A scenic surprise

St. Petersburg, Russia – Wednesday 24 July – a PS

On our arrival we passed through what we now know as the historic Kronstadt Naval Base, and the flood mitigation gates that prevent flooding in St Petersburg.  There is also a road – part of the ring road around St Petersburg – linking both sides of the mainland through the flood mitigation area and the harbour entrance; it dives under the entrance via a tunnel.  On arrival we saw the highway and one of the flood mitigation gates on the port side without knowing what they were; we did not see the naval base which was starboard!

So about an hour or so after leaving St Petersburg, we had it all explained to us by the Port Lecturer (who incidentally was previously the senior Cruise Director for Princess).  He explained the history of the naval base and the road/flood mitigation system as well as the fact that a lot of the sea ices over in winter.

Kronstadt Naval Base

Kronstadt Naval Base

Flood Mitigation Gates

Flood Mitigation Gates

Magnificent Hermitage

St. Petersburg, Russia – Tuesday 23 July

We were unable to dock in St Petersburg due to the strong winds and the fact that we were the largest of seven cruise ships in port today.  The delay was two hours, and the queue going through customs was horrendous – another 30 minutes!

Our full day excursion was guided ably by Ilena, a curator at the Peterhof Palace.  Our first stop was at St. Isaac’s Cathedral – the fourth highest dome in the world.  Traffic, mainly tourist buses (!), was horrendous and parking impossible.  So we alighted to view the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.  After lunch, we walked to The Hermitage and had a relaxed tour of the highlights.  While we may have seen a lot of it before, our two hour visit today was very worthwhile and educational.  A stop at the Rostral Columns, and then to a souvenir shop completed a good day.  The weather started quite cool (mainly wind) but warmed up.

The Hermitage from the Rostral Columns

Joy – near Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood

St Isaacs Cathedral

A good folkloric show after dinner.

St. Petersburg, Russia – Wednesday 24 July

Customs today should have been a breeze but we elected not to book an excursion, and as we did not have a visa, we remained on board.  The weather again started poorly – windy and wet.

A preserved past

Tallinn, Estonia – Monday 22 July

Overnight, the weather was ‘rough’ but quite bearable.  The morning came with cold winds and high seas so when we disembarked it was cold as we walked towards the old city.  Four cruise ships were in port.

The old city is within walls that mostly exist today, as do the gates and other defence structures.  We walked up and around the town.  The ‘highlight’ was Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Russian Orthodox – built by the Tsars on the highest hill in an effort to ensure Estonia stayed within the Soviet Union.  It survived the 1918-20 war but it is quite out of character with the medieval architecture elsewhere in the city.  There were many quaint buildings lining the narrow streets, and plenty to view in the shops.  The Town Hall (1402) Square was abuzz (with mainly tourists!) and the locals were costumed.  The Square displayed the first Christmas Tree in 1441, and Skype was invented here.

One of three medieval gabled house -mnthe facade mimicks Tudor Gothic Style. Zinc sculptures are of the Danish King St Canute and reformer Martin Luther

View along Pikk Street

Post Office (opposite Akexander Nevsky Cathedral

Akexander Nevsky Cathedral

Two of the cobblestone streets (both hilly) have recently been lined with a footpath and handrails (for the benefit of tourists).  The city dates back to 1154 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The pier was purpose built for leviathan cruise ships about 10 years ago.

An interesting call that was most worthwhile.

We headed out into those seas again for St Petersburg.

After dinner, some music by Accent, and ‘The Beatles’

Looking up Long Street (or Pikk Jalg)

‘Shrek’ (near Akexander Nevsky Cathedral