Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller


Cherbourg, Dover and into the Baltic

Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 at 4:38 am

We now turn towards northern Europe for the next part of this journey. It does feel like a journey and the ocean has been a constant companion. We are learning a lot more about ports and the whole business of approaching the land from the sea.

Cherbourg, France

Our first port of call is Cherbourg on the coast of Normandy. The sun is still with us as we walk towards the old town past the flotillas of boats in the inner harbour.

Lots of small boats in the inner harbour of Cherbourg

Lots of small boats in the inner harbour of Cherbourg

I wonder what this building is used for ...

I wonder what this building is used for …

We walk around the the old part of town, visiting a church, a coffee shop and patisserie in that order before making our way back to the ship for lunch. Cherbourg is a focus for the vehicle ferries that ply their way across the channel moving people from mainland Europe to the British Isles.

We often seem to end up in a church. Often the best art is within.

We often seem to end up in a church. Often the best art is within.

The result of this visit is a very tasty almond croissant.

The result of this visit is a very tasty almond croissant.

Dover, England

We have arranged to meet Jacqui’s sister Mary and her partner Brian in Dover. They have kindly offered to drive down for the day and after some confusion as to where we are to meet, success is followed first by a visit to the compulsory coffee shop followed by a pub overlooking the marina for a long and chatty lunch. It is an opportunity to catch up on the goings on of family and to personally congratulate them on their plans to marry later in the year. Sadly we will not be there for that occasion which I am sure will be quite a celebration.

The details of Dover itself disappear as we catch up on the past year or so. It is great to see them looking so happy with their lives. It also seems that we brought the sunshine with us … it has been raining in the South of England up until now. Long may it continue!

It's those famous white chalk cliffs. Later in the day I can see the white cliffs of France and see just how narrow the English Channel is at this point.

It’s those famous white chalk cliffs. Later in the day, looking from the top deck of the ship, I can see the white cliffs of France and understand just how narrow the English Channel is at this point.

Washing has to be dried, even in Dover. Someone will make a law against it sooner of later.

Washing has to be dried, even in Dover. Someone will make a law against it sooner of later.

Oh yes ... and there is a castle ...

Oh yes … and there is a castle amid the soft green of spring …

One thing about being on the ocean, is that we continue to get spectacular sunsets, now quite different to those in the Caribbean.

One thing about being on the ocean, is that we continue to get spectacular sunsets, now quite different to those in the Caribbean.

Here we are, writing away in our little hideaway!

Here we are, writing away in our little hideaway! Ahhh!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Now we are turning towards the Baltic for the last circuit of our journey. When we originally booked the cruise from Havana to Germany, we were given the opportunity to add an eleven night circuit of the Baltic onto the end. Why not, we thought and we are nearing the end of the first part and the beginning of the second.

We will visit Copenhagen twice, once on our way to Warnemunde in Germany and again at the end of the Baltic circuit. For this first visit we have the last of our free tours, which will give us a quick trip around the sights of Copenhagen and end with a visit to the famed Tovoli Amusement park, which seems to get everybody’s juices going. We will see!

Arriving in Copenhagen we are greeted by a beautiful sight for our green eyes! And it's still sunny to boot!

Arriving in Copenhagen we are greeted by a beautiful sight for our green eyes! And it’s still sunny to boot!

This was a bit unexpected ... a Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club in Copenhagen ...

This was a bit unexpected … a Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club in Copenhagen …

ALT_GOES_HERE

Here we are at the Summer Palace … or is it the Winter Palace, lots of palaces around anyway …

ALT_GOES_HERE

This is Mary’s wing … Mary Queen of Tasmania that is … very popular we understand.

And the soldiers get younger every day. They still have conscription in Denmark.

And the soldiers get younger every day. They still have conscription in Denmark.

ALT_GOES_HERE

And you can buy coffee with just about any currency you happen to have in your pocket.

Copenhagen has a good feel but is extremely busy everywhere we stop. It is a real tourist mecca even this early in the season. Our tour, along with every other person in the city, it seems, stops to see the little mermaid sitting quietly on her water lapped stone at the edge of the harbour.

You just have to see the little mermaid (she's the one on the rock), that everlasting symbol of Copenhagen.

You just have to see the little mermaid (she’s the one on the rock), that everlasting symbol of Copenhagen.

Tivoli Gardens, in the middle of the city, is a famous amusement park (one of the biggest we are told by our proud tour guide). We hadn’t actually heard of it ourselves until daughter Pippa said it was the place to go. I guess the difference between us and her is age, and so we see the gardens through slightly different eyes. Great if you are young with a pocket full of money, or a cashed up credit card, but for us it is an interesting place to walk around but perhaps not more than that. We actually wanted to go out and look beyond the fence, but we couldn’t do that without paying to get back in to meet our guide at the end of our allotted hour.

Hans Christian Anderson site along side a busy city road looking into the distance.

Hans Christian Anderson sits along side a busy city road looking into the distance.
‘Oh no … here comes another pigeon!’

In the Tivoli gardens the children love the mirrors

In the Tivoli gardens the children love the mirrors

Did I mention it was expensive in Copenhagen? (100 Euros = AUD$155)

Did I mention is was expensive in Copenhagen? (100 Euros = AUD$155). I mean … they’re very pretty but …

The locals enjoy their ice cream while the watch the tourists.

The locals enjoy their ice cream while they watch the tourists.

Warnemunde, Germany

No we hadn’t heard of it either. It is the end point of the first part and the beginning and end of the second part. At the end of the cruise we had been promised a transfer to Hamburg to catch our flight home, but that option seems to have been a blue sky option and hasn’t materialised.

It turns out that Warnemunde is a german seaside town which some cruise ships use as a turnaround point. It must be cheaper for them here because you wouldn’t choose it yourself being a two to three hour journey to the airport in Hamburg. Mmmmm.

Pretty enough in the spring sunshine Warnemunde is seaside town.

Pretty enough in the spring sunshine Warnemunde, the approach to the town is across this canal.

The town itself is very neat and tidy with cobbled roads that we are to become so familiar with.

The town itself is very neat and tidy with cobbled roads that we are to become so familiar with.

After a walk around the town I drop Jacqui off at the ship and set out to discover how we are to get to Hamburg. I ask at the tourist office about buses, but they look at me blankly and suggest I try the train ticket office. Between the ship and the above pretty canal is a trap for the unwary suitcase touting traveller wanting to go from the town to the ship. This comes in the shape of a narrow tunnel under the railway line with steep stone steps at either end. I watch as people struggle through this obstacle course with their cases and decide I would not like to do it myself. Unfortunately, the train station and any possible bus station required this manoever to succeed. Things are not looking good.

A further enquiry at the railway ticket office brings more bad news. To go from here to the airport in Hamburg requires two changes of train. I think of our cases and give up any idea of taking this option. Hey ho … what to do?

These people have already negotiated 'the tunnel' and now wait to board the ship. Good job it's not raining!

These people have already negotiated ‘the tunnel’ and now wait to board the ship. Good job it’s not raining!

As we sail out into the Baltic the other ships blow their horns and people wave from the river bank.

As we sail out into the Baltic the other ships blow their horns and people wave from the river bank.

Visby, Sweden

No … we have never heard of Visby either. Visby is on an island in the Baltic and is part of Sweden. It is a tender port, which we know will mean lots of queueing to get both off and back onto the ship. There never seems to be enough tenders to go around.

The day is warm and sunny once again. We are beginning to think this is how the weather is in this part of the world, and that maybe childhood memories of grey skies and cold winds are in our imagination. Once ashore we walk into town amid the spring green trees and the sound of birdsong. We stroll through quiet cobbled streets into a picture postcard town.

Through the old city walls into the charming town of Visby.

Through the old city walls into the charming town of Visby.

If you imagine an archetype cottage in spring, this has got to be it.

If you imagine an archetype cottage in spring, this has got to be it, complete with tulips.

Into the main part of town ... everything just so!

Into the main part of town … everything just so!

Don't you dare!

Don’t you dare!

Pretty as a picture!

Pretty as a picture!

A well known phrase or saying for those Harry Potter fans ...

A well known phrase or saying for those Harry Potter fans …

This cathedral was abandoned centuries ago.

This cathedral was abandoned centuries ago. Get the colour of that sky!

In this strictly Lutheran church there are still naked women!

In this strictly Lutheran church there are still half naked women!

As predicted ... there are long lines to catch a tender back to the ship.

As predicted … there are long lines to catch a tender back to the ship. Jacqui sits it out.

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Another place we have never heard of. We are now entering those countries which were controlled by the Soviet Union before the iron curtin collapsed and we are looking forward to seeing how they are going. First in line is the main port of Lithuania, Klaipeda. Still very much in the development phase of it’s tourist industry we are greeted on the dockside by a traditional folkband who sing and play us ashore.

The ‘cruise terminal’ is a small hut where they hand out maps. We walk past boat repair yards into town. The first thing we notice is the street art … always a good sign.

A local folk group plays us ashore.

A local folk group plays us ashore.

The cruise terminal in full swing

The cruise terminal in full swing

Everywhere we look there is street art ... love this one

Everywhere we look there is street art … love this one

Mmmm ... not quite sure about the translation here.

Mmmm … not quite sure about the translation here.

Still a bit to do with the renovations. Bricks disappearing molecule by molecule.

Still a bit to do with the renovations. Bricks disappearing molecule by molecule.

Then into the town and a large cobbled square, with a craft market in full swing. No clothes from thailand or india here.

It’s all strictly local produce with several stall holders actually producing the goods at their stalls; a potter with wheel spinning; a wood turner with a foot powered lathe; a man shaping wooden boats. Everything here is of an incredibly high quality … such a joy to see such art and craft … it reminds us of the early days of the Denmark craft market where we plied our wares of pots and baskets so many years ago in the days before it got over commercial.

We really enjoy our day in Klaipeda!

It's a beautiful day for a market in Lithuania

It’s a beautiful day for a market in Lithuania

Looks like it gets cold here at some point though

Looks like it gets cold here at some point though

Amber is the thing. Here some americans negotiate a bulk buy to resell when they get home.

Amber is the thing. Here some americans negotiate a bulk buy to resell when they get home.

Amber comes in all shapes and sizes ... is it real we ask ourselves!

Amber comes in all shapes and sizes … is it real we ask ourselves!

This fellow just cried out to come home with us.

This fellow just cried out to come home with us.

Everything is just so beautifully made

Everything is just so beautifully made

Some of the best coffee so far ... and a pastry to die for!

Some of the best coffee so far … and a pastry to die for! That sun is hot.

This beautifully restored three master sits in the canal.

This beautifully restored yacht sits in the canal.

This town has COBBLES!

This town has COBBLES!

This little fellow sits on the edge of a rose garden

This little fellow sits on the edge of a rose garden

Riga, Latvia

Another day, another baltic state … they are coming thick and fast now and the towns are getting bigger as we go. Today we are in Latvia and are to visit Latvias main town of Riga. It is much bigger than Klaipeda, a fact that is obvious even as we dock. This feels like a modern city complete with a morning rush hour.

In Riga we dock amid the morning rush hour traffic

In Riga we dock amid the morning rush hour traffic

As we walk into town it becomes clear that this is a much more substantial settlement and the old part of the city is extensive and well preserved/restored.

Into the old city of Riga

Into the old city of Riga
Tourists lurking where ever you look.

Tourists lurking where ever you look.
Best place for guns, I reckon.

Best place for guns, I reckon.
World heritage status really helps when it comes to the careful restoration of these old cities.

World heritage status really helps when it comes to the careful restoration of these old cities.
Not sure who this fellow is, but a bowler hat seems a bit impractical for flying an aircraft.

Not sure who this fellow is, but a bowler hat seems a bit impractical for flying an aircraft.
Well ... I mean ...

Well … I mean … that makes it clear!
Our compulsory cup of coffee is served from the magnificently carved bar

Our compulsory cup of coffee is served from this magnificently carved bar
They seem to have a thing about frogs in this part of the world

They seem to have a thing about frogs in this part of the world
Try getting one of these into your suitcase to take home

Try getting one of these into your suitcase to take home

We leave the old part of the city and walk through the park which runs either side of a canal. It is beautiful. Full of flower beds and bird song among the trees. A fitting way to end our day.

We cross the bridge into the park with an accompaniment by this busker.

We cross the bridge into the park with an accompaniment by this busker.
They have a lovers bridge here too.

They have a lovers bridge here too.
A swashbuckling pilot treats us to a flyby as we leave Riga

A swashbuckling pilot treats us to a flyby as we leave Riga
This is the beginning of the time of year they call 'White nights'. We thought the Baltic would be rough ... not like this pond!

This is the beginning of the time of year they call ‘White nights”. We thought the Baltic would be rough … not like this pond! Yes this is out in the ocean.

Tallinn, Estonia

Out last port of call before Russia is Tallinn in Estonia with it’s fabled walled city. We quickly realise that we are back on the main tourist trail as we dock beside two other cruise ships. We take the short walk into town, through the old city walls and into a very well preserved medieval city. It is full of tourists like us, strolling around the narrow streets and wandering through the markets.

A nice big map to help us on our way.

A nice big map to help us on our way.
In through the old gatehouse

In through the old gatehouse
The world must have been such a different place when this old city was built

The world must have been such a different place when this old city was built
The main square hosts a large market in full swing

The main square hosts a large market in full swing.
We make our way through the crowds.

We make our way through the crowds.
This stall produces the most mouth watering smell

This stall produces the most mouth watering smell
Still a little work to do here and there

Still a little work to do here and there
Three little cruise ships all in a row

Three little cruise ships all in a row

It’s time to leave Tallinn and go onto the main attraction on this Baltic circuit, St Petersburg. But more of that soon.

Enjoy 🙂
Alan.


8 responses to “Cherbourg, Dover and into the Baltic”

  1. Irene Mews says:

    Wonderful to see your photos, captions and news of the latter part of your trip! I await your last instalment on St Petersburg! Beautiful ports you visited with all their stunning craft markets which I know you would’ve enjoyed. Hope you are both well and now safely home having negotiated a nightmare of a transfer to Hamburg Airport. Will have to catch up soon:-)

  2. regina synnot says:

    Good morning you two, sorry haven’t written. been so busy with work,have Rhona with me from Denmark and we are admiring all those wonderful places you are visiting. Have just booked next trip to Germany for end of Oct. but won’t get to all those amazing spots in the eastern parts. Bodhi’s first birthday on sunday. we shall think of you. Have the best time and keep taking those amazing photos. I sure love Europe.

  3. Vicki and Lawrie says:

    Wow what a journey!
    We have loved reading your blog and seeing your photos. Klaipeda, Riga and Tallinn look so interesting. Food for thought! We look forward to seeng you on Saturday.

  4. Tim Price says:

    Alan and the other Mermaid – as again really interesting and enhanced by the cryptic, observational, funny and perspective comments! I could not believe the tourists in Lithuania and Tallin – my memories are of lovely unspoilt simple and just emeging economies and societies – one really understands what the modern world brings?!
    I have often wondered what it is like to travel the world on these monstrous ships and I think you give a very good idea and show it can be real fun, if frustrating at times, and of course hugely educational – so sad to miss you both – have a lovely time in St Petersburg , lots and lots of love Tim

  5. Pippa Samaya says:

    Re- Copenhagen- Tivoli gardens is not the ones we meant 😉 Despite our ‘age’ we too- did not want to pay to go inside a theme park. We were referring to the beautiful giant natural gardens/forests near by… 😉

  6. Helen Lynes says:

    I really appreciate this Alan, thank you. Wonderful

  7. Tony & Beryl says:

    Looking forward to this part of the trip, will compare it with ours of several years ago.
    Hoping that some of your photos might overlap ours ( not to your standard though ) especially St Petersburg> Tallinn was another enjoyable stop. We will have to rummage around the attic in our boxes to remind ourselves of our trip in the Baltic.
    Carry on enjoying yourselves.

    T & B xxx

  8. Jac says:

    Gorgeous, thank you Alan – just a ‘gift’ to enjoy – those colours! Super to see them change through your travels to more turquoise and emerald, etc. It really does inspire one to do a cruise -‘ocean pics also insightful. Love the ‘selfies’ ? Check out the story of Amber wen u get to St P. (If u havn’t already) I can almost smell those almonds! ?

Leave a Reply to Tim Price Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *