Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sept. 5 Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is an atmospheric old town with an enthralling hotchpotch of medieval streets and spires. It's a small city and the tourist areas are safe and easily explored on foot.. For a look into Tallinns past visit Rocca-Al-Mare open air museums, rural Estonian taverns, windmills and water mills,, see the onion domed1900 cathedral or join the bustle in historic Town Hall Square. St. Olav's spire was once the tallest in the world.
Tallinn has survived a turbulent history. It was conquered and ruled by Teutonic Knights, Polish Princes and Russian Tsars. For 51 years Estonia has maintained it's ties to the western world retaining the Latin alphabet and Catholic and protestant faiths.

After breakfast in the Lido buffet I took the pictures of the other cruiseships that were docked beside us in the harbour then got on the tour bus to see Tallinn. What a madhouse with all the passengers from all those ships going on a million and one tours which means a lot of buses to sort through to find your own usually wayyyy down the line. Princess organizes their tours very well, however mishaps still occur and one reason was because it was raining and quite a long way to walk to the buses.. I made it finally and spotted my yellow ticket number 16 right away. I checked behind me to make sure my roomie was coming and she was just a few feet behind me so I boarded the bus and got two seats together. I waited for her to climb onboard but she never did and soon the doors were closed, the bus was full and we drove away. The tour guide launched right into her talk of history and politics of the area all the while pointing out buildings of interest and then we stopped for a few minutes and were able to get off the bus to look around and take pictures. Several other buses were already there and more arriving so I kept an eye out for my friend but never saw her. This scenario was repeated several times until we arrived near the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. There were about 15 buses already parked there on a long sloping hill and I thought for sure she would have been on one and we'd both be able to get on one or the others bus but those passengers were already out of sight. My bus people walked up the hill to a crossroad and then we turned left and i inched my way up another hill to the cathedral. The guide said to be back in front of the building in 30 minutes. I was ready to go in 10 minutes as one can't take pictures in a place of worship and while it was a beautiful cathedral I felt like an intruder watching the congregation in prayer so I was outside very quickly. Soon the tour guide was there talking to a few passengers from my bus and knowing it would be awhile until all were back I took the opportunity to go a few feet across the narrow cobblestone lane to sit on a rock wall where I still had a clear view of the guide. I was expecting we would all walk back to the bus together and I felt no need for any more history. After awhile I suddenly see the guide and the group start walking the opposite way up the cobblestone street so I hurried to catch up to them. I was just a few feet behind them but very quickly the crowd grew and I couldn't see the guide anymore in the throngs of people but I did spot a man from my bus wearing an orange sweater so I kept a close watch on him as I scurried along trying to catch up to my group afraid of stumbling on those dam cobblestones. Soon it was wall to wall people and several men wore orange sweaters and then I thought to hell with it; I had to stop and rest. This tour in the brochure was called Easy Tallinn and had said there were only 15 steps to walk on the entire tour. I'm pretty sure we had walked several hundred by then and I just couldn't catch up; they were gone. I decided they may have gone shopping for a few mins and I could pass, i hadn't even brought any Estonian money with me anyway. So i walked back to the front of the cathedral to await their return. Then I recognized a couple from my bus Paul and Sharon from Singapore so I chatted with them for awhile and then the three of us went and sat on the rock wall which by then was wet from the drizzling rain. But at least we could see the road and thinking they'd have to come down it again to get back to where the bus had let us off. As far as we knew it would still be parked there. Well!!! hmmmph! we waited and it became windy and cold and soon it was over an hour they had been gone. We started thinking maybe the bus had moved and they were not coming back this way at all. Neither of us had heard the guide say anything different and we were all sure she had said to be there at 12:30 and we were but it was now 2p.m. We had to resort to Plan B so off we went down the hill and while there were several buses there ours wasn't. Plan C was drawn up. We asked the driver of one of the buses if he had 3 seats available and if so could we ride back to the port with them. His passengers voted yes but they had just arrived and were going to see the cathedral first. Plan D was drawn up and we continued walking down that hill for several blocks as we had learned there was a big hotel at the base and Paul and Sharon wanted to get a taxi there. Well, Paul and i had enough walking and we were lagging but Sharon was fit and had tons of energy so she ran ahead of us to look for a cab and was soon out of sight. We walked so far it was ridiculous but we finally arrived at the bottom of the hill and crossed a very scary intersection but Sharon was nowhere to be seen and we were in misery standing around so i sat in a flower bed for awhile. Suddenly I see Sharon come around a corner and she started running back up that stupid hill. What now I thought! But eventually she turned around so i started waving like crazy and she saw me so i knew she was headed for a cab now up the hill. Then the cab drove down the hill and drove right on by! Paul and I waited patiently and then figured out that maybe the cab couldn't make a left turn into the hotel parking lot. They had to go a few blocks to get turned around and approach from the other way. What a relief when Sharon and that cab finally drove in...i was sooo glad to be safely back on my ship and never did find out where our bus and passengers had gone and why they didn't come back for us. Pat had been back for over 3 hours by then and from her description my tour and hers went to exactly the same places and she had also sat on that rock wall by the cathedral too. As for her missing the bus she explained it was raining quite hard, she had her head down when she approached the buses and a driver misread her number 16 bus as number 15, took her ticket and told her to get on his bus which was next to mine.. She got on glad to be out of the rain, found two seats and when I didn't climb aboard she thought I had gone on the wrong bus!

The ships beside us; one of them was a Fred Olsen cruiseship

          This is the hill they disappeared up! It was much steeper than it looks!

This is a typical pic you get when googling Estonia
                                    This is Paul looking for his wife from the hotel parking lot
                                No, we didn't call the Politsei, I just thought you'd like to see it

 It's such a relief to be back!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sept 4 at sea

Reminder: attend Cruise Critic Meet and Greet at Club 6 @ 10:30- 11:30

Missed meeting the Cruise Critic group because we were supposed to set our watches an hour ahead, I forgot to do it, slept in and blew my chance to see what they're all about. We went up to the Lido for breakfast and the brunch stuff was already out including stews, chop souey, chow mein, rice, hamburgers, steaks, potatos, and every other brunch thing known to mankind as well as regular breakfast fare. This ship is the BEST for lots of reasons and especially the food! I tried to dine  fairly lightly today on healthy Princess muscelli and fresh fruits but then had to get into the deserts too. BTW the muscelli on all the cruiseships I've been on seems to be the same recipe; i wonder how that can be.
We then attended a free seminar at the Lotus Spa called "wrinkle remedies with a non-surgical 10 minute face lift" which consisted of a sales pitch of massages, facials, dermal fillers, lip enhancement, teeth whitening, acupuncture and their makeup application which we all got but I passed on buying because I think I bought it on another cruise a long time ago and it's still sitting in the cupboard. The special was called The party pamper pkg. which included a "muscle melting neck and shoulder massage; a soothing foot and ankle massage, hand and arm massage, Indian scalp massage and a revitalizing  spa facial" sounds nice eh?
We then walked to the seawalk which was absolutely terrorizing to me as I don't do heights usually but i at least stood on it a little bit. We then settled down with a nice mocktail to relax and get over it by listening to the band and watching a rhumba dance lesson. A man came by our table with a cart passing out cookies and ice cold milk. I took a couple cookies but passed on the milk; I want to be healthy but not THAT healthy! Watched people playing some kind of water ring toss for awhile then returned to our cabin for a little nap before getting all gussied up for the formal dinner. We sat with six other people; a 79 year old lady and her 49 year old daughter from Texas, a couple from Australia and a preacher and his wife from Florida who were celebrating their 60th anniversary, all very nice people. The Texans were horrified at the thought of The Donald becoming their president and they were very funny in expressing that.  We then went back to the Piazza for mocktails and more music and dancing. Somewhere in between this I dropped another $20. in the casino.....somethings got to give soon as I want my money's just a matter of time and I JUST KNOW it'll come back to me with some to spare too.
Watermelon carvings

Building up courage clutching my ice cream cone

Did you know the feeding of birds from balconies and ships decks is strictly forbidden by Maritime Law?