by Bob Sparrow
Day 1 – History is rampant with examples of people struggling to get out of Russia; ironically this journey begins with a struggle to get in. The day before we are scheduled to start our Baltic vacation, I discover that Linda and my passports expire Feb 5, 2016, which at the time we booked this trip seemed like the next millennium. It did, in fact, cover the extent of our stay, however, unlike other Baltic countries, which require traveler’s passports to have at least three months before they expire, Russia requires six. To my horror, I discover that we’re two weeks and a couple of rubles short of six months. The stressful exercises I went through for the next 24 hours are too long and painful to recount; suffice it to say that they included, but were not limited to: a) talking to all the ‘express’ passport renewal companies that are only too willing to charge exorbitant prices to take advantage of distressed travelers like us, b) sending pleading emails to ambassadors at the Russian, American and Denmark Embassies, c) asking our cruise line if there was some sort of ‘work-around’, and d) calling our St. Petersburg tour company and begging and pleading for a remedy to my stupidity. As it turns out they did say they might be able to help us get into Russia, but as for my stupidity, they said they couldn’t help me with that. Clearly it was the wrong day to quit my crack cocaine habit!
As of this writing, while we are still in Copenhagen, we’ve been told by our Russian tour company, Alla, that our tour tickets will act as a temporary visa and will get us into St. Petersburg. Praise be to Alla.
This next event comes under the heading of ‘It’s a Small World After All’. After arriving in Copenhagen and resting up from hours of sitting, which seems like an oxymoron, and meeting up with our travel partners, the Budds, the VanBoxmeers (heretofore to be referred to as the ‘Boxes’ and the Billhams, we have an enjoyable walk through and dinner in ‘Old Town’ Copenhagen and are heading back to our hotel, when, on a crowded sidewalk in this foreign city that is 5,590 miles from home, we run smack into good friends, Mark & Barbara Houston, who, along with other friends Denise & Shirley Despie have just completed the same tour we are about to begin. We spend the next several hours in our hotel bar grilling them about their trip.
Day 2 – The forecast was for rain, but we had beautiful weather in the low 70s; our itinerary for the day reads like a Rick Steves ‘Copenhagen in a Day’ Guide Book – we visit the shops and restaurants of Old Town, take a canal cruise (see the Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid sculpture from the back), see the royal family palace, see the capital building,
take a Segway tour (see the Little Mermaid from the front), see a military fort, administer First Aid to the three who fell off their Segways, have a beer, go to dinner in a quaint Old Town restaurant, then finish with an evening stroll through Tivoli Gardens. Throughout it all, as all our tour guides spoke 3-4 languages, we were reminded of how lazy we Americans are by not even learning our own language so good
. . . er, well.
Tomorrow: Baltic Cruizin’ Day 3-4 On Board & Berlin