Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Scandinavia #3

Leaving Copenhagen

          It was time to leave for our long awaited cruise of the Baltic Sea. But we were sad to leave Copenhagen. It was all we expected and even more.
          We had reserved a driver and car to pick us up and deliver us to our ship, the Oceania Marina. We were surprised how smooth the check in procedure was. This was our fifth cruise, our first with Oceania. We have cruised with 4 different lines, Celebrity Cruise Line was our favorite. So we will see how much we like this line.

The Cruise Line
          We went through the initial check in, security and had our luggage taken for security check on the dock. We were an hour early for embarkation and thought we would have to wait, but they let us board. As we entered the lobby, a string quartet played classical music, the lobby was majestic with wrought iron, tiled floors, etched Lalique glass and crystal chandeliers.
          Our stateroom was not ready but the lunch buffet had just opened for serving. We had an amazing lunch. The view of Copenhagen and the open sea from the 12th deck was breathtaking. We still had some time before our room was ready so we investigated the different common areas. Every decoration, from carpet to ceiling was amazingly thought out.

          They called our room and we headed for the Deck 8. Our stateroom was very nice, plenty of drawers, a  large closet and a lovely veranda that looked right out to the sea. Our luggage was waiting for us by the door. Ever thing arrived including a small duffel bag that was not ours. I gave it to the porter and said, "This is not ours." He apologized and left with the duffel bag.

          We changed and went for a soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi. The air was 56 F but the thick robes they left us kept us warm. We soaked for 20 minutes, drinks were served to us in the tub. It felt good to be totally warm inside. We returned and found the same small duffel bag by our door again.  I found an attendant and said, "This is not ours." He apologized and left with the duffel bag.

          We showered and dressed for dinner. Now, we usually take cruises along the west coast of the US and one Caribbean cruise. Seldom do we need to dress for dinner other than something clean, tidy and nice. We didn't realize that Oceania was a luxury liner and we were expected to dress for dinner every evening. So we dressed and headed to the dining room. We shared a table with a sweet older couple from Kentucky who were celebrating their 60 anniversary. It was nice to celebrate a monumental year with them. And surprisingly, they had a glutten-free dinner waiting for me, it was delicious!

          It was around 10:00pm, we had already left the docks and we sailing the Baltic Sea. We stopped and looked out the deck on the way back, the moon was almost full and left a lovely trail of light on the water.

          We returned to our stateroom only to find the same duffel bag waiting for us by the door, third time. It was like indigestion, it kept coming back! I gave it to the night steward.  I really felt sorry for the proper person.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scandinavia #2

Copenhagen, Denmark

          We spent five days in Copenhagen, a wonderful city, and friendly people. The weather was cold, damp but sunny most of the time we were there. It misted once, poured once.

          Their idea of "a full breakfast" is a Smorrebrod (smorgasbord). The service people at the hotel were attentive and provided breakfast each morning consisting of tables and tables of food. Janet got hooked on lox, Bill seemed addicted to herring. We discovered the breads of Denmark are scrumptious, very hardy and flavorful. And the choice of berries was never-ending. Janet is gluten-free but they had many gluten-free options available plus a special bun that was full of nuts and seeds.

Sight seeing
          Our first full day of sightseeing was amazing. We took the Hop on, Hop off bus tour that allowed us to stop and get off at sites along the route. The route took us around the capital, a most beautiful city, clean and full of fresh flowers. The architecture was fascinating. One can see why Hans Christian Anderson was so inspired by the city.
          We strolled over the Nyhavn Bridge (Danish for Heavenly Bridge) We saw padlocks on the railing. They were Love locks. That means sweethearts lock to a bridge to symbolize their love. The sweethearts' names or initials are carved on the padlock, and the key is thrown into the canal to symbolize unbreakable love.

          A walk down ancient Magstrede Street, one of the first communities built in the late 1500s. I could imagine horses trotting down the narrow cobblestone streets, men in long coats, hats, and lace, women in big skirts as in the Rembrandt paintings.

          On our walk through town, suddenly the traffic stopped. Not sure what happened we waited by the curb. We heard marching thinking it was another parade. It was the changing of the guards marching from one castle to another. This happens several times a day and the traffic stops and patiently waits.

Iron Man Contest/Gay Pride Parade
          We had caught the bus early the next day to continue our sightseeing. The bus had to change its route several times. Then we found out the Gay Pride Parade was that afternoon and took up the entire main square. Of course, the buses had to be re-routed. That was Saturday, then Sunday morning we woke up to the Iron Man Contest which began and ended in front of our hotel! It made sense since there were lots of strong men in the hotel carrying bikes on their shoulders. The feeling was similar to the Olympics held in Los Angeles, you couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement. We met families from around the world cheering on the contestants.

Rosenborg Castle
          We did manage to visit the Rosenborg Castle built in 1606 by King Christian IV as his country summerhouse. The main castle is now used as a beautiful museum.  The dungeon was about two stories below the castle where the crown jewels are kept under heavy security. The pieces were beautiful, I'd never see such intricate work in gold and precious stones on crowns and ceremonial swords. Queen Margrethe II has been incumbent since 1972.

          As we walked around the city, we noticed that the parking signs read PARKERING vs. PARKING. We also noticed local people riding their bikes everywhere. Bikes are lined up along "Parkering for Bike". The locals also ride their bikes to work dressed in business clothes, i.e., suits, hats, wool coats, and heels!

Romantic good-by to Copenhagen
          Our last night we went for a walk down the canal at 9:30pm with an almost full moon. The city was well lit with many of the cafes open along the canals. It was cold (52°) so we bundled up. Bill noticed that many of the cafes had heavy blankets draped over the chairs. So we stopped for hot chocolate at a cafe on the canal cuddled up under our individual blankets. Small boats sailed by, the water rippled in the moonlight and the light from the businesses across the canal eliminated the water. It was terribly romantic, right out of a romance novel.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Scandinavia #1


We just returned from a wonderful 23 day trip to Scandinavia. Though Jet Lag has reared its ugly head, we wanted to share our adventure.

The flight
           On August 17, we flew Scandinavia Airlines (SAS) nonstop from LAX to Stockholm, a 10-1/2 hour flight with a connection to Copenhagen, another 2 hours. Because of our old age and long hours on flight, the only way we could survive was to go Business Class. Unfortunately, the flight left 2 hours late from LAX, something about the terror attack in Barcelona. 

           Our flight was uneventful, comfortable and relaxing. The food was fantastic, breakfast, lunch and constant snacks. Our meals were served on China, with silverware and real glassware!

          Because of our delay in leaving LA we were 2 hours late for our connection to Copenhagen. Our next flight wasn't scheduled for 2 more hours so we enjoyed a wonderful time meeting people from all over the world! All of us were waiting at the airport for different reasons and shared travel stories. It was rather entertaining.

Landing in Copenhagen
          We finally landed in Copenhagen at 3:30pm (LA Time 5:30am). Our hotel, The Strand, is located on one of the many canals that lace the city. Our hotel was built in 1869 and was originally a linen manufacturing company. It makes sense, being so close to the river and getting shipments from the harbor. It seems the Danes repurpose old building probably because they are built so well.

          After registering, we went in search of lunch. You'll never guess, Mc Donald's! They even took our credit card without batting an eye. The weather was cold and muggy, bundle up time. We did have some drizzle. They say this is normal for this time of year.

          It cleared up so we continued our walk along the canals. It was lovely, and romantic. The sky was perfect for pictures of the amazing architecture. Because we were so far north the sun set late, around 9:00pm.

          We got back to the hotel, made plans for tomorrow and passed out about 7:00pm. Jet lag started right away for us.