Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baltic Cruise - Stockholm

Hi, After another day at sea we arrived at Stockholm.  Our tour on this day included the City Hall, a walk through old town, the changing of the guard at the palace, a church, and the Swedish Man of War Vasa.

The City Hall is the location for the annual Nobel Prize Award banquet and ceremony.  It is a huge building with a large courtyard.

There is a grand staircase and a balcony

overlooking the main floor where the banquet is held.

Sweden has some old ships that ply its rivers.

I don't know anything about this ship but thought it was really interesting.

From City Hall we took a short walk through the older part of the city

winding up in a small square where some street musicians were playing steel drums.

From here most of the people on the tour went to see the changing of the guard at the palace.  It was a long ceremony and I did not have a good position to view the ceremony, only the band

and new guard arriving

and the old guard and

band departing.

Our next stop was the Coronation Cathedral. 

While driving to our last stop, to see the Swedish Man of War Vasa I was able to take some photos out of the window of the bus.

The Vasa was completed in 1628 and sank within 20 minutes of launch.  Apparently the ship was top heavy and started to roll badly in the swells.  The rocks used for ballast in the bottom of the ship were round and smooth.  Hence, they shifted easily when the ship rolled and made the list impossible to recover from.

The ship was located in the 1950s and salvaged in 1961.  She was housed in a temporary museum.  In November 1987 a permanent museum was begun over and around an old dry dock and the Vasa was floated into the dry dock in December 1988.

Shown below is a model of the ship as she is thought to of appeared.

Here are numerous views of the actual ship.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baltic Cruise - Berlin

Hi, We spent our first full day at sea. On our second day we were docked at the German port of Warnemunde.  Directly across from the dock was the railroad station.

We took a train from here to Berlin.  Travel time was 3 hours each way, however, we felt it may well be our only opportunity to visit this city.

For our visit to Berlin we chose a shore excursion that emphasized the Jewish Heritage of Germany.  The excursion included the train fare.  The train was chartered by the ship and there were other tours aboard.  Our first stop was the Jewish Museum.

Outside was the Garden of Exile which consisted of 49 columns in which Willow Oaks grow.  The columns are all at an angle to create the feeling of disorientation that exile brings.

Ruthe took this photo and we are not sure what it is, however, I thought it striking.

From the Jewish Museum we went to the New Synagogue.  This building was mostly destroyed during WW II and only a small part remains.  That part is now a museum.  Inside the building is a model of the synagogue as it was.

Another photo from my wife shows pieces of the table used to hold the scrolls of the Torah and Haftorah while they are read.

Here is a photo of the synagogue before its destruction.

The three domes top the facade of the New Synagogue while the building to the right is a new addition to the museum.

A tram line ran outside.

Our next stop was the Reichstag building; the German Parliament.

From the Reichstag we drove to Brandenberg Gate.

Everyone pedals on this contraption but only the person in green steers.  This was taken on the east side of Brandenberg Gate.

From Brandenberg Gate we walked a short distance to the Holocaust Memorial.  The site iscovered with 2,711 concrete blocks that vary in height and are arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.  According to the architect's project text, the objective of the design is to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.  Ruthe took the photo below.

After we left the Holocaust Memorial we passed the last remaining segment of the Berlin Wall

on the way to Check Point Charley.  For a fee one could have their photo taken with actors portraying soldiers and/or using a variety of props, e.g., the American flag and hats.

This was our last stop so it was time to head for the train and our 3 hour trek back to the ship.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Baltic Cruise - Amsterdam

Hi, My wife, Ruthe, and I returned on Friday, 8/24, from a very nice 12 night cruise in the Baltic Sea area of Europe.  Our cruise aboard Celebrity Cruise Lines Constellation began and ended in Amsterdam, Holland.

We arrived in Amsterdam early on 8/12 after an overnight flight from Washington - Dulles International Airport.  We were taken out to the ship and while we waited for our room to be ready we stayed on the pool deck. 

It was a beautiful day in Amsterdam and the pool deck was a great vantage point.  Many of the locals were enjoying a day on the water and there was some commercial traffic too.  The tanker below was coming to fuel another ship docked just upstream from out ship.

The ship docked behind us, a Costa Cruise Line ship, departed first.  At this point I had moved up to deck 11, one above the pool deck.

This house boat was located in a marina we passed.

The cruise port was less than a mile upstream from the central railroad station.

This is the EYE Film Institute Netherlands.  It includes a Cinematography museum and film archives.  It opened last April.

I photographed a number of boats as we headed down river and out to see.

This old light ship is now in a museum,

as is this former Greenpeace vessel at the same dock.

I spotted a number of offshore drilling platforms along the river.

There also were dry docks in the same are.  Here a small container ship is being worked on.

The next installment will be from Stockholm, Sweden.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.