This must have been one of the most amazing things we have done. Cruising 1.600 nm visiting the baltic states, from Copenhagen to Riga, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Klaipeda and back to Copenhagen.
Christopher and Barbara Cassar Torreggiani , John and Carmen Cooper and John and myself, flew via Munich to Copenhagen. On arrival at First Hotel Twenty Seven, I realised I had misplaced my passport! I thought hard and remembered that some magazines had fallen out of my bag in the plane from Munich to Copenhagen and the passport must have been among them! So after dinner near the hotel with everybody more nervous then myself, John and I taxied back to the airport and went up to the info desk, after a phone call the person manning the desk, said “yes, we have it”. My what relief!
Wednesday 3rd May
Boarded ship Serenade of the Seas. In spite of the very large number of passengers boarding, everything was very well organised and we were on board in no time. Cabin 1088 was ours, roomy with sofa, tv balcony etc we knew we would be very comfortable. The man assigned to look after our cabin was NINO and all through the cruise he was most attentive and helpful!
At about 2.00pm the ship slipped it’s mooring, and we were off!!
Our dinner was served in the dining room (rather than the buffet) and our table was looked after by MOHAMMET AND MOHOMAD!! The three course meal was very good, and while dining we could look outside and see a beautiful sunset!
At dinner time the band struck up the music, and after dinner it was difficult to hold back and not take to the dance floor. We danced the night away, and then retired to our cabins exhausted but full of anticipation for the days ahead.
After very good nights sleep we feasted on a sumptuous breakfast which we enjoyed every morning of the cruise.
First day was at sea, which gave us time to explore the vast ship with every entertainment facility you could imagine, casino, theatre, cinema and different bars and lounges. Also indoor spa and outdoor pool, etc etc. I opted for a CUPCAKE DECORATING CLASS – cant see me out of the kitchen!!
Our first port of call was RIGA in LATVIA. We opted for the ‘TASTE OF RIGA TOUR’ while the others went off to do a ‘hop on hop off’
We were taken to the Riga market. Fish meat vegetables and all produce beautifully displayed. We bought our caviar and salmon roe there to take home to son Alex!
We then proceeded to the old town and visited a cellar where we found magic chocolate and a chocolate drink which we all enjoyed. After that we went to a restaurant to have some samples of Latvian cuisine and beer.
Back to the ship for dinner and dancing!
Once in our cabin, I was blessed that I had paid for access to the ships wifi as I could stream my music and use my social media while other had to do all their online connections in a cafe once ashore.
Next stop TALLINN, ESTONIA. Here we had some friends that had come to one of my cooking lessons back home, INDREK AND EVELYN LEPP. They met us ashore and took us on a nice drive around an elegant part of Tallinn where we viewed the Presidents palace, the park etc. We then had an excellent lunch at a restaurant MON REPOS especially John’s bird pate, and me bouillabaisse!
After lunch we proceeded to the town which we explored and took pictures of. We ended the day in a lovely cafe where we had the most delicious tart!
Very sadly day ended and we took our leave of the Lepps, grateful to them for giving us such a nice day!
After dinner that night as we were on our way to St. Petersburg, I could not resist the temptation to sit on our balcony and admire the night sky. – Magical!
Sunday 7th May
Sailed into St. Petersburg for a two day stop. The six of us had organised a private tour. After the usual clearing of customs (Russia!) we were met by our driver and guide OXANA. Off we went to tour this beautiful city.
After viewing several landmarks Peter and Paul’s fortress and cathedaral and St. Isaac’s etc we asked Oxana to take us to a good restaurant, which indeed she did!
We settled for GOGOL in Malaya Morskaya str. White tablecloths and all. I had a delicious Borscht followed by an excellent beef Stroganoff. John had a plate of blinis with caviar etc.
waiting for lunch!!
In the afternoon we did paid our visit to THE HERMITAGE. unfortunately it was a holiday there, so the museum was teeming with noisy schoolchildren and other visitors. Pity as there are so many treasures to see there!
So back to the boat for the night. Dinner followed by an amazing show with Russian dancing etc!
Next day through customs (again!) Oxana took us to the FABERGE´ museum (where Barbara CT had suggested) Wonderful ornately decorated eggs, made for the Czars and their wives.
Once that visit was over, we went onto the church of the Spilled blood, so called as a Czar was killed and left in his own blood on the spot where the church was. The whole church is decorated with mosaics – amazing!
Today, lunch was at ASKANELI in Karavannaya st. Delicious meal, I had this amazing pastry that was filled with melting cheese and a raw egg, which you mixed into the cheese so you had a sort of scrambled egg!
To end off (and because Barbara had missed her dessert the day before!), we dug into the most delicious 8 TIERED HONEY CAKE – MEDOVIK- how delicious! – On my return to Malta I was determined to reproduce this cake which I did for a photoshoot for an article I wrote in GOURMET magazine which comes out on Sunday 25th June (along with other recipes picked up on our cruise!)
That evening we sailed out of St. Petersburg.
On to HELSINKI ,cold now, hats and scarves weather. Visited church in the rock, bought iceberg tumblers for daughter Emma.
Walked down to the market.
After a nice buffet lunch nearby, we went back to the Serenade of the Seas, by now it was snowing!!
Another nice evening on the ship. went to see La La Land in the cinema.
Daughter Emma had told me, whatever you do, when sailing into Stockholm make sure you get up early and go on deck to enjoy the slow entry to the city through the Archipelago, thousands of islands that the ship sails through (about 2 hours).
So this Wednesday morning, John and I were up with the sun at 4.30am and onto the deck. The experience was simply amazing, sun rising on sea as calm as a lake, the ship, slowly but surely wending its way through this maze of islands.
This morning we opted for breakfast on our balcony so we could continue to admire the passing landscape.
9.30 we disembarked (unfortunately without Barbara, she had developed a cold). There was Kate Wiberg (Miller) waiting for us waving the Maltese flag! Anyway into her 7 seater and off we went. Grand tour of this wonderful city. Lunchtime came and we went to the food halls (temporary site) Friend Erik Nordlander came to join us, and we had a Delicious lunch.
A street in Stockholm with the ship in the background!
After the town and some shopping Kate took us back to the ship when it began to snow gently.- Magical Stockholm – vowed to return someday!
On the way out, after the snowfall.
In spite of the busy day, we managed to dance till midnight (Carmen surprised by Johns energy!!) then retired to bed to dream of wonderful Stockholm!
Next stop we called at Klaipeda. We didn’t get off the boat but enjoyed massages and such like luxuries that one finds on a cruise liner. Next day was ‘at sea’.
Saturday early morning, returned to ‘wonderful wonderful Copenhagen’ smooth disembarkation and taxi to First Hotel Twenty Seven again, this time de luxe rooms – excellent.
We had three lovely days in Copenhagen. Tivoli gardens, met up with my friend also a food writer, EJA NILSSON who looked after us very well. We had a couple of light meals at ELS in Store Strandstraede. Heard mass (long one with music much to Chris’s delight!) We had a lovely lunch at CAFE PETERSBORG and the most delicious tea and cakes at LA GLACE (100 years anniversary!) Did some shopping at Georg Jensen etc. We did a canal tour, and on the last day we went on a walking FOOD TOUR eu when we sampled goodies in the Food market, beer, Smorrebrod at AAMANNS DELI, Oster Farimagsgade, home made sweets, special hotdogs and back in the market some delicious marshmallow filled chocolates! A very good tour indeed.
Eja hosted us in her lovely home and we bade her farewell telling her to come to Malta where we would return her hospitality!
FAREWELL EJA, FAREWELL THE WONDERFUL BALTIC SEA!!