The six of us left for Denmark on June 26 on the direct flight to Copenhagen. Had fantastic weather while we walked about town trying to stay up until it got at least a little bit darker. Walked through Tivoli and enjoyed sharwarma on “Strøget” before we took the Metro back to the hotel. Slept well and was ready to meet John’s mom in Tivoli for lunch the day after. Had a great lunch at Cafe Ultimo and it was good for the girls to finally meet that side of John’s family.
Friday evening was the day before John turned 40 (again…) and we celebrated it together with 30 other people at “Grøften” in Tivoli. Great times and it was good to see so many of our friends. Thanks to all that showed up! We eventually got kicked out around midnight and we were all very tired on the train ride back to the airport.
Left for Stockholm on June 29 and the group mushroomed into 20 people in just a few hours. Some left for their room, some for an early dinner, while Olivia and John snug away to celebrate a bit of birthday on their own.
We had a great guide from “Stockholm our way” taking us around the Swedish capital and we spent most of June 30 sightseeing. We visited the city hall, the old town, Djurgaarden, and of course Vasa – or the remains.
We boarded the Seven Seas Voyager on July 1 and set “sails” for Helsinki. Walked into town and saw the Lutheran Cathedral, the Uspenski Cathedral and the very impressive Rock Church. Still don’t understand much of what they say, but beautiful harbor front and once again the weather showed a very nice side of itself.
The longest stop on the trip was St. Petersburg – we stayed a total of three days, and as none of held Russian visas, we had to stay with the pre-arranged tours. St. Petersburg is an amazing place and the art collection and palaces are well worth a visit. John and Olivia had signed up for a Metro trip into the city and got to walk a bit around on the last day. First land-based cafe latte in days. Good stuff!
Tallinn was one of the biggest surprises of the trip. Very charming city and all had a great time in the old town. Some went walking – some took the mountain bike tour. We were there on a Saturday and really enjoyed the old stalls. Only John made it up in the church tower; which for many years were the tallest structure in the world. We passed the beautiful monument for the 852 people who died on September 28, 1994 when the Estonia ferry catastrophe happened.
We arrived in Riga the day after together with about 5,000 singers from all over Latvia and found ourselves in the middle of an event that only happens every five years. All the beautiful costumes and flowers really lit up the city and it was amazing to hear the choirs sing and celebrate mid-summer. Riga itself was very charming and we were once more very lucky with the weather.
Gdansk was next on the list and with that a visit to a WWII concentration camp (Stuffhoff). Always a very somber experience but good for the kids to see. We spent a few hours in Gdansk itself and got to see St. Mary’s Church which can hold 25,000 people, and also got to see some of the shipyard sites where the Lech Walesa and many others changed Poland forever.
Short stop in Rønne which is the main city on Bornholm – an island belonging to Denmark. Not too much to see as the stop was relatively short by we found hotdogs, ice cream and beer. Walked the streets and bought some pottery – it’s the thing to do. The island is nicknamed “The Sunshine Island” and although the fog started rolling in just before takeoff, the morning was gorgeous.
From Bornholm to Warnemunde where we quickly jumped in a bus and drove to Berlin. We had only six hours there and they quickly disappeared by the time we have seen the Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie and large sections of The Wall. Mixed success with the lunches but Haribo candy was a complete hit both coming and going.
We were back in Copenhagen July 11 and got picked up in a tiny bus that had no room for our luggage. But we made the best of it, and got dropped in the middle of Copenhagen. Made it up the Round Tower before rickshaws picked us up and took us sightseeing. Great lunch in the King’s Garden that was organized but Shout.dk. The kids loved being back on the shore and ran around until the very last minutes of the day. The first evening ended at Stick’n’Sushi.
Day two took us to Frederiksborg Castle – stunning and using funds from Carlsberg, the castle has been beautifully restored after a fire destroyed large parts of it. We had lunch at Restaurant Sletten in a small Danish harbor and gave everyone the afternoon off to relax or do a bit of shopping. We were lucky to get a private room at Cafe Ultimo for our last dinner together, and most of us stayed in Tivoli until the very end. Many left for San Francisco the following morning while the other half stayed behind for a few more days.
We so appreciate Adrian and Penny’s generosity and feel incredibly lucky that they let us experience the world together as a group.
Congratulations on making it to the end. There are pictures here.