Poetry of the Baltics 2019

We flew with Qatar Airways through to Doha where we had a stopover of 2 nights enjoying the sights of this pristine city. We enjoyed a comprehensive city tour with some of the highlights including a visit to the Museum of Islamic Arts as well as the markets at Souq Waqif. We then flew to Berlin for another couple of days arriving in the late afternoon. What an amazing city.

Our first full day here, we enjoyed a day tour to the nearby city of Potsdam where we went through the Sanssouci Palace and gardens. On our return to Berlin, to our delight, there was a Vintage Car event right outside our hotel and we spent a few hours walking around and looking at the cars – quite a festival atmosphere. Our second and final day here we explored the city at our own leisure using the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses to see the iconic sites including the Brandenburg Gate. We then flew to Copenhagen in the early evening.

The next day we embarked our cruise ship – Regal Princess – to start our 10-day Baltic cruise.  During the cruise, we visited Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Germany and Norway.  We did a mix of shore excursions organised by Princess as well as our own independent sightseeing.  While in Stockholm we visited the amazing Vasa Museum (almost intact 17th century warship that sank in the harbour on her maiden voyage) as well as the ABBA Museum. 

In Helsinki we walked around the harbour and enjoyed an outdoor market with amazing food and a wide variety of local artisan goods.  The highlight for us all was our time in Russia. We docked in St Petersburg for 2 nights.  Some of the group travelled by fast train to Moscow and toured the Kremlin and Red Square, while the rest of the group had a private tour of the city and also visited Catherine’s Palace (Summer Palace) at Peterhof.  The second day in St Petersburg we travelled together for a tour the Hermitage followed by a walking tour of the city.  The next major highlight of our tour was the next port of Tallin in Estonia. 

Touring the gorgeous and charming old city, walking the cobblestone roads and footpaths is so enjoyable.  Another amazing experience was at our last port – Oslo.  Here we had a walking tour through the Vigeland Sculpture Park – an amazing collection of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, an Oslo artist in residence who sculpted thousands of artworks in different media. 

He did all his sculptures of naked people as he felt clothing would date the artworks.  We returned to Copenhagen at the end of the cruise where we spent another couple of days.  We visited Tivoli Gardens and also enjoyed our farewell dinner enjoying traditional fare.  We flew back home to NZ with just a transit stop in Doha.

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