Last, but not least, I’m now in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. And as expected, it’s all about colourful homes, waterside cafes, boats and canals, and of course the inimitable mermaid. It is, I’m soon to find out, also one of the more expensive destinations I have been to. 

But first, I have to check in to the Generator Hostel. I have to admit that this is the first time that I am staying at an actual hostel. Located smack bang in the center of the city on Kongens Nytorv, the Generator is buzzing…the vibe, the visitors and the visceral indulgences…all get a 10/10 from me.  

Kongens Nytorv

Kongens Nytorv is a central old square and home to prominent institutions such as the Royal Theatre, the D’Angleterre Hotel and the Charlottenborg Academy. The square was constructed in 1908, is encircled by buildings on five sides, was paved with cobblestones in 1670, and the equestrian statue of Christian V on horseback was raised in 1688. It is the oldest equestrian statue and royal sculpture in Copenhagen.  

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OMG! This cruise ship is awesome. Silja Symphony really knows how to spoil a passenger. The cabins are small but so comfortable, the food is great, the entertainment is fabulous and the views are stunning. The ship has 13 decks (I was on deck 11), 986 passenger cabins and over 2500 passengers.  

After an overnight trip (almost 20 hours in total), and some stunning early morning views of the sunset along with the Swedish archipelago comprising wooded islands, rocky cliffs, small cottages and piers and plenty of birds, I arrive at Stockholm Sweden. 

I’m booked at the Castle House Inn. Located in the Old Town area that dates back to the Middle Ages, the hotel itself was once one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm. There is free all-day breakfast at the reception, lots of information on what to see and do, and the friendliest hosts I’ve met. 

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Having left the Finlyandsky Railway Station (Finlandia Station) in St. Petersburg at 6:40 a.m., I arrive in Helsinki Finland by 10:07.

Helsinki Station

At times, reaching a top speed of 220-kms per hour, this 300-km ride took me 3.5 hours on the Allegro. 

Finlyandsky Railway Station

The old section of the Finlyandsky Railway Station

What’s interesting about the Finlyandsky Railway Station is that it was famously known for the arrival of Vladimir Lenin by train from Germany on 3 April 1917 to start the October Revolution. The event was commemorated by the statue of Lenin placed in the square in front of the station.

Lenin is shown on the top of  armored car. He arrived on the  steam locomotive  #293, which is now on display as a permanent exhibit at one of the platforms in the station. 

It’s another beautiful, clear blue-sky day in Helsinki. I check into the Helsinki Senate Hotel which is so close to the main square. I am told that I have access to free use of the sauna and laundry rooms. This is great! I can really do with some indulgence. And, I am given an upgrade on the room as well! 

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Finally, I’ve made it to Russia…a longtime item on my Bucket List and I’m super stoked to be in St. Petersburg!

My first stop is to check in to the Melange Hotel, a not-so-easy-to-spot accommodation, but nonetheless, very comfortable, inexpensive and ideally located on St. Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospekt.  

The City of the Tsars, the Venice of the North, the Artistic Powerhouse, are just some of the names used to describe St. Petersburg. Founded by Peter the Great, who used the creative and artistic skills of European architects, this Romanov stronghold became Russia’s first great modern city. And I can see why! 

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It’s 7 a.m. and too early to check in to my hotel. So, the next best thing is to walk down the street to the most famous Cathedral Square in Vilnius Lithuania.

At the very centre is the stately and stunning Vilnius Cathedral in all its white neoclassical beauty.  

Basilica of St. Stanislaus and Bell Tower

Formally known as the Basilica of St. Stanislaus this is definitely one of the most iconic sights in Vilnius. The fact that it lies at the head of the main street, Gedimino Pr., adds to its status. The cathedral is built in Palladian-style architecture on a site that has been a sacred place since pre-Christian times, when it may have been used to worship the Baltic pagan god, Perkūnas. The original cathedral was established in 1251 and was rebuilt and restored several times throughout the centuries. 

The early morning service was certainly time well spent!  Read More