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Baltic Voyage

the Regent Seven Seas Voyager
The splendid magnificence of the Seven Seas Voyager.

Sketches of the Baltic On
The Regent Seven Seas Voyager
Story by Ed Boitano
Photos by Deb Roskamp

or me the cruise experience has always been about getting an overview of a new location, then making a decision whether or not you would like to return. Granted, eight to twenty-four hours in world-class cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen hardly does them justice, but a sketch is always better than a blank canvas.

view of Stockholm from the Baltic Sea
Stockholm is a city of islands, bridges, and marinas, as well as medieval streets and 17th century architecture.

Stockholm, Sweden

The voyage begins in Stockholm, and you should definitely spend a minimum of 24 hours beforehand in this city of breathtaking islands, bridges and marinas. Hundreds of years of neutrality have served the city well with streets that still follow medieval layouts and 17th century architecture that dates back to when Sweden was once a major military power. An important component to your exploration is the Stockholm Card which allows free transportation on bus, train and ferry and admission to 75 museums and attractions.

restaurants along a treet in Old Town Stockholm
Locals in Stockholm seem never to busy to enjoy the good life.

Points of interest include Gram Stan (Old Town), Stockholm City (New Town), The Vasa Museum (a preserved 1682 war ship that sunk in the harbor on its maiden voyage due to an overindulgence of heavy weapons), City Hall (where the Nobel party is held), the National Museum of Fine Art and the Royal Dramatic Theater where Garbo and Ingrid Bergman studied, and film director Ingmar Bergman was once artistic director. Surprisingly, just around the corner is the Lutheran church where Bergman’s father, a dark emotional presence in many of his films, once commanded the pulpit.

sunset view of sailing ship docked at Stockholm, Sweden
The archipelago that surrounds Stockholm creates an idyllic environment
as the cruise begins.

There was a sense of excitement as the Voyager glided through the Stockholm archipelago, beginning just a few miles east of the capital, covering approximately 90 miles from north to south. The landscape varies dramatically on the 150 inhabited islands, from the thickly wooded inner archipelago where many Stockholmers have summerhouses to the bare, flat rocks of the central and outer islands.

fountains and sculptures at the Peterhof, St. Petersburg, Russia
Peterhof was equally popular with Peter the Great's granddaughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered the expansion of the Grand Palace and greatly extended the park and the famous system of fountains, including the truly spectacular
Grand Cascade.

St. Petersburg, Russia

Built on a swamp in 1703, St. Petersburg rises magnificently from the sea on boulders, stones and the bones of slave laborers. For many it is the centerpiece of the cruise, and the Voyager wisely spends extra time in what was designed as Peter the Great's Window to the West. Peter moved the capital from Moscow, and later the city was to become the birthplace of the Russian Revolution. Millions of tourists come to St Petersburg every year to see its museums and cathedrals. A visa is required to tour the city on your own, and therefore I strongly recommend booking a land tour through the Voyager. Attractions include the Hermitage Museum, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Russian Museum, Mariinsky Theater and St. Isaac's Cathedral. River boat excursions, concerts, shopping expeditions and day trips can also be arranged. Make sure, though, you are dressed appropriately because this former Imperial capital city of 4.8 million people offers only 31-days without snow or rain.

medieval structures in Tallinn, Estonia
With an eight-hundred-year-old past, Tallinn is a mix of historic areas and cultural sophistication.

Tallinn, Estonia

Peter the Great said that if he would have seen Tallinn first, it would have been the location of choice for his Window to the West. With its limestone foundation and towering cliffs, I would agree. Today, the capital of this small Baltic nation of 1.3 million is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Estonia has experienced less than 50 years of independence in its entire existence and the varied architectural style of past conquerors remain throughout this former Hanseatic city. Once again a Tallinn Card – accepted in nearly 100 locations – proves the best way to explore this enchanting enclave of 400,000 people in an eight hour period. Lunch at the Olde Hansa medieval restaurant was an unforgettable experience that no one when visiting the city should miss.

City Hall, Heksinki, Finland
Over 450 years of history, several architectural layers and the impact of different periods can be clearly seen in Helsinki. The City Hall was used in the film ‘Reds’.

Helsinki, Finland

Our splendid guide escorted us to the Presidential Palace, City Hall (used in the film Reds), the Sibelius Monument (in honor of national composer Jean Sibelius), the Temppeliaukio The Rock Church (built into solid rock) and the Parliament building. Quite simply, Helsinki is a jewel of a city. We took a small boat for a tour to Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world's largest sea fortress islands. For lunch we had reindeer in a berry sauce. “Isn’t it the best you've ever had?” asked my guide. "Indeed, it is," I replied. I didn't mention it was also my first gastronomic experience with my favorite childhood animal.

17th century town houses line Copenhagen's Nyhavn canal area
Once a haunt for sailors, Copenhagen's Nyhavn is an old canal area, lined with 17th century town houses.

Copenhagen, Denmark

a smørrebrød, a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich at Divan 2, Copenhagen
Lunch was at Divan 2, where I sampled smørrebrød, a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich.

All good things must come to an end and the Voyager docks at Copenhagen's harbor at 8 am. This is another city that demands extra time spent before your flight home. Copenhagen is a forward-thinking, vibrant city of green spires, copper-roofed buildings, medieval streets and canals. Established in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park which reportedly inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. It felt like a World Expo with examples of international architecture, fairytale gardens, amusement rides and concerts.

Then take a stroll on Strøget, Europe's longest pedestrian shopping street. Better yet, experience it from a bicycle – the city provides them for free. Cycle over to Nyhavn, an old canal area, lined with 17th century Dutch-style town houses. Once a haunt for sailors, today it is the place to experience one of Copenhagen's supreme pleasures: a canal cruise. Attractions include a glimpse of the Royal Yacht, cutting edge Danish architecture, and the city's most recognizable symbol, The Little Mermaid statue.

Regent Seven Seas Voyager Experience

I have read about cruise lines who are now selling cabins on their vessel, and it occurred to me that Regent Seven Seas Voyager might be my choice. Not only did the all-suite, all-balcony ship have spectacular creature comforts of four dining venues (one operated by Le Cordon Bleu® of Paris), complimentary wine, an outdoor grill, guest lecturer programs, spa and a staff that does not work for gratuities, but it also features some of the highest staff to guest ratios at sea.

I made a note to ask the front desk if I could purchase my suite. For further information about Regent Seven Seas Voyager, log on RSSC.com.

Related Articles:
Cozy in Copenhagen; Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki; The Nobel Musseum, Stockholm; St. Petersburg and Moscow; Slovenia: Backdoor to Europe; Yaroslavl, Russia; Sailing the Adriatic to Montenegro


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Let Ed know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for "Spokane, Pullman and the Palouse"

Loved the Spokane article – my mom was born there and my grandparents are interred there. Haven't been back in decades.

--- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for "Norway's Fjords"

Hi Ed. I was just reading your great story about traveling through the Norwegian countryside and the voyage along the coast - sounds amazing. I’ve been to Oslo, but definitely would like to return to Norway one day to explore exactly what you wrote about.

Cheers,

--- Sasha H.

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Feedback for "In Search of Movie Locations In the Land of Aloha"

Mahalo for your article on Hawaii film locations. You should check out our new "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book" at: http://hawaiimtvbook.weebly.com/

--- Ed Rampell (Co-Author), Los Angeles, CA

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Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

--- Christian Louboutin, U.K.

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Cool site.

--- Donna Namaste', San Francisco, CA

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Great work as always.

--- S. Wyatt, Seattle, WA

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Hr. (Danish for sir) Ed,

Thanks so much for your article on Copenhagen, DK...loved it! Very well done actually I used to live in Christianshavn (just next to Christania) and Danish is my second language.

You really did a quite grand job and pulled me ALL of the way into your analogy and experience from my other home.

Just one detail that I thought might have been included.....the bakeries & cheese shops in the mornings in nearly every 5 or so blocks as they waft the incredible hypnotizing aromas of those amazing Danish specialties.

I most especially and absolutely love the fact that you included the "hyggeligt" element...wonderful!!

Another aspect of the Danish language that I have found interesting is that we only cuss to devil rather than the more typically religious icons and that love (elsker) is only very rarely used.

All-in-all you have me totally on your team and I will always look forward to your future writing.

Med venlig hilsen...(with kind regards).

--- Breeze

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Hi Ed,

Thank you for your article on the Cherokee Nation. I really appreciate the historical perspective and recognition of their contribution to American culture.

--- Nora Weber, British Columbia

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Another cool issue. You da' man. One question: Is that Mark Lindsay on the front page?

--- Brent, Seattle, WA

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This would be a fascinating place to visit. There is so much history within our reach that we don't often acknowledge in more than a token way. I am wondering if any individual or group has ever gone on a vision quest, or perhaps a memorial march, by retracing the path of the Trail of Tears? This would be a painful journey, for most, I imagine.

--- Sandra, Seattle, WA

Osiyo! From Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism: What a great description of Kauai! The pictures are awesome and I loved reading your travel report! Keep pushin' on!

--- Lisa Long, Tulsa, OK

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I'm getting hungry again just reading your article! It's hot today and I could really use a shave ice right now.

Hope you're having a great day!

--- Melissa, Honolulu, HI

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Thanks so much for sharing! Wow. The beauty even from the few pictures here and your descriptions is breathtaking... I can't even imagine being there for real! The food looks and sounds exquisite, I'm not sure my kind of exquisite, but I do like to be adventurous on occasion :).Quite the story there.

--- Emily, Boise, ID

Great pictures!

--- Anna Harrison, Palmdale, CA

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Tough job, Ed! Thanks for sharing.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

Ed, Tim from the team of Jack and Tim - Star Clipper. Great trip. Always enjoy your postings.

--- Tim & Jack, Washington DC

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Hi Ed,

I really enjoyed your story on the Empress of the North. I was an Assistant Cruise Director aboard her in 2004, and you gave me a treasured walk down memory lane with her.You might know this, but if not .... you can cruise the Columbia again late this summer and early fall. The Empress' sister boat, the Queen of the West, was purchased by American Cruise lines and will offer a Columbia River itinerary which almost mirrors the one my Empress used to travel. Just thought you'd like to know.

--- Paul Penta, 2004 Assistant Cruise Director, Empress of the North, Copperas Cove, TX

Ed, you are by far the most interesting of all the Boitanos. Your coverage is extensive and captivating. It's a real treat to read your blogs. Your article on the Baltic Sea Nations is no exception. But don't get me wrong, the other Boitanos have their own charm and perspective. Thanks for all your articles. I can see it's a work of art. I just now noticed your Dog Quotes --- what a great collection! Keep up the good work. Keep on sharing your travels! This is better than the more popular travelogues.

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hi Ed,

How's life? Hope all's well in sunny Cal.

Having just received the latest issue of the Traveling Boy newsletter I popped back over to your site to take a look around and came across this article which I had not previously read: www.travelingboy.com/archive-travel-ed-baltic.html

Loved it! First of all, this is a part of the world that I absolutely adore so reading about it is always a pleasure. Secondly, I'm happy to see you crossing things off your Buck with such gusto! Myself, I have already been to Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Moscow are all on my Buck. After reading through the article I reminded once again why!

One of my favourite lines in the piece is:

"Granted, eight to twenty-fours in world-class cities like Helsinki and Tallinn hardly does them justice, but a sketch is always better than a blank canvas."

So very true. I'll take a sketch over a blank canvas any day! Besides, sketches often lead to full-blown paintings anyway.

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this story. Hope there are many more fun adventures awaiting you soon!

Cheers,

--- Ashley, Toronto

Thanks for a great trip, Ed - such a comfortable way to travel, particularly to several cities i knew very little about. I've had only one sea voyage - crossed to G.B. on the United States in the early 60s - no balconies, etc. on that ship, as she was prepared to be stripped down to carry troops in event of WWIII, but still luxurious in her own way.

Bumped into a documentary recently on PBS re the old lady who is now docked in Philadelphia, I believe with peeling paint on her sides and funnels and of course the interior stripped and auctioned off of everything...periodic moves to rehabilitate her, but so costly people back off. She was the largest and fastest - still is. Her record was 3 days crossing - we did it in a little over 5 (cruise speed I guess!). They showed regular passengers like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who happened to be on board when I was, as well as gazillions of stars who traveled on her. Charles Boyer was the only one on my crossing - we were alone in the library one time, but I didn't say anything. He looked immersed in his pursuit of a book. The Windsors were tiny little people, as was M. Boyer (and this comment from a 5'2" observer!). How's that for an ancient history lesson? Anyhow seeing the ship like she is now made me almost teary - surprised myself somehow.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

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I loved this article!! Kept me in rapt attention, felt like I explored part of the world myself ;) nice way to start my day, sounds altogether amazing and unforgettable!

--- Emily, Boise, ID

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Great writing!! Reading, education and fabulous locations! All around WOWS!

--- E Dava, Burbank, CA

What a wonderful assortment of travel destinations. I have always been drawn to islands, and as a Pacific Northwesterner, dream from time to time about settling in the San Juans someday (like a lot of us here visualize for ourselves). Hopefully, travel will occur before this particular dream comes to pass. I enjoy reading about the connections you have with the places you write about. I will visit that fishing village in Norway, someday, just because of the photograph. Who wouldn't, after seeing it. Thanks, Ed

--- Sandee, Seattle, WA

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Another great edition!

--- CG, Central California Coast

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Hi Ed,

I sailed into Sooke on my way to port Ludlow from Portland, Oregon in my sailboat few years back. It was interesting port. The entry is snake like channel with local fisherman's local markers only to guide you into the port.

--- Larry, Portland, OR

Wow. I want to go to Vietnam! It's beautiful! Those are amazing pictures!

--- Archie, Pasadena, CA

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Kudos to Mark Twain. He knows how to honor a dog, and kudos to Cedric for all he was and still is and kudos to you for another edition of www.traveling boy.com. Peace and Love,

--- Joel, Pasadena, CA

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Ed, I really enjoy your traveling adventures. Your stories are so well written and the photographs are amazing. Thank you for letting us in on your adventures. You bring the adventure to those of us who aren't able to go. Thank you.

--- Cheryl, Pismo Beach, CA

Amazing story and pictures. To think that 40 years ago we were all terrified at the prospect of going there... what a difference a few decades makes. Fantastic article!

--- Roger, Puyallup, WA

Thanks for your expert insight, Jeremy. Have you ever lived in New York? Don't tell me you are one of those tourists or former transplants. It's a very different experience when one lives here. Unlike Los Angeles, there really is a sense of community. New Yorkers love and care about their city... and, yes, their neighbors too.

--- Lisa - New York, NY

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NY sucks. It's now nothing more than a Disneyland version of its former glory. It city filled with tourists and transplants, and no longer the center of the universe. The WEST is the best. Everyone is moivng to the Coast. Even NY fashion designers check out the LA street scene before launching their new designs. Plus no one in NY knows real pizza. Take a trip to Naples sometime and try the real thing.

--- Jeremy - Los Angeles, CA

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The economic boom is what drove all the changes in New York. The mayors were in the right place at the right time, and to their credit, handled things well. It's easier to clean up the city and cut crime when you have more money to spend. The economic outlook for New York is bleak now with unemployment going up. Bloomberg already is short money and will be cutting services across the board. If things don't turn around, people may not be as friendly in a few years.The idea that New Yorkers are not nice is just a myth; people in L.A. are much more distant and shut-off.

--- Michael, Native New Yorker

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I think that overall, Manhattan has become friendlier in the last few years, not sure why but don't think Giuliani or Dinkins can take credit. There was definitely a surge of NYC solidarity following 9/11, and Giuliani was extremely popular during that period. When he supported Bush so strongly in the election that followed, his popularity plummeted, though. Bloomberg has definitely done a good job with making a lot of bike lanes, blocking off large areas of what was previously street and putting tables and chairs for pedestrian use. Not sure how this economic downturn will affect local attitudes, though....

--- Sue, New York

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This is the best. Keep them coming.--- Paul Ash

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Ed, thanks for putting the Holland button on your site.

By the way, your images really work! I opened the newsletter and was immediately tempted to click on an article. Love it. And also love the fact I can click on images in the articles to enlarge them. The short headline on the image makes me curious. Well done.

--- Bianca Helderman

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Thanks Ed, for this delightful view of this wondrous city! The first time I traveled with a husband to NYC years ago, it was for an Orchestral Conductor's conference. We lived in Newfoundland at that time, so you can imagine my shock of coming from isolation to the big apple!My heart began beating as I looked out of my hotel window at the figures of humans below, scurrying like ants, I was up so high. It wasn't the height, rather, the invisible buzz, that urgently beckoned me to go outside! But when I reached the sidewalk, the rush of pedestrians made me wonder "where's the party?" Friendly? Yes! I lived in NYC for 5 years with a later husband and loved every minute! Being an artist, I could not relax enough to paint, so I took up acting and worked with "Children In Need" a charity, instead and partook of everything NY had to offer from opera and Off Broadway plays and such to ballet and wholistic healings....a city full of everything one could imagine! I truly love NYC and years later am grateful to live in a quieter area of California so I may relax and paint and do my healing work...going back only to visit my delightful haunts. There is nothing like NYC!.

--- Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

Ed,

Great issue. Well done. They keep getting better! --- Grace Conlee Micetich, San Diego, CA

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I loved all of the traveling news! It’s good to know you are still out there in the world. --- Judy Vincent

Ed,

Thanks for getting me back on the Traveling Boy newsletter mailing list- I have missed it!

I do believe we need contributions of the ‘road less traveled’ in the US for those of us whose feet never leave the ground… Ahhhh… the Badlands... Two Medicine in Glacier… the Lava tubes in central Oregon… my next destination wish: Monument Valley.

--- Lorrie Sjoquist

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The photos and descriptions of this trip are wonderful. I love the idea of the slowed down pace of the train. Kind of a throwback to the "good old days." --- Larry Lombard, Puyallup, WA

I think you outdid yourself with the "Two Cities" article. I'm ashamed to admit that I knew so little about these two cities. I learned so much. Your article was jampacked with very interesting trivia. Surprised the Jazz greats and Walt Disney came from practically the same area. And those pictures --- especially the WWI museum --- what an incredible shot --- almost like out of somebody's Satyricon dream. Bravo!

--- Rod, Glendale, CA

What a great article! --- Michelle, Torrance, California

Ed,

The photos are spectacular. I can envision many a romantic novel inspired by these majestic sceneries. Makes me want to do a little more research on Norway. John Lenon must have been one of the converts when he wrote "Norwegian Woods."
--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena CA

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Peter,

Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write. Indeed, Norway was paradise on earth, and I dream of returning again and again. You had a funny line about John Lennon being so inspired by the beauty of Norway that he composed the song, "Norwegian Wood." If I'm not mistaken, his reference to "Norwegian Wood" is just that: an inexpensive pine wood from Norway that was becoming popular in the UK. I did read somewhere, though, that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was inspired by Norwegian fjord trek.

Thanks again… and please keep writing.

Ed

Ed,

Reading Peter's implication that "Norwegian Wood" was based on a trip that John Lennon took to Norway led me to do some research.

According to Paul McCartney at a press conference in Los Angeles: 'Peter Asher [brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher] had just done his room out in wood, and a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, just cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, is it, "Cheap Pine"? It was a little parody, really, on those kind of girls who, when you'd get back to their flat, there would be a lot of Norwegian wood. It was completely imaginary from my point of view, but not from John's. It was based on an affair he had. She made him sleep in the bath and then, finally, in the last verse, I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as a revenge. She led him on and said, "You'd better sleep in the bath." And in our world, that meant the guy having some sort of revenge, so it meant burning the place down....'

Of course, just cause it's on the 'net doesn't mean it's true.

--- Jeff M, Tacoma, WA

Weird piece on Copenhagen (Cosy in Copenhaggen). Do you think now that Keefer’s in the slammer in Glendale for DWI he’s experiencing any hygge? I bet some of those jailbirds would like to see how touch he is.

--- Adam S., Glendale CA

I loved your intro and the way you set up the article. It immediately set the tone of an action-paced adventure. I imagined Annette as a spy in a trenchcoat feeding you top secret information. I'm surprised you didn't get lost. Do they speak English over there? Are the street signs in English? Does a GPS work over there?

I never heard of "hygge" but, like you, I think I've felt that sensation everytime the cold wind blows here in South Pasadena, CA. When I sit beside a warm fire, sipping my hot chocolate, I will remember this article. Thanks!

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA



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