Baltic Cruise – June 2019

Wednesday June 19, 2019 – Stopped at Questrade and to see Grampa in Toronto on route to Larry and Annette’s for tea and dropping off van before our Icelandair (Frequent Flyer # F14004039760 and F14004039745) flight 602 to Reykjavik, Iceland at 9 PM. We had time to have a relaxed dinner in the Premium Lounge at the Toronto Airport. That was fortunate since all we got on the flights that night was a bottle of water.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 -  We flew 5½ hours to Iceland to change planes (one hour layover) to complete our trip to Stockholm, Sweden in 3 more hours from 7:35 AM (Iceland time) to 12:40 PM (Sweden time).   On arrival we located the 20 minute high speed train terminal under the airport and boarded the downtown Stockholm train (Arlanda Express Train - $49 CAN - prearranged) for a 20 minute ride to Central Station. We walked about a kilometer with our luggage to the Stockholm Sheraton Hotel for our 2 night stay. We were fortunate there to have a concierge lounge pass which we used well. After settling in, I walked around the area since I researched information on taking Free City Tours Stockholm and I located the meeting point for the next day tours. Don rested and then we met my second cousin (as prearranged), Nico Van Gelderen who married a Swedish woman (Maria) and lives south for Stockholm but works as a landscape architect in Stockholm. They have one daughter.  After some dinner in the hotel lounge Nico toured us around the old city (Gamla Stan). Back to hotel and bed by 10:30 PM. Happy for black-out blinds since at this time of year it doesn’t get really dark – just twilight from 11 PM to 3 AM.) Sweden time is 6 hours ahead of Toronto time. 

Stockholm was founded in 1252. Stockholm (means log island in Swedish) has been called Nordic Venice because 14 islands comprise the city and it has 57 bridges. Gamla Stan is the Old Town of Stockholm and is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in the world. Its’ location was chosen because it could be defended from pirates. 

Friday, June 21, 2019 – Stockholm Sweden – Up after 8 AM for a shower and breakfast in the lounge. I joined the 10 AM Free City Tour Stockholm with Zenin (nice young man from Croatia) for 2 hours. (Guide works for tips). This first tour was of the modern city of Stockholm.
We learned that Sweden remained neutral in WW1 and WW2 and believed their world influence is with commerce rather than fighting. Present companies from Sweden include H&M, Ikea and Spotify. On the main shopping street (Drottning) there were 9 H&M stores in a few blocks.
Stockholm’s Alfred Nobel was discussed. Alfred was a chemist and discovered dynamite (clay added to nitroglycerin) in the 1800’s to make explosives safer. After reading a premature obituary which
 condemned him for profiting from the sales of arms, (apparently he didn’t care about money) he bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. These million dollar prizes are awarded yearly for literature, peace, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics. Mathematics is not awarded a Nobel Prize because Nobel’s fiance ran off with a mathematician. We went by the theatre where the awards are presented.
The bank that was robbed starting the “Stockholm Syndrome” where hostages protect their captors was pointed out.
Donnie L, the personal trainer, who married into the Swedish Royal Family is the only native Swede in this French bloodline. He fell in love training with the anorexic princess in a free gym and after 3 years they asked the king to marry them but the king said Donnie had to study for 5 years to be royal and if he did that then they could marry. He fulfilled the requirement and they married. 
After this morning tour, I went back to our hotel and ate some lunch before joining up with the 1 PM Tour of Gamla Stan with Zenin again. There was lots of excitement and celebration in Stockholm this day of “Midsummer” – the longest day of the year. The women wear Flower Headresses and there are late picnics and parties all night. They celebrate summer since their winters are long and dark with light hours from 10 AM to 3 PM and school children in lower grades wear reflective vests year round. 
Located on the island of Gamla Stan is the Royal Palaces, Parliament, Stockholm Cathedral, Nobel Museum and many shops and restaurants.
After that tour I waited for the 3:30PM walking tour of the yuppie area called Soder with Francesca from London England who was married to a Spotify computer engineer and now lived in Sweden. Formerly Soder was where the servants and workers of Gamla Stan lived because it was hilly and undeveloped but now is the place to live since it is walkable from the city centre. From Francesca we learned about the 
Swedish witch trials, Fika (coffee breaks with buns, cake or cookies), and Baby Latte Daddies (since Swedish paternity / maternity leaves are generous).
Back to the hotel for dinner and relaxation. Don had done his own walking touring in the day and found the local Firehall. 

Friday, June 22, 2019 – Stockholm Sweden – Had the morning to explore before going to the Azamara Cruise Ship for boarding that afternoon. I walked over to the Stockholm City Hall for a guided tour. This is where the annual Nobel Prize Banquet on December 10th is held in its Blue Hall – that is not blue. There is also a Golden Hall named after the decorative mosaics of motifs of Swedish history made of more than 18 million tiles. There were many Chinese tourists to keep me company there. I did not go up the tower. The top of the tower has 3 golden crowns which is an old national symbol of Sweden. 
I continued walking and went back to Gamla Stan to visit the Stockholm Cathedral (Lutheran Church of St Nicholas) to see the most famous of its treasures is the dramatic wooden (oak) statue of Saint George and the Dragon. The Saint George is a symbolic representation of Sten Sture (leader of Sweden in the Battle of Brunkeburg in 1471), the dragon is the Danish King Christian I, and the Princess is Sweden.
Back to the hotel to get packed up for our Uber ride to the Cruise Ship Terminal to board the Azamara Journey for our Baltic Cruise. 

Baltic Capitals and Russia 
Stockholm, Sweden 

05:00 PM 
Tallinn, Estonia 
10:00 AM 
05:00 PM 
St. Petersburg, Russia 
08:00 AM 

St. Petersburg, Russia 

St. Petersburg, Russia 

06:00 PM 
Helsinki, Finland 
07:30 AM 
06:00 PM 
At Sea 

Copenhagen, Denmark 
08:00 AM 
10:00 PM 
Aalborg, Denmark 
08:00 AM 
03:00 PM 
Oslo, Norway 
06:30 AM 

This cruise was booked after Don saw an advertisement in the Saturday Globe and Mail in April through Cruise Connections Canada from Vancouver for $3909 CAN each with airfare, pre-paid gratuities, Azamazing Evening and beverage package included. Excursion costs were extra for Mary ($1000).
The Azamara Journey has a capacity for 690 (double occupancy) with 408 international officers, crew and staff. It has 9 guest decks and on this journey we will travel 1,530 nautical miles. Azamara is a proud member of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Family of cruise lines with their ships registered in Malta.
(Mike Harris, former Ontario Premier, was on our cruise with 3 golfing buddies.)

We settled into our cabin on the 6th floor #6030 – no balcony and slight obstructed view with the small rescue boat hanging outside our window. Before sailing there was a mandatory Emergency and Lifeboat Drill. Each day we received the Azamara Insider Daily Program that was all the information for the following day’s activities. 
The ship was full with over 600 passengers, 11 floors. Half the passengers were from USA, over 100 Canadians, 100 UK and less than 100 from Australia and NZ and some others. The majority of the staff were from The Philippines. There was a retired professor on board who gave 4 lectures on destinations on the cruise (Dr Joe Cofey from Florida). The first was this evening on Tallinn Estonia which we attended. We were also introduced to the Captain, department heads, the entertainment staff and our cruise director Eric DeGray who was from Toronto. We had our dinner in the Discoveries Restaurant on Deck 5 where we dined most evenings. The chef was very accommodating to our “no grain, no sugar” restrictions and made us special desserts most nights. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019 – Tallinn, Estonia – Sunshine with high of 21 and low of 10,
sunrise 4 AM sunset 10:42 PM 
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia is one of the oldest cities on the Baltic Sea, founded in 1154. It’s old town has remained remarkably unchanged for the past 600 years. St Olav’s Church was once the tallest building in the world at least until 1625. In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, Estonia became the Baltic’s smallest independent nation. Voice-over-internet calling service Skype was developed in Estonia.

Old Town is divided into the Upper Town, which was home to the nobility, and the Lower Town, inhabited in the Middle Ages by merchants and artisans. One of the main attractions is Toompea Castle on Toompea Hill and is the seat of Estonian government since the 13th century.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral dominates the Palace Square. This Russian Orthodox Cathedral was built in the late 19th century in the style of Russia’s 17th century Orthodox churches. 

Old Town’s Town Hall Square is a central meeting place, as it has been since the gothic town hall was built in 1402. This is where the world’s first Christmas tree stood in 1441. 
Don and I walked around the Old Town and after lunch I took the 2 hour tour of Panoramic Tallin which included their famous Song Festival Grounds which played a role in Estonia’s independence. 

Back in board the ship we had a St Petersburg Destination Enrichment seminar, dinner, the Captain’s Welcome Toast followed by the Entertainment Singers and Dancers in the Cabaret Lounge on Deck 5. We never made it to the DJ at 10:30 PM on Deck 10.

Monday, June 24, 2019 – St Petersburg, Russia – Sunshine with high of 22 and low of 12,
sunrise 3:35 AM sunset 10:30 PM   Clocks turned back one hour. 
Saint Petersburg (Petrograd / Leningrad) considered the most European of all Russian cities. It is Russia’s second largest city and Europe’s fourth largest after Moscow, London and Paris. Saint Petersburg is an important maritime center for Russia, built on a network of islands, featuring 65 rivers and canals that crisscross the city. Along with about 400 bridges, the city also closely resembles Venice or Amsterdam. 
Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703. During the periods 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow, which is about 625 km (388 miles) to the south-east.

Up early to start my 3 day St Petersburg tour at 8 AM. Through customs right at the dock in central St Petersburg to board our coach bus and travel to our first stop a half hour away in Pushkin (named for the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin of the 1800’s; compared to the English Shakespeare). We arrived at “Catherine Palace” for a 90 minute tour of the palace and grounds. 

The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia (Peter the Great’s second wife – a friend’s maid and mother of their 12 children – of which only 2 survived to adulthood – both girls) constructed a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1743, Empress Elizabeth (their daughter) expanded the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother's residence outdated and in May 1752 demolished the old structure and replaced it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years, and on 30 July 1756 the brand-new 325-meter-long palace was completed. 
More than 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof. In front of the palace a great formal garden was laid out. It centres on the azure-and-white Hermitage Pavilion near the lake. The grand entrance to the palace is flanked by two massive "circumferences", also in the Rococo style. Although the palace is popularly associated with Catherine the Great, she actually regarded its "whipped cream" architecture as old-fashioned. When she ascended to the throne, a number of statues in the park were being covered with gold, in accordance with the last wish of Empress Elizabeth, yet the new monarch had all the works suspended upon being informed about the expense. In her memoirs she censured her predecessor's reckless extravagance. (Catherine the Great was a German princess  and was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power 
following a coup d'état that she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; it grew larger and stronger and was recognized as one of the great powers of Europe).
Of special note in the Catherine Palace is the Amber Room. The Amber Room is a reconstructed chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors .Constructed in the 18th century in Prussia, the original Amber Room was dismantled and eventually disappeared during World War II. Before its loss, it was considered an "Eighth Wonder of the World". A reconstruction was installed in the Catherine Palace between 1979 and 2003.
We went on to a 4 course lunch at a restaurant outside the Palace grounds and then on the coach back to St Petersburg to visit the Yusupov Palace. The building was the site of Grigori Rasputin's murder in the early morning of December 17, 1916. The Yusupovs were immensely wealthy (2nd richest Russian family and known for their philanthropy and art collections. 
The luxurious interiors of the palace were not inferior to those of contemporary royal palaces with more than 40,000 works of art, including works by Rembrandt, jewelry, and sculptures decorated the palace. Following the Russian Revolution, the palace was nationalized and its works of art were largely relocated to the Hermitage and other museums. The private theatre was a high point. 
Then the short drive through Russian traffic to the Peter and Paul Fortress. We had an inside visit to the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Hare Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great. The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family, who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Among the emperors and empresses buried here was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years.
By 6 PM we drove back to the ship. There was “White Night Outdoor” Dinner on the deck but we chose to dine inside in the Discoveries Restaurant. Russian dancers entertained with a folkloric show. 
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 – St Petersburg, Russia    Sunshine with high of 22 and low of 13,
sunrise 3:36 AM  sunset 10:26 PM 
Back on the coach for a short drive to the Hermitage Museum. The second-largest art museum in the world, it was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum celebrates the anniversary of its founding each year on 7 December, Saint Catherine's Day. It has been open to the public since 1852. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.
We were driven to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. It was originally built as a cathedral but was turned into a museum by the Soviet government in 1931 and has remained a museum ever since. In 2017, the Governor of Saint Petersburg offered to transfer the cathedral back to the Russian Orthodox Church, but this was not accomplished due to the protests of St Petersburg citizens opposing the offer.
We took a short stroll over to the monument of Peter the Great. The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Commissioned by Catherine the Great. The name comes from an 1833 poem of the same name by Aleksander Pushkin, which is widely considered one of the most significant works of Russian literature. The statue is now one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg. The statue's pedestal is the enormous Thunder Stone, the largest stone ever moved by humans. The stone originally weighed about 1500 tonnes, but was carved down during transportation to its current size.
A 19th-century legend states that while the Bronze Horseman stands in the middle of Saint Petersburg, enemy forces will not be able to conquer the city. During the 900-day Siege of Leningrad by the invading Germans during the Second World War (Leningrad being the city's name from 1924–1991), the statue was covered with sandbags and a wooden shelter. Thus protected it survived 900 days of bombing and artillery virtually untouched. True to the legend, Leningrad was never taken.
From there we enjoyed a 4 course lunch at the Luce Restaurant. Then for a boat ride along the river and canals to view all the palaces along the way. Another highlight along the way was the waving running boy who stopped for tips at the end of our ride. 

Our last stop on today’s tour was the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood (or Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ). We had difficulty getting near the Cathedral due to traffic gridlock and walked from where the bus could not go any further and then pushed and shoved through the line-up of tourists to get to our appointed tour time.
Erected on the site where political nihilists fatally wounded Emperor Alexander II in March 1881, the church was constructed between 1883 and 1907, funded by the imperial family. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. The walls and ceilings inside the church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture. The church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics—according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world.
Bus back to the ship and through Custom check and then fine dining and a quiet evening. Don keeps busy on the ship since he does not have a tourist visa and can not wander about St Petersburg without it even though we are docked in the centre of the city. Don plays the trivia games to win Azamara points for tshirts and other items at the end of our cruise, walks around the ship’s track, eats well (loves the blacken grouper at the lunch café – fried in olive oil)  and today did our laundry too. 
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – St Petersburg, Russia    Sunshine with high of 21 and low of 14,
sunrise 3:37 AM  sunset 10:25 PM 
Early morning to catch the 7:30 tour bus to Peterhof to be there for the first tour at 9AM of this Grand Palace. Many tourists in St Petersburg because 8 mega ships are in port and many independent tourists since it is high tourist season. Coincidentally I met Dolly, a OTOW exercise buddy who was on a totally separate tour with her son at Peterhof that day. 
The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France. Originally intending it in 1709 for country habitation, Peter the Great sought to expand the property as a result of his visit to the French royal court in 1717, inspiring the nickname used by tourists of "The Russian Versailles". 
Until the Revolution of 1917, it was the residence of the Tsars. In 1918 it was transformed into a museum, though during World War II it was occupied and destroyed by German troops. After World War II it began its restoration, which still continues.
The center of Peterhof complex is what is known as the Grand Palace (of Baroque style), though something much more spectacular than the palace itself are the gardens and a complex of the world’s largest fountains surrounding it, and you can visit smaller palaces and buildings that house museums. It covers an area of over 100 hectares. The water sources used comes from natural springs. There is the Great Cascade waterfall comprising of 64 different fountains and over 200 bronze statutes including Samson’s fountain which we watched launched at 11 AM. There are also many playful fountains for the children. 
We were back to the ship for lunch and a quiet afternoon which included trivia and sail away at 6 PM to Helsinki, Finland. 
Learned to say ”Spiceba” meaning hello in Russian and “Yellow Blue Bus” meaning I love you from our great Guide Jana. Some of the ship’s passengers took the 4 hour high speed train to and from Moscow yesterday and had a little tour of Moscow for the day ($1300 per person) and there was also the White Night boat ride between 12 and 2 AM to see the bridges in St Petersburg lit up and open. 
Thursday, June 27, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland    Sunshine with high of 18 and low of 10,
sunrise 3:56 AM  sunset 10:50 PM 
We arrived in port at 7:30 AM and will depart at 6 PM.
I did the Helsinki Highlights tour in the morning. Our first stop was the Senate Square and the
 historic Lutheran Cathedral. The church was originally built from 1830-1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was also known as St Nicholas' Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. It is a major landmark of the city.
Our next stop was the Church in the Rock (Temppeliaukio Church). The interior was excavated and built directly out of solid rock and is bathed in natural light which enters through the skylight surrounding the center copper dome. The church is used frequently as a concert venue due to its excellent acoustics. Construction finally began in February 1968, and the rock-temple was completed for consecration in September 1969.

On to Sibelius Park, home to an unusual monument featuring hundreds of steel pipes that pays homage to famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). His music is often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.
From our guide we heard all about the Finnish love of saunas. We were driven back to the ship in time for lunch. 
After lunch I headed out into Helsinki to see more sights. My first stop was the open air market which we were docked close to. I was looking through the booths for a souvenir of a special stone called “specrolite” found only in Finland close to the Russian border. I did find a Columbian man who founds his own stones and polishes them and makes them into jewellery and bought a necklace and earrings. 
From the market, I went by the shopping district and their biggest department store “Stockmans” and went up to the 8th floor hoping to get a view of the city from the rooftop patio but unfortunately it was not open. 

On to the Central Train Station with it’s special distinguishing feature of two pairs of statues holding spherical lamps, lit at night-time, on either side of the main entrance. From there I spotted an ALDI supermarket and bought some chocolate and Finnish Rooibos tea. 
Then strolled over and explored to the newly opened Helsinki Library  “Oodi” with it’s distinctive wave design. Headed back to the ship and actually bypassed it and climbed the hill to visit the Uspenski Cathedral. Completed in 1868 it is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. With its golden cupolas and redbrick facade, the church is one of the clearest symbols of the Russian impact on Finnish history. 

Don roamed on his own and found a firehall to talk to his brothers there. 
Back for dinner and set sail for Copenhagen, Denmark after a day at sea.
Friday, June 28, 2019 – Day at Sea    Sunshine with high of 18 and low of 13,
sunrise 4:12 AM  sunset 10:19 PM     Clocks go back one hour. 
Relaxing day aboard the Azamara Journey. In the afternoon we attended the “Destination Enrichment Seminar with Dr. Joe on Copenhagen: The Happy and Green City” followed by a seminar on “Carl Faberge and the Treasures of the Czars”. At night I went to our Cruise Director Eric De Gray’s show “From Vegas to Broadway”. Big day tomorrow exploring Copenhagen on my own. 
Saturday, June 29, 2019 – Copenhagen, Denmark    Sunshine with high of 26 and low of 16,
sunrise 4:26 AM  sunset 10:00 PM     Arrive 8 AM Depart 10 PM
Copenhagen is situated where the North Sea and Baltic Sea meet. 
Did not go on a planned tour today because from my precruise research I understood that Copenhagen was a very walkable city and I planned my own tour for all the highlights I wanted to see. And I certainly walked and walked which resulted in a giant blister on the heel of my foot but I saw lots!
The ship was docked fight in the city so after some breakfast I started out. The first stop was the statute of the Little Mermaid before hordes of tourists descended on that spot. The Little Mermaid (Danish: Den lille Havfrue) is a bronze statue depicting a mermaid becoming human and is displayed on a rock by the waterside. It is small at 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb). Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913.
Continuing on through a barracks area to Rosenborg in the King’s Garden. Rosenborg Castle was built by one of the most famous Scandinavian kings, Christian IV, in the early 17th century. I did not go in the Castle but enjoyed the beautiful gardens. The gardens are the country's oldest royal gardens and were established in the Renaissance style by Christian IV in the early 1600's.
From there I went down to the Nyhavn area. Nyhavn (New Harbour) is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district and is lined by brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. The canal harbours many historical wooden ships. Nyhavn was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1675, dug by Swedish prisoners of war from the Dano-Swedish War 1658–1660. It is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city at Kongens Nytorv (King's Square), where ships handled cargo and fishermens' catch. It was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for some 18 years.
Then heading back to the ship for lunch through the Amalienburg Palace area. Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family and it consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard (Danish: Amalienborg Slotsplads); in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V
Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burned on 26 February 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. Over the years various kings and their families have resided in the four different palaces. 
My afternoon walking tour took me pass the Marble Church, Christianborg Palace, National Museum of Denmark, City Hall and Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park to the Round Tower. The Round Tower (Danish: Rundetårn) is a 17th-century tower and one of the many architectural projects of Christian IV of Denmark, built as an astronomical observatory. It is most noted for its equestrian staircase, a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the platform at the top at 34.8 meters above ground, and for the expansive views which it affords over Copenhagen. 
Proceeded over the bridge to Christianshawn and soaked my blistering feet in the harbour. Christianshavn was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally, it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from Dutch cities but it was soon incorporated into Copenhagen proper. Dominated by canals, it is the part of Copenhagen with the most nautical atmosphere. 

For much of the 20th century a working-class neighbourhood, Christianshavn developed a bohemian reputation in the 1970s and it is now a fashionable, diverse and lively part of the city with its own distinctive personality. Businessmen, students, artists, hippies and traditional families with children live side-by-side. 
A wedding was taking place at the Church of Our Saviour. This is a baroque church, most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. It is also noted for its carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8 am to midnight. I was too tired and a little frighten of heights to attempt the climb up the spire. 
Walked through “Freetown Christiania”. The spirit of Christiania is one of the hippie movement, the squatter movement, collectivism and anarchism in contrast to the site's previous military use (barracks).
Hiked back to the ship for an early buffet dinner before we were boated across the harbour to the Royal Danish Opera House as our Azamazing Event. There we enjoyed a 40 minute performance by 2 of Denmark’s renowned opera singers (tenors) in the foyee. The sang to me the Maria song and Don received a beautiful coffee table book on the building of this new Opera House because a waiter almost spilt sparkling wine on him. 
Sunday, June 30, 2019 – Aalborg, Denmark    Sunshine with high of 27 and low of 14,
sunrise 4:29 AM  sunset 10:18 PM     Arrived at 8:30 AM Depart at 3 PM

This smaller city in the north of Denmark on the Limfjord in the northern part of Denmark and is a new stop for cruise ships. I did the “Aalborg:A Burst of Art and Culture” tour. Our first stop was the Museum of Modern Art on the outskirts of Aalborg. Then on to Nordkraft, an old coal burning power plant in the town that has been transformed into a small theatre and galleries. The guide gave us some snacks and a taste of a liquor (flavoured vodka) that he made too. Then we walked over to the Utzon Centre. This modern gallery was designed by Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect best known for Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House and had his designs on display. Back to the ship for lunch and since we were docked in the town, I explored the Old Town Aalborg with its’ cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings in the afternoon before sailing away. The 17th century salted herring boom and industries such as the Portland Cement Company (chalk available close by) helped establish Aalborg. 
The Jens Bangs Stenhaus by the harbour is the 4 story mansion owned by the wealthy disliked merchant across from the CityHall (Radhaus). It was later a pharmacy and remained one for 300 years.
I went through the Budolfi Domkirke, The existing Budolfi Cathedral (Danish:Budolfi Domkirke) was built in the last decades of the 14th century over and around the original St Budolfi Church and was listed for the first time in the Atlas of Denmark in 1399. The church was named after St. Botolph, an Anglo-Saxon abbot and saint. His reputation as a learned and holy man in Anglo-Saxon England and as the patron saint of farmers and sailors made him a popular saint in pre-Reformation Denmark. The tower was added to the west front in 1779. The square 28-metre-high (92-foot) brick tower is topped with a 35-metre (115-foot) metallic Baroque cupola and spire. Four identical clock faces were installed on each of the four sides of the tower in 1817. The south side has a sundial mounted on it as well. The tower houses four bells and rings hourly. 
Back on board, we attended the final seminar with Dr. Joe on “Destination Enrichment” on Scandinavia – Northern Light. Then on to Journey Farewell Trivia in the Living Room Lounge on the 10th floor. Don did well on the Activity Prize Redemption where his points earned him several t-shirts and other promotional trinkets. We had our final Azamara delicious dinner followed by a Chocolate Buffet which I could not miss. I attended the entertainment of a comedian named Mel Mellers who had a quick dry wit with lots of audience participation. Unfortunately the audience kept leaving due to some high seas we went through unexpectedly on the North Sea. Sea sick bags were posted on all the stairwells. We took some sea sick pills and went to bed. 
Monday, July 1, 2019 – Oslo, Norway    Sunshine with high of 21 and low of 9,
sunrise 4 AM  sunset 10:41 PM      Arrived at 8 AM   
After our last Azamara breakfast we disembarked. We were docked in central Oslo by the Oslo City Hall (Radhus) and spent some time looking around to discover the train station to board the high speed train out to the Airport to stay for a night at the Oslo Radisson Blu Hotel for $2000 Norwegian Krones (over $300 CAN with no concierge lounge but breakfast was included.)

On our walk through the downtown we saw the yellow Royal Palace (Det Kongelige Slott) at the end of the Main Street (Karl Johan) but were too early for an English tour; National Theatre; Parliament Building; beautiful flowers, begging gypsy women; the Oslo Lutheran Domkirche; Opera House by the Central Train Station.
Honourable mention for all the Scandinavian cities we visited, we were amazed to see the number of motorized scooters (skateboards) that zoomed around. We did not try them but they did look dangerous. 
The FLYTOGET high speed train took us to the airport in 19 minutes and we walked over to the Hotel since it was connected to the airport. We met our Ship’s Captain Gianmario Sanguineti and his Peruvian wife in the hotel lobby. They were flying to their home in Miami. They also mentioned that they had a cottage on Sturgeon Point in Ontario but had it rented and hadn’t been there for 6 years. We purchased our chicken salad dinner from Burger King in the Airport. It was poor quality and cost us $12 CAN each. Our First Canada Day spent in another country.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 – Oslo, Norway to Lakefield Canada
We slept peacefully and ate a lovely breakfast in their restaurant and packed up for the flight home. No airport lounge for us at the Oslo Airport. Icelandair left at 3:50 PM to Iceland in 2:40 hours with a 4 hour layover leaving at 8:30 PM to arrive in Toronto at 10:25 PM for a 6 hour flight. We shared a Chicken Caesar Takeout meal for $24 CAN. 

Larry picked us up and we dropped him off in Mississauga and continued on to Lakefield. Great trip!


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