What I’m Looking Forward to the Most on My Northern European Cruise
I’ve dropped slight mentions here and there but I’m thrilled to say that this summer I’m going on my second European cruise, this time to Northern Europe. My cruise to Norway was one of my favorite trips ever (second only to Peru) but a main reason why I loved it so was that it gave me a chance to explore a country in Europe that had never really been on my travel radar before. Not only that, traveling via cruise also made it possible to visit numerous places in one country, a rarity when I travel to Europe since typically I am based in just one city.
My Northern European cruise will have me leaving from one of my top five favorite European capitals of Copenhagen. I’ll have a little time both before and after the cruise which I plan to make the most of. The cruise itself will take me to four new countries-Estonia, Russia, Sweden, and Finland. Here are the things I’m looking forward to seeing and doing the most in each of the four ports.
Quelle surprise-I’ve signed up for a food tour! Since I know next to nothing about Estonian food, I thought the Estonian capital seemed like the perfect place for a well-rounded education. I’ve read that Tallinn is rather small and compact, especially its historic area, so on a food tour I’ll not only get the opportunity to eat, but also to walk amongst its medieval cobblestone streets. I’m hoping if there’s time post-food tour to delve into the country’s Communist past because for nearly half a century it was under Russian Communist rule. There’s actually a KGB museum located in a real hotel (the Viru) that houses KGB artifacts from the Soviet occupation. Regardless, I know Tallinn will most likely be one of the prettiest and most charming areas I have ever visited.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Okay, current political climate aside, this is the port I am looking forward to the most (no pressure or anything, St. Petersburg). As far back as I can remember, I have always been positively enchanted by Russia’s Czarist history, and most especially the Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, but more commonly referred to as the “Lost Princess.” From what I’ve read St. Petersburg has always had a more “European” feel to it as opposed to the capital of Moscow, which is further east. But that was Peter the Great’s intention when he founded it in the early 18th century; he wanted a city to rival any of those in Europe. Unfortunately, travelers without visas to Russia (those arriving and departing via cruise ship aren’t required to get one) can’t wander on their own, so I won’t have as much time as I would like but I hope to be able to visit Peterhof Palace, known as the Russian Versailles, the Hermitage (well, a small smattering of it since it’s massive beyond words), Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and of course, an authentic meal (although just between you and me, I’d be equally happy with a Georgian meal too). I already envision myself taking hundreds upon hundreds of photos here.
From the pictures I’ve seen Stockholm looks similar to Copenhagen, so I’m wondering if I’ll have the same affinity for it even though my time there will be much less. Stockholm is surrounded by countless canals (another city that’s been bestowed with the “Venice of the North” moniker) so I have no doubt I’ll be taking plenty of photos there. I’m most anxious to check out the Gamla stan, which is Stockholm’s old town and hope I can just wander its streets. I’ve also found a tour that takes you on the rooftops of Stockholm. That sounds out of this world incredible- talk about a bird’s eye view. And of course, the food halls. Stockholm has many, so it’s just a matter of choosing which one to visit.
Okay, I’m not going to lie. This is the port I have the least amount of interest in visiting but maybe that’s not such a bad thing in the sense that perhaps it will turn into an absolutely wonderful surprise. I’ve not finalized any plans for my time here but I know as a classical music lover, I’d like to visit the Sibelius Monument, the Helsinki Cathedral, and the Old Market Hall. I’m completely ignorant about Finnish food so if nothing else, I’d like to leave Helsinki knowing five foods Finns like to eat…besides fish and reindeer meat.
Needless to say this is one cruise I am anxiously looking forward to. I don’t by any means want to wish away summer and yet…No, I truly don’t. For now I just need to come up with the best port plans possible.