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Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

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  #1  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 12:13 PM
Phishface Phishface is offline
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Default What is unique to see about each Scandinavian capital?

We are considering a cruise that hits all 4 Scandinavian capitols. I'm looking at the excursions and it's hard to tell the difference! I'm wondering what is unique about each capital? For example, I have found glass factories in both Oslo and Copenhagen (and posted on this already), but I can't decide which one makes sense. And all the Scandinavian ports seem to have a (modern) Scandinavian architecture tour, beautiful old churches, interesting government buildings, walking tours, bus tours, boat tours, bike tours, and a host of interesting museums. I can't tell which of these things makes sense to focus on in each capital. For example, in which of these 4 ports does it make most sense to take the boat tour.

Some of the things that would help me to distinguish would be to know which capital is the prettiest? Which has the best nature? Which has the best Scandinavian architecture that we should tour? Which has the best "must see" old churches? Which has the best shopping? And my husband will want to know which has the best government buildings to see and which has the most interesting museums?

Thanks in advance for your help!
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  #2  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 12:28 PM
dbh62ark dbh62ark is offline
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These are good questions but a little overwhelming to address in one post. I would suggest that you use the search feature on these boards to read about your ports. There are more than 4 Scandinavian capitals, so can you help us help you by listing your ports?

As a start, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm is one of the most visited attractions in Scandinavia. In that same area, Skansen is just a delightful place to visit. I loved visiting Tivoli at night in Copenhagen (twice).

There are many shopping threads on these boards with tips for buying Amber and other goods. Is there anything in particular that you're looking for?

Yes, there are a lot of similarities in attractions in Scandinavia. We visited the resistance museums in Copenhagan and in Oslo. They are similar but yet very different. We really need some additional information on the options you are considering to be able to assist.

Donna
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  #3  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 01:45 PM
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There are more than 4 Scandinavian capitals, so can you help us help you by listing your ports?
I think I mispoke or perhaps should say that I think you're saying that you're considering visiting Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Helsinki on your cruise, but there are other capitols on the Baltics itinerary such as Berlin, etc. So a list of your ports would be helpful in gathering the information that you need, but information on all of the port options other than some that are infrequently visited such as Helsinborg are available on this site.

Donna
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  #4  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 02:02 PM
Phishface Phishface is offline
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Default Yes, dbh62ark it's Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Helsinki .

As for shopping, I tend to like unique arts and crafts specific to that region (like in Russia I would shop for the nesting dolls). I don't have many more specifics than that but I still would appreciate any more general advice you or anyone else has on the topic! Thanks!
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  #5  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 02:28 PM
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I'd strongly recommend purchasing (or checking out from the library) a good guide book like Rick Steves' Scandinavia. Read a bit about each location and you can decide for yourself what you think are the highlights - that's such a subjective opinion for people. Then you can ask specific questions of opinions between this and that, rather than such an open-ended question. You're much more likely to get the type of answers you want then.
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 05:50 PM
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If you are looking for unique, there is nothing quite like Christiana in Copenhagen. Rick Steves rates this as a three star and after seeing tons of palaces and museums in the other places, my family really enjoyed going to the free wheeling spirit and culture of Christiana.
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  #7  
Old July 2nd, 2007, 06:26 PM
ollienbertsmum ollienbertsmum is offline
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cd

I am with a party of teenagers. I cannot get them to commit to anything when it comes to places to visit. I ignored Christiana as being totally inappropriate. I thought we might just view from a canal cruise. Never let it be said that I am not willing to listen.

Can you please give a bit more detail about what visiting Christiana would be like. Sort of in teenage talk 'What is the point?/Will it be worth getting out of bed?'
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  #8  
Old July 3rd, 2007, 08:12 AM
screwcork screwcork is offline
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Originally Posted by Phishface View Post
We are considering a cruise that hits all 4 Scandinavian capitols. I'm looking at the excursions and it's hard to tell the difference! I'm wondering what is unique about each capital? For example, I have found glass factories in both Oslo and Copenhagen (and posted on this already), but I can't decide which one makes sense. And all the Scandinavian ports seem to have a (modern) Scandinavian architecture tour, beautiful old churches, interesting government buildings, walking tours, bus tours, boat tours, bike tours, and a host of interesting museums. I can't tell which of these things makes sense to focus on in each capital. For example, in which of these 4 ports does it make most sense to take the boat tour.

Some of the things that would help me to distinguish would be to know which capital is the prettiest? Which has the best nature? Which has the best Scandinavian architecture that we should tour? Which has the best "must see" old churches? Which has the best shopping? And my husband will want to know which has the best government buildings to see and which has the most interesting museums?

Thanks in advance for your help!
I live in Oslo and I would recommend Folkemuseet at Bygdøy for visting an authentic stave church. In the same area (Bygdøy) you can also see the Viking Ship museum and the Kon-Tiki museum (and a nudist beach!)

In addition, I would visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Frognerseteren with their beautiful views.

Frognerparken with the Vigeland sculptures is also a must!

Good luck


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  #9  
Old July 5th, 2007, 12:29 PM
dbh62ark dbh62ark is offline
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Originally Posted by Phishface View Post
As for shopping, I tend to like unique arts and crafts specific to that region (like in Russia I would shop for the nesting dolls). I don't have many more specifics than that but I still would appreciate any more general advice you or anyone else has on the topic! Thanks!
I cruised the Baltics in 2003 and 2005, and the nesting dolls are available at every turn. So I decided to look before I bought (which is usually not my practice traveling in Europe because a lot of passengers leave wishing they had bought something that they saw). We last toured in St. Petersburg with Denrus, and they took us to some wonderful stores. I toured with Red October in 2003 and can tell you that the Red October stores do not offer the selection that we were offered in visiting various stores with Denrus, and the RO store prices are not as good. You will see prices ranging from $8 U.S. to over $500. After you look, you will be able to note the difference in the quality of the painting as well as the number of pieces (as low as 4 dolls to stack to over 30), and this is the basis of the price. The large set that I bought ($150) features scenes of St. Petersburg. These dolls are available in every color under the sun—the ones that feature the St. Petes city colors of cobalt blue and white are very popular—and also range in design style. Another popular set shows George W. Bush on the outside, second doll is Clinton, third doll is Daddy Bush, fourth doll is Ronald Reagan, etc.

I thought the small wood lacquer boxes that are painted with various Russian scenes were very nice. I bought one that was a thin sheet of mother of pearl on the top of the box with a scene painted on it in Tallinn. And then I was so surprised and pleased when my St. Petes tour group (25 in 3 vans with separate drivers and guides) gave me another one, so I treasure that one.

One of the things that I bought that I really like is an Amber ship. The one that I bought is small (approx 2” high), and even the sails are made of Amber. Mine has different colors of Amber, but some other designs were all one color. These also range in price from approx $40 U.S. and up. The Amber jewelry is very nice, but you’ll also see Amber cats, dogs, boxes, etc. etc. etc. If you like design like I do, you’ll enjoy seeing all the ways that Amber is used to make mementos for tourists.

My best shopping tip (as based on the feedback from family and friends who went to Russia after we did) is to carry U.S. cash with you. We last sailed the Baltics in 2005, but I doubt the situation has changed much in the last two years (the exchange rate was approx $1.25 dollars for a Euro in 2005, and the dollar is approx 5 – 10% weaker now). In many shops, the prices were marked in Euros. We were offered a deal to pay the Euro price in U.S. dollars, so that’s a savings of approx 30%. And if you spend over $100 U.S., you (or your guide) should ask for and receive a 10% discount.

One of the stores that we shopped is http://www.onegin-gallery.com/catalog/index.php, so you can look at that for a preview. I’m sure a Google search will link to a lot of other sources to preview shopping in Russia.

If you stop to shop at the market by the Church on the Spilled Blood, be wary of pickpockets. I was in one group that had been warned and still had one passenger who was pickpocketed (but only $20 U.S.). This is a good place to shop for low prices, but be aware.

As suggested by another board member, I think reading a guide book would benefit you so that you can narrow your options. I’m not a big fan of Rick Steves and liked the Frommers book a lot better (http://www.amazon.com/Frommers-Scand...648709&sr=8-1), but any guide book will help you at this stage. You can use the guide or Google to find web sites for places that you’d like to visit.

Happy planning,
Donna
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  #10  
Old July 5th, 2007, 01:52 PM
ontheweb ontheweb is offline
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Originally Posted by screwcork View Post
I live in Oslo and I would recommend Folkemuseet at Bygdøy for visting an authentic stave church. In the same area (Bygdøy) you can also see the Viking Ship museum and the Kon-Tiki museum (and a nudist beach!)

In addition, I would visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Frognerseteren with their beautiful views.

Frognerparken with the Vigeland sculptures is also a must!

Good luck


Screwcork
As an Oslo native, could you answer a question for my wife and me? how far is the Munch Museum from these other attractions, and what is the best way to get there? We would be interested in seeing at least the Viking Museum and the sculpture Park iin addition to the Munch Museum
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  #11  
Old July 5th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dbh62ark View Post
I cruised the Baltics in 2003 and 2005, and the nesting dolls are available at every turn. So I decided to look before I bought (which is usually not my practice traveling in Europe because a lot of passengers leave wishing they had bought something that they saw). We last toured in St. Petersburg with Denrus, and they took us to some wonderful stores. I toured with Red October in 2003 and can tell you that the Red October stores do not offer the selection that we were offered in visiting various stores with Denrus, and the RO store prices are not as good. You will see prices ranging from $8 U.S. to over $500. After you look, you will be able to note the difference in the quality of the painting as well as the number of pieces (as low as 4 dolls to stack to over 30), and this is the basis of the price. The large set that I bought ($150) features scenes of St. Petersburg. These dolls are available in every color under the sun—the ones that feature the St. Petes city colors of cobalt blue and white are very popular—and also range in design style. Another popular set shows George W. Bush on the outside, second doll is Clinton, third doll is Daddy Bush, fourth doll is Ronald Reagan, etc.

I thought the small wood lacquer boxes that are painted with various Russian scenes were very nice. I bought one that was a thin sheet of mother of pearl on the top of the box with a scene painted on it in Tallinn. And then I was so surprised and pleased when my St. Petes tour group (25 in 3 vans with separate drivers and guides) gave me another one, so I treasure that one.

One of the things that I bought that I really like is an Amber ship. The one that I bought is small (approx 2” high), and even the sails are made of Amber. Mine has different colors of Amber, but some other designs were all one color. These also range in price from approx $40 U.S. and up. The Amber jewelry is very nice, but you’ll also see Amber cats, dogs, boxes, etc. etc. etc. If you like design like I do, you’ll enjoy seeing all the ways that Amber is used to make mementos for tourists.

My best shopping tip (as based on the feedback from family and friends who went to Russia after we did) is to carry U.S. cash with you. We last sailed the Baltics in 2005, but I doubt the situation has changed much in the last two years (the exchange rate was approx $1.25 dollars for a Euro in 2005, and the dollar is approx 5 – 10% weaker now). In many shops, the prices were marked in Euros. We were offered a deal to pay the Euro price in U.S. dollars, so that’s a savings of approx 30%. And if you spend over $100 U.S., you (or your guide) should ask for and receive a 10% discount.

One of the stores that we shopped is http://www.onegin-gallery.com/catalog/index.php, so you can look at that for a preview. I’m sure a Google search will link to a lot of other sources to preview shopping in Russia.

If you stop to shop at the market by the Church on the Spilled Blood, be wary of pickpockets. I was in one group that had been warned and still had one passenger who was pickpocketed (but only $20 U.S.). This is a good place to shop for low prices, but be aware.

As suggested by another board member, I think reading a guide book would benefit you so that you can narrow your options. I’m not a big fan of Rick Steves and liked the Frommers book a lot better (http://www.amazon.com/Frommers-Scand...648709&sr=8-1), but any guide book will help you at this stage. You can use the guide or Google to find web sites for places that you’d like to visit.

Happy planning,
Donna
Thanks for all the great tips, Donna! I got a lot of info from your post.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 04:04 PM
zeitgeist zeitgeist is offline
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Can you please give a bit more detail about what visiting Christiana would be like.

Well, if you have read T.C. Boyle's "Drop City" you have an idea of the place.

When I spent my youth in Denmark, Christiania was THE place to buy cannabis.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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Thanks for all the great tips, Donna! I got a lot of info from your post.
You're welcome. I see that you are leaving soon, so I hope you have a great cruise and happy shopping!

Donna
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Old July 5th, 2007, 05:47 PM
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You're welcome. I see that you are leaving soon, so I hope you have a great cruise and happy shopping!

Donna
Hi Donna, thanks for the tips they will be very useful. A question for you - how best to deal with the currency. Did you take currency for each country/euros /dollars. We are undecided what to do. We thought that we may get a small amount for each and then use ATM's. What would you suggest?
Thanks Sue
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Old July 5th, 2007, 06:45 PM
ollienbertsmum ollienbertsmum is offline
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Can you please give a bit more detail about what visiting Christiana would be like.

Well, if you have read T.C. Boyle's "Drop City" you have an idea of the place.

When I spent my youth in Denmark, Christiania was THE place to buy cannabis.
Which is why I was wondering about the recommendation of Christiana as a family visit. I am quite broad minded, but I want all my kids' souvenirs to get through the security checks.

Any one comment?
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Voyager of the Seas July 2006 Western Med 2292
Jewel of the Seas July 2007 Baltic -cant remember the stateroom, I just remember that we had a brilliant time!
Adventure of the Seas July 2010 Western Med 7289
Liberty of the Seas July 2011 Western Med 7331 and 7329
Adventure of the Seas July 2012 Western Med (they just get better) 6616
Norwegian Epic July 2013 - Western Med well at least we are going on a different line this time

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Old July 5th, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Hi Donna, thanks for the tips they will be very useful. A question for you - how best to deal with the currency. Did you take currency for each country/euros /dollars. We are undecided what to do. We thought that we may get a small amount for each and then use ATM's. What would you suggest?
Thanks Sue
I'm planning on using ATMs (did I mention this on the roll call board?). If I can find the money left over from prior trips to Norway, I'll bring that with me.

In Russia, I have heard many people say they will take clean U.S. currency; I suspect they'd do the same for sterling.
--David
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Old July 5th, 2007, 09:37 PM
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Well, my wife and I took my teenage daughters to Christiana. They were well aware that this is an open drug (only marijuana) culture community; it is like going back to the 70's and looking at the old hippie communes.

Is this inappropriate? Not for my kids...we talked about choices in life and how people choose to live. Trust me...your kids are either surrounded by this currently or they will be surrounded by this in the near future. My wife and I do not participate in the life style but grew up in the 70's and we talked about the choices that we made.

The community is interesting and completely different than any place that we have visited before, either in Europe or the USA. There were obviously people going into purchase cannabis and there was visible use of the drug. We did not feel threatened by the open sales and we were not pressured to buy; for the most part, we were ignored even though it was apparent that we were tourists.

The people were as friendly as anywhere else in Copenhagen and this was the most fun part of our tour of the city. I suppose that some would say that you should not go as that would be in sense condoning the use of drugs... that was hardly the case for us as it showed our girls that their living standards were less than seen elsewhere in Copenhagen. Any opportunity to discuss the choices of drug vs. no drug use is okay with me.
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  #18  
Old July 9th, 2007, 02:25 AM
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As an Oslo native, could you answer a question for my wife and me? how far is the Munch Museum from these other attractions, and what is the best way to get there? We would be interested in seeing at least the Viking Museum and the sculpture Park iin addition to the Munch Museum
Hi,

To the Munch Museum you can use the Metro (T-bane) to Tøyen Station.

From the sculpture park (Vigelandsparken) you can take the Metro from Majorstua Station directly to Tøyen. From Bygdøy (Viking Ship Museum) you have to change (from bus) in the city center (Nasjonalteatret).

Good luck!

Screwcork
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Old July 9th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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Hi,

To the Munch Museum you can use the Metro (T-bane) to Tøyen Station.

From the sculpture park (Vigelandsparken) you can take the Metro from Majorstua Station directly to Tøyen. From Bygdøy (Viking Ship Museum) you have to change (from bus) in the city center (Nasjonalteatret).

Good luck!

Screwcork
Thank you.

One month from today we will be flying to Copenhagen. Oslo will be our first port on the Star Princess. I'm about to print those directions so we will have them in Oslo.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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Hi Donna, thanks for the tips they will be very useful. A question for you - how best to deal with the currency. Did you take currency for each country/euros /dollars. We are undecided what to do. We thought that we may get a small amount for each and then use ATM's. What would you suggest?
Thanks Sue
Yes, we got a small amount (equivalent of $40 - $50 U.S.) from our bank for each currency prior to the sailing. We did this on both of our Baltics sailings because we noted that some of the ship's docks did not have ATMs located close by when we sailed the first time. We did pay extra to have currency on hand, but this was very useful to us because we did independent sightseeing in each port other than St. Petersburg (I recommend a private tour in Russia and prefer Denrus). Even though most sites such as the Vasa, Tivoli, etc. took credit cards--and the taxi drivers in Copenhagen do too!--we needed small amounts of currency for ferry rides and other public transportation. And although it's a pain because there are so many currencies on this trip (and the Med was like that several years ago before the Euro conversion), we did need local currency in all of the ports other than Tallinn. The only currency that we could not obtain in advance was the Tallinn currency, and we used Euros in that port. We paid as much as possible (museums, etc.) using credit cards early in the day and kept an eye on our cash situation; near the end of the day, we began spending the remaining currency for that country. Most of the docks in the Baltics ports have shops, so you can spend the remaining small amount of currency there too. We paid a price in dollars to obtain this currency in advance, but time in $$ while in port. This is what worked best for us, and I'm glad we didn't have to spend time searching for ATMs upon arrival in port because we kept a very busy schedule in the Baltics.

Have a great trip,
Donna
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