Pictures by Walter

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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Sailing Days

As I watched Tallinn fading into the horizon I realised we had a whole 36 hours of cruising before we reached our next port of call, Kiel, Germany.  I did mention in a previous blog I hated the feeling of being confined to a ship for more than 12 hours when all one has to see is the endless horizon and the empty sea (weather permitting). However, that was a simplistic statement.  We are not confined to our cabins, there is plenty of entertainment, bars, decks to stroll round and observation room to site a gaze at the “Oh so open sea”.  You are assigned a Dining Room and table  for your evening meal at other times you are free to go A’la Carte, eat at the buffet, grill.  There is entertainment twice a night in the main lounge.  Whilst the early sitting is at evening meal tye late sitting have the opportunity to enjoy the evening show. The same show is presented to the well fed and sated early sitters.  The Black Watch entertainers/dancers were far to energetic, especially on a rolling , yawning ship.

Monday 26th September “Golden age of Rock

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The talented team also performed a tribute entitled “Legends” in which the they paid tribute to “Freddy Mercury – Queen”, “Elton John”,  “Cher”, “Grease”, “Elvis”, “Abba”, “Cabaret”,  “The Rat Pack” and .

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“Queen & Freddy Mercury”

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“Elton John”

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“Gypsy, Tramps & Thieves – Cher”

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“Grease”

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“Elvis”

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“Abba”

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“Carbaret”

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“Rat Pack”

Gallery

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Gallery of 55 Images of “Legends” show

 


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Tallinn

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Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (the churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants’ houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries. (Extract from UNESCO) (Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Early Saturday morning saw us docked near the Estonian city of Tallinn. Tallinn is a contrast of modern and medieval – the outer part is modern verging on ultra modern but the heart of the city is sited on a hill, the medieval town.  Our ship was dock well outside the city and we had to bus into the modern part to be dropped off at the foot of the hill for a long walk up through one of the medieval gates into the small cramped streets. The old square is surrounded with medieval buildings with some fine attachments. I’m sure that the talk given by the tour guide was interesting and informative, however, we where on top of a hill, exposed to the wind which added a windchill factor of Freezing.  We stood there for 5 minutes before setting of on our own for bit of a wander around the centre before going for a sample of mid morning tea and folk dance display.

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Susan and I enjoyed our little meander around this old town.  Looking at how the old buildings were being used for modern business without destroying the outer facade of the building. We spotted  dragons, a Scottish Pub, some intriguing statues, carved doorways as well as a few Irish pubs

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After about an hour we made our way back to the meeting point in time for the “Cultural Treat”.  The folk dance was interesting unfortunately it was very vigorous and too fast for me to capture via my camera, as I had not taken my fast lens.  (Oh well lesson learnt there). 30 minutes later we were heading back to our coach for the return trip to the ship.  Like all shore excursions there does not appear to be enough time to explore places in detail.  It takes so long to get between places and so little time at the destination.  What did stick in my mind is that Tallinn is a town of two parts the ancient surround by the modern. This can be summed up with the opening image and the closing image taken as we departed the docks.
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Click on this image to see Flickr Gallery of 37 images from Tallinn


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – St Petersburg

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The Admiralty building is the former headquarters of the Admiralty Board and the Imperial Russian Navy in St. Petersburg, Russia and the current headquarters of the Russian Navy. The edifice was re-built in the nineteenth century to support the Tsar’s maritime ambitions

The morning of Friday 29th September 2017 saw us docking at St Petersburg – I was up very early and watched the ship manoeuvring up stream to the docks near the city centre.  We had been briefed, via a ship’s newsletter, as to how we approached Russian Immigration.  I thought UK Immigration staff were poker face but the Russians had them beat for deadpan face.  I will admit to slight trepidation as I entered the room, passed my visa and passport across, after a few minutes of being scrutinised and my passport checked, an entry visa was stamped into my passport.  (After 46 years and going through four passports my fifth was the one that had a visa stamp stamped onto it).  Anyway I digress, having passed through immigration we made our way to our tour bus – Everyday St Petersburg – and it was everyday St Petersburg.  We did see some of the historical/touristic sites but only externally.  We explored the city centre, enjoyed a trip on the Moscow Metro, walks along “Nevsky Prospekt” bought a few gifts.  As far as the cruise went St Petersburg was the highlight and the Metro trip was the bonus.  Unlike the last two cities with quick tours St Petersburg was 8.5 hours and we enjoyed every  minute of it.

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The Church of the Savior on Blood commemorates the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated personal collection

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

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One of the many mosaics on the St Petersburg Metro

 

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St Petersburg Metro Station. The cleanliness and upkeep of all the staions and art work are of a very high standard

 

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Puskin’s Statue at Metro station named after him

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Click on Image for St Petersburg Gallery of 51 Images

We left St Petersburg early evening and watched the lights of the city fade as we sailed down river to the Baltic See and an overnight cruise to our next port of call Tallinn in Estonia


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Cultural Cities of Northern Europe – Copenhagen

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(1) Gefion Fountain by Anders Bundgaard

On Monday 24th September 2017 Susan and I set of on our first sea cruise.  I say our as Susan has made three previous sea cruises, this was my first.  We had book on the Fred Olsen “Cultural Cities of Northern Europe” cruise.  This ten day Baltic Sea cruise took us to Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), St Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Kiel (Germany) the back to Rosyth, Scotland via the Kiel Canal and North Sea.  We set sail at 5 pm Sunday evening and cruised the North Sea To Copenhagen (Denmark) and docked Early Tuesday morning.   After breakfast we boarded our City Tour (with Canal Cruise) to explore Copenhagen city and harbour. We were taken to the usual tourist sites such as:

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Little Mermaid: At Langelinje Pier you will find one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions: The sculpture of The Little Mermaid. On 23 August 2013 she turned 100 years old. She has been beheaded several times, dubbed with red paint – in all for a statute she has had an eventful 114 years

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St. Alban’s Church, ( the English Church), is an Anglican church in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was built from 1885 to 1887 for the growing English congregation in the city. Designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style.

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On 6 September 1982, a Danish frigate, the HDMS Peder Skram, accidentally fired a Harpoon missile during maneuvers in the Kattegat.[1] The missile traveled 34 kilometers at low level, severing several power lines before striking some trees after which it exploded. The fireball and subsequent shock wave destroyed four unoccupied summer cottages and damaged a further 130 buildings in the immediate vicinity. No human injury was reported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark, and among the most modern opera houses in the world. It is also one of the most expensive opera houses ever built with construction costs well over US$500 million

 

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Copenhagen Gallery – Click on image to view 46 images


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Our Holiday Adventure 2016 Part 2

As mentioned in part 1 we had 4 main objects to meet on this holiday they were:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway (See part 1)
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

Dolphins – The Moray Forth Dolphins are an established tourist attraction and attract large crowds.  Most dolphin watchers head for Chanonry Point.  During the high season there is restricted parking facilities.  However we had arranged for a trip on the Gemini Explorer. a converted ex-lifeboat. This was a much better option for us. On our trip around the Firth we were lucky to see a super pod of 26 dolphins (several pods working together hunting fish).  We were surrounded by the dolphins, who provided a natural exuberant display including bow riding. (Click on image left or here to see gallery)

Applecross Pass -Bealach na Ba :  Bealach na Ba, meaning pass of the cattle, was used in earlier days to drive cattle from Applecross and surrounding settlements to other parts of the Highlands, it was not part of the historic Drove Routes. – Susan and Sid often suggested that I should drive the route.  It now forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist route. It is not an easy drive and I considered the options.  I wished to enjoy the sights and knew if I drove I would be too busy watching the road over the pass and miss the sights.  The solution take a bus tour and let the bus driver do te driving and I could enjoy the sights with Susan.  Highland Express Tours Inverness had such a tour which would take all day.  Gary (our driver) really made the trip special along with the views as well 🙂 . (Click image on right or here to view gallery)

White Tailed Sea Eagle: Having declined to drive the route to Bealach na Ba I found myself driving part of the route as we headed for Island of Skye via the Skye Bridge.  Our destination was Kylerhea and the Glenelg Ferry. I should have realised that the trip would not be a simple one or straight forward.  We crossed the bridge and after about 1 mile we turned left off the main road heading down a single (with passing places) dirt track road with some ineradicable sights and heart stopping drops.  Thanks fully it is not a busy route or else congestion would occur.  It is also not a route for the faint of heart.  We sat for 2 hours waiting and watching the sea eagle both of us feeling privileged to see such a magnificent bird.  We opted to take the ferry across to Glen Elg and complete a circular tour back to our holiday caravan HQ.  The drive up and down Glen Elg was worth doing on its own right.  There are two view point where one can get photos of the “Five Sisters” of Kintail.  As we made our way back to base we reflected on this trip which so happened to have completed three of our four objects.  As for the fourth object I could tell that our 14 days in the heart of Scotland had re-invigorated my partner. Whilst her energy and stamina were still below par there was once again that zest for life.  She once told me that it was the simple things that brought her great pleasure but it was the mountains of Scotland that fed her soul. We had many adventures (or trips out if you prefer) that helped to restore the zest.  One was a simple walk from the centre of Inverness to North Kessock across the Kessock bridge. Outings to Dingwall, Glen Ord Distillery (need to be 18 0r over to visit web site)(purchased a 12 year old and 18 year old bottle of Glen Ord Singleton.  Inverewe Gardens, Loch Maree, Rogie Falls, Plodda Falls Boat trips from Inverness and Gairloch Harbour.  The longest trip was to Orkney which included a ferry crossing the longest non ferry trip was the Wester Ross Coastal Trail.

It has taken me a year to update this blog.  There are many reason for the delay and hopefully now equilibrium has been achieved I’ll have time to catch up to this years adventures with my Partner Susan.  As for the blog I have not finished with 2016 yet :).  For those who took the time to read through this rambling blog my thanks for taking the time I hope you enjoyed it and followed the links to the albums.  Even to a city bred boy the highlands and islands of Scotland cast a magical spell and bring peace to my soul.

 


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201608 – On our Holiday August 2016

I was tempted to use that old essay title used by many of us on return to school after any holiday break – “What I did on Holiday”. In a sense this was a very special holiday in many ways.  I had watch my partner battle her cancer, facing decisions on treatment and her battle to regain strength.  At the start of 2016 we planned this holiday and we had set three objects to attain:

  1. Travel on Strathspey Railway
  2. See Dolphins
  3. See White Tailed Eagle
  4. Enjoy ourselves

We had hired a caravan at Coulmore Bay, North Kessock, Inverness from Val Beales Chalmers.  We hired her smaller caravan before, but this 6 berth was a superb base for our touring around Sutherland etc.

21/08/2016Strathspey Railway:  We boarded the steam hauled train at Aviemore Station.  It was hauled by Ex-LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46512 “E. V. Cooper, Engineer” for our return trip to Broomhill. (Click here on image right to view album).  We arrived at the caravan unpacked and had dinner.  The journey had tired out Susan, so a quiet night sitting down at the old ferry dock in North Kessock.

 

Following day 22/08/2016 – Two Castles and A Canal:  An early start of the day saw us heading east towards the Moray Firth in search of Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle. It was not until I entered the basement of the castle did it dawn on me that I had previously been to this castle. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and garden, alas we could not tackle maze as it was being renovated. From Cawdor we headed east for a long drive to our next historic castle Urquhart. (Urquhart Gallery) This was a tactical error due to the site being a tourist attraction with nearly all the tour busses stopping to drop off their passengers.  In fact it was too much for the both of us – so we cut short our visit and headed for Fort Augustus – see Gallery.

A Special Trip – Orkney: Susan was invited by a drama friend to visit Orkney I was included in the invite.  We were sailing from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope by the first ferry of the day.  We left our caravan at 5 am on a very foggy Monday morning.  I had set up TomTom (SatNav) to give me directions.  Even as I type this I shudder at that drive up via unclassified roads, single track (to me farm tracks) lanes as well as the main roads.  I’ll give the programmers of the SatNav their due – the device got me straight there in less time I would have taken using just the main roads.  Never again I tell you.  I turned left and came face to face with a family of deer fine in clear weather but in fog!.  We did get to Orkney and Susan friends made us welcome and took us round the tourists spots like the Italian Chapel, Skara Bra etc. (Click here or on image at left to view Orkney Gallery)