Going on Galaxy 6-30 . Would like advise about what shore excursions are worthwhile or any suggestions on what to see and how to sightsee on our own. Usually I dislike cruiseline excursions and prefer doing my own thing. Help. Thanks
Some words about Tallinn. Your boat will be landed probabaly in the so called Old Port- there are several ports in Tallinn. The OLd Port is placed about 1,5 mi far from the City (central part) and the most valuable gem of Tallinn- The Old Town. So if you like to do all this by your own you should take a cab or the shuttle bus. The Old Town is very walkable area, cobble paved streets, Toompea Hill etc.The territory of the Old Town is 120 acres, about 600 houses+ 30 acres on Toomepa Hill- 100 houses.
But there are else some sights- a nice and very well renovated small summer palace in Kadriorg, the Song Grounds, Estonian Open Air Museum etc, for these targets uou need some extra transportation- they are outside of reasonable walking distance. For futher information on Tallinn as well some other ports of call in the Baltic region- try http://www.inyourpocket.com
You can find some links on my webpage too.If you have any questions, please write directly to me.
Tallin -- take the ship's shuttle bus and wander the old city
St. Petersburg -- Hermitage, Pushkin and Peterhof.
Oslo -- Veigland Park
Copenhagen -- Tivoli Gardens
Stockholm -- Walking tour of old city (maps on board or in stores)
Helsinki -- Pick up a local tour boat and love the outdoor market.
These are just high spots. All these port cities are very walkable or have good public transportation (except St. Petersburg from the pier.) There's a trolley stop right at the pier in Oslo. You do need the shuttle bus in Tallin.
Copenhagen "walks" easily but bus service is excellent if your feet get tired. Also there's a travelers' rest on the second floor of the Royal Copenhagen shop AND an outlet if Royal Copenhagen china is your thing. If possible, visit Tivoli both day and night.
Helsinki is not much more than an afternoon stroll. Stockholm is a fairly longish walk but pleasant. We took a cab back to ship because I'd acquired a long ton of crystal and my husband didn't feel like schlepping it. (Smart man.)
The absolute best sweaters are in Oslo at the Oslo Sweater Shop. There is a branch on the pier and one downtown. Same prices. If you see one you like but it's not in your size, they will happily call the other store. Make sure all your purchases are put on the same charge for the VAT refund.
I have been accused of freelancing because I'm a cheapskate. Nothing could be further from the truth. We're not at the mercy of someone else's idea of what we should see and do (and where to shop), we're not held up by the people who are never back at the bus on time, and we can pack in about twice as much per port as the organized excursions offer.
A word about the Lonely Planet guidebooks. Originally written for the backpacking set, they are essential for freelancing. (I do not work for them.) Without the LPs we would, arguably, have missed some of our best traveling experiences.
We are going on the NOORDAM of Holland America - Baltic cruise from Copenhagen on 7/30/01. I read your very interesting comments and happen to agree totally with you about ship tours (and I love the Lonely Plannet books). Regarding St. Petersburg, could you please let me know how much it would be to take a cab from the pier to the Hermitage? And are they easy to get at the pier?
Also, did you use public tranportation in St. Petersburg?