Tag: Clock

Finished Cruising

Finished Cruising

Copenhagen, Zealand, Denmark – July 18, 2015

We departed Nynäshamn, Sweden, on July 16, at about 20:00. The cruise schedule had us at sea all day on July 17, arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark at about 05:00 on July 18.
At various times throughout our cruise, Leslie took time to practice with about a dozen other passengers as the ship’s choir. All of the practice culminated with a performance on our last night at sea. When we arrived in the piazza area of the vessel, there was a string quartet playing. The same quartet played every evening.

String quartet.
String quartet detail.

When the quartet finished, a talent show began. The first act was two young gymnasts, a girl, and her brother. I believe they were Dutch. The emcee said the girl was aiming to perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics. She was good. Next was a young woman singer who had an absolutely beautiful voice. She reminded me of a singer one might hear in an animated Walt Disney movie. The final act was a brother and two sisters. The brother played the piano, and the sisters sang. They needed a bit more polish, but it was nice to see they at least tried.

Brother and sister gymnasts.
First talent show singer.
The singer with the golden voice.
The brother and sisters singers.

Following the talent show was the choir which sang several songs from The Sound of Music. They sounded good, but of course, Leslie was the best!

The highlight of the talent show…at least for me. The Regal Princess Choir.
Leslie hitting that note.
Fun “drinking” tea.

After the concert, we, minus Lorraine, went to the dining room for dinner. Lorraine was not feeling well. During dinner, we heard the captain on the public address system announce we would pass under the Storebæltsbroen (Great Belt Bridge) at about 20:00. Sure enough, shortly before 20:00, we saw the bridge looming on the horizon. We watched the sight from our balcony. Below us, on one of the main decks, we saw several other passengers gathering to watch the passage and take photographs of the bridge. The bridge connects the Danish islands of Funen and Zealand. Zealand is the island on which we find Copenhagen. The span really was a fantastic sight.

Leslie watching the approach to the Storebæltsbroen (Great Belt Bridge).
A portion of the Storebæltsbroen.
A line of wind turbines is visible just beyond the Storebæltsbroen.
Several passengers gather on one of the decks to photograph the Storebæltsbroen.
Passing under the Storebæltsbroen.
Looking back to the Storebæltsbroen.

We docked right on time.  Once at the Marriott, Lorraine and Arlene waited for a room while Leslie and I walked to the tourist information center to get our Copenhagen tourist cards. The cards ended up not being worth the price only because we did not make much use of them.  We ultimately used them for only one bus ride, one church, and one museum.

While we stood in the tourist information center, my name caught my eye; the Vice and Vesterbro Tour. Vesterbro is a district in Copenhagen.  We all know what vice is, so maybe we will try that tour on our next visit to Copenhagen.

With our cards in hand, we decided we would do the Strøget (stroll). The Strøget is a mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare, encompassing the streets of Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv, and Østergade. It winds from Town Hall Square to the Nyhavn area. Along the way, shopping is a mix of tourist shops and very high-end shops and boutiques. We did not buy anything.
On Strøget, the streets came to life as we walked along. The people made it a great walk. I enjoyed capturing photographs of many people as they walked together. Some that stand out in my mind is the couple walking two huge dogs; a young toddler running around; a woman pulling a sausage cart; a juggler; and a street performer.

A view of the crowded Strøget pedestrian street. This is shortly after departing the Rådhuspladsen.
Another view of the Frederiksberggade portion of Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Walking the dogs along Nygade, a portion of the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A woman pulling a Jens Kurts sausage cart along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A street performer along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A juggler in the Stork Fountain Square.

About two-thirds of the way through the Strøget, we discovered the Royal Copenhagen building. That is the primary outlet for Royal Copenhagen china. We went into the store. Beautiful china was displayed everywhere. It was all lovely but incredibly expensive. The only thing I took from the building were some photographs.

The storefront of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory faces the Stork Fountain Square.
Porcelain in various stages of hand-painting at the Royal Copenhagen flagship store on the Strøget Pedestrian Street. The brand was founded in 1775.
Teapots on display.
View from one of the open windows in the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory.
A closer view of the storefront.

The Strøget ultimately deposited us at the Kongens Nytorv Plaza. From there we walked the short distance to Nyhavn where we had lunch at a beautiful place, Nyhavns Frergekro. I tried a traditional Dutch open-faced sandwich known as Smørrebrød. It was roast beef with a remoulade sauce and gherkin pickles. I thought it tasted excellent. I also had the Nyhavn Dark Ale, which had a real smooth taste. Leslie ordered the Danish meatballs and some fried brie cheese.

Ready to enjoy our lunch in the Nyhavn district.
A family stopping to rest and enjoy a beer in the Nyhavn district.

When we finished lunch, we caught a bus, which took us near our hotel. We walked the last few blocks. All totaled, we put in about 3.5 miles that day.
Lorraine stayed in the room all day with Arlene. They were both getting sicker.
On this return trip to Copenhagen, I found it surprising once again how many swimmers, and sunbathers changed from clothing to swimwear and back again in public. I guess I am too shy to try such a stunt. Oh, and there is no way I am flexible enough to get dressed or undressed while covering up with a towel.

Bathers along Sydhavnen Canal.

The next day, Lorraine and Arlene were to depart. Leslie stayed with them while I went on a walk. I wandered into the Christianshavn area. It is a small island. The canal scenes and the colorful buildings were striking.
I took some stairs to get up to the street level of the drawbridge which crossed over the canal. It was easy to see how much this city favors bicycles. On every set of public stairs, there was a steel track installed. The track was wide enough to allow for any size of a bicycle tire. It will enable a bicyclist to walk up the stairs while rolling the bicycle up or down alongside.

A bicycle wheel rail on the stairs to Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
View from a bridge to bicycles parked below.

I ended up at the Our Savior Church. It dates from the 1680s, known for its massive spire with a winding staircase on the exterior. On a whim, I decided to go up. The climb inside the spire was impressive. One needed to be like a mountain goat to make it up some of the steeper sections. I did not count the stairs, but it had to be close to 200. Finally, one exits the interior stairs through a very narrow door. At that point, a narrow platform rings the spire. The views of Copenhagen were stunning.
On one side of the spire, copper-covered stairs began to ascend, winding around the spire to the very top. Supposedly, there are 150 steps there. Even though there is a sturdy railing, I had several mental battles about whether or not I should continue the assent or give in to my newfound fear of heights. Ultimately, I did not continue to the top.

A unicorn on the corner of the building housing the Christianshavn Apothocary seems to be pointing to the top of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
Another view of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
Detail of the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour). One can see the handrail spiraling around the steeple.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Marriott Hotel.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the dome of Frederiks Kirke.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Christiansborg Palace.
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the cruise ship port area.
This sticker was on the handrail on the exterior of the steeple at the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour). It is German for “love for all.”
Cityscape view from the steeple of the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) looking toward the Øresund Bridge.

Getting back down was also an adventure. The stairs accommodate two-way traffic, even though they are only wide enough for one person at many points. I felt like kissing the ground when I finally made it down.
Back at the hotel, we got Lorraine and Arlene a taxi for the airport. Once they were gone, Leslie and I took a cab to the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark). We had lunch when we arrived. Then we spent a couple of hours touring the museum. I saw several paintings by Edvard Munch, an artist I am familiar with, but I have never personally seen any of his works. I was also happy to see a couple of works from my favorite Spanish artist, Picasso.

The main entrance to the Statens Museum for Kunst also known as SMK (State Museum for Art) in the City Center area.
The counter at the cafe in SMK.
A delicious lunch, and of course wine, at the cafe at SMK.
Seating in the cafe portion of SMK.
An art patron stopping for lunch at SMK.
In a Roman Osteria by Carl Bloch (1866).
A photographer among the sculptures at SMK.
The Shadow by Niels Hansen Jacobsen (1897-1898).
Evening Talk by Edvard Munch (1889).
Workers on Their Way Home by Edvard Munch (1914).
Lady in Black by Edvard Munch (1891).
Samson and the Philistines by Carl Bloch (1863).
A String of Horses Outside an Inn by Otto Bache (1878).
Sculpture of a woman.
Danish Landscape by Harald Slott-Meller (1891).
The Panther Hunter by Jens Adolf Jerichau (1845-46).
The photographer in the red shirt captured again four rooms away at SMK.
Alexander the Great on his Sickbed by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1806).
Mendel Levin Nathanson’s Elder Daughters, Bella, and Hanna by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1820).
Still Life with Door, Guitar, and Bottles by Pablo Picasso (1916).
Glass with Lemon Slice by Pablo Picasso (1913).
Two Nude Figures by Pablo Picasso (1909).
The Green Blouse by Henri Matisse (1936).
Interior with a Violin by Henri Matisse (1918).
Portrait of Madame Matisse, The Green Line by Henri Matisse (1905).
Woman with a Vase by Fernand Léger (1924).
Portrait of the Venetian Painter Giovanni Bellini (?) by Tizian (1511-12).
Calvary by Jan de Beer (1510).
The Archangel Michael with the Dragon by Unknown (1500).
Dominican Friar by Peter Paul Rubens (after 1628).
The Judgement of Solomon by Peter Paul Rubens (1617).
Matthaeus Yrsselius (1541-1629), Abbot of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Antwerp by Peter Paul Rubens (1624).
The Holy Women at the Sepulcher by Ferdinand Bol (1644).
Christ on the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens (1592-1633).
A perspective box by Unknown (1650).
A woman sitting on a bench outside the SMK.

We departed Copenhagen on July 20. At the Copenhagen airport, we decided to get a wheelchair for Leslie. Once we made it through security, we sat in a very comfortable waiting area set aside expressly for those passengers needing additional help. Everyone who helped us was extremely friendly.
When we arrived in Dubai, we also had a wheelchair waiting. However, they took us to the land-of-broken-people. It was not nearly as courteous or friendly as what we experienced in Copenhagen. Regardless, we only had a three-hour flight ahead of us.
As we approached Islamabad, it was cloudy and rainy. I do not believe Islamabad has a precision approach capability, so I began to get nervous as we circled. I was hoping we would not be diverted to Karachi or Lahore. I did not feel like dealing with that. However, nearly 30-minutes late, we landed in Islamabad. We were at home.

A building on the street side of the Rosenborg Castle.
Bicycles are everywhere in the City Center.
A bridal store in the City Center.
Bicycles across from the entry to the Tivoli Amusement Park.
The underside of the over-the-ocean observation deck.
A mural at a beer garden near the Tivoli Amusement Park.
Jazz Jazz.
North entrance to the Tivoli Amusement Park on Vesterbrogade.
Approaching the north side of the Town Hall.
Pedestrians crossing the road from the Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square).
The north facade of the Town Hall.
Goodbye Serious.
The Zero Kilometer Stone is in the middle of the city center of Copenhagen. All distances are measured from that point.
The Copenhagen Town Hall.
The Lego Store on Vimmelskaftet, part of the Strøget Pedestrian Street. Legos are a Danish product.
Buildings facing Gammeltorv Square. It is the oldest square in Copenhagen.
The fountain in Gammeltorv Square.
Looking along the Amagertorv portion of the Strøget Pedestrian Street. The steeple in the distance is the Nikolaj Kunsthal Contemporary Art Center.
Part of the Strøget Pedestrian Street across from the Helligaandskirken, a church dating from the 13th Century.
Final Sale
A man monitoring his young son along Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Run like the wind!
People listening to some musicians along Strøget Pedestrian Street.
A busy mom with her children on Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Approaching the Stork Fountain Square on Strøget Pedestrian Street.
People at the Stork Fountain in the square.
The Stork Fountain dates from 1894.
Patek Philipe and pedestrians along the Strøget Pedestrian Street.
Antique shopping in front of a wonky mirror at Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square).
A building across from Kongens Nytorv (The Kings New Square).
Artwork at buses at Kongens Nytorv.
The Thott Palace in Kongens Nytorv dates from 1683. It is now the French Embassy.
Storefronts and chairs in the Nyhavn district.
The Royal Danish Theater dates from 1874. It is across from Kongens Nytorv.
The flagship store of Magasin du Nord, a chain of Danish department stores.
Walking along Bernstorffsgade Street.
A family walking along Bernstorffsgade Street.
The queue at the Bernstorffsgade Street entry to Tivoli Amusement Park.
Birdhouses along Bernstorffsgade Street.
Birdhouses and bicycles along Bernstorffsgade Street.
A very red Porsche.
Boat traffic on Sydhavnen Canal.
Looking across the Sydhavnen Canal along Njalsgade Street.
Kayakers playing in the Sydhavnen Canal.
The Cultural Center fronts onto the Sydhavnen Canal.
Sign for Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
Entry to the Langebro drawbridge control tower. The metal is copper.
The Søren Kierkegaards Plads and the Black Diamond Library.
The Langebro drawbridge control tower.
The Stadsgraven Canal with the Radisson Hotel in the background.
Flowers beside the Stadsgraven Canal.
Buildings across Stadsgraven Canal.
View of Christians Kirke across a canal.
View across Kobenhavns Canal. The Black Diamond Library extends to the left. The steeple of the Christiansborg Palace is visible in the background.
A canal tour boat in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
This is not an entry point for vehicles in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A Jupiter bicycle secured to a park fence.
The Cafe Rabes Have building looks a little worn.
Graffiti on a transformer.
A sculpture in a small park in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Looking northeast along a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Brøste’s Gaard is known as the Potter House after Thomas Potter. It was completed in 1785. It is located in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Some colorful buildings in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A wooden boat in a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
An office building facing a canal at Overgaden Neden Vandet 11 in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Boats lined up along a canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View to the northwest along Torvegade Street. The tall steeple in the background is the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center.
Some graffiti behind the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
The tomb of Pastor Hans Peter Borresen in the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
A very small car outside the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour).
A very busy canal in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View back to the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) along Sankt Annæ Gade.
Bicyclists spin by at breakfast time at the Café Oven Vande at the corner of Sankt Annæ Gade and Overgaden Oven Vandet.
An old home at Overgaden Neden Vandet 37 in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
View southwest along Overgaden Neden Vandet in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
A row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Another view of the row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
This building along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area is the least plumb, yet still occupied, building I think I have ever seen.
A parting view of the row of colorful buildings along Torvegade in the Christianshavn and Holmen area.
Looking southwest along Strandgade toward Christians Kirke.
The Christians Kirke is visible behind some buildings fronting onto a canal.
Stairs lead to the roof of the Universitets-Jubilæets Danske Samfund building.
A red boat on a canal in desperate need of paint. The steeple of the Town Hall is in the background.
The red boat.
A boat on a canal in the City Center area.
Waiting for the dog in the City Center area.
A tour boat passes by the Horse Guard barracks in the City Center area.
Looking northwest along a canal toward the buildings on Nybrogade. It appears the tour boat will barely fit under the bridge.
This yellow house at Ny Kongensgade 5 in the City Center area also seems to be a bit out of plumb.
Detail of the yellow house.
A few issues with this white house too.
A woman riding along Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.
An Aston Martin outside the hotel.
St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)

St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation – July 13, 2015

We docked at St. Petersburg, Russia this morning. At breakfast, Leslie and I commented that we would never have guessed we would ever visit Russia, but here we are!
This morning, we were part of orange group #1, our tour group for our visit to the Hermitage Museum. Before we got on the bus, we all had to go through passport control. It was not necessarily a breeze. The immigration officer looked closely at us. She even motioned to my passport photo in which I sported a goatee and then pointed at my now clean-shaven face. In addition to our passports, she also demanded to see our ship excursion tickets. Those essentially acted as our Russian visas. Ultimately, even though she seemed a little cranky, she did stamp both of our passports. We thought it was cool getting that entry stamp.
Leslie, Lorraine, Arlene, and I boarded the tour bus. Leslie and I lucked out and got two of the front seats. That made it helpful for taking photos on the way. It was one of several buses lined up at the cruise depot. By 09:00, we began our journey to the museum. On the way, our guide told us St. Petersburg enjoys only about 60 days of sunshine each year. That is precisely the opposite of Colorado, which enjoys approximately 300 days of sun each year. Our day was nice. It was not until later in the day when we returned to the ship that we encountered some raindrops.

All of the buses…
Buses…buses…buses!
Color on the other side of the international border. The colors are beside the ship. Standing on this side of the barrier with the buses, one is in the Russian Federation.
The business end of our Russian tour bus.

After about 30 minutes on the bus, we arrived at the museum. The Louvre in Paris, France, has long been my favorite museum, but that may be in jeopardy now. At the Hermitage, in addition to the museum, one also walks through an awe-inspiring palace. The other fact that sways me is that one of my favorite paintings is at the Hermitage, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. The only downside is the size of the exhibit area does not comfortably allow for viewing when the museum is crowded.

The green building is our first glimpse of the State Hermitage Museum, also known as the Winter Palace.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt (1663-1669). I got this view as our tour group walked by the portrait on their way to another.
Just before we left the Rembrandt room, the guide gave some insight into my favorite painting by the artist.

When we arrived, our guide shared that we were in luck. We were entering the museum about an hour before it opened to the public. That meant we had many portions of the museum virtually to ourselves. That worked out well for my photography.

The worn, bilingual sign near the entrance.

The museum is just over 250 years old, founded by Catherine the Great. The palace consists of six different buildings. We walked through five of them; the Winter Palace, Small Palace, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theater. The buildings total over 2.5 million square feet of space. The ornate decorations in each building and the displayed artwork are just incredible.
We entered the museum through the main Winter Palace door facing the Neva River. It took a little while to get our entire group through the turnstiles; however, once we did, we met the very ornate staircase known as the Ambassadors’ Stairs. When an ambassador visited the Tsar or Empress, they ascended the Ambassador’s Stairs. I am unclear on whether the audience took place in the Peter the Great Throne Room or the St. George Hall. Regardless, they were both stunning spaces.

The Hermitage Museum seems to stretch on forever.
Detail of the pediment above the main entrance to the Hermitage Museum.
At the base of the Ambassadors Staircase, a name used in the 1700s.
A marble statue in a niche on the upper portion of the Ambassadors Staircase.
The columns at the top of the Ambassadors Staircase.
The second landing of the Ambassadors Staircase.
A ceiling fresco above the Ambassadors Staircase.
The tour group ascending the Ambassadors Staircase.
A marble statue in a niche along the Ambassadors Staircase.
The first landing of the Ambassadors Staircase.
Marble sculptures near the top of the Ambassadors Staircase.
Our guide explains many of the features of the Ambassadors Staircase.

Departing the upper landing of the Ambassadors Staircase, we entered the Field Marshal’s Room. While it was impressive, it may have been the least remarkable space we saw that day. One may come to that opinion simply because the decorations are quite muted, not so ornate, and over the top, as some of the other spaces in the museum.
Most notable in the Field Marshal’s Room is the massive chandeliers. They each weigh a jaw-dropping two tons; 4,000 pounds! Several members of our group stood under the lights until our guide related that the chandeliers did fall once. That was enough to get everyone to clear the space.

The Field Marshal’s Room.
A vase in the Field Marshal’s Room.
A portrait of Field Marshal-General His Serene Highness Prince Tavrichesky Count Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin.

The Peter the Great Throne Room was a little more intimate than the vast expanse of the St. George Hall. The throne room had an intricate parquet and wood inlaid floor. The walls were a warm, but dark red. That red echoed in the throne dais carpet and the upholstery of the throne itself, displaying the double-headed imperial eagle on the back, an imposing figure. The ceiling consisted of arches and coffers with hints of gold leaf. It was elegant.

The throne in the small throne room of Peter the Great. The painting behind the throne chair is Peter I with Minerva dating between 1732 and 1734. The columns are made of jasper.
The parquet inlaid floor in the Small Throne Room.
The throne chair. I believe I prefer my recliner…

Leaving the Small Throne Room, we walked into the amazingly ornate Armorial Hall. The amount of gold in the hall defies description.  There was so much gold in the room that there was a gold hue throughout.
At one part of the hall, one could see through the doorway toward the throne in the St. George Hall. It is hard to imagine the numbers of staff that must have been required to make this Winter Palace a place to live and receive guests. Had I been alive in that era and in the St. Petersburg area, I am more than confident I would have never been able to set foot in the palace.
Comparing the Winter Palace living areas to the Napoleon Apartment in the Louvre in Paris is like comparing Versailles to a studio apartment in New York City. There is just no possible comparison between the two.

The Armorial Hall. By the way, all that glitters IS gold!
The Capture of Berlin on 28 September 1760 by Alexander Kotzebue (1849) in the Armorial Hall.
A very ornate lamp.
A view into the St. George Hall.
The aventurine lapidary in the Armorial Hall. Across the top of the lapidary, one can catch a glimpse of the throne in the St. George Hall.
Some of the golden columns of the Armorial Hall.
A marble sculpture in the Armorial Hall.

Even though we could see the throne in the St. George Hall, there was yet one more room to traverse; the Military Gallery. It is a long, narrow room. It is sometimes referred to as the War Gallery of 1812. The walls have dozens of paintings, all approximately the same size, of war heroes involved in the defeat of Napoleon. The entire tour group made quick work of the visit and moved on the hall.

Another tour guide leading her group through the Military Gallery.
Emperor Alexander I on his steed. The painting is in the Military Gallery. Equestrian Portrait of Alexander I by Franz Krüger (1837).
The bas relief above the door from the Military Gallery to St. George Hall.

The St. George Hall was an immense and massive space of approximately 800 square meters. That translates to about 8,500 square feet. That is more than three times the size of the average American home. A large dais, throne, and canopy dominated the east end of the hall. The throne seemed to be an exact duplicate of the throne in the Small Throne Room, including the imperial eagle. Behind the throne hung a large red banner from the canopy with an equally large imperial eagle. The ornate white and gilded ceiling soared two-stories above the floor.
Leaving St. George Hall, our group wound through some smaller spaces, ultimately stopping in Pavilion Hall. Intimate and two-stories do not necessarily go together, but this space was genuinely intimate. Dominating this hall is the 18th-Century Gold Peacock Clock. The clock is behind a glass covering. The peacock is life-size, as well as the cockerel and the owl. With such large creatures in the clock, one might think the clock face is large too, wrong. The hidden clock face is actually in a small mushroom. The automated birds originally went through a series of movements every hour. My understanding is that the clock now moves only a few times a year. That is to keep from wearing out the mechanical parts. Even though we did not see it move, it was an impressive piece.

The Peacock Clock in the Pavilion Hall dates from the 1770s.
One of our tour group members getting a closeup of the Peacock Clock.
Chandeliers in the Pavilion Hall.
The Peacock Clock.
Mosaic floor in the Pavilion Hall.
Detail of the mosaic floor in the Pavilion Hall.
Courtyard off the Pavilion Hall.
A sculpture in the courtyard titled “America.”
View from the Pavilion Hall across the Neva River to the Peter and Paul Fortress.

We ended up in the Old Dutch Masters area shortly after leaving Pavilion Hall. That is where we began seeing painters copying various paintings. They had easels, stools, and drop cloths set up. We quickly saw a dozen or more painters. Our guide shared that it was a big test for the art students through one of the local universities. I could barely take photographs of the paintings; I know there is no way I could copy one with a brush. Their talent was amazing.

This art student was copying Haman Recognizes His Fate by Rembrandt (circa 1665).
Ready to apply the paint at just the right spot.
Mixing paint.
Another view of the student copying Haman Recognizes His Fate by Rembrandt (circa 1665).
The unknown art student was copying Portrait of an Old Man in Red by Rembrandt (circa 1652-1654).
This view provides an idea of how each artist set up so as to not make a mess.
The tour group went from alcove to alcove, listening to our guide. We entered the display at the far end. That is where The Return of the Prodigal Son hangs, just out of view.
A closer view of the artist at work.
This art student is copying the Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645).

Our next viewing was the Italian Renaissance area of the museum.  Below are some of the works that caught my attention.  In this area of the museum, we found more art students copying paintings.

Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (circa 1385).
A chandelier near the theater.
Another painting on the ceiling near the theater.
A painting on the roof near the theater.
Our guide describing an unknown painting.
This art student was copying The Madonna and Child (The Litta Madonna) by Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1495).
A stop in the Hall of Italian Renaissance Art.
This art student was copying a painting in the Hall of Italian Renaissance Art.
This art student is copying Portrait of a Lady by Lorenzo Costa (circa 1506).
The Nativity by Giovanni Della Robbia an example of 16th Century Italian majolica pottery.
An anteroom and chandelier near the theater.

Another unusual feature of the Hermitage is the Raphael Loggia. It is a relatively narrow hall, but it is around 20 feet tall. Some call the loggia Raphael’s Bible. That is because Raphael painted several stories from the Bible in this loggia.

The Raphael Loggia.
Detail over a door from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail of the ceiling from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.
Our guide in the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.

Below, in no particular order, are some of the other sights we saw in the Hermitage Museum.  The narrative continues well below the photos.

Another ornate ceiling.
A row of chairs in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
An art lover in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Our guide imparting information in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Martyrdom of St Peter by Caravaggio (circa 1601).
The beauty of the Small Italian Skylight Room.
The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine by Domenico Beccafumi (1521).
Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph by Raphael (1506).
An art student copying an unknown work in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Death of Adonis by Giuseppe Mazzuola (1700-1709).
Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate by Goya (1810-1811).
An unknown art student’s copy of Boy with a Dog by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (circa 1655-1659).
This art student is copying the Repentance of Saint Peter.
Our guide was very knowledgeable.
The base of a lamp.
An unknown art student’s copy in progress of the Battle Between the Lapiths and Centaurs by Luca Giordano (circa 1688).
Meeting of Joachim and Anne near the Golden Gate by Paolo de San Leocadio (circa 1500).
Another detailed ceiling.
The Doctor’s Visit by Jan Steen (Circa 1660).
Marriage Contract by Jan Steen (circa 1668).
Detail of the large vase.
A large vase.
A small, but beautiful chandelier.
Smokin’ !!
Fruit and a Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem (1655).
Esther in Front of Ahasuerus by Valentin Lefevre (circa 1675-1699).
Yet another chandelier.
This painting of Jesus entering Jerusalem caught my eye.
Inlays on the side of a table.
Some very ornate chairs.
Detail of a light fixture.
Adam and Eve (The Fall of Man) by Hendrick Goltzius (1608).
Laocoon by Paolo Andrea Triscornia (1798).
Three dancing women near the exit.

The Hermitage is just like the Louvre in one respect; there is no way one can see everything. We did see many more works of art. When we emerged from the Hermitage, we saw a sea of people waiting to enter. We were glad we went when we did. We walked across the street toward the Neva River, onto our bus, and then back to the ship.

Departing the Hermitage Museum.
A boat passes by the Rostral’naya Kolonna in the Neva River.
View across the Neva River.

Back on the bus, our guide greeted us all with a Russian chocolate bar.  That was very nice of her.

Our prized chocolate bar.

At the cruise terminal, several gift shops were dealing in items designed to catch the eye of tourists. As usual, we found some refrigerator magnets.

Returning to the cruise ship.

After dinner that evening, we all went to a show. The entertainment was a troupe of 14 Russian dancers/singers.  Seven  band members accompanied them, playing authentic Russian instruments. The entire performance in Russian did not deter us from understanding what was happening.  The eye-catching traditional costumes were colorful.

The following day, our canal tour was in the afternoon. After breakfast, it was the same drill through immigration and onto a bus. Our destination was close to the Hermitage Museum. It was very cloudy. The bus stopped so we could all get off. We faced about a two-block walk to the canal boat. Some of the walking was a little dicey, but we all made it safely. While walking, we saw a bride and groom stopping to take photos.  Our guide told us it is normal for newlyweds to travel around the city, taking photographs at their favorite locations.

The bride and groom.
The bride and groom walking.

As we finished our walk, it began to drizzle. That did not stop me from taking photos. I kept clicking from under my umbrella. Shortly after the boat pulled away from the mooring, one of the workers brought us a complimentary glass of champagne, my kind of cruise!
Our boat departed its mooring on Moyka Canal. After passing the Japan Consulate, we took a quick right turn onto the canal that is on the east side of the Hermitage Museum. That canal led us to the Neva River. On the Neva, we turned to the west toward the Bolshaya Neva. I believe that means “little Neva” River. We cruised under the Dvortzovyy Most (bridge) and then under Biagoveshchenskiy Most. We made a U-turn back to the east, ultimately going under the Troitskiy Most. One right turn and we were on the Fontanka Canal. Our final right turn took us back to the Moyka Canal and our original mooring.
The bridges over the canals were extremely low. Some only had a total clearance of two meters, about six feet. If one were to stand while passing under, one would definitely lose body parts.

The Round Market building alongside the Moyka River.
A sightseeing boat on the Moyka River.
View of buildings beside the Moyka River.
Yet another sightseeing boat on the Moyka River. The Japanese Consulate can be seen in the background.
A beautiful old building, the Menshikov Palace, on the Neva River. Today, the palace serves as a branch of the Hermitage Museum.
Buildings facing the Neva River.
A view of the Rostral’naya Kolonna column on the Neva River.
Heading toward the Neva River on the Reka Zimnyaya Kanavka. The Hermitage is on either side of the canal.
Pedestrians on a bridge.
Looking back toward the Japanese Consulate.
Pedestrian walking near the Amber Palace.
According to Mr. Google, this building is known as the Pediment Genius of Glory crowning science.
No anchorage here!
A dome on an unknown building as seen from the Neva River.
The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
Some of the more colorful buildings.
The buildings seem to never end.
Another view of the Hermitage Museum.
A fellow tourist capturing photographs from the sightseeing boat.
A view of part of the Peter and Paul Fortress from the Neva River.
Looking back at the Reka Zimnyaya Kanavka. The Hermitage is on either side of the canal.
A videographer filming to the right.
A videographer filming to the left.
Some of our fellow tourists on the sightseeing boat.
The main facade of the Hermitage Museum.
The detail on the Troitskiy Bridge over the Neva River.
A commercial building. The sign on the right seems to translate as Megaphone.
One sightseeing boat is entering the Fontanka River while the other is entering the Neva River.
A sightseeing boat preparing to enter the Fontanka River.
A closer view of the Noplasticfantastic building.
The building on the corner houses the Noplasticfantastic store.
Another sightseeing boat passing under the Troitskiy Bridge.
Pedestrians on the Troitskiy Bridge.
The entry to the Fontanka River from the Neva River.
Detail of a building across the Fontanka River from the Summer Garden.
The tree-lined walk of the Summer Garden.
The videographer at work.
A no anchorage sign.
The Tea House in the Summer Garden as seen from the Fontanka River.
Entering into the Fontanka River.
There is not a great deal of clearance under the bridge.
A view of St. Michael’s Castle from the Fontanka River.
A very colorful delivery truck as seen from the Moyka River.
A speedboat on the Moyka River.
Pedestrians on the Panteleymonovskiy Most.
The detail on the Panteleymonovskiy Most.
The tallest spire of the Savior on the Spilled Blood church was just visible from the Fontanka River.
The detail on the Panteleymonovskiy Most.
Pedestrians cross the Panteleymonovskiy Most in front of St. Michael’s Castle.
A not-so-speedy boat on the Moyka River.
The Savior on the Spilled Blood church.

Just as we docked, the downpour began. It did not let up until we were back on the bus, of course. On the way back to the ship, we stopped by the Red October souvenir shop. Surprise, we bought another refrigerator magnet. Since there was still time to burn at that stop, I took a few photographs nearby.

Teremok is a favorite Russian stop for pancake type treats.
Two young men meeting.
The top of the poster proclaims “Music of Maxim Aunaevsky.” I believe the name of the production is “Scarlet Sails.”
A nice Beemer.
I do not know what it is, but this building is at the northeast corner of Konnogvardeyskiy Bul’var and Ploshchad’ Truda. Mr. Google says it is Dvorets Velikogo Knyazya Nikolaya Nikolayevich. That doesn’t help me much…
Cars waiting for their left turn signal.
A food delivery truck.
The word at the top of the newsstand states “newspapers.”
The boys were flocking to the Teremok.
A bus stop near the newsstand.

When the bus arrived at the cruise terminal, it was about 17:00. Our seating time for dinner was 17:30. After exiting immigration, we discovered a very long line to board the ship. I think part of that was because the ship was due to depart at 17:30.  We might have been a few minutes late for dinner that night, but it was no big deal.

Waiting in line to get back on the cruise ships. Earlier in the morning, the buses were on the other side of the barrier on the left.
The dining room hostess on the ship.

Even though we spent a night on the ship in the port of St. Petersburg, we were only allowed off the boat if we were on a ship’s shore excursion. We wished we had been able to get off the ship and explore on our own, but it is what it is.
After dinner, I was able to stand on our balcony and take photographs of the Gulf of Finland. One of the highlights was the flood control dam. It is about 15 or 20 miles west of St. Petersburg. There are large motorized steel dams, which close in cases of flooding. At that location, a divided highway traverses under the water. The road is labeled KAO. I believe that is a ring road around the St. Petersburg area.
Just before the flood control dam, I saw a small island. There was a small humanmade harbor in the center. I found out later that this is Fort Kronshlot, built-in 1704 to fortify Russia from other Baltic states.
We watched a little TV in our room and then retired, ready to awake in Helsinki.

Multiple lighthouses.
Abandoned buildings at Fort Kronshlot.
Looking at Fort Kronshlot from the west. St. Petersburg is at the far distant horizon toward the left of the frame.
Another lighthouse.
The far western end of Fort Kronshlot.
A lighthouse at Fort Kronshlot.
An abandoned building at Fort Kronshlot.
Fort Kronshlot.
Passing a sailboat flying a Netherlands flag.
A tall, narrow lighthouse.
A barge coming toward the cruise ship.
Looking back toward an abandoned building on a small island. It is known as Emperor Paul I.
The barge, L’aigle.
A ship in the distance.
Another view of the odd-looking lighthouse.
An abandoned building on a small island. It is known as Emperor Paul I.
Fort Kronshlot with St. Petersburg in the distance.
The same barge.
Another view of highway A118.
One of two large flood control gates.
Looking south over one of the flood control gates along highway A118.
A sign on the building at the flood control gates. The top portion states, “The complex of protective structures protects the city of St. Petersburg from flooding.”
One of the protruding points at the flood control gates.
View of the barge with the lighthouse in the background.
As best I can tell, the name of the barge translates to “crops.”
A smaller barge.
A Russian ship. The name may be SIGULDA.
A wider view of the SIGULDA.
A Russian barge.
A point at the flood control gates departing St. Petersburg.
The Maersk Norwich on the Baltic Sea.
On the Baltic Sea.
Gathering storm clouds without the flare.
Gathering storm clouds at sunset.
The starboard side of the Maersk Norwich.

Lastly, below are random photographs I took as we rode around town on the bus going back and forth from the ship to our tours.

A woman crossing the street. I found it odd that there are two stopping areas for red lights, one on either side of the crosswalk.
The Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great in the Senate Square park.
Immediately to the left is the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. Just ahead on the left is the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
Steadily making our way through traffic.
A side street in St. Petersburg.
Graffiti on an abandoned building.
The yellow sign reads “detour.”
The sign reads TRUBETSKA First Class Transport. Under the phone number, it reads “around the clock.”
The Church of the Assumption of Mary on the banks of the Neva River.
A trolley passes by the intersection.
Traffic must turn right.
It looks like this baby is ready to get out.
Crossing the intersection.
A typical street.
Submarine C189, a floating museum on the Neva River.
A billboard alongside the Leytenanta Shmidta embankment.
Detail of the church spires.
The spires of the Church of the Assumption of Mary soar above the traffic.
Heading southwest on Leytenanta Shmidta embankment toward the Church of the Assumption of Mary.
Approaching some colorful buildings.
Average Avenue street sign??
Fruit stand.
The cars seem to wind their way through the trolleys without a second thought.
Two passing trolleys.
Pedestrians on a corner.
Sometimes the mixing is rather close.
Trolleys and cars mixing on the road.
Everyone wants to turn right.
Pedestrians waiting to cross.
More pedestrian crossing.
Pedestrians crossing.
Supermarket.
Clouds over the harbor.
Panoramic view of the port.
A new bridge under construction.
Drain.
Apple on a bench.
Invest in St. Petersburg.
Flowers at a roundabout near the cruise ship.
A happy tourist…now that the wine is flowing!
Photographing the new car.
After a hard day of tourism, it was time to relax on our terrace.
A helicopter landing near the cruise ship.
Front and back of a 500 Ruble note from the Bank of Russia. These two notes equal about US$15.00.
Currency leftover from the day’s adventures. This is about US$1.75.
Return to Tallinn

Return to Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia – July 11, 2015

Leslie and I are fortunate to be able to return to the beautiful city of Tallinn, Estonia.  Our fortune is all the better because we shared the experience with Lorraine and Arlene.  As our ship docked, we saw one of the many ferries also coming into port.  It was dayglow green, so it was hard to miss.

It is hard to miss this Helsinki ferry.

After breakfast, we disembarked. We had a very long walk along the pier to the taxi stand. Once we finally made it to a taxi, we got in and asked the driver to drop us off at the tourist information office in the Old Town area of Tallinn. I knew that location had a taxi stand and it is only a block or two from the town hall plaza. As we neared our destination, Leslie and I began to recognize the places we visited when we lived there for a short two weeks.

Very busy tourism information center.

Within minutes, the taxi driver deposited us at the tourist information center. We entered and got the requisite tourist maps and brochures. It was still early, so we decided to get a coffee and pass some time. We selected the Caffé Centrale for our coffee. The interior was rather eclectic. Our server, 19-year old Alice, was kind enough to pose for a photo with the very giddy duo of Lorraine and Arlene.

The interior of Caffé Centrale.
Two of the servers.
We had a giddy morning.
Alice was kind enough to join in the fun.
It was too early and too chilly for anyone to sit outside.

After coffee, we completed the short walk to the town hall plaza. There was a medieval festival in the area. The day we were there was the final day of the festival. The vendors in the square sold various handmade crafts. We stopped at a booth where the man and woman made wooden items accented with woven strands of wood. While we stood there, the man took thin pieces of wood and drew them through a long-knife. That was how he made the strands used in weaving around the wooden items. Leslie bought a trivet. It is a cross-section of a piece of wood about six inches in diameter. On one edge, there are holes through which they weave the small strips of wood. The article is accented with pieces of amber, a substance that is abundant in Estonia. For a handmade craft, it was surprisingly inexpensive at only 7€.

A rain downspout on the city hall building.
Three women in Tallinn.
The woman from whom we bought some of our treasures.
This man was making the pieces need for weaving the baskets and other items.
In large letters, the sign proclaims “Medieval Days.” It takes place in Tallinn’s Old Town. We were there on the final day of the festival.
A sundial on the face of a building. It dates from 1747.
Part of the medieval market in the main square.
Two women selling amber and other jewelry.
Some of the market booths and the colorful buildings surrounding the square.
The sign for the famous pharmacy dating from 1422.

We noticed bicycle cabs in the plaza. Leslie stopped one of the boys, Maxim, and asked him to take Lorraine and Arlene for a ride. We sat at a street-side café to wait for them to return. Shortly after they left, the heavens opened up. The trip lasted about 20-minutes. When they returned, they joined us at the table under the umbrella. We sat there and waited out the rain.
When the rain ended, we decided it was time for lunch. We ate at the Olde Estonia Inn, the same place Leslie and I had lunch when we were in Tallinn in January. Unfortunately, we did not think the lunch was quite as good at this visit. Regardless, ironically our server was the same young woman that waited on us in January. It almost seemed like an old home week. She very obviously remembered us.

One liter of Saku beer!

After lunch, we walked back to the tourist information center.  The women waited there while I ran up the hill about two blocks.  I wanted to see if a store Leslie and I had visited in January was open.  Unfortunately, it was not open.  My trip was not a total loss.  I was able to photograph the blue door.  It is simply a blue entry door to some apartments.  I just liked the colors.

People passing by the blue door.
The blue door is in need of some new blue paint.

A little shopping later and we got back in a taxi to go back to the cruise ship.  For some reason, taxis are not allowed to go all the way to the original taxi stand at which we hailed the first taxi that morning.  That meant we had an even longer walk to get back to the point to board the ship.  Once we made it to the smooth concrete of the pier, Arlen sat on her walker, and I pushed her to the boarding point.

A virtually deserted street on the way back to the ship.
Our cruise ship appears to have run aground…
The Regal Princess.

Tallinn, Estonia is one of my favorite cities on this planet.
That evening was one of the formal dining nights onboard, so we all dressed up. We had some photos made in the piazza area of the ship before going into our dining room. Quite frankly, I would have been just as happy to go to dinner in my jeans.

My three traveling companions ready for dinner.
Mother and daughter.
Ready for dinner…but I would rather be in jeans…
Dinner conversation.
Focused on the conversation.

After the ship left Tallinn, heading for St. Petersburg, Russia, we saw a fantastic sunset.
We were excited about our upcoming visit to St. Petersburg.

Sunset 1
Sunset 2
Sunset 3
A typical narrow street departing from the main square.