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Friday, July 31, 2009


A Vacation To Remember

"Dude, you haven't blogged in forever. When are you writing a new one?" Well, my answer to that question is this blog coming up. Indeed it has been forever, friends.

As many of you know, I recently went on a two week Baltic cruise from June 28 to July 9th. This was about one month ago and since then I've been unpacking, uploading, and getting things back to normal. It was an excellent trip with many sights and sounds that I will never forget and times that were not like any other.

Both the beginning and ending parts of our trip occurred in London and Dover, England. Both charming places with interesting history and spectacular architecture.

Big Ben was incredible. We visited London for the first time a couple of years ago. Seeing Big Ben is a must when you visit London, if you get the chance. But in honesty London the second time around is better. You get to see what you missed the first time and discover more of what you had seen the first time.

Seeing the Eye Of London up close again is quite an experience. The last time we traveled to London we took a ride on the Eye and the entire citywide view of London was breathtaking.

This was the first time however that my travel group of the family saw the Globe Theater, where Shakespeare performed many of his plays for the first time. We were not able to stop by before going on the cruise, but there may be a next time in the near future.

This time around we were able to catch a glimpse of London Bridge, made famous by both the Nursery Rhyme and the ever popular Fergie song of the same name.

We almost made it to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England, but no cigar. It would have been interesting since I was wearing a watch at the time. I wonder what it would be like having my time mess up in England. It's a sight to see.

We stayed in many hotels in London. Some nicer than others, but that's the way it is in England. Also remember to wear pants in England because the saying goes, "There are no shorts in England, no shorts."

So now it was finally time to board the Norwegian Jewel, a ship we had cruised in the Mediterranean once before and now for the 12 day Baltic capital cruise.

Our first stop was Copenhagen, Denmark.

Can you guess who this famous figure is? HMMM???? Okay, okay. It's the Little Mermaid. The fairy tale told by Hans Christian Andersen and made into a multi million dollar movie by Disney. Oh can we ever forget our fascination with the famous red head Ariel.

We eventually made it to Tivoli in Copenhagen, the oldest theme park in the world. I couldn't believe how advanced the theme park had been since it had been around for long, since 1843. It was an incredible sight to see. Danny and Tyler took some time off to play Wheelchair Bumpers in the park.

Yes we even caught a glimpse of the Hard Rock Cafe there too. Well one of the millions around the world.

And so we waved goodbye to Tivoli for the day and went on a walking tour of the town. It was not all that scenic compared to other places I have been, but still interesting nonetheless.

We sure got our fair share of Michael Jackson mania on this trip, especially passing by this window shop in Denmark.

But there were very more interesting things than that on our trip and we got tired of watching Fox News with MJ's Latest Hoorah on cruise ship TV every night.

But then as we were eating lunch we found the most obscure exhibit that we have ever seen on any of our trips.

Are you Lost yet? We sure were. What was this? It was an exhibition of crazy signs from around the world. Some funnier and more outrageous than others.

I took a bunch of pictures. Here are a few of them:

And then.

Never knew those existed. I would like to see where I can find them.

Then again.

Why bother telling us that? Its useless if we do anything wrong then? Right? Sure.

And this needs no explanation.

Yep, go ahead and make your own conclusions on that one.

Then we got back on the ship and sailed away to Berlin/Rostock, Germany.

The highlight of our trip was going to see the oldest astronomical clock the world built in 1472 and located in St. Mary's Church.

We also went to a maritime museum before that and learned about the maritime history of the city.

They had some very interesting models of the most popular ships in history.

This is one of the Titanic which sank in 1912.

Fast forward two days and we were finally in Tallin, Estonia. It was my favorite country out of all the ports. Home town feel, not very touristy, city band, etc.

We had a great time. Went to a medieval restaurant, had many group pictures, and even some of us rode a Super Bike.

Yes a Super Bike. It could take up to six passengers at a time. I want one of those in SC.

In the race for time, they were faster than us by about half an hour.

After the adventurous time in Estonia, we went for two days in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

We had a great tour guide Natalia. You should check them out at Guide Guru if you ever want to tour there. She was incredible and Yuri, our bus driver, was too.

On our first day we went to St. Catherine's Summer Palace and Peterhoff, which were more than imaginably huge, but easy to navigate.

A view could be seen from the Terrace of Peterhoff.

We even had to wear funky shoes at the Palace.

On Day Two of our tour we went to the Hermitage and more churches, as we had in other cities.

These paintings were life size. Huge. Humongous. Some more famous and recognized than others.

We were lucky enough to see most of the museum. I was so blown away by the collection. It was far beyond what I was expecting from the small galleries I have been to in the states, besides Washington DC.

We even saw Rembrandt's Prodigal Son up close. Real close.

So then we move on to the most BORING city in the Baltic; Helsinki, Finland. If only they added an extra L and a T then that would fit the town perfectly. What a hoot of a city.

My family, not the whole group, started the day with Sunday Mass at a local parish. 20% Finn, and the rest were mostly Africans and Hispanics. A melting pot in Finland.

Afterwords we met the group to see a Lutheran church.

This one.

And all they had to show for it was one friggin' painting and a statue of Luther. WOO HOO!

What a waste.

So we leave in haste down the big steps and take a short tour of the city. We stumbled upon some weird signs along the way.


Well Im wondering the same thing as the monkey. It thinks its Peter Pan, but it's not. HMMMM.

And Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus does exist in Finland too.

So then we went to our last port of Stockholm, Sweden. A massive country with little time to be spent in it.

Our first stop was to see an old ship wreck, the Vasa, which sank in 1628 on its maiden voyage, and was pulled up in 1961 entirely intact.

And a replica of the ship to go with it.

We even saw a replica of the maiden voyage.

And a few figurines from the ship.

And that was the end of our port stops on this trip.

Sure did.

So it was now time to head back to the cruise ship, Norwegian Jewel to spend our final days and hours on before we headed to London, and then home.

Oh it's definitely the good life for sure.

On one of the nights on the cruise ship my father celebrated his birthday on board. What a great time we had that night, the waiters singing, and the best chocolate cake we have EVER had.

The night life was incredible on this trip. Went into the club at midnight and stayed late into the night. Good times.

Oh yes let the good times roll.

And then we were booted off for good. :(

So we first get off the ship and hit a local pub for drinks and grub. We were exhausted from the long trip and took a break before heading onto the trains from Dover to London.

And yes I do like the advertising potential of this past picture.

So we get to Dover and crash for the night. Slept for like 12 hours. Got up early the next morning to hit the trains for London.

Later in the evening some of our group took a walk to Chelsea, a neighborhood of London, with some friends. But we didn't expect the sight we saw there.

At the time, unbeknownst to us, the new Jaguar XJ was having a worldwide showcase close by. Supposedly, according to reports, video, and pictures; there were celebrities that included the likes of David Hasselholff, Jay Leno, and Elle MacPherson. Little did we know, we caught a glimpse of Elle MacPherson walking the so called red carpet with the paparazzi. The real stuff.

Here is the outside of the event.

And then Elle MacPherson and the paps show up.

If you ask, yes it was as crazy as the videos on TMZ. Like 100 times crazier.

We now bring you..................the official Paps pictures of Elle MacPherson at the Jaguar XJ premiere in Chelsea, London (with us in the background).

Picture One

(I am walking away in this one).

Picture Two

(This one includes my second cousins Trisha (in the red jacket) and Keith (in the dark jacket).

Picture Three

(This picture includes Keith, my Mother in the green sweater, and myself).

Final Picture Four

(The final picture includes my Mother, and myself behind the looking woman).

And these conclude my two week cruise trip to Europe, part two.

It will definitely be a great vacation to remember. If I am ever able, I would go back in heartbeat. I think I have gone on long enough for this entry, so I would like to say thank you for traveling with me in pictures.

God bless all of you and I will talk to you all soon,

Christian L.

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