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Starting Planning in Sweden and Finland

A look at the planning process for the first leg of our journey.


View Baltic Capital Cities on darrenesl's travel map.

Here is a look at the Baltic Capitals itinerary.

Date Port/City Activity
Day 1 Stockholm, Sweden => Docked All Day
Day 2 Stockholm, Sweden => Docked - Depart at 3:00PM
Day 3 Helsinki, Finland => Dock at 10:00AM - Depart at 5:00PM
Day 4 St. Petersburg, Russia => Dock at 7:00AM
Day 5 St. Petersburg, Russia => Docked All day
Day 6 St. Petersburg, Russia =>Docked - Depart at 6:00PM
Day 7 Muuga (Tallinn), Estonia => Dock at 7:00AM - Depart at 5:00PM
Day 8 At Sea
Day 9 Warnemunde, Germany => Dock at 7:00AM - Depart at 9:30PM
Day 10 Copenhagen, Denmark => Dock at 12:00PM
Day 11 Copenhagen, Denmark => Docked - Depart at 3:00PM
Day 12 At Sea
Day 13 Amsterdam, Netherlands => Dock at 6:00AM

On the Baltic Capitals cruise you can expect a very port intensive cruise. That fits our travel style perfectly. When traveling overseas, Terri and I prefer to take night trains in order to maximize our travel time and have the daytime available to dig into the local culture and sights. While we enjoy going 100% while on vacation, many others do not and that is what helps make a cruise a good option for a multiple couples. Each couple can decide what they want to do while in port, or if they even want to leave the ship on a certain day or not.

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We have decided to travel to Stockholm on the Thursday before our ship is scheduled to board. Once we board the ship, it will be treated as a hotel until Monday when we depart at 1500. One of the tricks that we discovered in our planning was that if you purchase your accommodations in Stockholm during the down season, 6 – 9 months before the date we will be staying, we were able to get half-priced lodging compared to pricing 90 days or less prior to travel. However, for those that may want to avoid the hotels, www.AirBnB.com has a good number of deals available in Stockholm. We chose to stay at the Best Western KOM hotel due to its proximity to the central train station and Gamla Stan.

For touring Stockholm, we will be using suggestions from friends and as always Rick Steves and his Northern European Cruise Ports guidebook. In addition to the guidebook, Rick offers an app for both iOS and Android platforms called Rick Steves Audio Europe. With this app you can listen to history and interviews prior to your trip, but the best feature is the ability to download “audio walking tours” for several cities throughout Europe. These are downloaded so they do not use data or cellular service, only a bit of your battery is used to play these. I would also recommend a Y-splitter and two pairs of headphones so that you can share it with your traveling companion.

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One of the issues with Stockholm is the distance from Arlanda airport to the city center. If you are a solo traveler or couple, two great options are the Arlanda Express (you can pre order discount tickets) or the local bus will take you into town if you don’t mind taking your luggage on a metro bus. If you have four people, a better route to go is to use Uber to get a comfortable ride while meeting a local. Since the Cruise is departing from Frihamnen. The same thing is true when it comes to heading to the ship, Uber is a better value and more convenient than a taxi.

Some of the must see activiites in Stockholm that are on the list include:

  • Vasa Museum, a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 m (1,400 yd) into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628.
  • Skansen the world's first open-air museum, founded in 1891. Here you can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south, with a real sense of the past all around in the histori­cal buildings and dwellings, peop­led by characters in period dress.
  • The famous changing of The Royal Guard at the Royal Castle
  • Gamla Stan
  • And several other great sites

Finland will be a short stop. Considering there is only on day in port, the best bet seems to be a city walking tour. There are some really good resources online, some on CruiseCritic.com that local Helsinki residents have put together and once again, Rick Steves has a great walk in his materials as well. Because we like to get into with the local culture and also love food, we are looking at supplementing the walking tour with a stop at a world renowned restaurant serving Finnish Tapas styled dishes.

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As you can see, these cities are both very walk-able and public transit friendly. That is one of the great things about this cruise’s itinerary. However, once you get to Russia, things change up a little bit. Due to the visa requirements for Russia, it is much more convenient to take an organized tour.
Our next posting will share our thoughts on choosing a tour company and navigating the travel planning for Russia.

Do you have any tips or experience in these areas? We’d love to hear your comments, share them with us below.

Posted by darrenesl 14:39 Archived in Sweden Tagged trains stockholm helsinki travel train sweden silhouette europe travels royal planning celebrity darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson 2016 Comments (0)

Ready for Krakow

Bathroom sharing for the masses

sunny 25 °C
View Eastern Europe on darrenesl's travel map.

We rose early this morning, which is easy to do as the sun sets at about 9:30 p.m. and rises at 4:00 a.m. It was a brisk morning and we were excited to get our day going. We had a beautiful walk through the park as we headed to the metro. Our choice of Caribee luggage was a wise choice as there are many steps to climb coming and going to the many trains, subways, trams, and busses. The ability to carry this luggage as a backpack, or roll along on the ground is very helpful. With our early start, we missed the morning's heavy commuter crowds hitting the metro at about 7:00 a.m., just before the big rush.

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Once on our 8:00 a.m. train to head to Krakow, we began our media updates which had a few glitches, providing us with our first issue on the trip. When transfering our photos from our camera to tablet, the tablet said damaged memory card, but it had no problems in the camera, the next thing we knew, our pictures on the camera were all erased. Oh ....(insert your favorite expletive here)! It is a blessing that we will visit Warsaw one more time and have the chance to relive some of our memories.

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Our train-ride was filled with hillsides of lush greens sprinkled with various trees and wildflowers ~ a perfect morning commute and great way to see some of the countryside while catching-up on our writing.

Once we arrived in Krakow we found our way to the Atlantis Hostel, our home base until Thursday night. Here we have our four person shared room. That's right, we will be having two people we don't know sharing a room with us. We checked in and discovered our room would be on the 3rd floor here, 4th floor for those in the US., as the numbering starts with one being the first level up. We also discovered our co-ed bathrooms with two toilets and two showeras side-by-side, just a little odd.

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Anyway, we are off to see the Market Square and will share more later.

Posted by darrenesl 21:14 Archived in Poland Tagged travel train square atlantis fun hostel krakow marketplace pierogis Comments (0)

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