A Baltic Journey: Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

What I remember most fondly about Copenhagen is the rushing sound of hundreds of bicycles going by in the streets. The exhilarating feeling of being part of a vibrant city was never as intense as I walked the streets of Copenhagen.

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A Baltic Journey: Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Riga is a beautiful city to visit. We managed to enjoy a guided tour of its abundant Art Nouveau architecture, which graces many of its streets like an outdoor museum (a comparison I read about in a Portuguese edition of a guidebook I bought in Riga, entitled, Riga: Arte Nova).

Vanšu Bridge (Vanšu tilts), Daugava river

Art Nouveau architecture

Freedom Monument (Brīvības piemineklis)

Cat House

Memorial to Latvian Rifflemen (Latviešu strēlnieku piemineklis)

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A Baltic Journey: Estonia (part 2)

Tallinn, Upper Town – from the Kohtuotsa viewing Platform

Tallinn’s Upper Town, on Toompea Hill, is as charming as the Lower Town. We explored it on a guided tour. Our tour guide was excellent and she enriched our knowledge not only of Tallinn, but of Estonia in general.

Unlike the morning’s visit to the Lower Town, the afternoon was full of people walking at a leisurely pace which was surprisingly pleasant even though the streets and lookouts were busy. There was a calmness about Tallinn and people seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as we were. Sometimes, being with a crowd can be just as rewarding as being by one’s self.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Tower of Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin (Dome Church-Toomkirik)

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin

Another view from the Kohtuotsa viewing Platform

Bronze statue of Gustav Ernesaks, Estonian composer and ‘father of song’

Estonia and music have a powerful relationship. We were fortunate enough to also visit Estonia’s famous Tallinna lauluväljak (Song Festival Grounds).

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A Baltic Journey: Estonia (part 1)

Tallinn Old Town, Lower Town

 Tallinn is a beautiful city full of exquisite architecture, both new and old. Although we didn’t have time to visit modern Tallinn, we meandered through the medieval Old Town on a quiet Saturday morning by ourselves, before other tourists filled the cobblestone streets, restaurant patios and cafés of the Lower Town.

St. Nicholas’ Russian Orthodox church

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A Baltic Journey: Russia (part 2)

The State Hermitage Museum seen from Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshad)

The day we visited the Hermitage, it was packed with tour groups given in many languages. Our large Cunard group was masterfully guided by a Russian tour guide – a tall young man who was also an English teacher. He skillfully herded us as we pressed against other groups making their way from gallery to gallery; his calm clear voice resonating in the earbuds of the portable audio guide we all had to wear.

It was a challenge to get close to most of the art with such a throng around us but I still managed to find moments to enjoy looking at a few favourite paintings. However, it was impossible to get close to Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, one of my favourites. After waiting patiently to get close, unsuccessfully and with the voice of our guide fading away, I knew I had to move on.

I feared getting lost from the group and having to make it back to the ship on my own. But I suppose people get lost from time to time. The tour company anticipates such a possibility because each of us was given a card written in Russian informing whoever reads it that you are from a cruise ship and could someone please contact the tour company!

As I quickly moved through the crowd, I was relieved when our guide’s voice became louder in my ears again. Luckily, we came to the end of our visit without incident.

Crowd waiting to see Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son

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A Baltic Journey: Russia (part 1)

St. Petersburg

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A Baltic Journey: Finland

A rainy day in Helsinki

Havis Amanda Fountain and Sculpture  by Ville Vallgren

Bicycles at the edge of Esplanadi Park

Esplanadi (Espa) Park

Helsinki Central Station

Helsinki Central Station

Helsinki Central Station

Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Nicholas

Oodi Helsinki Central Library

Oodi Helsinki Central Library

Kansalaistori Square and Sanomatalo Building

Finlandia Hall

Sanomatalo building (headquarters for  daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat)

Opera House

Temppeliaukion Rock Church

Temppeliaukion Rock Church Dome

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