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Samoa via Auckland

Samoa via Auckland

Apia, Samoa – December 10, 2017

I scheduled a business trip to Auckland, New Zealand, and Apia, Samoa. I was fortunate that Leslie was able to accompany me.

In Auckland, we stayed at the Stamford Plaza Hotel.  One evening we decided to try the Kabuki Teppanyaki restaurant in the hotel.  It is a Japanese display cooking restaurant.  Along one of the walls are dozens of bottles of various alcohol.

Drinks at the Kabuki Teppanyaki restaurant in Auckland.

We had been to that restaurant once before and liked it, so we decided to try it again. The second time was even better. Maybe the chef was more flamboyant. What was the most surprising about the meal was my utensils…I was able to eat the entire meal with chopsticks! That is a feat I was never able to accomplish before.

I work with a Japanese colleague.  After the trip, I asked her if these restaurants were popular in Japan.  She said, not really.  It is much more of a touristy thing.

Following our time in Auckland, it was off to Samoa.  It is only about a three and one-half hour flight.

Our hotel room overlooked the Pacific.  That provided the opportunity to watch ships coming and going from the port of Apia.

Waiting to enter the port.

Of all the times I have visited Apia, I had never visited the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. During this trip, we had an opportunity to go. It was fascinating. The Scottish RLS was born on November 13, 1850. Around 1888, RLS made his first visit to Samoa. He fell in love with the island. In 1890 he bought a plot of land and built his home. That is now the RLS Museum.

For about US$20, one can take part in a guided tour of the residence. One of the interesting things about the house are the fireplaces in some of the rooms. Obviously, RLS was thinking of Scotland when he designed the home. A fireplace was indispensable in Scotland; in Samoa they are superfluous.

Room at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.

The grounds are stunning with a wide variety of tropical plants and flowers. The house is at the base of Mount Vaea. He died at the very young age of 44 and is buried upon that mount, overlooking the sea.

Following the photo below of Leslie holding the Vailima beer, I added some additional photographs of the Catholic cathedral in Apia.  It is one of the most stunning I have ever seen.

The Robert Louis Stevenson museum with Mount Vaea in the background.
Tropical flowers and plants.
Detail of the grounds at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
A sculpture at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
Original medications on display at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
Some of the author’s collection at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
The library at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
Wood inlay at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
Partial view of the grounds at the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.
Palm tree.
Cargo ship.
Assistance is here.
Storm’s a-brewin’.
The welcome floor for the hair.
A beer in Apia.
The Catholic Cathedral.
Looking toward the main entrance of the Cathedral.
The dome in the Cathedral. One of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
The Cathedral altar.
Detail of the artwork in the dome.
One of the Stations of the Cross in stained glass.
The aisle toward the altar.
A windy afternoon at the Taumeasina Island Resort.
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.


Nynäshamn, Sweden – July 16, 2015

This morning at about 07:00, we anchored just offshore from the small Swedish town of Nynäshamn. It was the first time we anchored as opposed to tying up at a dock. Stockholm is the standard cruise ship port. The reason we did not dock in Stockholm is our ship; the relatively new Regal Princess has a draft too deep for the Stockholm port. The draft of our boat was eight meters or about 26 feet of the ship below the waterline. That meant we had to be ferried ashore by the ship’s tenders.

The Regal Princess in the Nynäshamn Harbor.  One can see a tender at the starboard side of the ship.
Tender number 15. The cruise ship is in the distance.

When fully loaded, each of the ship’s tenders holds about 150 people. I can only imagine that we would have had to anchor too far from Stockholm to make tender transportation practical. So, the next best thing was to anchor near Nynäshamn.  That meant the ride from the ship to the shore was about five minutes. Once on the coast, we took a shuttle bus to the train platform. That ride was another seven or eight minutes.

Inside one of the tender boats from the cruise ship to port.  Note that there are people on the upper deck as seen at the rear of the photo.

Many of our shipmates opted to board the train for a one-hour trip to Stockholm. We decided we would stay and explore Nynäshamn. One of the first sights we spotted was a church on a cliff above us. I am not positive, but I believe it is a Lutheran church. We walked roughly northwest along Stymansgr. The church was on our right, so I made a quick side trip to visit. Much like the church in Helsinki yesterday, the church decoration was sparse. It dates from the 1930s, but I was not able to find the name of the church.

The church.
The sun at the steeple.
The church was built in 1930.
The interior of the church.
The interior of the church.
The crucifix.
Mary and the child.
The church II.

Back on the “trail,” joining up with Leslie again, we continued our stroll. The name of our small street changed to Centralgatan. It was the entry to the central business district. For the first block or so, we did some shopping. Then we decided we would go to the Nynäshamn Ångeryggeri brewery. We did finally find it, only to discover the tour was an hour or more away. That, coupled with the fact they could not sell strong beer from that location helped us to decide to continue walking.

The florist shop.
Preparing the display at the florist shop.

After leaving the brewery, we walked into a supermarket. We wanted to get some “salty” snacks to enjoy in our room on the ship. In addition to those snacks, we bought some Swedish chocolate to take to our colleagues at work when we returned to Pakistan.
We found a small cafe not too far from the supermarket where we stopped to try a local beer, Mariestads. It was a tasty lager.

My favorite beer of the day.

After our break, we ended up at the local marina. We found a few tourist items, but most importantly, we found a fantastic restaurant right on the dock of the marina. We both had a hamburger. Leslie enjoyed a glass of white wine with hers while I was able to have a beer from the local Nynäshamn Ångeryggeri brewery, Ladsort lager. It was good, but I liked the Mariestads we had earlier much better.
The hamburgers were the best we have had in quite a long time. I imagine the beautiful setting had something to do with that.

Ready for a wonderful and relaxing lunch.
It has to be beer time.
A friendly and hungry bird.
Two teens strolling by the dock.

We headed back to the tender and the ship at about 14:00. Stockholm may have had more to see and do, but we were pleased with our stroll through Nynäshamn. We were also happy we did not have to rush to get on a train to and from Stockholm. After all, this was supposed to be an R&R trip.

Fierce looking clouds.
Walking her dog.
Departing the grill area.
People congregating at the grill.
Seagull on a lamp.
Another dog.
Laundry day.
The grill picnic area.
The grill picnic area II.
A sailboat departing the dock.
Bringing the Ljuvlia into a slip.
Lots of boat traffic.
Taking Sky Storm out for a sail.
Sailboats at the dock.
Walking his dog, eating ice cream.
Duck curb-stop.
Lunchtime traffic near the dock.
A lady in waiting.
The Nynäshamn municipal flag.
The Nynäshamn municipal building.
Relaxing and talking.
At the flower shop.
Relaxing at a sidewalk cafe.
The yellow house.
Flowers in a street planter.
Bringing flowers to the florist shop.
One of the captain’s crew supervising the departure.
A lighthouse on a rock.
Really…you think I could resist taking a photo of this sign!
The Eight Friends Inn.
The point at which one can leave their dog before entering the pub.
A typical apartment building.
A mail delivery vehicle.
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.
One has to wonder where that road leads.
Some of the people participating in the medieval festival.
Some beautiful summer flowers.
I am not sure what this young lady was doing, but she was definitely participating in the medieval festival.
A very large bubble floating by some apartments.
Old town Tallinn as seen from the cruise ship.
The port and portions of Tallinn beyond.
The Princess line logo.
One of the many ferry ships to Helsinki.
Tallinn is a busy port.
Music and slides seemed to be playing to no one.