Friday, July 29, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

Oslo Norway
oohhh our last stop on this amazing trip! We were just so worn out. (12 days of traveling ... even on a cruise ship is exhausting) We opted for the lazy man tourist option. The hop on hop off bus! (we were not the only ones who opted for this option, it was SO crowded) There is so much to see in Oslo. I will have to go back!Yep .. I really wore this outfit! By the end of the trip I had NO pride. Comfort was all I had in mind. (wow ... that was bad)
My favorite part was Frogner Park. I LOVED all the sculptures. Oslo is another beautiful city.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

Aarhus DenmarkI don't know why we didn't love this stop, it is a charming city, but we didn't. The thing I will remember about Aarhus are the ... very aggressive drunks. We watched one "attack" a tour guide and steal her flag then the police came and took him away. Align Center
I love all the bikes in Scandinavia. You will see rows and rows of them. Maybe that is why everyone is so skinny!
This is considered the most beautiful street in Aarhus. I would have to agree. It looked like a movie set until we saw someone walk into one of the houses. oops ... people really do live there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

Tallinn Estonia
What a hidden treasure Estonia is! The port was beautiful, old town very charming.

We had a little time to kill before out bike tour so we started a Rick Steves walking tour. Poor Estonia has been taken over by pretty much everyone.
McDonald's! (a free bathroom)
It just so happened that the day we were there was their dance festival. Pretty much the entire country participates in this. There was a six hour long parade. (very problematic for our bike tour). Fun to see the traditional clothing.
Very deep thought ... see how bored Kara is!
I think it was my favorite day of the trip! A bike tour of Tallin. It was so funny/fun/interesting. A great way to get out of the town. Our guide was Jaak (Jack). A darling boy who was very entertained by us. Because of the parade he had to make a "custom" tour. This meant getting lost, hitting a dead end, running into the parade, and climbing a rather steep/long hill. It was hilarious! Jaak, "this is a tour I will always forget!" Stacy, "Always or never Jakk?" Jaak, "oh yes, that is what I mean."

The highlight of the day ... Kara storming the palace! She was trying to get the guards to crack. 'I'm coming, I'm going to get ya, you think I can do it? Do ya? Huh?" It was pretty dang funny! Kara is a hoot. Love that girl!It was a delightful day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

St. Petersburg RussiaWe had two days in St. Petersburg. We had arranged our own guide/driver for the two days. (so smart and so worth it!)
We met Elana after going through immigration (Russia requires a visa ... even when coming in on a cruise ship). We had a packed agenda for those two days.
Day 1: city tour (having our own driver was awesome. Alex would pull over so we could take picture, he would drop us off at one end of a park and be waiting for us at the other.) Pushkin, Catherine Palace, Peterhof, Walking tour of the gardens (it was a VERY warm day) Monplaisir, St. Issac Cathedral.
Elana was awesome. It was so interesting talking about her life, growing up in Russia. Another great history lesson. (I am becoming quit the history buff)
{um, excuse me, can you get your bum out of my picture}
Day two: Peter and Paul fortress, Church of the spilled blood, Hermitage, Yusupov
It was an awesome experience. We were exhausted by the end of our two days. No one got kidnapped (a small fear of some of the girls). We ate yummy food. Russia is not what I pictured it to be (gray and sad) it was a beautiful city (colorful -- since the 1990's) It was one of those places that made you reflect on how really good we have it. While they are "free", it isn't the same freedom that we know. I am ever the more grateful for the life that I have.

We sure did pay $1 to use the bathroom ... in more than one country! Do people outside the US not use the bathroom as much as we Americans?

Friday, July 22, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

Helsinki FinlandNot real sure what to do in Helsinki we signed up for a tour through the ship. For some reason we just didn't fall in love with the place. It was beautiful day, it seems to be a nice place. The sculpture that is a memorial for Finland's famous composer, Sibelius, was pretty cool. The waterfront is always beautiful.
Santa Clause is often spotted in Helsinki. He lives just a hot, skip and jump away.

BSS Cruise 2011

Stockholm SwedenTomtar
He lives around your house and if you are good to him he will protect your house and bring you good luck!

A perfectly beautiful day. The Vasa Museum -- a ship that sunk on its maiden voyage is perfectly preserved due to the water conditions it was in for hundreds of years. It was very cool. A must see on a trip to Sweden. We took a ferry boat across the bay to old town. Thanks to Rick Steves we had a little walking tour (Stacy was a fabulous tour guide). A simply charming town.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BSS Cruise 2011

Berlin, as you know, is not ON the Baltic Sea. It took a three hour train ride to get there. But it was SO worth it. We had arranged an walking tour through Original Berlin Walks with Finn. It was a fantastic way to see the city and get a history lesson along the way. I was fascinated with the history. I want to go back to Berlin and go to all the museums. While most of Berlin was destroyed during WWII there are remnants of the war. In a few places you can see bullet holes and shrapnel. A surreal experience seeing the actual wall. I remember (9th grade) when the wall "came down".

Poor Kara brushed up against some kind of stinging nettle at the site of Hitler's bunker. {yep ... the site is a parking lot}
(bad things still happen around Hitler!)

Highlight for me -- the Katie Kollwitz sculpture ... oh and the chocolate!

Baltic Sea Cruise 2011

I pretty much have the coolest life. I was lucky enough to get to go on a Baltic Sea Scandinavian cruise with Stacy, Kara and Melissa. It was an amazing trip!
Our itinerary included; Copenhagen Denmark, Berlin Germany, Stockholm Sweden, Helsinki Finland, St. Petersburg Russia, Tallinn Estonia, Aarhus Denmark, and Oslo Norway.

We started with a couple days in Copenhagen. It was a bit of an event getting everyone there. Stacy missed the connection in Chicago. Melissa barley made the flight. Phew, I was not going to be in Copenhagen alone. Melissa and I spent the day exploring the city. We were excited for Kara and Stacy meet up with us. I sure wish the drunk couple would get out of my picture with the Little Mermaid sculpture.

Melissa and I came upon this tree in the Frederiksbergs park. Yep, those are pacifiers.
Hans Christian Andersen
It is good luck to get up on his knee (and take your shirt off -- we opted for not that much good luck). It is much harder than you would think to get up on his knee!

We had a great time in Copenhagen. My favorite part was seeing the original Christus in the Church of our Lady. I also loved the canal tour. Downside to Copenhagen, EXPENSIVE! A bottle of water and a yogurt from 7-11 was $9!

Onto the cruise ship we go!