Baltic Capitals

July 16 - July 30, 2010
Part 1
(London through Tallinn)

Our Baltic trip was organized by Road Scholar, and we were a group of about 19 people.  Doctors, professors, even a TV news reporter, although he left the party early.  The trip started and finished in London, but most of our time was spent aboard the MV Discovery, which was the Island Princess when it entered service in 1972.  In the 70's, it was an alternative to the Pacific Princess as the Love Boat.  Our fellow passengers were largely British, with an admixture of Australians and New Zealanders.  The actual port was Harwich, about 80 miles northeast of London.

Cruise Itinerary
London (& Harwich)
The Temple Bar describes the western-most boundary of the City of London, where Fleet Street (in the City) becomes the Strand (in greater London).

In 1669, Christopher Wren started a 3-year construction project that resulted in a limestone gateway at that point.  That gateway now stands adjacent to the main front of St. Pauls Cathedral, a major Wren masterpiece.

(Notice Janet in the lower left corner.)

There is more to this story, though.
Temple Bar in 2010
In 1878, the City dismantled this gate, just as all the other gates had been dismantled years before.  They were all impediments to traffic.

The gate, in 2700 pieces, was purchased by a brewer and landowner in Hertfordshire, and he reassembled it as the gateway to his estate, Theobald's Park.  This placed it about 5 miles from our home in Broxbourne.  So, in 1964 we went over to see it.

(Janet, Doug and Graham Jaggs are in the lower left corner.)

In 2001, the decrepit Temple Bar was acquired by a trust in London for 1.  By 2004 it was repaired and reassembled near St. Pauls.
Temple Bar in 1964
Here is a view of St. Pauls Cathedral as seen from the Tate Modern Museum.  The Millennium Bridge,  designed by Foster and Partners, appears in the foreground.  While this is a suspension bridge, the cables are all low, to keep the view clear.

Down river from here, there is a Norman Foster Greater London County hall, but we didn't see it on this trip.
Millenium Bridge
With a new County Hall, the old County Hall (1922) has been turned into a tourist site, and it includes an aquarium, an arcade and a hotel.   This is on the south side of the Thames, just down river from the Lambeth Bridge.1922 London County Hall
Almost in front of the 1922 County Hall, you see the London Eye, which started turning in 1999.  We have been to London about five times since then, and still we have never been up.  It is not the height (443 feet), but the crowds that have kept us away.London Eye
I was determined to have some "pub grub" on this trip, and the Marquis of Granby was close to the hotel in Westminster.  They had all types of meat pies, starting with steak and kidney pie.  Pie and ale, that makes lunch.Marquis of Granby, Westminster
But this is a cruise.  We got on the MV Discovery in the Port of Harwich, and as we left, we sailed right past the old town of Harwich.  The town was chartered in 1228, and it used to be used by the Royal Navy.  Now it is purely a commercial port, but the old quay and the Pier Hotel look like a nice place to visit.Harwich
Copenhagen, Denmark
As you sail into Copenhagen, Elsinore Castle appears on the right.  Shakespeare placed Hamlet here.  Actually, the proper Danish name is Kronborg Slot, and most of this structure post dates the 1600 play, because there was a big fire in 1629 that destroyed everything but a chapel.

The Danish kings used this as a site to collect taxes from passing ships.
Elsinore Castle
The Amalienborg Palace consists of four, nearly identical buildings in Rococo style, built around 1760.  They face a large paved square.  Each of them has been occupied by one Danish king or the other.  Most are named either Frederick or Christian.Royal Residence
Copenhagen's City Hall dates to 1905, but its National Romantic style has come from Sienna.  I missed its 340-foot tall clock tower in this picture.Copenhagen City Hall
Grundtvigs Church is named after the Danish philosopher, Nikolai Grundtvig.  It was built in the 1920's, and the architecture is described as "expressionist."  It is a fusion of Gothic and Scandinavian styles.  The material is yellow brick, which is a native material.  The church is Lutheran, and it is very sere inside.   No Catholic ornamentation here.Grundtvigs Church
The most ornamental part of Grundtvigs Church is its organ.  This is a relatively modern instrument, built in 1965.  Somewhere back there is the longest organ pipe in all Scandinavia.  This picture also shows the strong Gothic influence in the columns and vaulting.Grundtvigs Church Organ
The Peacock Theater in Tivoli Gardens was opened very shortly after the Gardens opened in 1874.  The theater is used primarily for pantomimes (accompanied by an orchestra), but it has also hosted the Royal Danish Ballet and jazz concerts.  The peacock screen is mechanical, and five stagehands are required to open and close it.Peacock Theater in Tivoli
Tivoli Gardens is probably the most iconic landmark in Copenhagen.  It represented some of the inspiration for Disneyland.  (My first thought was to say it resembled Disneyland, but that violates causality.)

This is the principal path in and out of the park, seen at dusk.
Tivoli Gardens
Stockholm, Sweden
When you dock in Stockholm, you are viewing Gamla Stan (which should be familiar to all of us from The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo).  This is the old, original Stockholm, and it is one of 14 islands that now make up the city.

The large monolith on the right is the 605 room royal palace.
Gamli Stan
The Old Town is laced with narrow streets, like this one.  Some follow old town walls; some supported fortifications.Gamla Stan Street
The Old Square (Storatorget) in the Old Town was the site of mass beheadings in 1520, but now it is a key hub for shopping and al fresco drinking.Storatorget
On one side of the Storatorget, you find the Swedish Academy, which takes responsibility for naming all the Nobel Prize winners, with the exception of the Peace Prize.  Alfred Nobel assigned that responsibility to Norway.Swedish Academy
The Nobel Prizes are actually presented in Stockholm's City Hall, a 1923 brick structure, with a modern feel about it.City Hall Exterior Courtyard
This is Blue Hall in the City Hall.  Every year, 1300 guests are here for the Nobel Banquet.  In the far corner is a console for a 10,000 pipe organ.  The pipes are mostly hidden in the walls, and in a balcony out of view on the right.

Sunlight from a window forced me to bleach out a number of people so we can see the room.
Banquet Room in City Hall
The German Church was built around 1878, and its style is Baroque.   This structure is known as the King's Gallery, and it sits about 20 feet from the pulpit, not quite visible on the left.  There is a monogram that makes reference to King Charles XI of Sweden.

So much for Lutheran restraint.
King's Gallery in the German Church
The Vasa was a Swedish warship that sank less than 2 miles into its maiden voyage in 1628.  It was raised in remarkably good shape in 1961, and it now resides in its own, very popular, Vasa Ship Museum in Stockholm.Vasa
Stockholm also has Tivoli Gardens, but arguably much less famous than Copenhagen's. This park is actually very close to the Vasa museum.Stockholm's Tivoli Gardens
Stockholm is described as an archipelago , so as you sail out, the ship passes among dozens of islands of all sizes.  Most have graceful little havens, like this.Leaving Stockholm
Tallinn, Estonia
As we went through the Baltic Sea, we kept finding the Holland America Eurodam beside us at the docks.  It wasn't until Tallinn that we got a good comparison.  The Eurodam carries 2250 passengers, and Discovery carries 650.In the Shadow of Eurodam
There is a tradition of choral singing in Estonia, but this took a critical turn in 1987 and 1988, when the song festival included patriotic songs forbidden by the occupying Russians.   300,000 participated here, and that was about a third of the non-Russian residents of Estonia.Song Festival Arena
In the distance, we could see the TV tower that figured in Estonia's bloodless overthrow of the Russians.   Two things happened more or less at the same time (August  20, 1991):  Russian troops failed in their attempt to take control of this tower, and Boris Yeltsin put down a Communist coup attempt in Moscow, sustaining glasnost.

Estonia became an independent country through the bloodless Singing Revolution.  Now it is a country of about 1.3 million people, 75% of the population of Santa Clara County.
Tallinn TV Tower
This pink building, but not the blond with the brochures, figured strongly in the Singing Revolution.  This is the Toompea Palace, where the Estonian parliament sits.  Not too surprisingly, between 1988 and 1991, it was the site of several confrontations with the Russians.Parliament Building
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is almost directly across from Toompea Palace, and it continues to serve a sizable Russian minority in Estonia.   Actually, Estonia is not a very religious country, with of the people claiming no specific religion.Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
This is the German Cathedral that gives the region known as Toompea its name, but it is now a museum.  Fitting for a non-religious country.

German for the area was Dom Berg, meeting cathedral mountain, but when it got into Fino-Urgic Estonian, that became Toompea.
German Cathedral
The Toompea is actually a limestone crag that stands 80 or 100 feet above most of the old town of Tallinn.  Looking out over the old town, St. Olaf's Church, dominates the landscape.  Prior to 1625, at 522 feet, it was the tallest building in the world.  Why 1625?  Lightning struck and burned it down.

This church, named for a Norwegian king, now serves a Baptist congregation.
Old Town and St. Olafs
The route from the high mound of Toompea down to the rest of the old town is steep.  Tallinn's Old Town was historically a Hansiatic town, and its unification with Toompea is fairly recent.  Note the medieval gate that once marked the separation.

St. Olaf's tall tower was a navigational aid for the Hansiatic traders.
Down from Toompea
This Tallinn's old city hall, dating to 1404.  Its tower was destroyed by bombing in 1944, and we see a 1950 restoration here.  This is the heart of the Old Town.Tallinn City Hall
The town hall faces a large square, and it is a busy commercial center.  Particularly for tourists.  Actually, at number 11, the Town Hall Pharmacy continues to operate.  According to Wikipedia, folks think it first opened in 1415.Town Hall Square
After the urban wonders of Tallinn, we went out into the country to have lunch at a working farm, but their profit margin depends upon tourists like our group.Farm House Restaurant
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