Part 1...St. Petersburg, Russia...A city to remember...The Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral...

"The Peter and Paul Cathedral (Russian: Петропавловский собор) is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Hare Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral's bell tower is the world's tallest Orthodox bell tower. Since the belfry is not standalone, but an integral part of the main building, the cathedral is sometimes considered the highest Orthodox Church in the world. There is another Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul Church in St. Petersburg, located in Petergof."
This Baltic cruise provided us with an opportunity to visit and subsequently add six new countries to our world travel itinerary.  We hadn't added many new countries in the past few years and this is particularly exciting.
Sailors walking down the street with a mission in mind.
It's not as if we're on a mission to experience most of the world's safe-to-visit countries.  That was never the purpose or goal of our world travels.  Instead, it's simply fun to add more countries to our travel map on the right side of our home page.
On the streets of St. Petersburg, this Russian woman had an impressive arrangement of fresh fruit cups available for sale.
These Baltic countries have been interesting and definitely unique compared to many other countries we've toured in the past almost seven years.  Never in our travels, had we been to Russia or other of the Baltic countries.
The opulence in the cathedral is indescribable.
Today as we travel through Scandinavian countries we find there to be a very different feel from European countries, except for the varying designs of many churches and historical buildings.
There were so many tourists inside the Peter and Paul Cathedral, it was challenging to take photos without including them.
Let's face it...buildings 200 or more years old seem to take on decor, design, and ambiance of certain typical characteristics, architecturally interesting, big, at times gaudy and often made of gold and valuable stones, marble, wood, and jewels.
"The current building, the first stone church in St. Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its gold-painted spire reaches a height of 123 meters (404 ft) and features at its top an angel holding a cross. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg.  The cathedral's architecture also features a unique iconostasis (the screen which separates the nave of the church from the sanctuary). In the Eastern Orthodox Church the iconostasis is normally a flat wall or screen with three doors through it, the central Holy Doors used only for very solemn entrances, and the two side doors, by which the clergy and others enter and leave the sanctuary. However, at St. Peter and Paul, the iconostasis rises to form a sort of tower over the sanctuary. The cathedral has a typical Flemish carillon, a gift of the Flemish city of Mechelen, Flanders."
After seeing literally 100's of historic buildings we're always searching for an unusual or unique series of features that can take our breath away.  This happened in St. Petersburg a few days ago.
Pure gold was used in creating the exquisite ambiance of this famous cathedral.
As mentioned in our last post, found here, I wasn't able to participate in Day 2 of our St. Petersburg tour due to my difficulty walking.  After the prior day's 12,000 steps ending at 13,500 when walking about the ship that evening, my legs hurt enough to prevent us from another long day on foot.
"The cathedral is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the fortress (Saint Peter being the patron saint of the city). The current cathedral is the second one on the site. The first, built soon after Peter's founding of the city, was consecrated by Archbishop Iov of Novgorod the Great in April 1704.   The cathedral was the cathedral church (i.e., the seat of the bishop; the term cathedralsobor (собор) in Russian—can mean the seat of a bishop, but it can also mean simply a large or important church) of the city until 1859 (when St Isaacs became the city's cathedral.) The current cathedral church of St. Petersburg is the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect. The cathedral was closed in 1919 and turned into a museum in 1924. It is still officially a museum; religious services, however, resumed in 2000."

Yesterday morning we were docked in Helsinki, Finland and after attempting to post with no luck, we took off for town, utilizing a  private taxi which is the easiest means for me.  
As we moved through the immense structure we discovered one amazing scene after another.
Photos aren't as good as they'd be when on foot on the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses since they have to be taken through the glass windows, although its better than not going at all.

The remains of many leaders and their family members were entombed within the church walls.
Years ago, on some cruises, we wouldn't get off at some ports-of-call, especially in the Caribbean, when we'd already been to many cruise lines owned islands intended for passengers to spend, spend, spend...on drinks, beach chairs, umbrellas, and trinkets.  
"The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family, who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Among the emperors and empresses buried here was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years.  Of the post-Petrine rulers, only Peter II and Ivan VI are not buried here. Peter II is buried in the Cathedral of Michael the Archangel in the Moscow Kremlin; Ivan VI was executed and buried in the fortress of Shlisselburg or Kholmogory (alleged discovery at Kholmogory in 2010 currently under forensic investigation). On September 28, 2006, 78 years after her death, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, was reinterred in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Wife of Tsar Alexander III, and mother of Nicholas II (the last Russian tsar), Maria Feodorovna died on 13 October 1928 in exile in her native Denmark and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark. In 2005, the governments of Denmark and Russia agreed that the empress's remains should be returned to Saint Petersburg in accordance with her wish to be interred next to her husband."
Such ports hold little appeal for us when we are always seeking authenticity, history, and charm. A man-made island or strip of beach certainly doesn't fit that criterion.  However, many passengers find such places as the highlight of their cruises especially those who don't live near an ocean and sandy beaches. We get that.
The exterior is slightly less impressive than the interior of the cathedral.
Of course, a natural strip of beach, sandy, volcanic or rocky always inspires us, prompting us to take many photos of varying angles of nature's bounty.  We never tire of the view.

As expected the evenings have been entertaining and filled with lively chatter among other passengers we've met and, between ourselves.  There's never a dull moment nor do we spend much time in the cabin.
The chapel's roof, ornate and gold-covered.
The past two days, we managed to squeeze in a few movies in the ship's small theatre, the Cinema.  The first was the most recent documentary about Apollo 11's trip to the moon with live footage that left us on the edge of our chairs.  It's well worth watching and provides a perspective we could hardly imagine from memory 50 years ago.

Yesterday, after our return from touring Helsinki in the taxi, we relaxed and watched another movie, "Instant Family"...very sweet and entertaining.  Tom dozed during the first 20 minutes but was awake for the balance.
As soon as we upload this post, we'll be taking the shuttle bus from the ship to Stockholm, Sweden.  From there, if possible we'll take a taxi to tour the city.

Tomorrow, a sea day, we'll have time for Part 2...St. Petersburg.  Look for us then! We still have many more Baltic cities to share!

Enjoy the new week!
Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2018:
This artistic piece, made by Agness at the Wayi Wayi Art Centre in Zambia, was made with hundreds of scratch-off tickets.  Please click here for more photos.

Sorry folks, no post today...WiFi signal is too weak to load photos...

We have so much to share but unfortunately, the ship's WiFi signal isn't strong enough today to upload it.  We'll try again tomorrow with our fantastic photos of St. Petersburg.

Happy day!

Back to posting one day earlier than expected...Why?...Tallinn, Estonia...

View over Tallinn, Estonia from a scenic overlook.
Yesterday was a day we'll always remember, not only for the exquisite sites we visited in St. Petersburg, Russia but for the challenging experience of my attempt to navigate over 12,000 steps in one day with my lingering painful legs situation.
The town well.
No doubt, a month ago, I couldn't have conceived I'd make it through such a day as this but somehow with Tom's unrelenting help and emotional support, overall we'd stayed up with the group of 15 passengers in our group, only avoiding a few less important additional walking sidelines during the full day, beginning at 8:30 am and ending at 6:00 pm.

It was difficult.  It was painful.  But I knew I wasn't hurting anything by forging ahead.  Ultimately, maybe my legs would become stronger after this cruise with all it's walking while attempting to recover after over six months of pure hell.
The remains of a historic castle tower.
I've "sugar-coated" it long enough to be tough, resilient and strong.  Yes, attitude is a big part of recovery and I do credit myself for remaining upbeat and hopeful.  But, at times, I have felt hopeless and fearful that I'd never recover.
There is stunning artwork on the many churches within Old Town.
In the next several days, we'll be posting, time allowing, the amazing photos we were able to take while on yesterday's St. Petersburg tour.  However, last night we decided we would not be going on Day 2 of the prepaid tour since I knew I wouldn't be able to spend another day like yesterday.

We are disappointed to lose the non-refundable fees we paid for Day 2 but this decision had to be made.  And now, as we sit comfortably in the Park Cafe on deck 5, we've totally at peace with our decision.  
We didn't enter the churches due to many steps and long queues.
Yes, today we'll miss a few choice locations popular with tourists to the magnificent city but yesterday provided us with considerable information regarding St. Petersburg rich history and culture.
The winding streets of the walled city of Tallinn, Estonia.
To follow a sequential course for our posts as ports of call as they occurred, today we're sharing photos of Tallinn, Estonia which we visited two days ago.  We hadn't booked a tour for this city and decided to "wing it."

Instead, we were planning to use the shuttle bus to get us into town, and from there, we'd figure out how we'd get around, fearful that being on foot may be too much for me when the bigger tour lay ahead the following day in St. Petersburg.
Here we are in the motorized bike.
No more than a few seconds after we exited the shuttle bus we were approached by a clean-cut looking young man in his 20's who had a motorized bicycle with a cart attached, perfect for the two of us.  

It was pricey for one hour at Euro 153, US $170 which we'd already negotiated down from Euro 189, US $210 but after about 70 minutes we couldn't have been more thrilled after seeing most of the highlights of Old Town.
Historic churches and buildings lined the streets.
About Tallinn, Estonia from this site:"Tallinn (/ˈtɑːlɪn, ˈtælɪn/; Estonian: [ˈtɑlʲˑinˑ]; names in other languages) is the capital, primate and the most populous city of Estonia. Located in the northern part of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea, it has a population of 434,562. Administratively a part of Harju maakond (county), Tallinn is a major financial, industrial, cultural, educational and research center of Estonia. Tallinn is located 80 kilometers (50 mi) south of Helsinki, Finland, 320 kilometers (200 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and 380 kilometers (240 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden. It has close historical ties with these three cities. From the 13th century until the first half of the 20th century Tallinn was known in most of the world by its historical German name Reval."
Many churches with architecturally interesting steeple filled the rooftops.
The cobblestone and brick roads were bumpy but didn't cause a problem for either of us.  And this young man knew his way around quickly maneuvering between crowds and other vehicles to take advantage of every moment.

When our bike tour ended, he dropped us back at the shuttle bus and minutes later the bus arrived at the pier as we tackled the long back to the ship with a smile on our faces for a day well spent.
We crossed a red-painted wooden bridge.
As for the remainder of the cruise, we continue to meet more and more passengers with great stories to tell. At night, we tend to stay out late enjoying the music and entertainment in a variety of venues throughout the ship.  It's been such fun to be out and about after all this time.

Tomorrow, we have another port of call and hope to post when we return later in the day.

Thanks to all of our readers who continue to "look for us" online and send endless good wishes and encouragement.  We so appreciate each and every one of you!

Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2018:
While back in Zambia for another "visa run"Tom was busy reading the extensive menu at Café Zambezi trying to decide what to order.  It was nice to be back.  For more details, please click here.

Sorry folks, no post today and tomorrow...

We are touring St. Petersburg from 8 m am until 6 pm today and tomorrow.  Absolutely stunning.
Thanks for your patience.  We will be back on Saturday with new breathtaking photos.

Today is Day 5 of our Baltic cruise...Few more Copenhagen photos...Today, we'll tour Tallinn, Estonia...

"The Gefion Fountain is a large fountain on the harbor front in Copenhagen, Denmark. It features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the Norse goddess Gefjon. It is located in Nordre Toldbod area next to Kastellet and immediately south of Langelinie."
The WiFi signal is so poor it takes three times longer to prepare a post and try to upload photos.  We're doing the best we can in the time we've allotted to present our daily activities.
Typical residential building in Copenhagen.
I must admit I am not as diligent as usual when there's such a flurry of activity around us with many distractions.  No sooner I get started and other passengers join us at our little corner near electrical outlets in the Park Café.  To avoid being rude, I close my laptop to participate in the lively chatter.

We're having an exceptionally good time, better than I'd expected when I felt so awful only a few weeks ago.  I never imagined I'd be able to be up and about from early morning, often up until midnight, without a daytime nap or rest.
The uncomplicated style of buildings in Copenhagen seemed to be universal.
Yesterday was more fun than I can describe.  At breakfast in the main dining room by 8:00 am, we met more new people as the conversation flowed at our table for 10.

For midday on a Wednesday, there were few crowds.
By 10:30 am, we headed to this same spot at the coffee shop while I enthusiastically worked on the post hoping to upload a decent story with photos of Copenhagen taken during the rainy four-hour bus ride. 

I hadn't quite finished having yet to caption the photos and move them into their appropriate spots in the post, but we dropped off the equipment back at the cabin to make the 1:00 pm movie in the intimate theatre, the Cinema.  "Aquaman" was the movie of the day.
Bicycle parking lots are everywhere.
Tom, not necessarily a fan of fantasy-type movies stayed awake during the entire movie while I sat on the edge of my seat in the sheer wonder of watching such a good movie.  I loved every moment!  Tom surprised me and also enjoyed it but not as much as me.  (We're out of touch with movies made in the US after so long away).
With energy conservation the order of the day, there were minimal vehicles on the road.
After the movie ended at 3:10, we headed back to the cabin where I finished the post and the photo captions.  We showered and dressed to be ready for "happy hour(s)" in the Diamond Club lounge on the 13th floor.  It starts at 5:00 pm and ends at 8:30 pm.

The long happy hour period requires me to drink my two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon very slowly, trying to save a little in the second glass to take to the dining room to savor during dinner. 
An ice cream shop.
Tom, when he saw how little was left in my glass, he ordered me a third glass of wine but concerned about over-doing it, I never drank it.  In the dining room with sat with a delightful couple, Fred and Larry from the US and once again, the conversation was fantastic.  We plan to meet up with them in Phoenix for dinner when we're staying in Apache Junction in January.
Statues are commonly seen in Copenhagen.
It always amazes us how easy it is to make friends on cruises.  There is no environment we've ever experienced where it was so easy.  We all have a commonality of a love of travel and that's always an easy place to start the conversation.  We seldom encounter passengers who aren't enjoying themselves.

After dinner, we began looking for seats overlooking the Centrum area, one level below from which we could watch the upcoming "disco" music and 70s show.  We lucked out and found two comfy chairs directly at the railing where we stayed watching a memorable heart-pounding show.
Taking photos through the rain-covered windows was challenging.
The dance floor was packed with enthusiastic passenger's dancing the night away.  Some time ago, we would have been included in that excited flurry of arms and legs flailing to the music.  Instead, we watched with equal enthusiasm.  Maybe someday I'll be able to dance with Tom but time will tell.

The stage presented a variety of staff dancers who "worked" the crowd into a frenzy.  After about an hour, a show started we'd seen on many cruises; the songs from the Village People, In The Navy and of course, Y-M-C-A. 
A gilded spire atop the train station.
The crew was wearing similar costumes to the Village People, and the place rocked beyond belief.  The energy was truly electric, not only enjoying the familiar songs but also remembering our youth when those were first introduced.  We had such fun as we danced in our chairs, grateful and happy to be together sharing yet another special day and evening.
A fountain near the canal.
Finally, by 12:30 am we dozed off with smiles on our faces over a day well-spent.  Today, we're off on a shuttle bus soon to head to Tallinn, Estonia, a quaint walled town with supposedly lots of charm and appeal.

We'll be back tomorrow with photos from our tour of this most unusual place to visit (for us anyway).  See you then!
Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2018:
What could they possibly be waiting for?  They were looking in one direction waiting to decide their next move.  For more photos, please click here.