11 Aug 2018
We still had beautiful weather when we left for Stockholm. When we arrived we explored the city in our bus, but continued walking to see the red, orange and terracotta coloured buildings.
The town center is old and has some crooked houses but we went there in the afternoon.
First we wanted to see the museum which houses the 17th century, 64 gun warship, the Vasa. It was really amazing to see such an old ship fully intact !
Then we left Stockholm to join our Ferry boat taking us to Helsinki ! I had never been on such a ferry it was like a cruise ship ! We had to check in almost like for an airplane, I had scissors with me and had to open my bag, but finally the guy let me through with my scissors and I promised I wouldn't kill anybody ! The ship was huge and had 10 floors, 7 with cabins and 2 with restaurants, shops, slot machines, a night club etc. It also was very nice to sit on the deck !
This was our ferry you can see my friend Bunny walking towards the check in and me sitting in our cabin without windows of course. But it was comfortable we had a good bed and a bathroom with shower, everything we needed for a night. I felt like sleeping in a cradle rocking softly ! Only when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night I walked like a drunken sailor ! It was really a very special experience !
At 9 am we arrived in Helsinki and did first a tour with our car. Then we were left alone our guide disappeared.
After having walked around and found a church we should visit closed because of a wedding, we discovered the city alone. We had a nice meal on the market, Bunny ate reindeer meatballs (poor Rudolf) and I had fish. It was served with little potatoes and vegetables.
As there was nothing special to see in Helsinki, we took a sightseeing boat which took us around some islands, apparently there are hundreds of them all around, and people usually have a weekend house there or uses a little island for holidays.
We were quite tired when we arrived in our hotel, which as usual is very comfortable and very nice.
Next time you will hear from me in St. Petersburg if I have time ! We will go there tomorrow !
8 Aug 2018
Finally I find some time to write a bit about my Northern Tour adventure. The next day after our arrival arrived the others to join the group. At 5 pm we finally were all together and the presentations could begin. Our tour leader is a young woman from the UK. The travelers are from all countries : The United States, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Malasya, Philippines, and finally us, the two Europeans from Belgium.
Then we all went to our bus to start the tour with a Pizza cruise on the Amsterdam canals
The pizza was very good and we enjoyed the landscape passing by.
We also saw this old ship and the museum of science. Of course we saw a lot more, but my time is restricted.
The next day on our way to Hamburg we stopped in a farm where we also visited a clog maker. As I had seen this already before, I preferred to stay in the stable, the smell there reminded me of my childhood. One of the cows loved or loved not my red outfit, because she bumped all the time against my arm. I tried to pet her head, but that she didn't like either. She apparently wanted bread, but I didn't have any.
The trip was very well organized, we stopped each two hours for a "comfort stop" because a bus driver is not allowed to drive more than 2 hours.
Meanwhile we knew each other better and the ambiance in the bus was very funny. Some coming from far fell asleep because of the jet lag !
When we arrived in Hamburg it was very, very hot ! 36° C ! Bunny and I didn't want to walk around more than necessary in this heat, so we followed our guide for a short visit of the city but then took a sightseeing boat on the Alster.
This had been the best idea ever, because on the boat it was not so hot and we had a nice breeze and we saw the skylines of Hamburg, interesting buildings and the captain explained what we saw ! It was really very nice.
Before walking back to the bus, we had a nice supper at the river, enormous portions !
The next day we crossed the border to Denmark and had to show our passports for the first time. As Denmark had no Euros, we payed everything by card, not to have foreign coins in our pockets with which we couldn't do anything.
Copenhagen is a beautiful and interesting city. We followed our guide for a tour through the city and saw the famous Mermaid, which is a little disappointing and we couldn't understand why it had become so famous. We also saw the house of Christian Andersen the storytellers for the kids (and adults) and then had supper at the seaside. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the restaurant. Believe it or not I had fish and chips !! Copenhagen is very expensive for a small beer you pay 9 Euros and for a coffee I payed 5. The food too was very expensive. I think I have never eaten such luxury "fish and chips" in my whole life.
We were quite exhausted from the long day and went back to the hotel with our bus at around 7 pm, while a few others stayed in the city to see a bit of the night life, especially when they heard that it one street you are allowed to smoke canabis !
I sorted out my pictures and wrote this text, tomorrow morning we are off to Stockholm !
6 Aug 2018
Finally the day of our departure arrived ! Mr. G drove us to the Waterloo station from where we took the train to Brussels North. As it was a Sunday the shops around the Bus station were closed ! Stupid idea ! We wanted to buy a little lunch to eat in the bus as we were supposed to leave at 11 am. Finally we found a Starbucks in the Station where we had a coffee and a croissant and could buy a Sandwich and a drink for our trip.
The Bus arrived with nearly an hour late, but caught up as there was nearly no traffic on the roads. In the morning while we were waiting for the Bus it was quite cool but then during the day it became hot again. We arrived punctually in Amsterdam.
I had booked a taxi to take us from the Duivendrecht station to our hotel, which arrived 15 min later after I had called them.We had to go to the Hilton Hampsted in Hoofddorp an outskirt of Amsterdam
The hotel is very nice, but had no restaurant. So we went to Hoofddorp center and found several once side by side, unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, which is sad because every restaurant had plenty of flowers around.
As we arrived in the city center, which is also very modern I saw from far this strange sculpture
I still do not know what it represents a ! Robocop perhaps ?
There was a beautiful park around with a little canal and a lot of ducks.
After supper we returned to the hotel and rested on our beds, we wanted to be fresh for today when the group arrives. We especially had decided to arrive one day earlier not to hurry to join the group.
This morning we had breakfast sitting at the window
with this beautyful view
And as we have time until 2 pm when the rest of the group arrives, I took the opportunity to start my little travel diary.