Monday, August 29, 2011

Oslo, Norway 2010

The year of 2010 was a year where our lives dramatically changed. In May we bought our new house! After only a week of living there we were headed off to Europe for an amazing vacation with our dear friends, Erin and Romney.

Our trip started in Oslo, Norway. We flew in a few days before our cruise would embark so we could start the sight seeing early.

The first thing we did was visit the palace.

Then we went to a museum where we saw Viking Ships that were found in the Fjords!

We were so excited to discover a Norwegian Kabob...only to find out later it was a Greek restaurant!

We found an old farming community where this all wooden church sits.

We learned how the Norwegian people once lived on the farms and how things worked.

Next we went to see the Polar ship Fram. It’s the worlds strongest wooden ship and it’s sailed the furthest to the North and to the South. It’s pretty remarkable in person, and it’s hard to imagine how people lived in their crowded conditions on the inside.

We then went to Akershus Castle which was built in the 13th century. We were able to listen to a tour on tape and they even threw in a few ghost stories that “took place” in the dungeon.

The chapel inside is still in use today.

We ended our day at the park....I love the parks in Europe. Whenever the sun is out the people are out.

it’s called Vigeland Park but we nicknamed it the naked park...

These pictures should explain why.

Copenhagen, Denmark 2010

Our next stop was Copenhagen, Denmark. I love how colorful the buildings were.

I was so sad to hear that the Little Mermaid statue was on tour in Japan, but there was plenty of other things there that brought my spirits up!

The first thing we did was see the changing of the guards at the Palace. The Amalienborg palace has been the residence of the Danish Royal family since 1749.

Next we squeezed in some time to sample a little hot dog. We told them to make it how the locals ate it…I’m now hooked on fried onions and pickles on my hot dogs.

We got to go inside the main cathedral...

We tried doing a bunch of jumping shots but I think Scott and Erin when the prize for best picture in this category…

We walked up hundreds of stairs in enclosed spaces to get to the top of the dome…

the view was worth it!

We toured the beautiful Rosenborg castle where the crown jewels and crowns are on display.

This was our shortest day on the cruise so the only place we missed was Tivoli Gardens. I guess we’ll just have to go back now so I can see it.

Just Cruisin...

A day of rest on the ship was greatly needed…here are a few things we did to fill our time on the ship…

I know we look ridiculous, but we were fierce competitors in a scavenger hunt and we had to bark like dogs in front of this ship. It was worth it though because it got us....

1st place! And yes, we rocked those plastic medals all day long to show our victory.

We also climbed the rock wall.

The thing we did most on the ship was EAT. We had so many meals on the ship that we started nicknaming them...pre-breakfast, second dinner,etc.
The food was delicious, we couldn't help ourselves.

We also took in the free shows every night, played some of the games, listened to karaoke, and slept!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tallinn, Estonia

My favorite stop was in Tallinn, Estonia.

Rumor has it that Disneyland was inspired by ESTONIA. I believe it After seeing how wonderful this place is. Everything was so colorful and cheery, Even the doors were detailed.

Town Hall Square was the first thing we saw as we departed the ship. We even visited the small City Council museum in the basement.

There was so much to see here. This is the oldest church in Tallinn...

...we walked through tons of ally ways, and along the medieval castle walls...

Here's the Parliament building of the finest treasures we found was a tiny chocolate shop. They had the best hot chocolate and Scott went to town buying up every flavor of candy they had.

We enjoyed the roasted ginger and pumpkin nuts that we bought from this woman.

This is Alexander Nevski Cathedral…these onion domes are a reminder that Estonia use to be part of Russia.

We had so much fun buying souvenirs here...and i cannot get enough of this picture of the boys trying on all the different wool hats...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mother Russia 2010

St. Petersburg, Russia

This was our longest stop of the cruise and it still wasn't enough time!!

In Russia you either have to have a visa or be on a guided tour. It was a different feeling getting off the ship in Russia. Everything seems very controlled. The people don’t smile, the weather is gloomy, and the food is gross, yet they still have some of the most beautiful art and architecture I’ve ever seen.

Hermitage museum was amazing!!! It’s one of the largest and oldest museums in the world founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. It’s made up of 6 buildings, including theWinterPalace which was home to many Emperors. We couldn't fit all of the buildings in this picture, but it's right behind us.

They have the largest art collection in the world…we got to see DaVinci’s “Madonna and Child” (the first version and the final version). There was a lot of paintings by Monet, Matisse, Raphael, Giorgione, Titian and Michelangelo. Here are some of my favorites…

The unique thing about the Hermitage is that the buildings that the collections are housed in are also pieces of art. The floor that we walked on was intriquite and made of hundreds of different kinds of wood. The hallways we walked in were designed by famous artists…what an experience!

After the Hermitage we stopped for lunch…the food wasn’t great, and most of it was pickled.

Next stop was The Peter and Paul Fortress and I absolutely LOVED it!

When Peter the Great re-claimed the land in 1703, he decided to build a fort to protect the area from possible attack. This is how the city got started. From 1721 onwards the fortress housed part of the city's garrison and served as a high security political jail. Among the first inmates was Peter's own son Alexei, who he eventually had killed.

In the middle of the fortress stands the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. The Cathedral was the first church in the city to be built of stone.

The inside was breathtaking...
Anastasia and her family share their final resting place here.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood was exactly what I pictured when coming to Russia.Here’s the story behind this beauty….

Alexander II initiated a number of reforms when he came into power in 1855. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were basically slaves) from their ties to their masters. Because of his radical views there were many attempts to take his life. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his carriage.

This church was built on the very spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded.

We ended our night by attending a traditional Russian Folk dance show…

After a 17 hour day I was ready to get back on the boat. We are holding up our hands to show that its 11:00pm and still light out!

A few more days of resting on the ship until we end our sailing adventure.

Not finished yet…after the cruise we took a small (rickety) plane to Berlin, Germany!