Picking up where we left off…
Day 5 – Helsinki, Finland
Thankfully, this was a much later day after the previous day’s late night, and we didn’t meet until 11:00am. This could have meant I had time to go to the gym. Instead, we slept in and ate breakfast.
We started the day with a boat ride out to Suomenlinna Island. The boat ride was gorgeous, and we passed through so many gorgeous areas of the city. We also went past the ice breakers, which were so impressive. They were all named after different bears. We passed so many saunas (pronounced SOW-na by our guide), and I think I need to check out this relaxing lifestyle.
Suomenlinna Island Fortress is one of the largest sea fortresses in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s built on six islands, and isn’t just a tourist site. People actually live there. It was a gorgeous day and a fascinating place to walk around, and the perfect place to be after a day in Russia.
We had a quick lunch at a brewery on the island, and then got back on the boat for the ride back into Helsinki.
We stopped in Senate Square for photos and spent some time walking around the city, just exploring.
Finally we headed to Temppeliaukio Church, known as the Rock Church. It was excavated out of solid rock and is light through a giant skylight in the ceiling. The rock walls are all still exposed, and because of that, the acoustics are incredible.
This was a much shorter day – we were only in the city for about 6 hours, but that evening, we were back on the boat for the Frozen Deck Party. And let me tell you, the weather certainly helped the atmosphere. It was cold and windy! But we certainly had fun!
Day 6 – Stockholm, Sweden
Our last port day. I couldn’t believe it had gone so fast! I wasn’t as excited to go to Stockholm, because I had been to some of our stops before, but it had been over a decade, so I didn’t remember quite as much.
Our first stop was at the Vasa Museum. This museum houses the Vasa, an almost completely intact warship that sank in 1628.
Of course, it’s in such great shape because it sank on its maiden voyage due to some mistakes in construction, but their loss is our gain, I suppose. Its sinking is also a good lesson – the construction was rushed because the King demanded it, and those who suspected the ship may not be seaworthy were too afraid of the King to raise their concerns.
The ship itself is phenomenal. The decorations are gorgeous, and there is still a ton of research being done on the ship. There are displays showing the various artifacts that were found on the ship and what paint colors they think were used on the carvings. The story of how they found the ship, brought it up from the bottom of the harbor, and worked to preserve it and ensure it wouldn’t deteriorate in the air, was fascinating. We started the trip with a video, which was thankfully subtitled in English, as the voiceover was in Spanish. Yes, I said that right. Spanish. (I suspect that perhaps the voiceovers are done in different languages throughout the day, but we were all very confused to hear Spanish in Sweden.)
Next we went to Coronation Church, known as Storkyrkan. This church was built in the 13th century, and is the location of coronations, royal weddings, and christenings.
The most famous part of this church is the statue of St. George and the Dragon, created in the 1400s. This statue supposedly contains relics of St. George as well as six other saints.
According to the legend, there was a dragon who was prevented from attacking the city by sacrifices from the villagers. These sacrifices started out as sheep, but then the people ran out of sheep, and then they had to begin sacrificing children to the dragon. The children were chosen by lottery, and the king’s daughter was chosen. She was sent to be sacrificed, but St. George arrived on horseback and captured the dragon. He agreed to kill the dragon if the people became Christian. They agreed and the dragon was slain.
The statue is so popular that there is a larger reproduction of it out in the square.
Lunch was, of course, Swedish meatballs, and this whole dish was incredible. I wanted to lick my plate. I mean, IKEA meatballs are good, but this was phenomenal. I need to learn how to cook this dish immediately.
Our last stop was at Stockholm City Hall, which is where the Nobel Prize banquet is held every year.
My first thought was “Okay, this is a nice building.” Then we went upstairs to the Gold Hall.
This hall is covered with golden mosaics, made of over 18 million tiles, depicting representations of Sweden’s history. It was overwhelming and a little bewildering.
And with that, our tour was coming to an end, so of course, we stopped for a group photo. When the trip started, I wasn’t so sure how I would feel about spending time with all of these people, but I grew to really like the group dynamics. While I didn’t want to be best friends with all of these people, I definitely enjoyed the company of many of them
Day 7 – Day at Sea
The last day of the trip was a day at sea, which we desperately needed. We started the morning with brunch at Palo, which was so good and I want to go back immediately. For the most part, we relaxed and enjoyed the day.
We had one final meeting with our group, where we all got together to have drinks and snacks and say goodbye. The guides had put together a fun slideshow of some of the photos from the trip, which was such a fun wrap-up to the trip. It was sad to be leaving.
Day 8 – Disembark in Copenhagen
Alas, it was time to get off the ship. We had one last day in Copenhagen planned before leaving the next day. So we headed to Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli Gardens was absolutely adorable and definitely worth the trip. We wandered the streets and the shops and rode a few rides. There were no lines at the rides, so we figured it was worth it. We didn’t do any of the crazy rides (except for one that dropped us from an insane height) but mostly stuck to the small charming rides.
And as the sun began to set, it was time to go back to the hotel and crash and get ready for the flight home. This trip was amazing and worth every single penny. I don’t know that I will ever go back to any of these places again (though seeing as I had already been to Copenhagen and Sweden once, I will never say never). I am a complete convert to Adventures by Disney trips and before this trip was even over, Caitlin and I were debating where we wanted to go next.
And if you’re wondering, I have something like 700 pictures. I’m working on putting together some sort of a photo book to try to capture all of these memories in one place. It’s still a little overwhelming to look back at everything we did and saw.