Yes, I know….its no longer anywhere near Christmas…or New Years….What can I say, things have been busy! 🙂
But now you will finally hear how Christmas tour went. Thanks for being patient.
I’d have to say that my favorite place was probably Sweden. I wasn’t expecting to like it best but Stockholm is a beautiful city made mostly of water and green spaces (anyone who knows me, knows I love that). While in Stockholm we went to Skansen, which is like the Swedish version of Williamsburg, where we ran from house to house in order to stand by the fireplace and learned about typical Swedish food and house construction and the history behind that families that had formerly lived in each building. They also had an attached zoo/farm so we got to see wolves, seals, horses and geese (which bit one of my friends on the knee…geese are just universally MEAN). We also went on a Ghost Walk where a gentleman lead us on a tour of one of the many islands that make up Stockholm (that’s another thing- all the cities we visited were made up of islands!) and told us creepy historical stories about thieves, ghosts, murders and more. He had us leaping and screaming!
We celebrated Christmas in Copenhagen Denmark-the highlight of which was going to the absolutely charming Tivoli Amusement Park (which is over 100 years old!) where we wandered twinkling roads with trees hung with heart shaped lights beside us, eating candy canes and watching the roller coasters rocket by. They go all out for the decorating in that park! A beautiful Christmas memory.
St. Petersburg was bitterly cold and since our hotel was a 20 minute bus ride from the old town things were rather difficult, but we still managed to have a good time. The Russians take Christmas and New Year’s SERIOUSLY. There were decorated trees and Christmas carols (mostly in English) everywhere. The most incredible things we saw were the Hermitage Museum and the Church of Saviour on the Blood. We went to the Winter Palace for 3 hours and got a whirl wind tour that included Rembrant, Reuben, Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne, Velasquez, two da Vincis and three Van Goghs I had never seen before (!!!). And there are SEVEN MORE BUILDINGS. I nearly had a hernia imagining how much wealth the Russian royalty must have amassed in order to collect all of that art! The Church of Saviour on the Blood was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was murdered (thus the on the Blood thing…the Russians are somewhat blase about the deaths of their tsars since patricide was a common way to the throne). The Church looks like something out of a fairytale. Green, blue and gold domes with arched windows on the outside. Inside every inch is covered in gorgeous, colorful 19th century mosaics. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but dear lord-I just stood there and stared.
New Year’s Eve was fun, dancing, liberal vodka and multiple entertainment shows from juggling, Las Vegas girls, hula hoop. Along with Christmas the Russians also take partying seriously and there were fireworks ALL DAY LONG. And the next day too.
This is what I saw on New Year’s Day on the river Neva.