Thursday, November 24, 2011

Observations on My First Cruise Part II

Now that I've spent time reviewing our ports of call I'll dedicate a few paragraphs to my thoughts on the whole cruising experience itself. I'll go through some of the pros and cons based on my observations. I may write more about the negatives which happens to often be human nature but I have enjoyed the experience overall and am glad we have taken this most unusual route back to the US.

strolling in Barcelona
Let's see where can I start with my pros list of traveling by cruise. I guess first of all it is a ridiculously easy way of traveling which is why I guess it is so popular. I agree with what others have said in the past about the the convenience of traveling to different ports without having to worry about transporting from place to place. It so nice to spend the night in the same room while traveling to different cities.

tourist escalators in Cartagena, Spain - doesn't get much easier than this  :-)
An obvious positive item about cruising is the food. It is so nice to be able to eat three meals a day without having to go through a lot of of hassle. The quality and variety of the food have been pretty good in my opinion. The portion sizes weren't also as big as I thought they would be but the good thing is you can order as much as you want which I'll also address when I get to the negatives. I also like the options between restaurant and the buffet. In the restaurants they have a mix of open seating and reserved seating. Reserved seating with the same people was something that I absolutely did not want to do. Our seating was open. Most of the time we ate by ourselves but did have some nice meals with other passengers which was nice change of pace. Personally, I enjoyed the restaurants more than the buffet. I just like to have someone else to serve us plus it can help with portion control too.

crew member by a desert station on our kitchen tour
Another aspect that I like were all the activities. I enjoyed going to shows virtually each night or watching movies in the movie theater. We even checked out a few movies to play in our room's DVD player. Throughout the day there were numerous classes or presentations on various topics. We went to a few talks on subjects and a few classes but not too many. A couple other things I like was that the library which had over 5,000 books in it. I read a fascinating book on the CIA called Legacy of Ashes. I also enjoyed working out in the gym especially now that I have gained a few pounds in the nearly 3 months we have been traveling during this segment. After we were done with port calls we usually got up each morning around 8 am to work out.

book on how to make towel creations - we actually went to the class
Now let's talk about some of things I didn't like. The first one I'll talk about is food again. While I enjoyed the food I was also disgusted at times by a few things. The first was there was so much food and so many overweight people eating so much of it. I kind of expected that but what I really didn't like were times when people couldn't decide which main course or desert that they wanted so they just ordered two or three items while only eating a couple bites while then discarding some of items they didn't like. I will not go on too much about this but all the waste gets to me at times.

Alethea supervising the pulling out of port in Ajaccio, France
Next item that I didn't always enjoy was being confined to the ship. I guess I have become used to always being on the go that I sometimes struggled with being restricted to the ship at times. Good news was there were plenty of activities to keep things somewhat interesting. Having so many days of sea in a row wasn't always that enjoyable to me. I know it allowed Alethea an opportunity to catch up on her writing but I was getting kind of stir crazy. I was probably suffering from internet withdrawal a little. I can do without a TV but I miss being online just to research different things or just to entertain myself. Internet access was available for a cost of .75 per minute which was too steep a price for me. You could access Holland America's sites along with the New York Times site for free. Speeds were slow since we were connecting via satellite.

orange trees in a city park in Malaga, Spain
Only other somewhat major item that I didn't enjoy was that our ship and apparently many others in the area were struck by an increase in gastro intestinal or GI issues. This meant that certain things were adjusted or closed. For example, you couldn't use the self-serve laundry machines, serve yourself at the buffet, you couldn't touch salt & pepper containers, serve yourself drinks, and library books that were returned were quarantined for 14 days. Ironically enough the casino was never impacted by this. Imagine that! For some reason I didn't notate when they lifted all the restrictions but I would say it was around the 7th or 8th day of the cruise. I did more laundry than I was expecting in our sink but I am kind of used to it by now. We did eventually do one load of laundry. It only cost $2 to wash and $1 to dry in normal size washers and dryers. I was expecting it to cost more but then again a lot of people were on our ship for multiple cruises. Many got on in Athens or when the ship was in Rome previously. I spoke to multiple passengers that had been aboard for at least 20 days before we came aboard.  

our bathroom, where I did a fair amount of laundry :-)
One other thing I was kind of disappointed in was that there were a lot more areas you can smoke in than I was expecting. You could smoke in the casino obviously and some of the bars along with the wrap around deck that a lot of people walked on. Not sure if this has to do with what regulations we were under or maybe just the preferences of their customers.

selling stuff next to our ship in Tangier, Morocco
Hopefully that wasn't too many negatives. I have never been on any of the cruise critic websites for reviewing cruises but I plan on leaving some feedback when I have the time. I did enjoy myself and am glad we chose to come back this way. The positives far outweighed the negatives and I am open to additional cruising. It was also an interesting way to spend my birthday. Never thought I would celebrate a birthday in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Last year I was in the Jordanian desert. Alethea made it special by arranging for a steak and lobster meal along with a red velvet cake. The Indonesian crew members sang happy birthday to me in Bahasa which is the official language of Indonesia.

Alethea on the behind the scenes kitchen tour
As far as future cruising is concerned, I still would like to see Alaska and take some of the river cruises throughout central Europe as Alethea has done before. Since we've arrived here in Miami, Florida we have actually managed to book another cruise! We've got the time and found a great last minute deal. It is on a different line which will be a good comparison. It is a 7 night Caribbean Cruise on Norwegian leaving from Miami on Sunday the 27th. It will make port calls in the Bahamas, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel Mexico. The starting price is only $349 per person. I've only been to the Bahamas before, so I'll be looking forward to these ports of call as well.

Happy Thanksgiving from Miami, Florida!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Observations on My First Cruise Part I

As expected my first cruise experience was an interesting cultural experience. I'll breakdown my review in two parts since it is quite a long post. I'm writing it while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean during one of our days at sea.

our cruise ship the ms Rotterdam docked in Cartagena, Spain
I'll start my review with some of the basics about our cruise. Our cruise was a total of 15 nights starting on Sunday, November 5th in Rome, Italy and ending on Monday, November 21st in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Technically Rome's port is about a solid hour train ride away in the city of Civitavecchia. Civitavecchia is a difficult name to pronounce but not that hard to get too from Rome's Termini train station. We sailed on Holland America's ms Rotterdam. The ship can hold a little over 1,300 passengers and has around 600 crew members. The ship was built in 1997 and is considered the flagship of their feet. They do have larger and newer ships. It is the 7th ship named Rotterdam Holland American with first dating back to the 1870s. We had 6 ports of call in the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic. I'll get into ports of call next. Alethea and I had a basic inner stateroom with no window on the 2nd deck. Other key stats were that the average age of the passengers was 65 years old per our cruise director. I also heard by the way of two different conversations with passengers that we had about 900 Americans, 300 Canadians, and the rest were European and few Aussies. Now on to the ports of call.

room 2613 on the ms Rotterdam
One of the reasons we chose this transatlantic repositioning cruise over others that were departing around the same time were because of the ports of call. The 6 ports of call we visited in order were Ajaccio, France on the island of Corsica, Barcelona, Spain, Cartagena, Spain, Malaga, Spain, Tangier, Morocco, and Funchal, Portugal on the island of Madeira. We visited a port of call each of the 1st five days before having a full day of sea when we reached our last port of call in Funchal. My favorite port of call was Malaga, Spain. Malaga is in southern Spain. It is a well kept city with beautiful architecture, churches, and made for a good day of walking. I was surprised at this because I had not even heard of Malaga before the cruise. Barcelona probably would have actually been number one except that Alethea (along with Diane & Ronnie) and I had just spent three full days there back in April. Good news is that we weren't suffering from sinus issues this time around! We did just a little sightseeing by walking around the Latin Quarter before stopping at a bar for a beer and some free wi-fi. We bought some toiletries and stocked up on wine since we could bring as much on board as we could carry. If we brought beer, liquor, or champagne it would have been confiscated and returned to us on the last night of the cruise. Alethea actually also got a haircut in Barcelona when we stumbled upon a rather cheap salon while walking around town. 

Alethea @ our 1st port of call in Ajaccio, France
Two other ports of call that I enjoyed were Funchal, Portugal and Tangier, Morocco. Tangier was the port of call that I was most interested in when we were making the decision on which cruise to take. We had wanted to go to Morocco on our round the world trip back in the spring but decided against it because we were running out of travel energy and there had been a bombing that killed I believe 6 tourists at one of the cities we wanted to go to about a week before we would have visited. I enjoyed our stop in Tangier although it was a little taxing which is what I was expecting. We weren't completely off the boat before someone was asking us to buy something. We received many solicitations throughout our stop. It kind of wears on you after a while or at least it does to me since this isn't common in American but can be pretty common elsewhere in the world. Not too long after we made it to the start of the old town area we were picked up by two pre-teen boys who walked around and showed us different parts of town that we probably wouldn't have found without them since our map from the ship was so bad. The quality of the maps we received on board for our ports of call weren't that great. We found better maps at Traveler Information offices once on land. Our adopted tour guides did take us to a a shop where a gentleman gave us a sales pitch on carpets and other items. He did let us go up on the roof top of the store where we experienced some good views of the city. The sales pitch wasn't too aggressive and we were pretty much used to it by now. At the end of the day we gave our two tour guides the remaining amount of euros that I had in my pocket which was only a 5 euro note and about 80 euro cents. Alethea told them in French, which they spoke, in the beginning that we didn't have any money. They did ask for more but I'm pretty sure they were satisfied with what they got.

Alethea with our two Tangier tour guides
We did experience an interesting event while in Tangier. Toward the end of our walk we noticed a crowd of mostly men and shouting in Arabic. I quickly noticed they were carrying a body on wood stilts that was wrapped in a green decorated blanket. I knew right away it was a funeral procession and wasn't too alarmed. We moved over to the side of the street and watched it go by. One American lady that was probably around 70 turned to us and wondered what they were shouting, she then said “probably death to Americans”. It was a classical stereotypical incident. Alethea told her they were shouting tributes to the person whose funeral they were celebrating. In all the countries I've been where Islam is the predominant religion I've never heard a bad word about Americans.

roof top view of Tangier, Morocco
Another port of call I enjoyed was Funchal, Portugal on the island of Madeira. Funchal has a tropical feel to it. It has some traditional Portuguese architecture with some pedestrian only streets to wonder around. It is a popular place for Europeans to visit since it a relatively close destination with a tropical climate. Winston Churchill used to visit here quite often back in the 30's and 40's according to a brochure. It would have been nice to do a little more exploring throughout the island. It was overcast and it rained a little bit while we were there. It was the only port that we didn't walk into town from on our ship. We could have but it would have taken at least 30 minutes. The cruise ship arranged buses to take us closer into town. Of course, there was some arguing over people jumping in front of other people in line as we boarded the bus on the way into town.

church in Funchal, Portugal
I did enjoyed our visits to Cartagena, Spain and Ajaccio, France. These two didn't stand out that much to me. There wasn't anything really bad about them they were just small or there wasn't much to see. The weather was nice in Cartagena and there were some pretty views overlooking the city. In Ajaccio we got to see the house where Napoleon was born and the church he was baptized.

To be continued........

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

The journey to Rome and then the U.S.

After our two night stop in Germany we were on our way to Rome. We looked at many options to spend our time in Europe before we had to leave on the 6th of November. We seriously considered spending time in southern Italy where we haven't been before but felt we would be too rushed to enjoy it. We then decided instead to visit two places neither one of us had been before. Those two places were Luxembourg and the city of Basel, Switzerland.

In Luxembourg we spent a total of 2 nights which was all we needed. To get to Luxembourg we took a 4 hour direct train with many stops from Munster, Germany. The first part of the train ride wasn't that scenic. The neatest part was when we went right by a couple of nuclear power plants. I was surprised at how close we came to them. The second half was more much more scenic. We followed the Moselle River for a while before our final stop into Luxembourg.

Luxembourg City close to sunset
We arrived in Luxembourg City during the afternoon and didn't do any sightseeing which was probably a good thing since it was All Saints Day (November 1st). All Saints Day is a pretty big holiday with banks, offices, stores, and many restaurants being closed. On our second day we visited the US Military Cemetery just outside of town. The cemetery is real nice and similar to the one we visited in Normandy in the spring. There are just over 5,000 American serviceman buried at the cemetery. Most were killed in the Battle of the Bulge which was fought nearby toward the end of World War II. We also got to see the grave of Gen George Patton which was pretty neat for me. I always enjoy watching the movie Patton and have read quite a bit about Gen Patton over the years. The rest of the day was spent on a city walk including visiting the old city walls that date back over 4 centuries. In all it was a pretty nice visit. Not too much to see as far as major attractions but still quite scenic. It definitely reminded me of France and could have passed as a suburb of Paris.

Gen. Patton's grave @ the WWII US Military Cemetery just outside of Luxembourg City
Next stop for us after Luxembourg was the city of Basel, Switzerland. We spent just two nights in Basel. I had never been to Switzerland before and Alethea had never been to Basel. She has been to other parts of Switzerland though. To get to Basel we took a three and half hour train ride from Luxembourg City to Basel. An interesting thing about Basel's train station is that since Basel lies at a point between the borders of Germany, Switzerland, and France one of its main train stations lies both in France and Switzerland. When we arrived in Basel we stopped and dropped off passengers in the French part. The train then backed up and switched tracks before pulling into the Swiss part of the station.

Basel, Switzerland and the Rhine River
We essentially spent just one day and really a half of that day sightseeing in Basel. We got in during the evening on our first day and decided not to do anything but relax including doing some laundry. We spent our one full day strolling around town. We picked up a brochure at the train station TI office that listed multiple walking paths. We spent 3 plus hours following the different paths. We walked around a street fair in more than one part of town that is currently going on for the next two weeks. We also toured the Munster Cathedral before eventually ending up at a micro-brewery bar on the opposite side of the Rhine River. We then took the tram back to our hostel. One interesting thing about Basel is apparently all hotel guest receive a free transit pass while visiting the city which also can include the bus to the airport. Most of the sights are within walking distance of downtown and we could have walked from our hotel to the center of town but the pass did come in handy after a long day of walking.

many traditional half-timbered German style buildings in Basel
The final leg of our journey was Rome, Italy. To get to Rome we considered training all the way down form Basel but found a real cheap flight. We got up at 4:30 am and hiked 20 minutes to the central train station where we caught the airport bus. Once we got to Rome we took a train from the airport to the main Termini train station and checked into our hotel. Instead of sightseeing we decided to take a nap and work on some additional travel planning.

This brings us to the next part of our honeymoon travel adventure which is how we will be returning to the US. We will be taking a 15 night transatlantic re-positing cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The cruise starts on Sunday November 6th and we arrive in the U.S. on Monday November 21st. I have never really been on a cruise before and had never had much of a desire to go on one either. However, Alethea found a great deal on this cruise and since it makes port calls throughout the Mediterranean including Morocco I figured I would give it a try. I also said I would at least do a cruise once even though I thought my first one would be to Alaska and not traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. I am looking forward to it. I think it will be real interesting. I am looking forward to having the same place to sleep for two weeks in a row for a change. I hope I don't gain too much weight eating though. I plan on working out some while on the ship. I plan on blogging about the experience and expect to post something once we get back to the US in a couple weeks. For the most part we shouldn't have internet access. We'll try to access our email in Barcelona and maybe at a our last stop on the Madeira Islands in Portugal. See everyone in a couple weeks!

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Spending time with friends & family in The Netherlands & Germany

The next phase of our travels once we wrapped up our tour of the Nordic and Scandinavian countries was spent visiting friends and family along with some sightseeing as we made our way to our European departure point of Rome. None of this part of our trip was planned before we left the United States. Matter of fact most of it was only put together a couple weeks before we finished up with the Scandinavian part of the trip. Our original plan had us finishing up in Copenhagen then either traveling down to the Balkans or to a city in Europe that we could fly back to the US on Delta airlines. More than likely it would have been Amsterdam or Brussels. Instead Alethea made contact with an old friend from high school living in the Netherlands and someone we met from Germany while traveling around the world in Vietnam of all places.

The next stop for us after visiting Denmark was the Netherlands. Alethea and I flew from Copenhagen to Amsterdam and spent one night there before meeting Alethea's mom and husband Ronnie the next morning. We didn't do any sightseeing in Amsterdam since we arrived late in the evening and we had both been to the city many times. Once we met Alethea's mom and Ronnie we trained up to the city of Emmen in the northern part of the Netherlands. It was about 2.5 hours away from the Amsterdam airport.

In Emmen we all stayed with Martine Neutel's family for four nights. Martine and Alethea have been friends for many years. They first met when Martine came to the US as an exchange student in high school. Martine had planned to stay with a different family in Nashville but that did not work out after a week. She came into the central office of the high school that we attended while Alethea was in there working. Alethea overheard a distraught Martine who no longer had a place to stay in the US. Alethea went home that evening and asked her mom and dad if Martine could stay with them for a year and they said yes. Instead of picking up a stray dog or cat, Alethea picked up a stray exchange student from the Netherlands for a year! Martine's family came to the US to visit her and drove across the country back in 1992. Her family had met Alethea's family nearly twenty years. Alethea also visited Martine and her family back in 2003.

Alethea & Martine at a restaurant in Emmen, Netherlands
Our time in Emmen was spent relaxing, catching up, and seeing a few local sights that we wouldn't have normally have seen. We spent time with Martine's parents visiting Giethorn and Blokzijl one day. We spent another day at the Emmen market, the zoo, and eating at a nice restaurant in town. On one day Ronnie, Martine's husband Jacco, and I even went fishing. Unfortunately we didn't catch anything except for Ronnie caught a chair at Martine's house but that is another story. In all we had a great 4 days of hospitality with the Martine and her family. I am glad I got to meet them and spend time with Diane and Ronnie. We look forward to returning the hospitality once we settled down.

Us eating fish at the market in Emmen
Next stop after the Netherlands was Germany. During our round the world trip we met a gentleman named Karl not once but twice in Vietnam. The first time we met was when we went trekking in the remote town or Sapa in Northern Vietnam. We then ran into Karl again nearly a month later while in Ho Chi Mihn, Vietnam. The second meeting wasn't planned either. We were eating dinner at a Texas BBQ joint on the main backpacker street when I spotted Karl walking down the road We shouted out to him and he joined us for a couple beers which he did.

Karl pointing things out to Alethea while walking on the promenade in Munster,  Germany
We spent two nights with Karl in Munster, Germany where he lives. Munster is about 90 minutes from Emmen. Karl was gracious enough to drive to Emmen to pick us up. We looked into taking a train but there isn't a good connection. It would have taken 4 or 5 transfers and probably 4-5 hours as well. Karl showed us the sights in Munster. We spent our full day there walking around town. Munster had more sights than I was expecting. It is a university town of around 275,000 with a student population of around 50,000. Karl was a very good host. We enjoyed spending time with him as well and hope he comes to visit us in the US some day too.

St. Lambert's Church in Munster, Germany
This concluded a busy but enjoyable week in the Netherlands and Germany. Next up is our journey down to Rome.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Norway & Denmark

Picking up from where I last left off. Since my last post we concluded our time in Scandinavia by visiting Norway and Denmark.

First up for us after Sweden was Norway. We spent a total of 6 nights in Norway. I finished up my last blog post on the train from Stockholm to Oslo so that it where I will start with our time in Norway. Our train pretty much arrived on time at the central station. We did notice pretty quickly it was quite a bit cooler in Oslo than in Stockholm. From the train station is was a solid ten maybe closer to 15 minute walk. We were a little turned around at first but found our place without much of a problem. We were actually booked into a hostel for but when we got to the hostel the person checking us in picked up the phone and spoke to someone before coming back to us and telling us we were “upgraded” to the hotel with the same name right next door. This was probably a good thing since the hostel looked like a zoo. There were multiple signs inside their lobby warning people of pick pockets and not to leave your bags unattended.

A troll guarding souvenirs in Oslo
In all we spent three nights at our upgraded hotel which was actually pretty good. The first night was pretty much shot since we arrived around 8:30 pm. The next two days were spent sightseeing. We spent the first day at the Oslo TI getting our questions answered about the Norway in a Nutshell Tour which I'll get to in a little bit. The first actual sightseeing activity we did was go on a Rick Steves' walk which helped orient us to the city. We then toured the City Hall which was pretty impressive. It is where they hand out the Nobel Peace Prize each year. We finished the day with the Museum of the Resistance which covered Norway's resistance to the Nazi's in WWII. Didn't realize that the Germany had over 300,000 troops in Norway and that for the longest time Hitler was convinced that the second front would be opened up in Norway versus northern France. Hitler had a lot of bad military judgments.

Oslo City Hall - Nobel Peace Prize is awarded here
Our second full sightseeing day was spent at a couple museums, a park, and another Rick Steves' walk. We toured the free National Gallery and got to see Edvard Munch's The Scream painting in person. Only bad thing was we couldn't take a picture of it. I think they are a little sensitive since it was stolen in broad daylight a few years ago. We toured the interesting Fragner Park along with the Emanuel Vigeland Museum. Vigland designed the statues that are located inside the park. We finished the day with another Rick Steves' guided walk along with a pretty good dinner at Thai restaurant even though we both ordered Vietnamese dishes.

Oslo's new Opera House
The next two days were spent doing what is called the Norway in a Nutshell Tour. The tour is a series of train, boat, and bus rides between Oslo and Bergen. The trip takes you through some mountains and the fjords of Norway. Most tourist make it a day long excursion from either Oslo to Bergen. Most people also do it as part of a package tour. Alethea and I did it ourselves. We had planned on spending some more time and going on a longer ferry in the Sognefjord region but many of the boats had either quit running for the year or had severely reduced schedules. It was pretty and very enjoyable. The route we took started with the train from Oslo to Myrdal. Then the Flamsbana train from Myrdal to Flam. The Flamsbana train is very scenic and well worth it. We spent the nigh in Flam. The next day we took a nearly 2 hour ferry to Gudvagen. In Gudvagen we immediately took a 1 hour bus to Voss. In Voss we took a nearly 90 minute train to Bergen. The fjord cruise from Flam to Gudvagen was beautiful and reminded me a little bit of our time in New Zealand last fall.

Taking the Oslo to Myrdal train
Bergen was our final stop in Norway. We spent two nights in Bergen but only had one day of sightseeing which was all we needed. It was cold and rainy while we were there. We spent a couple hours walking around town. We saw some of the their old buildings and an old fortress before circling back to our place for dinner.

That wrapped up our time in Norway. Norway was interesting. It was very beautiful but also very expensive. As of the time I am writing this I am waiting for the last item to post to my credit card but even without that information I already know that Norway is the most expensive country that Alethea and I have ever visited together. The previous winner was Japan followed by Australia. Norway has high taxes and also a high GDP thanks to its oil income. Norway is the 3rd leading exporter of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Russia. It also only has 7% of its land available for farming which I believe is the lowest percentage in Europe. A significant portion of their food is imported. Food was naturally very expensive. I did like Norway and am glad we went but I don't think I'll be going back any time soon unless I win the lottery. It would be cheaper to fly to New Zealand than go to Norway.

Flam, Norway
Next up for us after having our pockets emptied in Norway was Denmark. To get to Denmark we decided to fly from Bergen to Copenhagen. We found a cheap flight on Scandinavian Air plus the flight was only 1.5 hours. We looked into taking an overnight ferry but it was more expensive and would have involved multiple connections.

Alethea in Copenhagen, Denmark
We spent a total of 4 nights in Copenhagen. We arrived in the mid to late afternoon on our 1st day and spent two days seeing the city. On our last full day we took a day trip out to Roskilde. In Copenhagen we spent the better part of two days doing a lot of walking. We started by going on a rather long Rick Steves' walk followed by a hike to a couple pubs that serve local craft beer. We then walked home which took quite a while. On the second day we started off at the National Museum which was pretty good and free! We then walked over to Christiania. Christiania is an infamous commune which declared its independence from Denmark and the EU back in the 1970s. It was interesting. I was kind of disappointed that you couldn't take any pics. The main reason is that marijuana is sold out in the open and there have been run ins over the years with the local authorities. There has even been some violence because the commune attracts drunks, biker gangs, and hard drug dealers from time to time. 

Entrance to the Christiania Commune - no pics on the inside
We spent our third full day out in Roskilde. Roskilde is a 25 minute train ride from Copenhagen. We visited Roskilde Cathedral. It is a 12th century cathedral where every king and queen of the Danish royal family has been buried since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. In the afternoon after we got back we visited one last pub that served craft beer before retiring back to our room for the evening. Our last night in Scandinavia was actually spent across the border in Malmo, Sweden. We spent one night visiting with a former colleague of Alethea and his family before flying to Amsterdam for the next part of our trip.

Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark
This wraps up the Scandinavia part of our tour. Next up is spending some with one of Alethea's friends and family in the Netherlands. We will also meet up with Alethea's mom and husband Ronnie.

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