This is my third attempt at writing about my recent holiday, a Baltic cruise with P&O Cruises. But each time I start writing about it, I end up going off on some completely irrelevant tangent that makes the post not make sense and a lot longer. And who wants that! So I’m going to try and keep it as basic as I can. Here we go.
Since returning from my two week getaway, I’ve had to tell myself numerous times that I don’t actually live on a boat, that my real-everyday life is not just here for a ‘little while’ until I’m back on a boat; that THIS is actually reality.
My brain has not wanted to believe this, which must be a sign of a good holiday, no?
We left Southampton on the P&O cruise ship Azura, heading North to the Baltics and Scandinavian countries. And this time, we had company.
A couple-friends (B and J) of ours decided to take the plunge and try out cruising for the first time, on our recommendation of the three previous cruises we’ve done (read about my last one to The Med). This held a lot of pressure for us. What if they came with us after all the hyping up we’d done about cruising, and it actually turned out to be as lame as its reputation. What if we were as lame as we feared?
Well, honestly, at first, it wasn’t looking good. There were baggage issues, reception failures and homesickness to contend with. But I am glad to say, by the end of the holiday the response had greatly improved and since seeing the guys again, they’ve even said to let them know when we’re booking the next one as they may tag along. SUCCESS! We’re not lame, cruising is cool! Or should it be sick?
Anyway, we left Southampton and had three glorious days at sea. Yes, glorious! We were headed north but the weather was superb. So good in fact that Dan and J went and got themselves sunburnt on the second day whilst B and I were off at a beauty talk. This was great actually as B got picked to go up on stage and have her hair done! I don’t think its what B would have chosen for herself but for free, you can’t complain.
After a couple of sea days we stopped at our first destination, Helsinki in Finland. My god was it cold! We really got to see the ‘real’ Helsinki too…as we got lost. We ended up walking 14 miles on this first day!
The next day we landed in St. Petersburg in Russia and were to stay here for two whole days. But to be able to leave the boat we had to have booked excursions and to go on a trip, otherwise we would have had to have sorted out our own visas and transport etc. Nah. So we booked one for the first day, or evening actually, a trip to The Hermitage for an evening tour (so we missed the crowds) and a private concert by the Hermitage Philharmonic Orchestra. Wow. Just, wow. Then we had champagne and orange juice, and it was back to the boat for the night.
And what a night it was. This was the sky at midnight. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever see anything as beautiful as the sight of the night sky in this part of the world; during the rest of my life.
The next day we booked a tour on our own. This payed for our visa for the day and being dropped off at a few sites. It rained a bit here but that didn’t bother us. Here’s a few photos of what we got up to this day:
After leaving Russia we then woke up the next day in Tallinn in Estonia. A beautiful old-meets-new city which is well worth a day visit. I mean, come on, they’ve got a marzipan museum for heaven’s sake; what more do you need in a day out?
Next stop, Stockholm in Sweden. The sunshine was limitless here and there was so much to do – too much for a quick trip. I’d definitely visit Stockholm again for a city break to see more.
Then I’m pretty sure we had another sea day before we arrived in Copenhagen in Denmark. Lovely place but I’m still upset at being moaned at by a local because I go their queueing system wrong. Bigger things in life, I know, but some things just stick with me.
The next day we stopped at Oslo. If I were to move to a non-English speaking city, it would be Oslo. Walking around the back streets, I could see myself living there. It just felt like a fabulous place. I would definitely go back to see more of this city one day.
Then we had one more sea day before arriving at Bruges in Belgium. Our last stop. It rained a lot here. A lot. We were on a walking tour and had to take refuge in a church as the heaven’s well and truly opened. I liked Bruges, but once we were let of the leash to take a look around ourselves, I felt we managed to see everything we had wanted to. So I don’t think I need to go back to this place, as nice as it was.
The holiday was made all the more special by the people on it and the people we met on it. Table 18 in the restaurant, was seriously, the place to be. We had the best table of passengers we could have asked for, the other four came to dinner – smashed – every single night. It was hilarious. And we’ve made more friends for life. Email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook friendage – the lot – was exchanged. Even with our fabulous waiters, who, since our departure, told us that Table 18 isn’t the same without us all. Aww.
Well that was my holiday in a nut shell. In the most nut shell form I could muster anyway.
Still makes me sad to go through the photos from such a great holiday and know that that time is over. But that is why we must live in the moment and enjoy the time we have, when we have it.
I could do with another holiday though.
Until next time. x