Friday, 29 August 2008


After stomping round cities all day it was nice to be able to get back to the beautiful (as cruise director Gary kept saying) Oriana and relax for a few hours. We were on late sitting for dinner, 8.30pm, so we had plenty of time to get our gladrags on... made a change from dashing out after aerobics.

Wilfred was our cabinwife and did a sterling job of tidying us up while we were out all day.

Arjun (left) and Santosh (right) were our fabulous waiters.. they liked us because we didn`t leave anything on our plates.(We had been stomping around all day.. we were hungry!)


First visit was the Vasa Museum... well I haven`t been there for 40 years but I DID remember the story of this unique ship. The royal ship, Vasa, set off for her maiden voyage from Stockholm on Sunday 10th August 1628 and after only a few minutes keeled over and sank in the harbour. There she lay for 333 years. Amazingly in 1961 she was salvaged and is the only preserved vessel from the 1600s of its kind in the world.

Following the Vasa museum we took ourselves on a tour of the Old Town. This took us past the Royal Palace where we saw the changing of the guard,

the smallest statue in Stockholm, the "IronBoy" is only 5.5 inches tall,

the Tyska Kyrkan, the German church whose bells have tolled 4 times a day since 1666,

and "Marten Trotzigs Grand" , the narrowest cobblestone lane in Stockholm(basically it`s an alley!).

We ended up back at the Royal Palace and had enough time to have a look round.. Its the most "lived in" Royal palace in Europe.

Stockholm had a liquorice cart!! Where`s the lady???... And nice public Phone boxes...


Yet another good day... and yet another busy day... we managed to fit in 2 art galleries, 3 churches and a market.

The Museum of Contempory Art Kiasma has only been open ten years. We loved it. There were exhibits in there which we understood. "I don`t quite get it" was the theme of the exhibition but we think we did, well anyway we had great fun dancing in front of the kaleidoscope screen of "mirror xx" as you can see below.

The Ateneum Art gallery was different again and we were lucky enough to see an exhibition by Pekka Halonen (finished that weekend). He was taught Art as a student in that very building before it became an Art gallery.

The Temppaliaukion Church is built into solid rock with the surface of the inner walls unfinished

The Uspenski Cathedral with its 13 onion domes is a Russian Orthodox church housing some beautiful paintings but also some very garish ones.. I wasn`t sure if I liked it, though husb did.

The heart of the city is Senate Square, very impressive. It is surrounded by Government Palace, the University, the Cathedral of St Nicholas(perfect place for a peck) and the highly thought of Library building.

All that was needed to complete our day was a nip into Helsinki`s largest department store, Stockmann`s, for 3 pink crayons for my colouring. Great day.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


What a lovely place!

The centrepiece of the whole "Tallinn experience" is the Old Town, registered on UNESCO`s World Heritage list since 1997. It will replace Liverpool as Capital of Culture next year. We loved the cobbled streets, the legends behind many of the places of interest, the city walls ( two thirds of the original town walls are still intact), the views of the spires, towers and roofs from the top of Toompea Hill.... we can understand why Tallinn is becoming more and more popular with tourists.

Although it was yet another very wet day, Husb and I had a treat (we felt VERY SMUG) as we had arranged for our own private tour guide to show us around... Jonathan was fantastic. The 3 of us spent 4 hours exploring many nooks and crannies of this lovely place.

In front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

It is such a quaint little town.

Monday, 25 August 2008


We obviously couldn`t do this wonderful city justice in a day, but what we did see was magnificent. Some highlights....

Catherine Palace and THE AMBER ROOM. Wow! Surely anyone who sees this room can`t help but be enchanted by it.Our guide ranked this gem of a place as "one of the wonders of the world". Walls rich and warm in every shade of yellow, gold, bright lemon, peach, orange, it was both beautiful and amazing. It was our personal highlight of the fortnight.

The typical Russian lunch was fun (lots of local musicians sang and shared their clackers) so long as you didnt eat anything! Far too much garlic I`m afraid. But unlimited amounts of neat vodka, (straight from the freezer so icy cold) red wine and champagne.

The Pavlovsk Palace at Pushkin is beautiful and set in fantastic grounds. It is the largest landscape park in Europe and was designed by scottish architect Charles Cameron. We were fortunate enough to see a russian wedding party in full swing in these beautiful grounds. We also saw a RED squirrel(great excitement!)

There are only 16 rapsberry pink Gobelin tapestries in the world and 4 of them are here at Pushkin.

The HERMITAGE! The building was closed to the general public so we were able to enjoy a whistle-stop tour of several of the major works of art.. it houses over 3 million items so we felt privileged to have seen as many as we did. The jade green vases were particularly impressive. They were made using a technique called "trash mosaic"... thousands of tiny tiny pieces of smooth marble all joined together into an intricate design. Lovely.

In fact everything about this building was totally amazing.


Warnemunde in Germany is a very pretty little village right on the coast so it was the only day really that we wanted good weather. We woke up to blue skies so headed straight to the beach and invested in a snazzy little beach hut which was money very well spent, as, although it was sunny it was also very windy.
Husb very kindly kept my side of the shelter warm and I.... I..... yes...I SWAM IN THE BALTIC SEA!!!!! Absolutely FREEZING!!!

I didnt actually thaw out and I shivered all through dinner. I had to borrow Husb`s jacket which actually looked quite trendy over my blue dress.


It was a wet and dull day for our first day off ship but we really liked Copenhagen. As today`s capital of Denmark it is seated on the east coast of Zealand, the largest of the 474 danish islands(but smaller than the Jutland Peninsular.) 474 islands???!!! we had no idea there were so many.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by Danish brewing magnate Carl Jacobson and this museum was named after his brewery...a great collection of Gauguin, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh and Pissarro... and I`m here with " The Shade"by Rodin.

We also had a good couple of hours in the Christiansborg Palace with a fantastic guide. The two previous palaces which stood on this site both burned down. The renovations are impressive, from the ruins of the previous palaces to the Great Hall with its amazing tapestries. Lovely.

On the walk back to Oriana we had some fun in the fountain, (I told Husb he really shouldn`t drink the water) and visited the "Little Mermaid" I was expecting her to be sat impressively out at sea but in fact she was right by the water`s edge and she was really small.(she looks good though doesn`t she?)(SHE`S TINY!) Great day.

We did it!!

We did it!!! 9 ports in 7 different countries and it was brilliant! What a great holiday! This beautiful ship was our home for two weeks although we weren`t on it much. After walking round the various ports all day it felt like pure luxury returning "home" to a spotlessly clean cabin and then having the time to shower and change ready for our evening meal (usually it`s a quick dash after aerobics). Here we are on our first formal night.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

aerobics classes

Ive managed to cover nearly all of my classes while I`m away and if anyone is interested they are as follows:-


Sunday 10th,17th, Aug 10.30am...Jane
Thurs 14th,21st Aug 7pm...Jane
Sun 24th Aug...Carly


Monday 11th Aug 6.30pm...Espe
Monday 18th Aug 6.30...??????????????
Tues 12th,19th Aug 9.30am...Jan
Wed 13th,20th Aug 9.30am...Alison
Fri 15th,22nd Aug 6.30...Joy
Sat 16th,23rd Aug 9.30am...Jan


Tues 12th,19th Aug 10.30am...Laura
Wed 13th,20th Aug 6.30...Sally


See you on the 26th!!

Square One,Vicar`s Cross restart Mon 8th Sept

The Itinery

Only a couple more days to go!!! I just love this feeling of anticipation. I keep looking at this itinery and thinking "we are going to have such a brilliant time". See what you think....

Sun 10 Aug... Southampton

Tue 12 Aug... Copenhagen
Wed 13 Aug...Warnemunde

Fri 15 Aug... ST PETERSBURG!!!!!!!!!(Cant wait!)
Sat 16 Aug... Tallinn
Sun 17 Aug... Helsinki
Mon 18 Aug...Stockholm

Wed 20 Aug...Aarhus
Thurs 21Aug...Oslo
Fri 22nd Aug...Kristiansand

Sun 24 Aug... Southampton

The boat looks amazing too.. click pocruises and have a little look at our cruise ship the ORIANA

countdown to the cruise 2

Well I`m making progress! Yesterday was "brown bin day" so in my normal "better-fill-the-bin-quick" fashion, I chopped the nearside hedge, the farside hedge and the over-the-other-side hedge...after a schneaky peep in my other neighbour`s bin which was predictably only half full,I managed to share out my hedge cuttings in time for the bin men. It seemed only fair to give her a bit of chopped hedge! So thats the garden looking a bit more respectable.

No more aqua for a couple of weeks!!! I did my last one yesterday... so little NEMO can have a break for a while... he`s become a bit of a hero at aqua in recent weeks when we are slipping and sliding towards him.

My own fish have had a good clean out too. I love it when they are all clean and sparkly... the trouble is fish like a bit of muck and bacteria... we bred a few baby fry recently when the tank was particularly murky so we must be doing something right. Its a woman thing though isnt it, cleaning everything!

Still got loads to do... Im now about to buy 3 lots of cricket tea now so that Nixen and Drake can feed 25 hungry men over 2 weekends. Im not actually liking the look of this weekend`s forecast... WE could be eating this weeks tea. Not ideal preparation for an onslaught of cruise food!(by all accounts it is beautiful, plentiful and a permanent bellyful)( I can`t wait)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

countdown to the cruise!

Well I feel like I`ve had a very productive week so far. It started with my scarlet red toe nails ready for my cruise, accompanied by a pair of shiny red patent shoes. It`s great to have daughters to go shopping with and they can do a far better job of painting my toenails than I can do myself.
I`m not going to try to keep up with the Joneses on this forthcoming holiday but it will be nice to dress up a bit after a lifetime of trainers and shorts and jeans. I DID cause a bit of a stir when I turned up with the cricket tea on Saturday wearing a dress(and my toes in all their glory) but hey... it WAS our 28th wedding anniversary so I thought I should mark the occasion(especially as we are usually abroad on that date). It just so happened Husb was playing AWAY that day. Still, he was obviously well chilled... he scored 50... and we DID manage a bar snack at half 9...and also it gave me chance to watch A HANDBAG OF HARMONIES on BBC`s "Last choir standing".... they were ROBBED!!! They SO should have got through to the live show.(Nic got 3 seconds coverage!!!!!!!!! Wutwooooooo)I had already got people in Coventry, Wigan and Oxford and a good half of Chester ready to vote for them. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Today is Drake`s birthday... did I really give birth to her 19 years ago? Where do the years go? (How many mothers say that eh?) Nic baked her a splendid cake, all marbly and smartied and sparkly with candles... one is never too old for candles.. and the re-lighting candles always get a good reaction.

Good ol` Chris... He may be 7,000 miles away in Brazil but he remembered to give her a happy birthday phonecall. What was so amazing was he sounded like he was speaking from the room next door, the line was SO CLEAR. If you want to follow his progress click here to read his travel blog.
I don`t suppose I will be able to do much blogging when I am cruising around Scandinavia but if I get a chance I will do. (Chris would be impressed I reckon)( I can`t believe I`m doing all this without help... Im impressing myself!) And I`ll want to show off my shiny red shoes.....