Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cruising out of Stockholm

Our ship was scheduled to depart at 5pm and with a big blast of the horn (that is LOUD!), it started to pull away. We found the departure/arrival at the docks one of the most interesting things about the cruise - we only missed the process if we were actually sleeping. During our final dinner on board we discussed the 3 questions "What was your favorite port?" "What was your favorite activity?" and "What was your favorite food?"

Rachel: Helsinki, hanging out, everything
Kendra: Gydinia, Poland, Arcade/ping pong, everything - esp. cheesecake
Bart: St. Petersburg, ping pong/relaxing, red meat
Susan: St. Petersburg/Riga, watching the ship/port activity, french toast (and everything)

Yes, I'm a geek. I liked watching all the different activity at the various ports and guess what? I took a lot of pictures so you'll get to see all these ports too! Piles of coal, cranes, newly built cruise-oriented customs/passport control buildings, etc... Everyone was outside and at the rails to experience our departure out of Stockholm into the shipping channel that would lead us to the Baltic. They explained they had a Harbor Pilot onboard separate from the regular crew. This Harbor Pilot helps navigate the ship through the shipping channel which is complex and based on size of some of these ships, narrow to appearancees. The Pilot is then picked up and returned to port via a small "pilot" boat once the ship reaches the open Sea.
There were many boats in the Channel:
Some are little:
Some are BIG (This is a Ferry - carries auto's and passengers between Nordic/Scandinavian countries. It is equipped with restaurants and cabins as most trips have an overnight itinerary):
There were about 4 other cruise ships/ferries that departed at the same time as our ship. You can see the bouy markers for the Channel on either side of the following ship:
It took 4 hours to reach the open Baltic Sea - the scenery was spectacular.
There was also dancing:
AND shuffleboard (turns out I outscored my family. Not sure that's a record I'll post outside of this Blog.... :)
All along the way were beautiful cottages and houses. Beautifully painted and kept:
Look at those buildings - the classic American red barn came from somewhere, Yes? Based on the large number of red/white painted barns (some were houses) we saw in Sweden, those classic "American" barns were built by immigrant Swedish farmers a long, long time ago.
Little islands with their little cottages: Some not so little but oh, so tempting - I'm ready to book a place for a week:
Almost to the Baltic and we see this little piece of lovely, undeveloped land sticking out. Sandy beach, shallow approach, woods - hmmm wonder if??? Nope, we have to move back next year. No vacation home in our future right now in Sweden. A lovely thought though.....
After dinner. About 9:30 and the sun has gone down but the sky is still full of light. It was at 11:30pm when we finally convinced ourselves to go to bed.
Sunrise comes early - just after 5am - and the night was never completely dark. I couldn't sleep and so sat with a coffee and book at about 6:30am. Should be seeing Finland soon.....


Susan said...

I was delighted when this post popped up on my Google Reader - I love your travel pictures. I have a serious case of travel envy right now! I want to take this trip!!

While I'm thinking of it, I'm going to pop over to FB and leave you a note - I'm hopeful to see you perhaps before your big trip.

As always, thanks for blogging -

Judy@Just Enough Light said...

Loving your pictures and story of your cruise. I just started to write about our cruise. (You went to Gotland? I have very very distant relatives on that island! Something like our great-great granmothers were sisters, or maybe even one more great.) What cruise line did you take? That's one area we'd like to see.