A May 2007 trip
to Europe by pabrams52
Quote: My husband and I are not big "cruisers", but we wanted to travel to a part of the world that seemed nearly ideal for accessing these cities via a ship: Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen. We chose Celebrity because of their five-star rating.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 2, 2007
Attraction | "The Hermitage Museum"
The building itself is a work of art let alone the thousands of rare paintings, sculptures, jewels, and royal artifacts housed inside. It's really hard to visually and mentally take it all in but if you have the opportunity to visit this site, you make every effort to soak it up like a sponge. Even the chandeliers are breathtaking. Don't forget to look closely at the floors which are beautifully and intricately designed wood "mosaics" utilizing different types and colors of woods. The walls are covered in endless mirrors or have priceless tapestries hanging their full length. Walking through the many galleries, it is easy to feel transported to another time in history when royalty and aristocracy ruled and collecting rare objects and fine art was a lifestyle of the privileged. Don't miss this indescribable experience. It will stay with you long after you have departed St. Petersburg!
State Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg, Russia
+7 (812) 710-90-79
I had longed to see this city and, finally, I was here. But, I was struck by the sadness that it evoked in me. What was certainly once a glorious city, as dreamed of and constructed under Peter the Great, now looks dreary and run down. Years of communism have left St. Petersburg looking very much in need of rehab. The buildings are dirty and look as if they’ve never been touched, very likely the case. But I tried to see past this because of the immense amount of fascinating history the country holds.
Because I am a former ballet dancer, one of the sites that I most wanted to see was the Mariinsky Theatre. If only to drive by it, would be such an immense thrill for me. Our bus took just the right route apparently and before I knew it, we turned a corner and there it was. My camera was ready as my heart nearly leaped out of my body. Could I take the photo fast enough? I just wanted one image to remember it by.
I saw it for a brief moment but captured it in a photo. My emotions all came to the surface as tears of joy welled up in my eyes. This famous theater that has been home to so many famous ballet dancers and has housed such a rich theatrical history was right before me, if only for an instant. I knew one day I would surely come back to view a ballet from its sumptuous interior.
Certainly, anything I would see after this would be like the cherry on the sundae. I felt quite satisfied as we parked near The Hermitage, which is housed in The Winter Palace. As mentioned in a separate journal, this museum is a jewel and not to be missed. We were especially lucky to be able to tour The Gold Room where much of the jewelry, royal artifacts, and personal items of the imperial families are displayed. As my husband likes to refer to it, the "loot" of an empire. It is beyond description. The sheer amount of gold, precious stones, and vastness of the collection is mind boggling. It helps visitors to draw a picture of the life and times in which these royals ruled as well as the distance they maintained from their subjects.
The most exciting draw of the museum though are the seemingly endless works of art. Our guide described to us how long it would take if one were to view every piece in the Hermitage’s collection. Mind you, not what is on display, but in the entire collection, if one viewed every piece for 1 minute, it would take 8 years to complete. Don’t worry, I had the same reaction also.
I finally got that chance to be there at Tivoli Gardens during our cruise through the Baltic and Scandinavia region. A day stop in Copenhagen didn’t seem near long enough (and it really isn’t) to take in this beautiful city, but my husband and I got a good overview of the city and especially Tivoli Gardens. We spent the entire evening there just happily roaming the grounds, seeing what it had to offer, and took in some of its frivolity.
Tivoli Gardens really are gardens. Visiting at this time of year (late May) is ideal because the flowers are in bloom and the weather is near perfect. For anyone who is a photography or flower enthusiast, this is a wonderful and fun spot to be. And even though the park has updated some of its rides to reflect the current trend for I-want-to-be-scared-out-of-my-skin type of rides, it has managed to maintain its old world charm.
I did not realize that Tivoli Gardens dates back to 1843. It covers an expanse of 20 acres and has over 110,000 lanterns. It is easy to find because it is literally across the street from Copenhagen’s train station. You pay a one-time entrance fee and then buy tickets for the rides as needed once you’re inside. There are also plenty of arcade-type games for those that can’t walk by a challenge. My husband and I decided to reward ourselves for that lesson in frustration by indulging in a cotton candy or cotton floss as they refer to it there.
Tivoli Gardens also offers entertainment on a more cultural level. A small orchestra was playing American band tunes from the 30s and 40s when we entered; very nostalgic and enjoyable. We also viewed a ballet performance being given at their ornate Chinese theater. (see my photo below) We concluded our perfect early summer evening watching their laser light show that was done near the large lit pagoda on the pond once it got dark (approximately 10:30pm. Remember, you’re pretty far north!)
For more information, just check out their website!
We only had a few hours to spend there but our weather was delightful so we wandered down their main shopping avenue and browsed in the numerous windows. It felt quaint and cosmopolitan at the same time. Most all shopkeepers speak English so transactions were easy. We made sure to take in their most famous attraction, the Kärnan Tower.
But we stumbled upon a delectable little chocolate shop where we took some refreshment. The name of the store is Peter Beier. Unfortunately, the website online is only in Swedish, but if you know Swedish, or know someone who does, then you can make your way through their mouth-watering site. Just glancing through their glass display case was a real eyeful for me and it was hard just to pick out one or two small tastes. I decided on a piece of white chocolate with a walnut, pistachio, and almond embedded in it. They also serve their own delicious brand of coffee which has a chocolate flavor to it as well. YUM! If you’re in Helsingborg, this shop is not to be missed!
Los Angeles, California