Well . . . the holiday cruise to the Baltic Capitals was excellent. Highlights were of course St. Petersburg. Tallinn in Estonia, Stockholm and going through the Keil canal.
The canal was kind of surreal. OK the ship was the largest vessel ever to pass thorugh the canal (had to tip the funnel and main mast to get under the bridges), but the number of people who lined the canal to wave was unbelievable. They even covered bridges, and just about every conceivable vantage point.
Tallinn still has the medieval town look with cobbled winding streets, and large squares. They also sold an innordinate amount of flavoured vodkas and liquers.
Stockholm was was a very nice riverside city, with a parliament and palace (a bit like London but with a much nicer waterfront). The Vasa museum was very interesting. The Vasa was the largest wooden warship built for the Swedish Navy, but the designers got carried away with size, and it toppled over and sank in the harbour right after it was launched in 1628. They now have it recovered and in a museum of it's own. Trouble is, it seems to have a mould problem which if not sorted will rot the ship. Amazing, it has sat in the water for almost 400 hundred years, and now it is out of the water it could rot in just a few.St. Petersburg was just so over the top in decorated palaces and churches. Hardly surprising Russia had 3 revolutions when you see how much money the Tzars were spending on their palaces and art collections while the poulation were starving. Incredible also to hear the stories of the seige of St. Petersburg during WW2, where almost 3 million civillians lived under terrible conditions for 900 days. Almost 800 thousand died, mostly during the extremely cold winters.