Tallin--A lovely little Estonian city, long on foot traffic, short on historic importance, but a nice glimpse of both modern and medieval life on the Baltic. Video can be seen on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/BnEcOJ6BK8w
Warnemunde/Berlin, Germany--My wife did the Molli train excursion. I took a much longer train (and trip) to Berlin and Potsdam. I saw the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, and much, much more of Berlin and Potsdam than I really wished, while being shorted on the interiors of the Cecilienhof and San Souci palaces. Video of my excursion can be seen on
Helsinki--The city has the so-called "Rock Church" blasted from a single granite boulder, though really only the lower part of the church fits this description. The rest is built from the rubble from the blast with a low flat, modern dome. It's totally different from any other church you've ever seen. There was also a trip to the ancient village of Parvoo some fifty miles away by bus. If you're female and into quaint shops you'll enjoy this. There's a chocolate shop/factory for the sweet tooth. Video can be seen on
I guess if you like amber you'll love this place. It was impressive if not exactly spectacular.
Catherine Palace Rating:
Catherine the Great was no great beauty, but she certainly had an eye for beauty as she decorated (over-decorated") her magnificent palace. From WW II ruins to eye-popping extravagance, this alone is worth a trip to Russia. Photos? No problem. Got three bucks for a camera sticker? Check it out on
City Tour Rating:
St. Petersburg is a study in contrasts, tsarist extravagance juxtaposed with communist sameness, even ugliness. The city is probably the most beautiful in Russia. My wife took the Neva River cruise, I did the fortress, the Hermitage, Catherine's Palace, and the Peterhof Palace. I could have spent a couple more days there. See the first day of my tour on
YouTube at: http://youtu.be/jPckUiVeIA4
Hermitage Museum Rating:
Two hours! I came all the way to Russia for TWO HOURS in this massive palace full of art and antiquities. This should have been a day-long tour. For four bucks (camera fee), I did the best I could in condensing it down with this YouTube video: http://youtu.be/jPckUiVeIA4
Neva River Cruise Rating:
St. Petersburg in two or three hours. No crowded bus, no traffic lights, open air and sunshine. Who could ask for more?
Peterhof Palace Rating:
Peterhof Palace is surprisingly different from Catherine's Palace. The grounds and fountains are spectacular, even in early spring (May 9th when we were there). Inside the decor is rich but more varied and maybe a little more restrained than Catherine's over-the-top tastes. No photos inside, please. What? No photos?
Stockholm--After six northern European cities in a row, they all start to run together. Stockholm...let me see...Stockholm...oh yes, the Vasa Museum and the Globe Skyview. Both are great. The two hours downtown to shop was something of a surprise but lots of fun. I ate at a Swedish McDonald's. The McFeast is not to be missed.