Great Baltic Expectations
There’s a funny thing about expectations. They can be based on someone else’s perspective. Part of the mystery and allure of travel can be to go somewhere new and shatter whatever preconceived notions you may have about a place. A summertime trip to the ever-lighted Baltic Region in northern Europe can do just that. The perfect vehicle? A cruise, including one or more of the following ports of call.
The classic story-book 13th century steeple city of Tallinn allows you to feel like you’ve gone back in time. From small, building-lined cobbled streets to walled ramparts overlooking a protected city, the medieval feel is unforgettable. Lace up your walking shoes and enjoy strolling through the old town.
Kadriorg Palace is a magnificent baroque masterpiece. You will be impressed not only by the grandiose palace and lavish park but also by its distinctive collection of hundreds of 16th to 20th century works of art.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Today’s St. Petersburg is a beautifully planned city with grandeur architecture and historic pre-Soviet statues. It is comparable in size, magnificence and scope to Paris and London.
Highlights of a tour in St. Petersburg may include:
Catherine's Palace at Pushkin – a grand and elaborate 18th-century structure with over-the-top interiors featuring amber and gold-leaf walls and ceilings. Her colorful daughter, Empress Elizabeth, expanded the Summer Palace to include bedroom-sized closets to hold her 15,000 dresses.
The Hermitage Museum – Once the Winter state residence of Russia's emperors, it’s a lavish building of gifts and acquisitions for the Royal family. The Gold Room is a tour highlight along with the Imperial courtroom and throne.
Church on the Spilled Blood – A most colorful, ornate and classical Russian Orthodox Church was as impressive inside as outside. This church was completed in 1907 to preserve the site of the assassination of Tzar Alexander II.
If you’re interested, ask how your group can do your very own vodka tasting!
Also, Peter the Great was an inspirational architect and inventive practical joker. Of his 147 gravity-fed fountains at the summer palace in Peterhof, his favorite was the park bench that when sat upon, rained water down on ladies in their gowns as they stopped to rest during the quarter-mile walk to visit the palace.
Much more than a fishing port, you’ll see an extremely clean and manicured city that thrives with parks and indoor-outdoor bistros. The main shopping streets are plentiful with furs, scarves and simplistic European fashion. The farmers market along the wharf overflows with produce, flowers and fish.
By spending a little bit of time there, it’s easy to see why Finns are so proud of their native land.
Stockholm is the modern-day jewel of the region, both cosmopolitan and progressive. The origin city of the Sky Bar and Ice Bar, this metropolis barely sleeps and has plenty of posh restaurants and nightclubs. This country is a prototype "green” environment in every aspect of daily life.
History buffs can stop at the Vasa museum, which is named after – and is home to – a mint-condition 17th century tall-ship. The story is a classic one, like the emperor that had no clothes. King Vasa denied the original delivery of the warship, asked for another deck and twice the guns. The tall ship sailed about a quarter mile and sunk in the harbor. It sat on the harbor bottom for three-hundred years. Oops.
Travel is a funny thing sometimes.
We go there wanting to validate the images and stories we have acquired over time to set our expectations. Only after meeting and spending time with those that live there, can we fairly evaluate our learnings…that’s why we make the trip. If you’re interested in evaluating your own myths about the Baltics or any other destination around the globe, contact Cruise Holidays and we can help you get started.