by Bob Sparrow
Home at last after 13 fun-filled days – OK, maybe only 11 were fun-filled; the getting there and coming home weren’t that filled with fun. But the fun included traveling with three most enjoyable couples (Billhams, Budds and VanBoxmeers),
John & Mary at Peterhof, Russia
Jack & JJ in Tallinn, Estonia
John & Judy in Copenhagen
visiting six very interesting and diverse countries, ‘sneaking’ into Russia, cruising on a great ship with so many restaurants that we couldn’t get to them all, imbibing on the ‘Unlimited Drink Package’ and of course, meeting up with our former Finish au pair, Mira in Helsinki.
Photo of the ‘No Photos’ sign at Russian customs
We enjoyed such a variety of experiences, from our two pre-cruise days in Copenhagen, to the sobering experience of visiting a concentration camp in Germany, to the antiquity of Tallinn, Estonia, to the historical grandeur of St. Petersburg and the pristine waterfront cities of Helsinki and Stockholm.
But if you’re planning a Baltic cruise in the near future, I’ve asked my travel mates to help me put together a list of ‘Don’t and Dos’ to help make your trip more enjoyable. Here you go . . .
Don’t: Bring your workout clothes
Do: Buy and bring clothes a couple of sizes larger; you’re going to gain weight
Me getting an up-close look at a cannon in Finland
Don’t: Go to the public WC (Water Closet)(bathroom) in Estonia – it cost me 2 Euros Do: Go in Stockholm, it’s free (if you can hold it that long)
Don’t: Expect the Russians to understand anything you say
Do: Understand that they started learning English in the first grade; they just don’t want to give you the satisfaction of knowing that they learned our language. Yes, the old Cold War is heating up.
Don’t: Fret over what you should drink next or what it will cost
Do: Get the ‘Unlimited Drink Package’ and try everything
Don’t: Get Tatiana, the Alla Tour guide, for St. Petersburg, she walks and talks too fast
Do: Get Slava, who took our friends the Houstons and Despies to the top vodka bars in St. Petersburg
Don’t: Be an ugly American
Do: When you’re going to do something rude or stupid, say your ‘outs’ and ‘abouts’ funny and tell them you’re from Canada
Mira and Dana circa 1985
Finally, a couple of THANK YOUS . . .
Thanks to Suzanne for editing and putting photos in my blogs. Because she was in Nipomo and away from her computer, she had to use her iPad to laboriously insert photos into my blogs; I thus limited the blogs to one picture, which is why I’ve included some more here.
Thanks to Louise at Alla Tours, who, when I was apoplectic about getting my passport Russian-ready, made multiple calls and ultimately assured me that I was good to go.
I really love to travel AND I really love getting home, albeit with a pocket full of change in rubles, krona and Euros. Oh well, great ball markers for golf.
Hope you enjoyed the trip.