Thursday, November 29, 2018

Saturday, August 4, 2018 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Mostly Sunny – 80sF

Denmark is located in Northern Europe – between the North and Baltic Seas. The country consists of a main peninsula, Jutland, and 406 islands. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and the largest city in Scandinavia (population just over 600,000), is located on the island of Sjaelland (Sea Land). Copenhagen sits on two islands, Sjaelland and Christianshaven, connected by a bridge. The harbor is dotted with wind turbines.

A beautiful sunny day in Copenhagen.

IMG_20180804_Copenhagen harbor panorama

Panoramic Shot of the Harbor

The Eclipse is docked at Langelinie Pier along with another big cruiser. Three other ships are docked across the harbor.

IMG_20180804_the other cruise port CopenhagenIMG_20180804_island in the harborCopenhagen harbor

The Harbor

The downtown area is called Stroget and can only be reached reasonably by taxi. Today is a walking day.

After another good breakfast (scrambled omelet with cheese, tomato, and onion; waffle with cottage cheese and sour cream), we decided to explore the area around the ship. The pier is adjacent to a linear array of shops and restaurants and beyond that are some parks. The iconic “Little Mermaid” is located along the harbor walkway and that was our ultimate destination.

We browsed the shops to see what the touristic products were – mostly expensive caps and shirts. Some upscale shops offered nice outfits and fitting rooms.

We walked along the harbor road and found several interesting statues

IMG_20180804_et and rock sculptureIMG_20180804_statue near the port

but the “Little Mermaid” was still further down. Although it was not in the 90s (as forecasted), it was still plenty warm and we still had to walk back. The area around the pier was saturated with new condos – we didn’t see any shops or stores in the few street radiating out from the harbor.

We walked back toward the Marina to get a picture of the many boats.

IMG_20180804_boat marina

We came across a family of swans on the marina pier – the female swan was huge (like a decent sized dog).


Mama Swan and Her Brood

She would hiss whenever anyone of thing approached her swanlings.

When we got near the pier, I was able to get a picture of the bear statue on the end.  A very interesting bit of art.  I had to get a closeup with the creature.

IMG_20180804_Copenhagen pier w bearIMG_20180804_me and the bear

We walked back and had lunch in the Aqua Spa Café after picking up some food in the Oceanview Café. I had Cesar Salad and cherry tomatoes along with some egg and potato salad. The specialty salads continue to be a highlight when they don’t have meat added to them. The Spa Café tuna also is consistently good.

Reading took up the afternoon.

We asked for and got a nice window seat for two in the Dining Room (#401). We were able to watch some of the sail away during dinner. I had the Tilapia Putanesca, which was very good along with the Tuscan Minestrone. I tried the NY Cheesecake – a couple of bites. You can get some pretty good seats if you get to the Celebrity Select Dining desk at 5:30 PM.

We got to the Theater about five minutes before show time and still got our seats.

The headliner tonight is Rob Lewis, a Brit, who won a content in the UK for the best Phil Collins tribute. I only know about three Phil Collins’ songs and I really wanted to hear the one from “White Nights”, “Separate Lives”. The problem was that the show was very loud, especially the drums, which had no plexiglass shield to muffle the sound. We were able to hang in there for about three songs before retreating to the outside deck.

We stayed on the back deck for the sail away.

IMG_20180804_Copenhagen sail awayIMG_20180804_North Sea 

Copenhagen Sail Away

The clouds and the ocean were a strange color – a pinkish to red hue.  Check out the color below.

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Unusual Clouds and Sea

This seemed like a good opportunity to take another iconic picture or two.

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A nice day in Copenhagen.

Friday, August 3, 2018 – At Sea – Baltic Sea – Sunny – mid 80s

Still not sleeping well – is the decaf really decaf?

I had breakfast at 7:00 AM in the Oceanview Café – Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream have reappeared on the buffet (they were out yesterday). Today, I opted for eggs over medium along with my waffle – I also tried the banana pancakes. A good breakfast watching the calm seas.

My third talk – “The Search for Jack the Ripper” – was at 9:30 AM in Celebrity Central (followed by Paul and Steve). When I got there at 9:00 AM, there were already about 20 people there. The talk was my first SRO of the cruise and at least 10 people left because they could not find seats. About 15 minutes into the talk, some crew guys brought in some chairs (maybe for Paul, who did not have a full house). Maybe for talk 4, they’ll have those chairs available at the start. The audience was very engaged and responded to all the questions posed. A real nice round of applause at the end and some very nice comments from guests.

I stayed to hear Paul talk about Mars.

Lunch was in the Oceanview Café – today was falafel day and I tried four different types of falafel along with hummus and baba ganouj. The cherry tomatoes continue to be a hit – I also had some tuna from the Spa Café (really good – tastes like veggie chopped liver).

Found some nice bucket chairs over by the spa in the Solarium so that’s where he spent the afternoon. I am still making progress on “The Defector”.

Dinner was in the Moonlight Sonata Dining room because the menu contained pistachio coated Haddock – it seemed to be different from the last time I had it but it was OK.

As I was heading up to the theater to get seats, I ran into a tall black girl and we had a chuckle as to who should go through the door (where our cabin is) first. I said she should – she smiled and said Thanks.

It turns out that the girl was part of tonight’s Headliners – “The Queens of Rhythm”.

IMG_20180803_Queens of Rhythm aint no mountain

IMG_20180803_Queens of Rhythm. Dream girls

They were a kind of tribute to the girl groups of Motown but they could sing and their choreography was pretty neat. I liked the show even though it was a little loud.

We finished the evening on the couches on Deck 14 Aft. It is still warm. 

IMG_20180803_Deck 14 Aft

Bonus – another beautiful sunset.

IMG_20180803_Sunset and shipIMG_20180803_sunset Baltic

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018 – Tallinn, Estonia – Partly Cloudy – 84F

The weather continues to be wonderful.

Celebrity Eclipse is docked in a different port today or the port has been renovated. There are at least four other ships here today: The Viking Sun, the German ship Mein Schiff Mirabella, another German ship – the Europa; and the Costa Magica.

IMG_20180802_Tallinn from ship

Tallinn From the Ship

We are still pretty tired from our Moscow trip so no tours scheduled today.

According to the Celebrity Today and Shorex personnel, the distance to the city is not really walkable so the port is providing a shuttle to the city center for $10 pp round trip. I’m going to take the shuttle and Ellen will stay on the ship today.

I bought my ticket on the pier and caught the shuttle right away. The trip was supposed to take about 20 minutes but we got to the drop off point in about 5 minutes. The walk did look difficult and it was warm so the shuttle did look like a good idea.

IMG_20180802_Shuttle pick up point

Shuttle Drop/Pick Up Location

I started to walk toward the entrance to the Old City and ran across a nice looking spa. I noticed than an hour massage cost only 30 Euros so I asked whether they had any availability. They did and I got a wonderful – and actual hour long – Swedish massage from a very tall Estonian woman, who spoke little English. The place was clean – clean washroom with soap and paper towels – and the staff friendly. My therapist was surprised by the 5 Euro tip.

From the spa, I walked to the gates of the Old Town – the main street was crowded – there were a lot of ships and here with a lot of passengers.

IMG_20180802_street to the main Square Tallinn

Street Leading to Main Square

IMG_20180802_Tallinn old Town gate 1IMG_20180802_Tallinn old Town gate

Old Town Gates

I wanted to get a local beer but the cafes and bars were pretty crowded so I decided – it was getting close to lunch time – to take the shuttle back to the ship.

I texted Ellen to tell her I was returning and after a fifteen minute wait for the shuttle to leave, the bus made its way back (only about 2 minutes to get back).

We had lunch in the Oceanview Café – tuna salad, Cesar salad, egg salad, and a slice of pizza.

Found some very comfortable seats in the Solarium and I am continuing to make progress on “Night School”.

While, we were up there, we heard some thunder and soon we saw the first precipitation of our cruise – light showers.

Late in the afternoon, we went off ship to check out the vendors just off the end of the pier – picked up some magnets and other goodies at reasonable prices.

We watched the sail away from the Solarium – the Gulf of Finland was incredibly smooth – not a ripple.

We changed for dinner in the Oceanview Café – I had a pasta prepared for me – again the best thing are the cherry tomatoes.

We passed on the production show – “Topper” – as we saw it the last time we were on the ship.

Instead, we went up to the Sky Lounge to read and watch the water go by.  I finished “Night School” – I was a little disappointed that Reacher didn’t have more 10 on 1 fights with tough guys but the ending was satisfying and very timely. I started “The Defector”, the ninth book in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva.

Clocks go backwards tonight.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – St. Petersburg, Russia – Day 2 – Sunny – 80s

Beautiful weather again.

We got very little sleep last night after our big day in Moscow.

We took it easy this morning because we have a tour scheduled in the afternoon.  We also scheduled an easy excursion – a bus tour of St. Petersburg.  The last time we tried to do a similar tour, it rained so hard that traffic was snarled and we missed key sites in the city.  That won’t happen today.

Also, we left so early yesterday that I really didn’t get a chance to get some pictures of the Marine Façade Cruise port.  You can see from the shot below, how beautiful the weather was.

IMG_20180801_Marine Facade Seaport

The port was very busy today with several ships docked or anchored.

IMG_20180801_Lots of ships St PetersburgIMG_20180801_Marine Facade condos

Marine Façade Condos

We left Celebrity Central at 1:45 PM on our tour, “Panoramic St. Petersburg” (one escort on this tour). Anna is our tour guide – she speaks pretty good English and has lots of stories about Russia to share (not all positive). 

The tour proceeded along the Neva River because you can see many of the sites of the city from the river banks.  On this day, there was a Russian submarine in the river.

IMG_20180801_Neva and submarine

Submarine in the Neva River

We got a nice shot of St. Isaac’s Cathedral across the River

IMG_20180801_St Isaacs Neva

We didn’t visit the Peter and Paul Fortress but I did get a nice picture of it from the bus.

IMG_20180801_Peter and Paul Fortress

The bus did stop at one point along the river giving us an opportunity to get a sunny day picture of the two of us.

IMG_20180801_we Neva and St Isaac

We crossed over a number of bridges – this afforded nice shots of the river and some of the canals.  Lots of people out today.

IMG_20180801_On tour St Petersburg

IMG_20180801_Neva RiverIMG_20180801_on tour St Petersburg 1

IMG_20180801_on tour St Petersburg 2

The route took us past the park where the equestrian statue of Peter the Great is exhibited.

IMG_20180802_Peter the Great

Peter the Great Statue

and past the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange and the pair of Rostral Columns.

IMG_20180801_Rostral Column

The statues at the base represent the four major rivers of Russia (the Neva and Volga being two of them).  The rostra from several ships adorn the Doric columns.

As we wound through the city streets, the guide pointed out the house that Tchaikovsky (the composer) lived in.

IMG_20180801_tchaikovsky home

Tchaikovsky House

IMG_20180801_st Petersburg apartments

St. Petersburg Architecture

The tour had a couple of actual stops where we could spend a little time and take non-moving pictures.

The first was St. Isaac’s Cathedral.  We circled the Cathedral

IMG_20180801_St Michaels Cathedral

until we found a good parking spot.  We spent about 10 minutes here but that was enough time to walk around the building and get the best pictures.

IMG_20180801_St Isaacs Cathedral 1

St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Our next stop would be the Church of Spilled Blood (site of Tsar Alexander II assassination).   We could see the Church from Nevsky Prospekt as we made our way there.  This was the only shot I got during that earlier rainstorm.

 IMG_20180801_Church of Spilled Blood from Nevsky Prospekt

Nevsky Prospekt and Church of Spilled Blood

No rain today. The bus got a parking spot across the street.  Except for the random people and parked cars, I got a very nice shot of the Church as well as the canal that runs along side the building.

IMG_20180801_Church of Spilled BloodIMG_20180801_Church of Spilled Blood River

Church of Spilled Blood

On the way back, Anna got into the subject of recent Russian Presidents. In her opinion, Mikhael Gorbachev was worse than Joseph Stalin. Stalin killed a lot of people, but Gorbachev almost killed the country. Strong opinions from a Russian.

It took about a half hour to get back to the port.  Passport control was pretty quick this time.  They knew we were leaving, probably.

Dinner was in the Oceanview Café. I am continuing my attack on the delicious cherry tomatoes.

Showtime tonight featured Pete Matthews – Comedy Juggler – we may have seen him in the past and didn’t stay long – we were just too tired from the last couple of days.

We went out on the back deck to watch the sail away.

About 90 minutes (and 20 miles) out, we passed Kotlin Island and the town of Kronstadt. The island was taken from Sweden by Peter the Great – it now has a Naval Base and the site of an impressive church, the Naval Cathedral. It is possible to get to the island from the mainland by bus and many see it as a nice day trip.

The Costa Magica was also leaving and was right behind us.

IMG_20180801_Kronstadt Island SP sail away 1IMG_20180801_Kronstadt Island SP sail away Costa MagicaIMG_20180801_Kronstadt Island SP sail away

Kotlin Island and Kronstadt

A fellow passenger took our picture as we passed alongside the island.

IMG_20180801_on the back deck St Petersburg sail away

We also caught the Magic Moment in the Bay of Finland.

IMG_20180801_St Petersburg sail away magic moment

A couple of tiring but terrific days in St. Petersburg, Russia.