Friday, December 15, 2017

Scandinavia 12

Christmas Ornaments
From Scandinavia

          Since we got married we've made it a tradition to buy an ornament  for our Christmas tree everywhere we travel that year. After 45 years of marriage and our extensive travels we have quite a tree full.
          Sometimes our trip took place in the summer or off season and Christmas tree ornaments were not available. We then turn to refrigerator magnets, or key chains (by removing the chain and the ring it becomes a lovely ornament).
          So we don't forget where and when we traveled, we write on each ornament, the city and year we visited. Every December we decorate the tree and it becomes a waltz down memory lane.

Here are the ornaments we purchased from our Scandinavian trip:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Our last day in Copenhagen we were walking along a small cobble stone street with small shops lining the block. The quaint  buildings were built around the early 1700s. We happened to walk into one shop that had a nice selection of key chains. We bought one, disconnected the key ring when we got home and put the hook on.

Warnemunde, Germany
We were walking along the "seaboard" enjoying the warm sun, and  crashing of the waves. The cabanas were lovely and large. We came across a light house and  modern gift  shop. We continued to stroll and entered a small gift shop on the sand. This key chain was the only one that had the light house on it and the only one left. Two other people had looked at it and put it back so we snatched it.

Riga, Latvia
As we toured the town we came across an impromptu two man show in the street. The people surrounded the pair, clapped and sang along. Several young girls were dressed in traditional clothes, singing and dancing along with the music. On the way back to the ship we came across a souvenir shop in a romantic corner of the city lined with bistros. As soon as we saw this refrigerator magnet we had to have it. When we got home we converted it to an ornament.

Klaipeda, Lithuania
Klaipeda was an beautiful city full of flowers hanging from light posts, and in flower towers throughout the city. It got windy so we ducked into an Amber Shop to get out of the wind. The items were lovely, beautifully cut amber in jewelry and art work, but they were way out of our price range because they were real amber. We found a flea market on the way back to the ship and bought this refrigerator magnet  in honor of the amber we drooled over.

Trallinn, Estonia
Tallinn was so very beautiful! The old town brought a real feel for the days of maidens and knights. I truly felt I was in a fairy tale the entire time we were in the old town. We wanted an ornament that depicted the ancient castle and streets. We were fortunate to find this ornament, (not a keychain) in a small shop in one of the ancient building along the castle gates.

Helsinki, Finland
Our time was very short in Helsinki and we regret we were not able to  see  most of the city since we were on foot. We took a harbor cruise, and found out  that moose and other animals will occasionally wonder into the city. The tour guide told of a young moose got lost and ended up in the park full of trees. She talked bout the tourists and visitors surrounding the park taking pictures and the poor young moose scared to death. It's mother should ahve been nearby but wasn't. Eventually their animal game people came and got him on his way to the hills. We found this in a street market in honor of that brave little moose.

St. Petersburg, Russia
We were very fortunately to be docked in St. Petersburg for three days and two night. Hence, we had the opportunity to enjoy the city. I wanted a traditional ornament for this city because of its beauty and history. We found this in a Christmas shop along the canal and fell in love with it. It was actually an ornament .

Stockholm, Sweden
We bought this keychain at the Palace. We were so impressed with the clean, classy designs of Nobility, i.e. the ancient robes, crowns and scepters. The docents at the palace were very nice and anxious to answer any questions we had.

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Scandinavia 11

Heading Home

Leaving Stockholm

          Our trip home began at 5 am. We were to board at 9:10am...good thing we got started early!

          Our hired driver was supposed to pick us up at 5:30. He arrived at 5:15, traffic was non-existent. So we were at the airport before 6 am... 3 hours early. After getting our luggage tagged we were directed to the Business Class lounge, a ten-minute walk. The lounge was decorated in IKEA like decor, very comfortable. And of course, there was a buffet of great food. To pass the time we wrote and edited Slick Deal, our up, and coming book.

          Bill decided he wanted to head to the gate early. Good thing, customs, and immigration took over an hour. Not sure why since there were only 6 people online. The plane started boarding at 9:10 we made it there at 9:20.


          We got settled in our Business Class pods, dining on great food, watched movies, edited our books, and napped. Overall the flight was pretty uneventful. We agreed traveling Business Class is the way to go!

          When we landed in LAX  at 9:30we found a computerized system for immigration. The computer took our photos, and scanned our passports. By time we got our luggage it was noon and hot! We just came from 50-57 degree weather so it was a shock to our system.

          We took Super Shuttle home and found all was well.
          We sat in our living room, sipping ice herb tea and faced the long recovery from jet lag.

          Our trip now seems like a dream, thankful our journal and photos are well documented. While waiting for our flight in Stockholm, I picked up a travel magazine and thumbed through it. I found a quote that made me think and realize how true it is.

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
by Henry Miller

          I want you to know how much we have enjoyed sharing our journey with you and hope you have enjoyed it as well.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Scandinavia 10b

Stockholm, the Amsterdam of Scandinavia.
Our last day of touring! Breakfast was included every morning of our hotel stay. the Breakfast Buffet was to die for!! It catered to any taste, foreign or not! We discovered Scandinavian breakfast pate which is delicious. Hope we can find it in the US. We also fell in love with Lingonberries. The lobby offered free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. It was a gathering area for guests and visitors. We met many fascinating people especially from Nordic countries such as Iceland and several Lap Landers.

ABBA Museum
This was the first time we went to a museum dedicated to popular musicians. It was made up of multi-media displays of the band's history, music, and costumes. We had no idea the problems they faced just getting started. They broke up in 1982 but their music lives on in movies,  radio and in this museum.

Riddenholman Church
The church is where many of the kings and queens of Sweden are entombed along with many members of the Swedish nobility. It dates from the 12th century, founded by St Francis of Assisi and his order of monks. It was interesting to see the different phases of completion of the church.

We missed the bus back to our hotel and had to wait half an hour for the next one. Freezing cold, we slipped into a cafe called Brassieret. It looked like it was plucked right out of 1930s Paris. French accordion music played over the sound system.  We ordered a couple of hot chocolates to warm us up. This little brassiere was very romantic.

Royal Palace
We spent the morning at the Palace. The crown jewels were beautiful,  tasteful, simple and elegant. The upstairs of the palace were the living quarters of the King and Queen. However, when their children were young there was no place for them to play. So they moved and now use the palace as their office (they are there daily) as well as for receptions/ ceremonies. The second floor now is a showcase for the beautifully designed clothing royal clothes, historical items and history of the Monarchy. All of it was quite an education.

We found out that our timing was way off. There was to be a Royal Event scheduled for tomorrow 10:00am. The king was making an appearance to accept the credentials of the new Ambassadors to Sweden. They were arriving in traditional carriages and horses. Really wish we could attend but we would be at the airport leaving for home.
Just a note: When we finished the tour we were hungry. I asked one of the guides if there was a cafe on the Palace grounds.
"Oh there are many cafes in Old Town, just...throw a it"
We looked at each other, "You mean a stones' throw from here?"
"Oh yes, a stone's throw."

Grand Hotel
We were headed for the Opera House with a string of restaurants along the side. Across the street however, was the Grand Hotel built in 1874. We simultaneously said. "Let's go to the Grand."
The Grand Hotel was beautiful, very high class. We were afraid they wouldn't let us in since we were traveling and looked well...worse than casual. They were very nice and directed us to the "less formal" eating area, a lovely restaurant with large windows facing the harbor.