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Cruise Diary ~ BALTIC CAPITALS

Tallinn, Estonia & St. Petersburg, Russia
Medieval Treasures and Royal Majesty

Tallinn

Complete enchantment! We had a short day in Tallinn and would have enjoyed more time in this lovely medieval walled city with its charming people. THIS is the shopping stop for sweaters, beautiful embroidered linens, and a variety of crafts. 

Old and new exist in harmony in Estonia. A troupe of talented youngsters entertained us with folk dances and then we were on our way to discover the old town. Home to nobility, the Upper Town overlooks the sea and affords a view of the city beneath. The Lower Town housed merchants and craftsmen in medieval times and is more lively than the Upper Town. This is where today's vendors sell beautiful handicrafts from stalls along the ancient city walls, street entertainers perform, and many shops and cafes are located.

St. Petersburg

As a child of the Cold War, I grew up in Germany and never thought I'd set foot on Russian soil. Somehow, St. Petersburg didn't seem "Russian" with its many palaces and tales of Tsars, Tsarinas, and great wealth and power. Our two days weren't long enough to see everything--it would take months--but we toured the city, where our guide pointed out the many landmarks. I actually gasped as we rounded the corner and I first spied the richly ornate Spilled Blood Cathedral and its gilded and colorful spires. After lunch, we headed to the countryside where we marveled at Catherine's Palace and its many art treasures.

St. Petersburg houses fabulous collections of art and celebrates the culture of the Russian people in the exhibits contained in the Winter and Summer Palaces. The focus is the art, not the way the royalty lived. However, an evening of opera after a private tour of Yusupov's Palace (one of the richest) and a tour of Menshikov's Palace (the oldest) offered glimpses into the splendor with which the upper classes and royalty surrounded themselves.

Called the "Venice of the North" the city is crisscrossed with waterways and after a morning in the Hermitage, where Renaissance R8 passengers were admitted before the museum was open to the general public, we toured the Neva and Fontanka Rivers by boat.

The Royal Navy Band serenaded us as we sailed from St. Petersburg, longing for more and vowing to return someday.

Stay tuned, we're back in Scandinavia and visiting Helsinki and Stockholm before we head home.

Back to the Baltic Capitals Cruise Diary index


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