Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cruisin the Baltic

Warnemunde and Rostock, Germany

We chose not to take a fast train down to see Berlin at breakneck speed like many others on the cruise, since we live in Germany and can go see it like it is meant to be seen another time.  Instead we took the train to Rostock to see...
Some fun swings outside the train station
 The Max-Samuel Haus sign

 One of the largest astrological clocks which didn't seem to be working- or maybe we just couldn't figure it out.
 And one of the largest organs
and this funny little goat fountain
 Then we took the train back and went to the beach
 It was too cold to enjoy the beach, but that didn't stop some of the Europeans from naked sunbathing.  Eww, don't look now!

It was a fun, relaxing start to the cruise!

Helsinki, Finland

From where we docked in Helsinki was just a short walk to all the major sites.  We heard that we would have to take a bus to some of the farther out ones, but we walked and didn't find it unusually far.  Because we walked we didn't have time to get out to see the Fortress, though.  Instead we saw the Lutheran church- the main religion of Finland 
and the Upenski church which is Eastern Orthodox

and much more ornately decorated.

We saw the Guardians of Gondor or lamp holders outside the train terminal.  I will let you decide

We took the scenic route near the inlet and came upon a large torch which we had no idea what it was for.  All I know,  is it wasn't the olympic torch, but it looked very vikingish, so we liked it.

We finished off our tour by visiting the rock church- which was carved out of... Wait for it... rock.  It just looks like piles of rock were put on the entrance, but I promise, it was really carved out of a rock.

Tallin, Estonia

This is a medieval town that we were going to take a fun bike tour in, but it was raining that day, so instead we did what Kress' do best, we walked it.
 Tallin is famous for being the place where Skype was developed.  You can say thank you to Jaan Tallinn, Mom and Carolyn.
It is also believed that in 1441 the first ever Christmas tree stood here in the town hall square.  Other than that, it used to be under communist Russian rule for a long time and is happy to have it's independence.  It is a super cute medieval town with walls and ramparts still around it.  And of course it has it's share of pretty churches
 and buildings

 The wall
It also has this cool walk that is a timeline.  1154 Estonia first appeared on a world map.  Who knew?

The cobblestone all day long was a killer!

Pretty gardens outside the wall
Emma found a candy shop that did all kinds of fun things with Marzipan.  Cute to look at, but nasty to eat.  Sorry Mom and Lynette, I know you like it, but you are the only two American's I know that can stand it.  I gave all our marzipan samplers from our Rittersport mix away to the Swiss missionary before he left.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is beautiful with all it's hundreds of tiny islands.  It seemed everyone had a summer home out on one of them.
It was the only time they opened the very front of the boat for passengers so that we could see it up close and personal.  Rob and I were the only ones of our family that got up early enough to go see the view.  It was so stunning that Rob wanted to move there.  Since it was July and we still had to wear jackets, however, I was against the idea!
We made it just in time for the changing of the guards.  We followed them most of the way as they played various songs and marched up to the palace.

Where we saw someone get yelled at and pushed by the guard, so that he could properly do his changing of the guard ceremony!
These things are important, man!

We somehow stumbled on the US Embassy.  There were tons of Swedes looking for American Visa's. Guess they like to come look at us.  Also they are probably rich enough to do it.

We went to the Vasa museum on the recommendation of everyone.  It was cool, but we arrived early and got straight in.  Within 1 hour it was packed and we decided to high tail it out of there!  The line was huge by then.  It would not have been worth it for my children if we had had to wait in that line.  After all, how long can you look at a ship that never made it out of the harbor before it sunk?  Seriously, though, they did have some very cool displays all around it, that I would have enjoyed looking at a little more.

 We took a Rick's Steve's walking tour of Gamla Stan and found the Random canon in the wall.
And to top off the day, we ate Swedish fish in Sweden!  Because we are cool like that!

I had every intention of buying us bus tickets here, but when I got up to the counter and asked the lady how far everything was if we walked, she said, "oh 20-30 minutes to here, 20 minutes to there," so in the end, I said, "let's just walk it."  The walk wasn't so bad, but that was because we took it bit by bit.  We went to the Vasa, then the palace and then took the walking tour of Gamla Stan.  By the end of that, we were so far away from the boat that we had to trudge over an hour to get back, so we missed City hall where they give out the Nobel prizes.  Sad face!
The cruise was a fabulous way to see all these different countries.  We would have never done it, if we didn't do it this way.  Everything was very expensive.  We brought lots of snacks with us, ate big breakfasts and ate as soon as we got back to the boat each day.  We did it all pretty cheaply, and probably missed out on some wonderful things because of that, but we were happy with our experience in the end.
 Our favorite part is always the boat, however.  We had the chance to do this tour just 2 days less, but also almost $3000 less with a European cruise line.  We couldn't do it.  Once you get used to the luxury of the North American lines, you can't go back.  As Rob says, "It's all about the boat!"  We went with NCL this time and really enjoyed it.  Sam and Max loved the teen center and kids club.  We all enjoyed the food and the hot tubs.  The boys loved the pool and slides.  I had to do the slide at least once, but man it was cold!
Superhero day
Trying out the Chinese sticks
Sam tried too
I actually learned to juggle using these!  I am so proud of myself
Bunny?  Dog?
Happy birthday, Sam!
Getting down with the crew
The entertainment wasn't as good as some cruises I have been on, but we loved the talent show at the end, especially the finale which was called Fountains and was 7 crew members imitating different water fountains while spitting water from their mouths at each other to Only time by Enya- it worked for Volvo and Jean Claude Van Damme and it worked for the NCL crew!! (definitely a scout camp kind of skit!)  Can't wait for our next adventure!


Anonymous said...

super fun. love the pictures kisses mom

Robert Kress said...

I would go on a cruise with you guys any day.
Love, Rob