July 30, 2018
Today was our last full day on the ship. It was a day at sea as we traveled from Stockholm to Copenhagen, Denmark. We slept in a bit, but were up and going around 7:30 am. We did a mile on the track and then ate breakfast. The rest of the day was laying around on Deck 8, and other spots on the ship sleeping, reading or talking. Later in the evening we cleaned up and ate dinner in the Manhattan restaurant. After dinner we went back to the room and packed up. We left our luggage outside the door so they can pick it up and unload it from the ship. Later we went to the club and listened to a rock and roll cover band.
July 31, 2018
We docked in Copenhagen around 7 am and we were eating breakfast around 7:30 am. We left the boat at 8:30 am, picked up our luggage and took a cab from the cruise terminal to the hotel. It was about $40 for the taxi ride, but it was a nice Mercedes sedan. It was too early to check in, so we left the bags at the hotel and left for the downtown district. We bought a couple of tickets on their Hop-on/Hop-off canal boat tour. The rest of the day we rode the boat around the canals and rivers of the city. We stopped at the famous Little Mermaid statue and walked around the boat harbor. We also rode the boat through the main part of the city. They provided a audio tour as we passed the historic sites. At one stop we got off and went to a bakery for lunch. We each had a small pizza and shared a cherry desert. We then just got on the next boat.
After the canal tour we just hung around the waterfront area. There were a lot of people sunbathing and sitting on the wharfs and docks. This year has been unseasonably warm and no rain, so everyone was enjoying it. By 3-4 pm all the cruise ship crowds had left, and that is when the locals came out. We sat on the edge of a dock and watched the hundreds of boats going in and out of the river. Later we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. We had a Hawaiian pizza and Sprite. Everything in this area is pretty expensive, especially food. Every meal has been $30-50.
After dinner we got some ice cream and found some lounge chairs on the edge of the dock and watch the boats. We were there until about 10:30 pm, and it was still pretty light outside. While we were on the dock it started a light rain, so everyone got up and left. We walked back to our hotel.
August 1, 2018
We were up pretty early as the light from the windows woke us. Also, it was noisy from the city workers down on the streets. Our hotel room was very hot all night long. We did not use any sheet or blankets, and had a fan blowing on us all night long. We had the windows open, so that is why it was so noisy in the room. We got up and showered and then walked down to the dock area, where we were the night before. It was not crowded at all, but around 8:30 am the cruise crowd began to show up.
We also walked around and found the Metro station. It was 1/3 mile from the hotel. We ate a Belgian waffle for breakfast. Two waffles and a bottle of water was ~$18. This time the waffles were fresh and tasted a lot better, but were still small and expensive.
We went back to the hotel to finish packing. Just as we were ready to leave the hotel it started raining. We needed to walk to the Metro station to catch the train to the airport. We waited a few minutes and the rain stopped so we went to the street and started pushing our 2 big suitcases and 2 small ones across the cobblestone sidewalk/street. The cobblestone made it difficult to pull the luggage. We were 600 yards from the hotel when it started raining again. We found shelter under a canopy to wait it out, but it started raining really hard with lightening and thunder. After 5 minutes it slowed down to a normal rain, so we put on our rain coats and continued walking. This time I took the two large bags and Eva took the two small ones. The rain slowed a little bit so it was not too bad.
It only took about 5-7 minutes of walking to get to the Metro station. We finally figured out how to buy the tickets from the vending machine and one of the workers showed us which train to get on. From there it was a 15 minute ride to the airport. While waiting in the airport they notified us that the plane was delayed by 1.5 hours due to an issue in JFK. The flight was actually delayed more than that, so they offered snacks and water while we waited. We finally got on the plane and the flight to JFK was long, but nothing interesting happened. I didn’t sleep one bit. At JFK there was another delay but we got to SLC around 1 am and Zac picked us up and took us home.
Overall it was a very good trip. The weather was very warm everywhere we went. The locals would tell us it was the hottest summer in the last 100 years. It was nice because we weren’t cold, even on the deck of the boat at night, but it was a little too hot walking in the sun and riding in the vans and buses. None of the vehicles had good working air conditioning so we were all pretty hot. The only major rain for the entire trip was on our walk to the Metro station in Copenhagen.
I was a little disappointed with some of the cities we stopped at. They were all pretty modernized so they looked just like American cities, but with a different language on the signs. The only exception was Tallin, Estonia as the old part of town was quite preserved and had a lot of mid evil aspects to it. The tour guide said that was because Estonia was always a poor country, so they did not have the money to tear down the old parts. Berlin and St Petersburg had pretty much been rebuilt in the past 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, so everything was pretty modern. Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen were all pretty much westernized cities and while they had some old buildings (castles, palaces and churches), everything was pretty modern. One thing that was different for us, were the rivers and canals that weave through the cities and all the boats that were used to for transportation. I was also surprised how clean all the cities were, with the exception of Copenhagen. The streets were all clean and very little graffiti. Copenhagen was dirty and cigarette butts everywhere. That was a bit of a surprise.
It was great to spend so much time with Eva. We had a lot of fun on the tours. For all the tours she was a fast walker and we were always in the front where we could talk to the tour guides. She is in pretty good shape, so she did not get tired. While we were on the ship it was a lot of fun. The two sea days were nice because we did not plan anything, but just rested and we spent a lot of time talking.
I did get a little tired of seeing only buildings and churches. They all started to look alike, but I do think the churches in St. Petersburg were very impressive. It if funny that in a country that is very atheist, they spend so much money on maintaining churches. Most of the churches a owned by the government and are maintained for tourist reasons. Only a few were working churches that had services.
It was also fun for me to go back to Berlin and Copenhagen. It had been many years since I was in that part of Europe. It was nice to see the changes, but also a few familiar places.