St. Petersburg to Stockholm
We left St Petersburg, Russia and returned to Helsinki to pick up our 13 year old swabby granddaughter, Julia. From Helsinki we made an overnight passage to Stockholm. This is a wonderful trip and includes some 30 miles snaking through the Swedish Archipelago. Thousands of beautiful islands.
After passing these islands through lots of lakes, rivers, and bays you turn a corner and there is beautiful Stockholm! One-third water, two-thirds city surrounded by woods, bursting with energy and history. Sweden's stunning capital is green, clean, sleek and progressive.
Stockholm from our moored boat. One of the many ferries and some hot air balloons.
The archipelago city is connected by bridges and ferries. We moored on Djurgarden Island next to the Vasa Museum http://www.vasamuseet.se/en/
This houses an ill-fated 17th century warship dredged from the sea floor. The restoration process is ongoing, will take more years and is seriously encased in a huge climate and light controlled building. Fascinating.
From our close in perch we enjoyed wonderful views of and easy access to Stockholm center city. There are endless bike trails, galleries, museums, restaurants. A nearby added treat and in step with the Swedes attraction for all things outdoors was Djurgarden island. Four hundred years ago this was the king's hunting ground. Now this entire lush island is public accessible and protected as a national park.
And oh yeathe important one, that would be the ABBA Museum, $32 entry fee but worth the memory trip back to college days! Yep, I was the 'Dancing Queen'.
Stockholm's not to be missed sights: The Nobel Museum, grand City Hall, The Royal Armory, The Vasa Museum, strolling the Old Town Gamla Stan, listening to the military parade at the Royal Palace announcing the Changing of the Guard and more! What's not to love about a country that's home to the smorgasbord, Volvo, Ikea, Swedish meatballs (yum!), ABBA, Kosta Boda & Orrefor's fine crystal, and striking people!
Finally and all too close was Grona Lund a huge amusement park that our 13 yr. old convinced me to visit and ride!
Grand amusement park, Grona Lund
Julia and Mimi at Grona Lund
Yep...did that ride too!
We enjoyed a great stretch of sunny high pressure weather in Stockholm. However; Scandinavian weather can be tricky and late one afternoon the skies were making up for a summer thunderstorm, one not forecasted. We clocked 50+ knot winds that tore through the marina. It was wildsails and bimini tops ripped from boats. Big waves slapped along the hull of our boat. Our US flag, pole and all was ripped from its mount and disappeared. Found under a pier the next day. Grateful we were on board, snug but bumpy inside!
Full gale winds at Wasahamen Marina, Stockholm
Sails and biminis are gone, shredded
After the storm Julia & Pop Pop cruising the docks, damage assessment
The Pearl with Stockhom (and hot air balloon) in the backdrop Sweden to Denmark
Departing Stockholm we set off south for Visby on Gotland Island, Sweden. The walled city of Visby is a UNESCO World heritage Site as well as a popular party town in the summer.
We lucked out and arrived during their Medeltidsveckan
- 'Medieval Week'. OH my goodness! For an entire week in August the entire town goes nutsy Medieval - think circa 1300. Locals, visitors from all over Sweden and some from afar, dress, talk, and act true to the times. The annual festival hosts everything from jousting to juggling tournaments. There are booths upon booths selling medieval garb, weapons, leather goods, period food. And plenty of music and theatrical entertainment. The narrow cobbled stoned streets are lined with tightly packed aged houses, larger wealthy merchant's homes and ruins of historic churches - an ideal backdrop! Check these pics out. Chaucer would be proud!
Ironsmith...sorta of Medieval characters, note tennies
Fair maiden selling fruits and veggies
The nuns made an appearance The archer and his apprentice
We scored tickets to the festival's closing bash held in the ruins of St. Nicolai Church. Of the hundreds of attendees we were the only ones not in medieval attire think clothes on at a nudist beach!
Like St. Nicolai we noticed most of the churchs were in ruins. This is a result of supply grossly out pacing demand. At one time on small Gotland Island there were over 90 operating churches, many of them built in the 12th century.
It was impossible for the small population to support that many churches and although today some have been preserved, most are in ruins. But, even the ruins are put to good use. At night they are spectacular when lit up and provide a dramatic backdrop for all types of festivals and entertainment.
Live entertainment inside ruins of St Nicolai
View from the front of St Nicolai ChurchOnwards to Denmark
Copenhagen we saved the best for last. This Danish capital is our favorite port of this summer's cruise. We secured a berth downtown in Amaliehaven. This is in front of the Queen's gartens (gardens) and near all of Copenhagen's royal attractions including the Palace and Marble Church. Also, we had a fabulous view of the new Opera House.
The quay populated with cool schooners and the 'Pearl' tied up in front of the gardens. Note the black line at the very right side of the photo indicating our location
The Royal Danish Opera House was donated to the Danish state in 2000 by the A.P. Mller.
He was co-founder of Mrsk
, a very familiar name on the oceans of the world. The Mrsk
Group is the largest container ship
operator & supply vessel operator in the world. We see their ships everywhere.
The Royal Danish Opera House as seen from our boat's mooring
Today, Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries, but in the 6th century, it was the largest. At that time, it ruled Norway and the three southern providences of Sweden. Kobenhavn (merchants harbor) was born on the little island of Slotsholmen, today home of the circa 1167 Christiansborg Palace.
Copenhagen's medieval moat is now a string of pleasant lakes and parks including the classically beautiful Tivoli Gardens. The city is bubbling with street life and pedal-power - never saw so many bicycles! Also charming neighborhoods and plazas choc-a-bloc full of cafes, and indie design stores.
And then the colorful old Nyhavn sailors' harbor. With Braun it was "love at first sight".
Nyhavn old Sailors harbor
Nyhavn ("new harbor" but now old) built in the 1670's, is Copenhagen's most iconic canal. It is filled with vintage schooners, historic sloops and present day work boats. The scenic quay is lined with trendy outdoor cafes. This scene stimulated Danish author Hans Christian Andersen who lived and worked there.
It's a great place to hang out. The quay is lively with cheap beer drinkers dockside. The tourists and the well-off look on from the pricy but comfier cafes! A note about all this public beer-drinking. There's no more beer consumption in Denmark than the US; it's just out in public. Bars and cafes are expensive.
Thrifty young Danes (and some not so young) are allowed to drink their supermarket beers in public squares and along canals. The result is a vibrant outdoor party atmosphere with virtually no disorderliness.
Enjoying a few pops quayside
Bands and Cafes on the quay. Can you spot the old salt in a white ball cap with Nikes?
Good friends and neighbors (Alexandria, VA) Ron and Michelle visiting us in Copenhagen...enjoying Nyhavn. Note the coats in August!
In a rare happening, Braun and I split up. He went searching for the Danish Resistance Museum.I headed for the museum for Scandinavian design the Design Museum Denmark.
When I checked with him later in the day he said he was back in Nyhavn. What happened to the Resistance Museum? Oh, he discovered that it had burned down recently so he headed straight back to Nyhavn for some Danish beer and local nautical color. So predictable.
We only skimmed the surface of this beautiful Scandinavian capital. Some other fun and interesting facts about Denmark:
It has 14 Nobel laureates one of the highest per capita ratio of any other country in the world; it enjoys the highest employment rate in Europe; Bang & Olufsen is Danish; and so is world famous building toys, Lego! You can add to the list great tasting beers, Carlsberg and Tuborg, and of course the "Danish" pastry blew our diets! As of 2014, Copenhagen has 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most of any Scandinavian city. We tested the stars rating at Denmark's first Asia/Michelin restaurant, the incredible Kiin Kiin.
Note for cruisers We were surprised at how inexpensive our dockage was throughout Scandinavia, particularly for prime donwntown locations. We expected to pay higher slip fees once we arrived in Scandinavia as the cost of living is much higher than the Baltic States. But on average, we paid about $95.00 per night during the high season! And that included, where available electric and water! Return to England
All too soon it was time to make the passage back to England and layup for the winter. We hustled back through the Kiel Canal in Germany and laid over for a few days in a Scheveningen, The Netherlands.
The 'Pearl' amongst a lot of "sticks" in Scheveningen harbor. We entered through the narrow lane of water
Why Scheveningen? Well it's a 15-minute tram ride from the marina to the international city of peace and justice, The Hague (Den Haag). A center of international politics The Hague is home to over 150 international organizations. These include the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) and the International Criminal Court
(ICC) to name just a few.
Politics aside, the dynamic city center is a terrific blend of historic structures, public squares and modern architecture. Another great northern European spot for world class wining and dining!
One of the highlights was attending the newly re-opened Mauritshuis museum which features a fabulous collection of Dutch and Flemish masters of the Golden Age including iconic works such as Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch (far better than the book!) and Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp (grisly and gory!)
We arrived on a Friday, stumbled into to town and came across a "Big Texas BBQ" festivalSue & John felt right at home!
A bit of Texas in The Hague
Lake Hofvijer in front of the Binnenhof, the historic complex that hosts the Dutch government
We enjoyed a day trip to the nearby Dutch town - incredibly charming, Delft.
Resturant barge on one of the many canals in Delft
More of Delft
A typical bicycle parking lotFinally England
We waited for a good weather window and did an overnight passage crossing of the English Channel landing in another favorite port Brighton & Hove, England. It is England's Key West - a uniquely bohemian, artistic and eccentric seaside city. At the center of town is the Royal Pavilion. This spectacular pleasure palace, featuring an Indian exterior and Chinese interior, was the creation of the Prince Regent who matured into George IV. It clearly sets the tone for Brighton as a place to escape the mundane and the ordinary!
The Royal Pavillion lit up at night
The richly decorated banquet room from architect John Nash's perspective, an oriental fantasy!
Tina and Sue enjoying the many pubs in Brighton!
On to Southamptonour last stop of our 3300+ nautical mile, 13-country voyage this past summer. We have chosen to winter the boat on the hard near the Nordhavn UK office in Southampton. Neil Russell and Phillip Roach did a great job arranging the haul out at Saxon Yard of our 100 ton baby. She is high and dry till next spring.
In the sling at Saxon's
We are very grateful for an incredible summer cruise. We met some wonderful sailors who participated on the Ocean Cruising Club Baltic Rally. We are especially thankful to our close cruising pals, Patricia and Wayne Davis (N35 'Envoy') and, Sue and John Spencer (N40 'Uno Mas') for the all the miles, meals, memories, and laughs we shared doing what we enjoy the most being on the water! Their help was invaluable to us!
Pat Davis mending the US flag before we enter Russia Wayne Davis enjoying some R & R in the hammock
Lady and Lord Spencer in the Kiel Canal locks, Germany
So what about next year? Stay in Northern Europe or head for warmer climates? The only thing that is certain is that there is still so much to see and do! Stay tuned ~
In the meantime, this is our last communiqu for the season.
Ocean Pearl ~ OUT
Tina and Braun
We experienced some technical difficulty (that'd be me - technically challenged) with the last blogs, and you may not have received them, in particular - "Back in the USSR"
if you want, you can go to our website at www.oceanpearlyacht.com
and read it there.