Carol Ede - Cruising in the Baltics!

March 2014 
Last June, Carol and her longtime friend, Kris, flew together to Copenhagen, Denmark.  They spent the day at the Tivoli Gardens and enjoyed a nice dinner, before embarking on the Emerald Princess cruise ship to tour the Baltic Capitols.  Theboat took them to Oslo, Norway, Aarhus, Denmark, Helsinki, Finland, St. Petersburg, Russia, Tallinn, Estonia, Stockholm, Sweden and back to Copenhagen.  Carol and Kris enjoyed the daily visits; they toured an old Viking ship, saw a glass worker creating art pieces, visited several islands in Helsinki and Stockholm, spent a day at a medieval castle and more.

Her favorite moment of the trip was walking into St. Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg.  Carol said it was breathtaking and beautiful.  The walls were covered with gold leaf and paintings.  “Pictures cannot reflect the beauty of it.”  On their way to the Cathedral, their bus had an accident with another car.  The two drivers argued for hours in the middle of the street.  The group left to St. Isaac Cathedral.  When they returned, the bus and car were still in the middle of the street and the police were just leaving.  It was a curious experience for the two friends.

Carol is intolerant to gluten.  She was surprised that in every country visited, with the exception of Russia, the food was delicious and adapted to her condition.  Russia did not offer excellent food.  However, she enjoyed customary free vodka shots in every place she visited.  (Carol is not vodka intolerant!)

There were a few things Carol found surprising during her trip.  June is one of the rare months of nice weather in Russia.  She saw many Brides and Grooms walking in St. Petersburg.  The tour guide explained that because of the nice weather, people plan their weddings on every day of the week in June.  The two friends witnessed another interesting event, this time while touring some islands in Helsinki: there were large stalks of firewood everywhere along the shores for White Night (Summer Solstice) which is the longest day of the year in Finland.   Inhabitants were getting ready to light those giant bonfires and celebrate during the entire night.  Unfortunately, the cruise ship was leaving for the next country that night, and the friends were unable celebrate with the local people.

Because she already had visited the majority of the Baltics in the 1960’s with her family, Carol found it interesting to compare how some places changed and others stayed exactly the same as in her memories.  She also visited some countries for the first time, such as Estonia.  There, the group toured a medieval castle where people were dressed in medieval clothes, and ate a medieval lunch.  Carol was surprised to see a real torture chamber.

Carol really enjoyed her vacation.  She found that each country has its own architecture, history and traditions.  She strongly recommended a Baltic Capitol cruise to anyone interested.  However, if you have a disability, Carol recommends that you check the activity level to make sure you will be able to appreciate your visits.  Also, when going on a cruise, Carol suggested arriving a day before your trip and staying a day after.  This helps reduce stress, ease the jet lag, and allow time to explore the embarkation city.