Printer Friendly

SWEDE DREAMS; Trevor Davies says arriving in Stockholm is just one of many highlights on a Baltic itinerary; TRAVEL.

Byline: Trevor Davies

AS the sun sheds its first light, the Saga Sapphire navigates a tricky course into Stockholm through the spectacular archipelago guarding Sweden's capital.

It's impossible to imagine a better way to approach the heart of Scandinavia than by ship - one of those travel experiences you'll never forget.

Nearing the city, tiny islands become inhabited, sometimes by just one quaint summer house, ruler of its own minute territory. Gulls swoop and dive away as the ship's horn announces its arrival.

This was just one of the highlights of Saga's Baltic cruise, which started in Aarhus, Denmark, where we watched the start of the Tall Ships Race. It then took us to Finland's capital Helsinki, St Petersburg, in Russia, and Tallin, Estonia. In Stockholm, I was taken on a tour of the stunning City Hall, lined with almost hallucinogenic artwork.

After a short ferry ride, I ate delicious Baltic herring alfresco at Wardshuset Ulla Winbladh in 30C sunshine on the island of Djurgarden, where I visited the unmissable Abba museum.

After strolling over bridges and narrow cobbled streets, it was time to head back to the ship, already my second home.

My cabin was comfy, with everything I'd expect in a good hotel room. Saga offers holidays for over-50s, although companions of 40 and over are allowed, so we met several people travelling with grown-up children. Wheelchair-accessible cabins are also available. Food and most drinks are all inclusive - but we didn't see one Saga lout as a result of the free-flowing alcohol. Instead, customers - known as Saganauts - like to dress for dinner and take in a show before an early night around 10.30pm. But one bar is open to 2am.

The package is good value, especially when you tot up what it would cost to visit and stay ashore at the Scandinavian destinations individually. And when we hit St Petersburg for three days of tours, not included in the price, there were no issues with visas or paperwork - all taken care of by Saga.

The birthplace of the 1917 Russian Revolution has been on my bucket list for years. And seeing the riches of the Hermitage Museum, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, you start to understand why the Winter Palace was stormed in the first place.

Rammed with Rembrandts and countless other treasures, we enjoyed a tour and evening music recital and that alone made the whole trip worth it.

On the way to the spectacular Catherine Palace outside the city, we passed the ship Aurora, which fired the shot that started the Bolshevik uprising and then sped past miles of drab Soviet-era housing built by the communists.

Arriving at the Palace, we were taken back to the era of Tsarist power - and fountains in gardens dripping with golden statues, gleaming in the sun.

It was breathtaking and highlighted the extremes of the city. Plenty to think about over an all-inclusive gin and tonic as the sun sank below the yardarm...

Get on board

Saga Sapphire's 14nts White Nights in the Baltic sails from Dover on Jun 17. From PS2,379pp inc f/b, gratuities, travel insurance, port taxes and visas, UK mainland travel. Ports of call: Kiel Canal, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Klaipeda (Lithuania), Kalundborg (Denmark), Sandefjord (Norway). saga.co.uk/ cruises, 0800 051 3355.

CAPTION(S):

PERFECT DAY: Sunrise over Stockholm's archipelago

JEWEL Saga Sapphire

TREASURES Hermitage

CAPITAL Tallin, Estonia
COPYRIGHT 2013 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EXES
Date:Sep 21, 2013
Words:567
Previous Article:MIDD SHIP'S ON COURSE; After seeing the Duchess of Cambridge name Royal Princess, John Honeywell spent 12 nights in the Med.
Next Article:LEANING TO PORT; Hannah Hope is fortified by her first ever voyage, along the River Douro.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters