Talinn, Estonia

Next up on the trip was a visit to Estonia.  The country became part of the Soviet Union in 1944 after taken back from the Nazis.  Surprisingly, the country didn’t seem to have much of the Soviet-style buildings and infrastructure that I had expected before the visit.  However, our tour guide did have quite a bit to say about Russia and Putin.  She made several comments on how Estonians are very fearful that the “Great Sleeping Bear” might be waking up after watching the situation unfold in the Ukraine.

First up on our tour was a visit to a famous amphitheater in the city that has been the site of concerts by many famous acts such as Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, and Metallica.  It also is the place where the country holds some its largest musical festivals.  The tour guide was very proud of the site, and it seemed to be a very important place for the Estonian people.

Next we headed into the old town to see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Nicholas’ Church, and some of the old walls that protected the city since the 1400’s.

The day was very relaxing and we had some great weather.  The city was quaint, and was surprisingly well maintained. One of the things that will certainly stick with me was when I bought some ice cream, and it had to be the worst I have ever tasted in my life.  I’d best describe it as frozen paint.  Not sure if it was indicative of all Estonian ice cream, but I’ll never forget how insanely gross it was.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Copenhagen, Denmark

As I mentioned before, we were always looking forward to the opportunity of seeing Copenhagen from outside the confines of the airport.  I’ve always heard great things about the city, and our day didn’t disappoint.

To start out our tour we visited Tivoli Gardens, which is an amusement park inside the city.  Unfortunately, we got there 30 minutes before it opened and had to wait around for a while and the temperature was rather chilly out.  Once inside, we spent the time grabbing a bite to eat and watching people enjoying some of the rides.  We had only but an hour so our time there was fairly short.

We then went to visit some of the more famous sites in the city such as the Christianborg and Amalienborg Palaces.

Lastly, we stopped to see the famous little mermaid statue inspired from Copenhagen’s own Hans Christian Anderson that wrote the fairy tale.

All things considered, Copenhagen was one of the highlights of the trip and is definitely a place I’d visit again to see in more detail.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gothenburg, Sweden

Before taking this trip, I had never heard of Gothenburg.  I was surprised to learn, however, that it is Sweden’s second largest city after Stockholm.  For this stop, we opted to just walk around and see what the city had to offer instead of taking a guided tour.  It was very green and we enjoyed our time walking around looking at the shops and having a quick bite to eat.  There’s nothing that really sticks out about Gothenburg, but we had a very relaxing time.  Here are the few pictures we took.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oslo, Norway

So, we decided to take an excursion that took us on a brief site-seeing tour of the city before stopping in Vigeland Park to see some of the sculptures by the artist Gustav Vigeland.  On the way to the park, we drove on the road called “Valhallveien” where Edvard Munch was walking when he had a panic attack.  As a result, he painted the famous painting entitled “The Scream” in 1893.  We also had a chance to see the building where the Nobel Peace Prize is presented every year.  We learned that the Peace Prize the only Nobel Prize that is not presented in Sweden.

Upon getting to the park, our guide took us to many of the famous sculptures and discussed his background and fascinations with the phases of life. Let’s just say that his artistic judgement on what warranted a sculpture was a little strange, but I’ll let you form your own opinion after seeing the sculpture photos.

Afterwards we went to the “Christmas House”, located outside of Oslo. Quite frankly, we were a little disappointed in this part of the tour.  The Christmas House was underwhelming and we were caught up in quite a rain storm.  Looking back, I wished that we had more of a chance to see downtown Oslo.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flam/Stavanger/Kristiansand, Norway

This trip began with a short flight up to Copenhagen. We were excited to finally be able to see the city from outside the airport as our only other time there was to merely catch a flight down to Frankfurt.  This chance was but a short one, however, as we only got to take a cab from the airport to the cruise terminal.  Fortunately, the ship came back to Copenhagen later in the trip and we were able to see some of the highlights.  More about that in a later post.

Our first stops onnorway-flag the cruise were in three small towns off the Norwegian Coast.  Kim had always wanted to see the fjords and so we made sure to at least have a chance at admiring them first hand.  Due to the short time we spent in each of these small towns, I’ll combine them all into one post.

First up was Flam, which is located on the Aurslandfjord, and was our first taste of Norway.  Unfortunately, much of the trip up the fjord took place in the middle of the night and so we didn’t get to see as much of it as we would have liked.  Of all the places we visited, this was the farthest north.  We were approximately 400 miles below the Arctic Circle.  For our day there we went and walked around the small town before eventually taking a tour that brought us to a small hotel up on the side of some cliffs where we had a chance to see a lot of the surrounding regions.  Afterwards, we took a very steep and curvy drive down to Tvinde falls.  Overall the day was very relaxing, but we were definitely aware of the significant cost to everything.  Just for a t-shirt, you’d have to part with about 40 – 50 dollars.  Needless to say, we don’t own one.  That evening we got to see some of the fjord as we set sail, but we didn’t get to see the spot of the fjord that were really narrow with the high cliff sides.

For both Stavanger and Kristiansand, we took time just to walk around the towns as there was really that much to do.  They were both quaint, but took approximately two hours to see everything they had to offer.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Baltic & North Seas

Hello all.  We just got back from a trip up north where we had a great time sailing the high seas and seeing new places.  Over the next few days/weeks I’ll be posting on some of the places we stopped.  As a teaser, below is a picture of Tyler our first night on the cruise dressed to impress.

 IMG_0085

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Munchen, Germany

We just took a trip down to Munchen (German pronunciation for Munich) with our friends the Williams’, and had a rather pleasant time.  Personally, we found Munchen to be much more enjoyable than other cities like Berlin, but the weather probably had a lot to this.  It was nice to finally see the city as we have driven past it more than a few times on our way down to other areas in Bavaria.

After the morning drive up, we spent the first afternoon just walking around the in the heart of the city.   There were plenty of things to occupy our time and we finally wound up eating in the Augustiner Brauhaus.   As expected, the food was pretty good.

The next day we made our way over to the Nymphenburg Palace, which was the house of the Bavarian aristocracy from the mid 17th century.  Ludwig II was born here, and later built the three other well-known castles to include Neuschwanstein.  That evening we ate at the Hofbrauhaus, which is the largest and most popular beer house in Munchen.

Our third day we drove out of the city to the Chimesee Lake to see the Herrenchimesee Palace.  This was the last of the palaces built by Ludwig II, and was his tribute to Versailles.  The inside was truly impressive, and so it was unfortunate that visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside.  In true Ludwig style, he had the castle completed in five years and yet only spent ten days there.  We spent some time walking around the island and had a bite to eat before heading back into the city.  That night we walked around the English Garden.

On our way back home we stopped at the Dachau Workers Camp that is located right outside the city.  Living in Germany, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget some of the tragic things that occurred here in the not so distant past.  Visiting Dachau was certainly a sobering experience, but was one that I am glad we had.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized