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:cool:..Good Afternoon, Summiteers...It looks like we have a new home...This time Gary didn't have to do it...LOL>>>>>Becki, enjoying your review and it sound like you and Jill and Gary are having fun planning the new cruise.:cool::cool:

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Hi there, Beau! Glad you are enjoying the review. More to come, so stay tuned. Yes, we are excited about returning to Cuba and overnighting there.

 

So, this is the second time we have been "consolidated". Wow, aren't we special? :D Nice of CC to do it for us this time, though. Of course, Gary has time on his hands, now, other than being the spelling police. ;p

 

Becki

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Today we are in Tallinn, Estonia. Estonia used to be part of the Soviet Union and is just a ferry ride away from Russia. We have an included walking tour here, but we have decided to take the "leisure" tour, which is part bus and part walking tour. Janet, who has had knee issues for quite some time, has recently been doing better, but all this walking is catching up with her, so she suggests switching to the leisure tour. I am ok with that, as I think it's best to conserve our energy for St. Petersburg, Russia, as that will be 2 jam-packed days, starting tomorrow.

 

We arrive in Tallinn at 7am, so we have an early breakfast and try to get on the early tour and have success. Tallinn has two distinctly different parts of town; Old Town and the new town. Old Town is really well maintained, with the older buildings from when they were part of the Soviet Union, and the onion-dome churches. There is a city wall that is still standing. It's a very pretty town. The new town is also very pretty with the cobblestone streets and shops, and of course, it wouldn't be a new town without McDonald's and Burger King.

 

This is a short day here, as we have to be back on board by 2:30, but we do stay in town after our tour is done and take the free shuttle back. That's one nice thing that Viking does; if the ship docks outside of town, they provide shuttles every half-hour for those who want to explore a town or even have a meal in town. So many cruise lines don't, and the passengers are left to pay out of pocket to take a taxi or other means into town.

 

Becki

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Hard to believe we got to over 5,000 posts. Welcome to our third home..........:D

 

I'll bet if Janet saw a sale nearby, she would find a way to get there fast...:eek:

 

It is nice that Viking let you spend more time in town and provide a way to get back to the ship.

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Oh yes, Jill. Janet doesn't let her aches and pains keep her from her shopping mission and if she hears passengers or crew talking about a good place to shop, she grills them on the spot. :D

 

She did get a pretty Tanzanite bracelet on the ship. I was looking at a ring and Garrett was all set to buy it for me for our anniversary, but it was loose about half a size. They don't do sizing on the ship, of course. Their home office is in Miami, so I would take the ring with me, having to pay duty on it, and send it insured to their home office and wait for them to send it back. Or, I coukd take it to nmy jeweler to have it sized, at my expense. They weren't willing to reduce the cost for the duty or the cost of the sizing, so we said no thanks.

 

Becki

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Glad I popped on. Here's to another 5000.

 

Becki enjoying the review.

 

Specking of shopping on vacation. I used to bring all the family something back. But then I stopped thinking do they really need a tee shirt with an island on it they haven't been to. Now I get some pens, and an ornament for the tree of the island if I haven't been there. And a ship ornament. If there is time before I need to head to the ship, I will window shop the stores as I enjoy a stroll around the shopping area.

Once in a while something catches my eye and I will get it.

 

Tomorrow we are going to the shore for the day. I think its going to rain tho. I say that because I can't remember a day this month it has not rained, weather all day or just a part of it. At least, it is keeping the temps down

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Hi, Grace!

We used to buy t-shirts for Garret to wear bicycling, but after a while he had too many. We would also buy for our nieces & nephews if we saw something neat, but then it got to be mostly t-shirts for them as we were hitting the same islands so much. Now that we are doing Europe we are finding new thing to get them.

 

Glad you are enjoying the review.

 

Hope you get some good weather for your time at the shore.

 

Becki

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And, now...the highlight of our cruise, St. Petersburg, Russia! I truly did not know what to expect from this port. Viking's tours seemed to be good, but not what I thought were comprehensive. I went to the port boards and so many people were talking up these private tours with 3 or 4 different tour companies. We had a pretty good roll call going and some of the people on the roll call were looking for people to add to their private tour to help bring the price down. So, I was seriously considering doing that. But, first, I had to broach the subject with Janet. On all the cruises we had done together, whenever I had mentioned doing an independent tour, she would tell me that she and Neil weren't comfortable with that, and I completely understood, as a lot of people aren't. I am choosey about when and where I will go with an independent tour company, whereas some people are comfortable just getting off the ship and negotiating with a taxi driver.

 

So, I am figuring, Janet and Neil will take Viking tours in St. Petersburg and we will join someone from our roll call. I sent Janet an email and said well, I was thinking we would go with an independent operator in St. Petersburg, as we could see a lot more in our 2 days that way and not have to worry about waiting for 40 people to get off the bus (or get back on), etc. You cannot imagine my surprise when Janet answered back with, "we would be good with that". HUH?! I had to ask her if she understood what I was planning, that's how sure I was that she was not agreeing to book this private tour. But, no, she did understand and I did the work of emailing back and forth with the company, TJ Travel, to make sure we were going to see what we wanted to. It was so easy to do. The only sticking point was that with the time change, if I emailed them something in the afternoon, I wouldn't hear back from them until the next day. But, that was a minor issue. All the companies have a standard 2-day tour they do for the cruise ship passengers, because that will allow these customers to see the highlights of St Petersburg in the time they have available. Also, when booking with the company, they arrange the visa required for touring in Russia, and that is a big deal. So, here is the schedule of our 2 days in St Petersburg:

 

 

 

Day1, Tuesday, 8 May

 

 

9:00 am Meetingby the ship.

 

 

9:00 - 11:00City tour in St Petersburg

 

 

11:00 -12:00 amInside visit of the Faberge Museum (with anaudio guide)

 

 

12:45-1:15pm Inside guided tour of the Church on Spilt Blood

 

 

1:30-2:15 pm Traditional Russian lunch

 

 

2:30-3:15 pmInside guided tour of the St Isaac’s Cathedral

 

 

3:30-4:00 pm Travel to Petergof by hydrofoil

 

 

4:00-5:00 pm Guided tour of the Fountain Park

 

 

5:00-6:00 pm Driving back to the city. Visit to asubway station

 

 

6:30 pm Return to the ship or evening optionalprogram

 

 

Day 2, Wednesday, 9May

 

 

8:00 am Meeting by the ship

 

 

8:30-9:30 am Boat ride along rivers and canals

 

 

9:30-10:30 am Driving to Tsars’ Village

 

 

10:30-12:00 pm Inside guided tour of the Catherine Palace with the Amber Room

 

 

12:00-1:00 pm Driving back tothe city

 

 

1:00-1:45 pmTraditional Russian lunch

 

 

2:00-3:15 pm Inside guidedtour of the Yusupov palace

 

 

3:30-4:30 pm Inside guidedtour of the St Peter and Paul Fortress. Paymentfor the tour. Shopping

 

 

5:00 pm Return to the ship

 

 

.I told you it would be jam-packed. And, you still have no idea. Traffic in Russia is insane! That's why you see that at a couple of points, they allowed an hour to "return to the city".

 

So, take that all in and I will break it down next.

 

Becki

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Hi, Grace!

We used to buy t-shirts for Garret to wear bicycling, but after a while he had too many. We would also buy for our nieces & nephews if we saw something neat, but then it got to be mostly t-shirts for them as we were hitting the same islands so much. Now that we are doing Europe we are finding new thing to get them.

 

Glad you are enjoying the review.

 

Hope you get some good weather for your time at the shore.

 

Becki

I used to buy T shirts, but now I've been getting key chains. They are smaller, cost less and easy to display.

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How do you display them, Jill? That sounds like a cute idea. I had an employee at Blue Cross who always wanted me to get her a magnet from where we traveled. It's funny, some people only want to collect what they actually find (I am like that about my shells) and others are just happy to add to their collection.

 

Becki

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I am not a happy camper. I had most of our first day written and went to check something and went to resume typing and got a message "CC not responding" and lost it all. :mad: So, I will try again, but if I lose it again, you will have to wait a day for me to resist the urge to throw my PC out the window. :evilsmile:

 

Alrighty! We dock in St Petersburg at 7AM. Neil wants to have breakfast in The Restaurant. Yes, it does open at 8AM, but we have to meet our guide at 9AM and it will probably take an hour to get served. So, Neil is overruled. But, he isn't terribly upset since I told him the best place on the ship to get coffee. He is an early riser and likes to go get a coffee, read the news on his phone (or a paper if there is one) and enjoy a pastry. Well, I paid attention when people were talking on CC about where to get the best coffee. There is coffee available 24/7 in the World Café, but most people think the Explorer's lounge bar is better. However, the majority say the bar in the "living room" on the 1st floor is best. You can get any type of coffee and it is no charge and they also have the best pastries in the morning and best cookies the rest of the day. Once he had their coffee, he was in heaven.

 

So, we have our breakfast in the World Café, then go to our cabins and get our bags. It is only supposed to be 57 today, so I wear my fleece and a sweater. I figure I can ditch the fleece if I get too warm. We have to go thru immigration both days, so have to present our passports and our tour tickets which will serve as our visas.

The immigration officers are none too friendly, but the process goes quickly and we soon see our guide holding up a sign with my name on it. Yay!

 

Our guide's name is Svetlana. She is a lovely young woman who speaks excellent English with only a slight accent. Our driver's name is Genaddy. He speaks a moderate amount of English, but understands more than he speaks. He has a good sense of humor and is an excellent driver. We have a new Mercedes van, so we are good to go.

 

Up first is a drive to and around the city to give us an idea of what it is like there. Like what I expected of Gdansk, I kind of expected St Petersburg to be rather depressing, but it was far from that. It is a very vibrant, modern city, with many businesses having offices there and the older buildings from the days of Peter the Great blending in with the new. Peter the Great was quite a visionary and what he wanted for his city was both splendor and culture. Although the palaces are quite grand, they did not seem garish as do many others we have seen in Europe.

 

Svetlana tells us what we are seeing as we cruise along the streets of the city. She asks if we would like to stop for photos. Yes, Please! Genaddy finds a place to let us jump out and goes to find a parking spot. We are at a promenade along the river. We are just across from a Russian sub, which Garrett is very excited to see, and there is also a Russian cruiser from WW!!. So, we snap some photos and then it is time to jump back in the car and resume our tour. Ah, but not before Janet makes a purchase. There are a few vendors on the promenade and she has made eye contact. Svetlana humors her, but she will soon learn that this is not a one-time thing. :p

 

So, now it is time to go to the Faberge Museum. This visit was one we asked to have as a substitute for the Hermitage. There were many people who were aghast that we weren't going to the Hermitage. The Hermitage is not only an art museum, it is a palace in its own right. So, you go for not just the art, but the building as well. But, Janet and I discussed this and I have heard about the Faberge eggs since I was very young and I was not going to miss the change to see them. She agreed. We had to have an audio tour here as Svetlana was not allowed to be our guide. That was ok, as we could go at our own pace. The eggs were spectacular! I was not sorry we had substituted them in place of the Hermitage. In addition to the Faberge eggs, there was also additional collections of enamelware that was just stunning.Each collection was in different colors. There would be little clocks in, say, aqua. And cigarette cases in pink. Just beautiful things. And, little lacquer boxes that were painted in such detail. And the building that housed this was so grand and beautiful as well.

 

Next is the Church on Spilled Blood.

 

Becki

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How do you display them, Jill? That sounds like a cute idea. I had an employee at Blue Cross who always wanted me to get her a magnet from where we traveled. It's funny, some people only want to collect what they actually find (I am like that about my shells) and others are just happy to add to their collection.

 

Becki

I have this board in the kitchen that has some wooden handles, so I hang some on there. It also has 3 wooden poles, kind of like the type you hang towels on, so I got some paperclips and bent them to hang over the poles. I would like to come up with something different, but it will do for now.

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Becki, too bad you lost your first post. It's hard enough to write one, but to have to do it again....:mad:

 

Sounds like you made a good choice with your private tour. So much better, to go where you want and to be able to ask questions, etc. The Faberge museum sounds so pretty. I love looking at the eggs.

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Jill,

 

There were a couple dozen of miniature eggs that were enameled and could be used as pendants. Some were decorated with jewels. Well, you can imagine how those have been reproduced and sell at the souvenir shops. Janet bought a few for her daughters.

 

Becki

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Jill,

 

There were a couple dozen of miniature eggs that were enameled and could be used as pendants. Some were decorated with jewels. Well, you can imagine how those have been reproduced and sell at the souvenir shops. Janet bought a few for her daughters.

 

Becki

Of course she did!!....:D

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:cool:..Good Evening, Summiteers...Becki, You surprised me, not going to the Hermitage museum. I have always wanted to see the Hermitage, However your Faberge Eggs collection sounds very interesting...:) I have a question for you, Since you have the most time of our group river cruising..Can you recommend one to us..We are thinking about going next May...Amsterdam to Paris looks like a good one, on Viking of course.:D..We collect the Magnets too...Cheap and easy to carry. I have also heard that St. Peterburg was beautiful..Did Garrett find any WW II museums to check out? There must have been a bunch there, with all the fighting that when on there....Keep up the Good work..:D

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Wow Becki your tour of St Petersburg sounds wonderful. I was surprised that you could do any shopping, as I thought you had to stick to the tour agenda no matter what. I suppose as long as your with the tour you can deviate? Just not on your own after it ends. Do I have that right?

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Grace, you are correct. As long as we were with our guide, we could do anything. In fact, on the second day, you will see that 'shopping' is built into the itinerary. :D But, Janet cannot control herself and so, accommodations must be made. :p

 

Becki

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Beau,

 

I looked at Viking's site and I cannot find an Amsterdam to Paris cruise. So, let me ask you; how many days do you want to cruise? Do you want to do an extension at the end or beginning of the cruise? I can tell you, it is not too early to book for May 2019, as there is already some limited availability on cabins for that time frame. What sort of things do you want to see on your cruise? Like, do you want to see major cities or charming villages? Do you want to see historical sights? Do you want to see castles, churches or WWII sites?

 

Give me an idea and I can give you some recommendations.

 

Becki

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Ok, so on with St Petersburg, day one. The Faberge Museum was a big hit. So now we are going to The Church on the Spilt Blood. Well, you may think this refers to Jesus. I know I did. But, noooo. The reference is to Emperor Alexander II. This church was built to honor his death by his son and is built on the spot where Alexander was killed. The church, or at least the onion domes, can be seen from most anywhere in St Petersburg. The exterior is quite striking, and it is hard to take a bad photo. But, the inside of the church is amazing. It is covered with mosaics and is just breathtaking. This is probably the most photographed place in St Petersburg.

 

Now it is time for lunch. We are having beef stroganoff for lunch today and it is very tasty. We are on one of the busiest streets of the city and it is a boulevard. Above the boulevard, cutouts of cranes are strung along the median. Svetlana tells us this is in recognition of their Victory Day which will be tomorrow, May 9. The Victory Day is to celebrate Russia's victory over Germany in WWII. The cranes symbolize those who have died, but whose spirits live on. It is very touching.

 

We are now going to visit another church, St Isaac's cathedral. There is a large square called St Isaac's Square, with other buildings at intervals, with the cathedral at one of those intervals. This cathedral is huge, and is quite elaborately decorated, without it being garish. There is a lot of gilt and paintings, but it is clear that the Christ takes center stage.

 

Now we are going to Peterhof, Peter the Great's summer home, by hydrofoil. This is nice. We get to see the city on both sides of the river and it is a nice, sunny day for it. We arrive at Peterhof and it is amazing. We walk a bit down a pathway and the summer palace comes into view and it is so grand! It is sitting high above ground level and there are fountains and gardens all around. We walk around the grounds and there are more statuary, fountains and gardens everywhere you look. So beautiful.

 

Soon it is time to return to our van, as our driver is waiting for us. We will have our final tour of the day at the subway station. St Petersburg is very proud of their subway and enjoys showing it off. And, so we will go to the station, go down to the platform and check out a train,and then come back up. We do not have time for a ride. The station we go in looks brand new. It is very nice and so is the escalator down to the platform, although it is a long ride down and it makes me nervous. The train also looks new, compared to the ones we rode in Paris, so I certainly wouldn't mind riding it. It was nice to see this.

 

But, our time is up for today. Svetlana tells us to be ready at 8am tomorrow, as we have a full day of sightseeing. We bid her goodbye and head inside. But, we enter the terminal where the shops are and Janet has to check out what they are offering. We leave her to her shopping and decide to meet for dinner at 6:30.

 

We could have chosen to have an evening option with Svetlana. They had prepared our visa with that option, just in case we decided to go to a folkloric show or the ballet or even out to dinner. But I figured we would be tired from our full day and needed to rest up for another full day tomorrow and Janet had agreed.

 

Day Two next.

 

Becki

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This morning is our second day in St Petersburg. Today is an early day. We are meeting Svetlana and Genaddy at 8am, so we are meeting in the World Café at 6:45. Many Viking tours are also leaving very early as well, so the World Café is not so crowded this morning.

 

We have to go thru passport control again and present today's tour tickets. This time is not as long and is that a smile I see on the agent's face? So, we go out into the lobby of the terminal and the shops are already open. We are a few minutes early for Svetlana, so we look for her and the van. We think we see her at one point and Neil and I go outside. But, it is a TJ Travel van, but not ours. So, we turn to go back in and we no more hit the lobby than an officer grabs Neil by the arm and starts shouting at us and pointing at the other door at the end of the corridor. Oh, I get it. We can only go out by the door we went out. The other door is staffed by former KGB or similar, and they only let us in if we show ship ID. So, we say, 'sorry', (well, I do. Neil still isn't sure what's happening)and start to go back out. But, the agent, realizing we now know what we did wrong, says, 'ok, next time' and lets us stay inside. Sheesh!

 

So, we are very glad when Svetlana comes in and says we are ready to go. Our first stop is a canal boat ride. It is a bit chilly this morning, but it is nice and sunny, so we are looking forward to our ride. As we drive toward our boat, we see along the sides of the road some military vehicles. They are lined up for the Victory Day parade! We all start snapping photos and we get some good ones. Janet is hoping we will be able to see some of the parade and Svetlana tells her, no. In fact, Genaddy will be doing his best to avoid it, as we don't want to get stuck in the traffic it will generate.

 

We board our canal boat and it goes right down the middle of town. So, we are getting a very nice perspective on the city we saw yesterday from the car. There is narration to tell us what we are seeing. It's a nice boat ride.

 

Next we are going to Catherine Palace. This is without a doubt the largest and most grand palace I have ever seen. It is huge. It has many dining rooms and a Grand Ballroom, but the most exciting room of all is the Amber Room, which is a room whose walls are covered completely in amber. It has to be seen to be appreciated. The palace was built and decorated in the baroque style, but later residents added their touches like neo-classical rooms. It certainly was beautiful.

 

After leaving the Palace, we drive back to the city for a typical Russian lunch. Today we are having borscht, which, for those who don't know, is beet soup. Everyone, it seems has their own recipe for borscht, but typically, it is topped with sour cream. It is very good, but then, I like beets. We also have a pork dish with mashed potatoes and a dessert. It is a good lunch.

 

After, we are going to the Yusopov Palace. Compared to Catharine Palace, this is a modest palace, but still very grand and luxurious, and belonging to nobles. It is famous for being the place where Rasputin, a questionable "mystic", who befriended the royal family of Tsar Nicolas, was murdered. One very interesting aspect of this mansion is the mini-theater on the lower level. It is outfitted as well as any theater and very beautifully. The Yusopovs would have musical artists perform or have plays put on in this theater.

 

From there we go to the St Peter and Paul Fortress. This was the original citadel of St Petersburg. It was built as a defense against Norway, whom the Russians attacked at one time. In addition to the St Peter cathedral, it also housed a garrison for prisoners. It rotated between housing Tsarists during the Bolshevik revolution to housing the Bolsheviks themselves. This was very interesting and the cathedral was beautiful.

 

And now we were done with our tour and all that remained was to pay. Svetlana had Genaddy take us to a shop where we met with one of the tour company's reps. She calculated our bills and we could pay in US $, euros or charge card. Both Janet and I opted to pay by charge card and give our tip in euros to both Svetlana and Genaddy. We had some time to shop for souvenirs there at the shop and they had some nice items, so I bought a couple of compacts with St Petersburg scenes on them for my niece and sister. Garrett wanted to get us a set of Matryoshka (the Russian nesting dolls). They have them in all price ranges; from $5 to $5000. We bought a small set that was hand-decorated, but only about $25. Janet went wild. :D While waiting for her, we sampled some vodka. Whew! Strong stuff!

 

So, we got back to the ship in plenty of time and said our goodbyes to Svetlana and Genaddy. They both gave us hugs, which was sweet. It was a memorable 2 days in St. Petersburg.

 

And on to Finland!

 

Becki

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Today we are in Helsinki, Finland. We arrive at 7am, but we have to be back on board by 3:30, so a somewhat short day. We have a combined bus/walking tour, so we have breakfast again in the World Café.

 

As we drive thru the city, I reflect on how unlike the U.S. Europe is. Whereas we will tear down older buildings to put up new ones, Europe will restore the old and make room for new as well.

 

Once outside of Helsinki, we drive to a lovely park, where we see an unusual sculpture among the trees. It is a monument to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and it is stunning. It is very large and meant to represent organ pipes. There are 600 steel pipes clustered at various heights and at one point attached to a boulder. Nearby, there is also a sculpture of the composer. It is more abstract, but also of steel. They look very attractive there in the woods, among the pines.

 

We drive back to the city and have a bit of a walking tour to orient ourselves to where we will find our way back to the ship if we wish to stay in town (we do!) ; how to walk back and where to get the shuttle back. Then we are on our own.

 

There is a market down in the square, which we passed on the bus, so we head there. We walk around a bit to see what they have. It is for both locals and tourists. There is produce, arts & crafts and food for sale. This is Janet's dream! :D Janet has seen some reindeer pelts for sale and she is bound to buy one. Neil is just as determined she won't. But, by the end of the market, Neil is carrying a bag with a very nice reindeer pelt. :')

And, that wasn't the end of her purchases. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but near where the reindeer pelts were, a lady was selling bracelets made from reindeer antlers. And, carved into them were different symbols. So, I got one of those for Amelia. She doesn't wear much jewelry, but I think she might like something "mystical" like that. And then, walking back down a different row, these ladies were selling fur earmuffs and scarves and things like that. Well, one of the scarves caught my eye because it was scarlet & gray- my OSU Bucks colors! So, Garrett thought I had to have it. And, it was made so cleverly. It drapes around the neck and then the one end goes under a rosette on the other end (which is all but invisible), and then you just pull it up against your neck. It is chinchilla and rabbit. So soft, I will probably pet the fur off before it wears out. :p

 

So, purchases made, we headed for the shuttle bus stop. We wanted to get back to get some lunch. The guys would have been happy to get some food at the market, like reindeer burgers, but no.

 

Becki

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Our last stop is Stockholm, Sweden. The captain has announced the evening before that the sailing into Stockholm will be quite scenic and if we would like to go out on the bow, starting about 6:30 am, there will be pastries and coffee and tea served. Wow, what a great idea. So, we set our alarm and meet up on the bow then. And, the captain is correct, the scenery is outstanding! So pretty. Some of the islands we pass are so little, with just a couple of houses on them. You have to wonder where they go for supplies?

 

When the crew starts bringing out the beverages and pastries, the people descend on them like they haven't had food in days. :eek: It was incredible. I just stood back in astonishment. They weren't even giving the poor guys a chance to put the trays down.

 

Then, some idiot thought it was a good idea to feed one of the sea gulls that appeared when the food did. Then she started screaming when it nearly landed on her shoulder looking for more. Uh, what did you expect, dummy? So, I went and covered up the pastries, and some man came up to me and asked if I was saving them for someone. Oh, please! I told him I was trying to keep the sea gulls (and their poop) off them. He just looked at me blankly and said, "well, can I have one?". I just walked away. When I looked over after he had helped himself, the plastic was off the pastries, of course. :rolleyes:

 

So, we had a combined bus/walking tour of Stockholm. We saw a lot of the city, but our guide was not so great this time and it was hard to know what we were seeing as we drove along. We were dropped near the Old Town and directed to where the shuttle pickup was and that was all. We had some Swedish Kroner and had to spend it, so I went with Janet to the first souvenir shop. It was a very nice shop. Lots of choices, at various price points. I mainly went in to get a Coke, but saw some things to get as gifts and spend my money. They had these nice tea towels packaged with a wooden spreader for very little, so I got 3 of those for my SIL, my niece and my nephew's wife. I also got some cute dishcloths for a friend that have Christmas themes on them.

And, lastly, a chocolate for my sister.

 

Now, the guys wanted a beer, so we let Neil pick the place. He is very particular about where he goes. So, once he decided on a place, we all went over. Then, he and Janet decided they wanted lunch. So, of course Garrett does too. I wasn't hungry but I told him to get something. He wanted to share something. No, get yourself something. OMG! Janet and Neil decided on this charcuterie plate (all different types of sliced meat). So, Garrett got that too. They did give us some bread too.

 

Then came time to head for the shuttle. Janet had to stop in another couple shops on the way. Then, Garrett wanted an ice cream. So, when we got to the shuttle stop, it was just pulling out. Janet blamed Neil. HUH? Then she blamed Garrett. Neil took it, but Garrett said he didn't suppose it had anything to do with her stopping in the souvenir shops on the way, and he laughed. So, she laughed. But, there wouldn't be another for 1/2 hour and there was nowhere to sit. You could see the ship, so Garrett asked if we could walk it. The Viking rep at the stop said yes, it was about 10 minutes. Janet said they weren't walking, which I already knew. But, we decided to go. Better than standing for 1/2 hr. Well, we did ok,until we got to the construction. The whole port area was under construction and we had to walk about an extra mile to get around it.

 

By the time we got to the ship, I could barely take one more step. Garrett felt so bad, but it wasn't his fault. So, we went to the room and got showers and I felt better and good thing because we had to pack. Bags had to be out by 10PM. Our bags were each a couple pounds under when we left, and there was room in the hard side carryon for souvenirs, so I felt pretty good about packing without stress. I did have to make a few adjustments to each of the large bags when I was done, but other than that, we were good to go by 10 pm. Good thing, because we had to be ready in the morning to leave the ship by 6:15am, to get to the airport for a 9:35am flight. If using Viking Air, they decide what time you will leave, they don't leave it up to you. So, we did not have time for breakfast, but were able to get juice and a pastry in the lounge before leaving.

 

Everyone on our bus was on our flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam. It was a KLM flight. I had tried to check in online on the ship, but was unable to. When we got to the airport, we tried checking in at a kiosk, but again, no luck, so had to join the very long line for customer service. It soon became evident that none of the kiosks were working and yet, there was only one rep to service about 60 people. Ridiculous! There was a second rep, but she was spending her time looking at peoples' info and trying herself to put it in the kiosk, refusing to believe the kiosks weren't working. Finally, she opened up a counter to actually service people.

 

When we arrived at Amsterdam, we quickly went to our gate, and found they were already boarding. Garrett decided he needed to go to the bathroom first and gave me his carryon to take with me. I went to get in line to board when I heard my name being called over the P. A. I went to the counter and they asked to see my passport. Then the woman said I had been "selected" for random security check at the gate. So, I would need to go have a seat and they would be with me in a moment. Well, isn't that delightful! So, I am sitting there as they are boarding and I am waiting not a moment but more like 20 minutes and where the heck is Garrett? He finally shows up and I wave to him and he comes over and I tell him what's going on. He says they told him he could go ahead and board but he's not going to until I can. But, I'm thinking, we will not have room for our bags by the time we board. Dammit! So, finally someone calls my name and she takes our carryons and sets them aside and then she has me take off my jacket and wands me and pats me down. Then she passes me off to a man who wipes down all my bags, inside and out, with explosive wipes. Then I have to take off my shoes so he can wipe them too. Then, finally, I can board.

 

When we get onboard, we have bulkhead emergency row seats and the flight attendant has saved the overhead bin for us. What a sweetheart! I tell him how much that means to us as I had to undergo the security at the gate. So, he has the jump seat right across from us and we talk with him until he has to get up and start service later. Such a nice guy.

 

We have no problem at customs this time and our friend is there to pick us up when we arrive. We get home with no issues, and we have the great memories of our Baltic cruise.

 

Becki

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:cool:......Good Evening, Summiteers.....Brava, Brava...Becki...Just a great Review...Did Janet disappear like our friends (not here) who cruise with us, to?..Just wondering...LOL>>>>That was a funny story about the donuts and the sea gulls...LOL>>>>Sounds like, you were able to get some great things and gifts...Did Janet have to buy another suitcase to get all her booty home?:D:D:D

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Thanks, Beau. No, Janet did not disappear, although she can occasionally get into a snit and not speak to us for hours. So petty, but we just do our own thing until she realizes we aren't going to beg her for her attention and then things are fine again.

No, this time no extra suitcase. One of the crew told her to just take the stuff in these boxes she got frm the ship to the airport at Stockholm and put them up with her luggage and they wouldn't charge her. I couldn't believe that, but when she got home, she was estatic. It did work. No charge for two boxes. Amazing.

 

Becki

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We're back! So Jill hasn't started her review yet so I'll do mine. Stayed overnight Saturday June 2 in Port Canaveral boarded the Oasis Sunday June 3rd. Spent 2 days at sea then visited St Martin, San Jaun, and Labadee. Spent another day at sea. Very relaxing no snit's just drunken stuper's. :D

 

THE END

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Welcome back, Gary! Glad you made it back, drunken stupors and all. :loudcry:

 

Becki

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Becki...wonderful review. Sounds like you had so much fun and saw a lot of stuff.

 

Can't wait for our Cuba trip....

 

Your story about the pastries reminded me of one cruise that had a lot of people who loved the curry dishes. The staff would put stuff out and it would be gone in 2 minutes. We sat close by and laughed at how quickly stuff would vanish. One guy we were sitting with would try to run up there, but it would be gone, so he would try again. He finally gave up.

 

Good for Garrett for not taking the blame for missing the shuttle.

 

Why is it that they always pick the least likely person to be bringing explosives on an airplane?

 

Thank you Gary for the very informative review....:D I will see what I can add to it.

 

Work has been busy. Being gone a week and stuff that only I can do (according to everyone in the office) was left for me, plus my doctor is seeing 31 to 35 people a day and the other 3 doctors are fully booked (for them) and I'm the only one checking them all out, plus doing some check in and dealing with all the crazies that come into the office that only know my name. So hopefully I can start the review soon, before I forget what we did.

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Jill,

 

I figured you would be buried when you came back. Sorry. Hope you had a good time at least. You only have 3 months to get caught up be fore our Cuba cruise so get snapping! :D

 

Becki

Sure am glad you're back!

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So Becki, you are saying if I start my review now, I should be done by Sept?...;p:cool:

 

At least they hired a new girl. She starts on June 25, but we don't see her until June 27 and then she is not really for us, but for our new doctors and trainees. Should be interesting and I hope this one stays longer than the last 2 at just 3 and 4 weeks each....:evilsmile:

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Ok...so I have a little time. Let's get this party started...............

 

Since we can't get into our hotel until around 3:00 PM, we decided to leave the house around 10:30. Well, that was our plan, but I think we ended up leaving much earlier than that. The ride up was pretty uneventful. Only ran into the usual back up near Orlando.

 

We go over the bridge to see that there is a Disney and Carnival ships in port waiting to go out. Since we were in the area, we decide to eat at Atlantic Seafood. It's a small place right on the water, but it's nice to sit out and enjoy the water.

 

We get to sit at a bar top right next to the water. It's hot, but nice breeze. I order the crab cakes and Gary gets a seafood poorboy. Both come with a bag of chips and a pickle. Both are good and not bad for $12 to $13 each. While we are eating we get to see 2 or 3 dolphins playing in the water. Seems like we always get to see dolphins in this place.

 

We notice that there are a lot of people around the area and it seems that they have a fishing tournament going on. Which probably explains why we couldn't get our regular room at Country Inn and Suites. We had to go down the road to stay at a Quality Inn right next door to Four Points and Ron Jons.

 

It was still early, so we walked around Four Points and Ron Jons. Gary wanted to get some gas, so we took a drive down the streets looking for a gas station. One was empty and the rest were on the wrong side of the street, so we go to turn around and there he was. Some guy was in the alley peeing. He had a pretty good stream and not bad in the package area. Only in Florida....right?

 

So we didn't get gas and went back to the hotel. Nice lobby and fast check in. It has a free breakfast and nice pool area. We can get into our room right away and it's only a short walk around the corner to get to the room. The room was nice enough, but it had this weird smell to it. Kind of a cross between dirty socks and wet dog. But after awhile we got used to it and it wasn't so bad.

 

This room has a little kitchen with coffee pot, microwave, small hot plate, dishes and a sink, plus fridge. Only used the fridge and coffee pot, but it was nice for people who stay there for more than one day.

 

We walk around the hotel and I go get some ice. They have a nice gym, pool and breakfast area.

 

We settled into the room to watch some TV. Soon it was dinner time and we just wanted a quick snack. So we run across the street to McDonald's. Well, the little street is really risky because it's so busy, but we have done this before after drinking a bottle of wine and sitting in a hot tub many years ago, so it was much easier this time.

 

We wanted to order a hot fudge sundae, but they only had carmel, so we ate that. Then ordered a burrito for me and breakfast sandwich for Gary. The poor guy was by himself because all his workers went on break at the same time. So it took forever to get our food and then they ran out of pennies so they had to round up everything for everyone paying.

 

Finally get our food and go back to our room to eat and call it a night. An hour or so later it just starts pouring like crazy. Glad we didn't have to go out any more that night.

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So today is the day.........CRUISE DAY!! I had 4:30 AM written on my notes, so that must be the time I woke up. Gary was up earlier with all the lights on, plus the TV and the hair dryer. So kinda hard to sleep thru all of that..........

 

Looks to be a nice day, sun is not out yet, but it's not raining any longer. We get free breakfast starting at 6:00 AM, so we go in and check stuff out. It's the same type of stuff, scrambled eggs, sausage, make your own waffles, whole fruit (apples, banana, oranges) toast, juice, coffee, milk, cold cereal.

 

So we get some eggs and toast and soon a couple Army guys come in. Then this guy sits right next to us. Not really homeless looking, but he was a real piece of work. He had this Target bag sitting next to him on the chair and the waitress seemed to know him. He asked about some type of donuts, but they didn't have them today.

 

We were watching this guy go up to the buffet and bring back 3 bananas,apples, he had 6 yogurt containers on the table. One by one the stuff went into his bag, then he would eat a little, go back up, bring more stuff and it would slowly go into the bag. By the time we left, we figured he had enough food to last him for the rest of the day. We were glad we went early, because we realized that most of the food would be gone before 7:00 AM.

 

It was still too early to leave for the port, so we decided to walk over to Ron Jons. They are open 24/7. Not too many people in there, but we did manage to pick up a few things for the grand kids. Got packed up and checked out. Checking out was easy. They just asked if we were leaving, we said yes and they said goodbye. We would stay there again, but I might bring Lysol or candles for the room. Hope the smell was a one time thing.

 

Gary decided to get gas, so we stopped at this one place and a guy was just pulling out of the spot, so we pulled in. Then he went beside us and said that he had just put in $20 and his gas gauge didn't move at all. So we thanked him and found another place for gas.

 

Still too early to check in, so we drove over by the beach, driving so slow that Gary would pull over so people could go by us. Soon we could find our parking spot by the elevator and waited in a small line to check in.

 

Check in was fast and soon we were waiting the comfort of the priority check in lounge.

Spoke to a couple people that we would see in the Diamond Lounge every day.

 

DIdn't have to wait too long for boarding. It was around 11:00. After not having too good of any experience at Park Cafe the last 2 times, we decided to go to Windjammer for lunch.

It was already open. One thing we liked about Windjammer, they would open whenever they were ready, even if it was 10/15 minutes early.

 

Nice selection of food, I ended up getting the seafood mix of clams, mussels, shrimp, vegetables and rice. It was pretty good. Gary found stuff to make a sandwich.

 

After lunch we still had a little time before we could get into our rooms, so we decided to wait in the Diamond Lounge since we were on deck 14 and the lounge is on 11 almost directly under our room since they don't use deck 13, so only one deck. It made it easy to avoid the crowds. We got an inside room this time and it was a great room

 

We were right next to the elevators, which came in handy many times during the week.

Our room was good size with plenty of storage space. We didn't need much because we only brought a tote bag and one carry on. We got to meet our room steward right away and we knew she would be nice with the name of Amelia.

 

She took good care of us, always doing our room first because she knew we got up early and went back to the room early at night. She brought us ice, robes and extra soap right away.

 

We unpacked everything and took off the explore the ship.

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Jill,

Nice to be early, have a good lunch and see a floor show! :p Good start to your day. :D Your place sounds decent except for that smell. Yeah, I have had to take those trial-size cans of Febreze and Lysol to places before. Maybe try that next time. At least it wasn't bad enough to bother you after awhile.

 

Is Gary still on his work time? Geez! I am usually the one up that early, but not so much now. Still, it did benefit you to get down to breakfast early. Otherwise you might have had to go to McDonald's again. Man, that homeless guy would have bugged me, but it does sound like the staff knew him. Maybe he is a vet or something since they didn't make him leave.

 

Nice check-in and nice cabin position. Your room steward sounds like a doll. Oh, I read on our roll call that the Majesty has no Diamond Lounge? That you just get your drink coupons in your room and then go get your drinks at a bar. Well, you will have to pick a bar where we can stumble over , uh, find you. :D

 

Becki

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It's ok that we don't have a Diamond lounge on our cruise. We didn't have over 3 drinks a day anyway and that way we will be easy to find. We have only been on Majesty one time, so it will almost be like a new ship to us.

 

Plus we will be doing the overnight in Havana, not good to drink before going out and the tequila tour on another day.

 

Not sure if the guy at the buffet was homeless or just uses the hotel a lot. But he was sure weird enough. He also has a bunch of the little muffins, all lined up in a row.

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We walk around a little bit, watching workers bringing stuff on board. Our muster drill station is at the Aqua Theatre in Boardwalk, so we make our way over there. It has started raining off and on so we find seats under the canopy.

 

After a while people start showing up and pretty soon the place is packed. They are not scanning any cards or taking any room numbers, so how do they know we are there? They don't and don't seem to care. Some people that didn't get there early are upset because, they either have to sit in the sun, or rain (depending on what it is doing). So get there early or don't complain.

 

When the drill is over we make our way to the Diamond Lounge and sit by one of the two, two seaters by the ends. We like to look out the windows and watch the people on the Boardwalk and the people riding the zip line.

 

The place is full, but there is still room on the upper deck. Fun to talk with all the people. One couple were from Sarasota and another couple booked the same cruise with us next May. Of course, we picked the wrong side to sit, but they have 3 bartenders, so we don't have to wait long for our gin and tonics. Manage to drink 2 of them, they are pretty strong, or we are weak from not drinking since the last cruise. We decide to stop and go to the Windjammer for dinner.

 

People have said they don't like the Windjammer on Oasis because it's too small, but we found that it's not a problem if you get there when they open. Always found a seat by the windows.

 

My meal was fish, vegetables and mashed potatoes. Gary had a piece of chicken every night, with a salad. Our downfall was the dessert oasis. It was this long island just crammed full of all kinds of stuff. Everyday it was something different. Tonight we just got some ice cream. Only trouble is that, with the ice cream you can choose 25 different type of toppings. So that could be a problem. For me, I was putting things on my ice cream that I never would, like vanilla, butterscotch and chocolate chips. Yum..........

 

I signed us up for the comedy show the first night, because everything else was taken except for 10:30 PM on the last night. So we still had some time before the 9:00 PM show.

 

We decided to take a ride on the carousel. Gary was smart and got a seat on the only non moving bench. I got on one of the horses, all was well until I tried to get off. Got my leg stuck on his rear end and brused the front of my leg. I was still comforted by my gin buzz, so it didn't hurt too bad.

 

Walked thru Central Park and finally made it over to the comedy club. The comics were Collin Moulton & Phil Tag. We hadn't seen either one of them, but they were both really funny. We both laughed so hard, because they both knew how to use facial and body expressions with their jokes. They were a little dirty, but not too bad. Really enjoyed the show, but afterwards, we were both ready to hit the bed. Having been up since 4:30 AM made it a long day.

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Jill,

 

Wow, really packed it in for your first day, even with 2 gins and tobic. Way to go! :D

 

There are always latecomers to everything and then crab because there are no seats where they want to sit, or no spaces left at a show, whatever. That's how we were able to keep getting on earlier tours on our Baltic cruise. We showed up early and they put us in at the exact time the earlier tour was leaving. 4 slots they were able to fill from people who were just taking their own sweet time and assuming the tour wouldn't leave without them. :rolleyes:

 

You know, I did write an email about our tour time in Cozumel being wrong, and I got an email back saying they were working on it, but that was all. I checked my calendar yesterday and it now shows our tour as 1:30-6:30. What time do you get back again from the Tequila tour?

 

Becki

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clear.png?emoji-cool-1690..Good Evening, Summiteers...Interested start to your cruise, Jill...I have heard that same thing about the Oasis, small Windjammer...Do you think it is possible, that these people didn't notice that the Windjammer is on both sides of the ship?...If they thought that, yea it's small....LOL>>>>>Do you want to here about the trip we took last month?....Sure you do.....Since, we have been going on these long vacations without our beloved Mutt...We have been feeling guilty about that..(Is that weird?)clear.png?emoji-grin-1677 Around ten years ago. We used to go to the north coast of California...Mendocino-Ft. Bragg area....We used to go with our other beloved doggy "Shasta"...Since, "Shasta" died so young, it was hard going back to that area...Over Ten years have passed (to quickly)...We thought it was time to take "Bella" with us for a four day trip to this lovely B&B..The Inn at School House Creek...it's made of

a large wooden house with many cottages and building with a great view of the Pacific..They had a great breakfast that came with the room, and in the Afternoon, they would have high Tea, with get this, all the wine you could drink...clear.png?emoji-grin-1677...So, we were excited to go again...We decided to go Mon. thru Thu...So it would be less crowded, the room rates lower...We get a good start, Bella was looking worried when the suitcases came out...for a change she got to jump into the back of our SUV....Traffic wasn't to bad and soon we were cruising over the Golden Gate Bridge thru the Robin Williams Rainbow Tunnel and into Marin County...Three hours later, we are winding thru the redwood grove and wine lands of the Alexander Valley, home

to one of our favorite wineries ...When we got to the Inn, it was very quite....Walked into the office of the large house...Nothing seems to have changed that much...As I started to check us in..The Man gave us our first surprise...He was upgraded us to cottage with a rear wood deck and a yard and much more room than original room I booked...Then came the next surprise....I asked what time was the happy hour and what time breakfast was served...I was hoping to taste those great fresh baked muffins from our previous stay here. This is when I found our that the old owner had

 

sold the Inn, so now, No happy hour and while they still served breakfast...It was not included in the room price!!!!!clear.png?emoji-mad-1709 However, if we didn't need to have our sheets changed every day, he would give me a $25 credit toward breakfast...What could I do???...I took it.....If you would like to know more...Let me know. Also, I found out that the restaurant is only closed one day a week...Can you guess what day it was closed????clear.png?emoji-mad-1709

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Yes Beau, we want to hear the rest of the story....:D

 

So you got $25 towards breakfast, but the restaurant was closed? What kind of deal was that?..:o Saw you photo on Facebook, looks like a nice place.

 

Becki...isn't your Cozumel tour suppose to be 8 hrs? Looks like you are only getting 6. Our tour starts at 1:30 and it's 3 hrs, so we should be back to the ship by 4:30...just in time for Happy Hour............:evilsmile:

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Beau,

 

Well, your place sure was pretty, but what a bummer to find that so many things had changed. But, after all, 10 years?

 

More, please.

 

Becki

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