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Visit to St. Petersburg February 2014
cornelia73
This time, our trip did not go to Finland, but decided to visit St. Petersburg. A city, I have read alot about, and which recently also became famous for tourists. After I been to Kaliningrad and Kronshtadt before, I was courious, what this will be alike.

The ship "Finnpartner" brought us there, here are some infos:
Type: Ro-pax ferry
Tonnage: 32,534 gross register tons
Length: 183 m (600 ft)
Beam: 29.90 m (98.1 ft)
Depth: 7.40 meters
Installed power: 4 × Zgoda-Sulzer 8ZAL40S diesels
combined 23,040 kW
Speed: 21.3 knots (39.4 km/h; 24.5 mph)
passengers: 274

It is a so-called "Hansa-Class" ro-pax ferry, you can read more about this type of ship here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansa-class_ferry.

Departure 15.02.2014:
First some look around onboard: Big cabin, around 20m2, and only around 20 passengers, including some truckdrivers. Cabin looked forward, which came very convenient later on. Ship was departing from Lubeck Lehmannkai, check-in etc. went smooth without alot of fuss and with good routine.

At sea one of the new Star-class ships took us over. They are the fast lane from Germany to Finland, I have been before on this one - "Finnlady".

After 2 full days at sea we arrived at St. Petersburg in the very early morning, while we were still asleep. If we were not asleep, after all it had anyways still been dark outside.

A trip in summer has the advantage of something I know very well from Helsinki: White nights ! Very long days, which make the people going outside, and also makes themself going outisde more :) But, if you like to visit places, when they are not yet crowded with tourists, or if you like the sea in winter, and if you like to have ice, not just on the evening buffet, the best is - to go in winter. Which I always enjoy, it has a special feeling about itself.

Russia is 3 hours ahead of us, so we arrived literally at 03.00 in the night, and we did get up, get ready for disembarkation. Not tirement, because of excitement. Attached some photos of St. Petersburg approach as well the harbour, as we saw it in the early morning (or in our term - in the middle of the night).

Unfortunatelly there were only 8 hours for the visit of the city, which was very much a pity. So we did think before, how to make the best of it: Visiting ermitage? Not enough time. Book a tour and visit as much as possible in a hurry and just sit inside a bus? Not really an option either. So, we thought lets breath the air of real St. Petersburg and get the touch of a small adventure. Get out of the ship, to next bus stop - and just to Nevskiy Prospekt. So we did. Unfortunatelly we both do not speak Russian, I am able to read kyrillic and know around 15 or so Russian words, that helped a little bit, but not more. Big thanks here to some inhabitants of St. Petersburg who helped us in a kindest way, which we did not expectd and which we did not see in any other city yet!!
Someone on the bus took found out that we are not from there, and took a half hour to walk around with us, and showed us some sights from outside, like the Church of the savior on blood, more cathedrals.. and the ermitage, as well we passed by the Mariinsky theater (no time for visiting it, sadly!) and numerous sights, we walked by, but which would have been worth to explore more into.


Since we both are mostly interested in geography, shipping and history, we decided, to visit the Museum of Arctic and Antarctic in St. Petersburg. I have heard from a few people who have been in St. Petersburg, that they have never heard of it, although their field of interest lies similar like ours. I can recommend it very much, we were surprised by the many authentic items shown, and some of info is also available in English. Thanks goes here to Mr. Andreev, who has invited us, and who explained us alot, too. Of course the many ship-models were interesting too.

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/arctic-antarctic-museum/

Unfortunatelly we did not have time to visit the museum-icebreaker on the river Neva.
http://www.krassin.ru/


We returned the same way as we came, by bus and we were a bit in a hurry because traffic jam has stopped us several time. Entrance to port, and the terminal bus arriving soon. The last few meters we walked, because there was no bus - actually there was, but not that time we were there, so we walked and all was without problems.

Also same procedere as when we arrived: Face control ! Again, again and again. This is meant to be an extra security feature, checking our passports several times, compare our faces with the photo in our passport, as well comparing with the crew lists available. Surprisingly, no computers were used for that. All in paper! Also, they did not check our luggage.

When we arrived back onboard, we were meant to depart a few hours later, so again face-control onboard. But, we did not leave. Not now, not later and next day we still were in St. Petersburg. Technical problems with the ship. They did not tell us, which ones.
We were 24 hours longer there, but were not allowed to leave the ship. Boring ! So, what to do: Enjoy harbour-cinema: Take camera, go on deck and take photos of the harbour and the traffic in the harbour.


Next evening, we left, for Kotka. They were in a hurry because they wanted to be there early morning for repairs. Going to Kotka, with speed of 17 knots, there was around 15-20 cm thick ice, and shifted once we could see in some places too. They took a way that was not used by other ships, and it was shaking and moving and sounding in a way like you were on a train.

For that, in Russia they did not have specialists, but in Finland they had (or the spare parts). Divers were checking the front bow-thruster we saw. No going off the ship in Kotka, too. Borinbg again, but a real shipspotter does not know boredom because there is always something to take photos of :)

After we left Kotka - a delay of 1,5 days, and finally on our way to Lubeck Lehmannkai, without problems.

Some more photos of the ship, including a visit to the bridge where they also had two nice pet-birds. We arrived around noon at Travemünde, proceeding further to Lübeck Lehmannkai. A very interesting trip came to an end, and there is a wish, to visit St. Petersburg again, but next time for some longer time, and perhaps during the time of white nights.

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Where I live
cornelia73
Hello everyone,

I would like to introduce the area to you, where I live, with photos (because one photos says more than 1000 words) and some text. For additional info, you can ask of course or search on the internet.

The area is called Kehdingen and is located between Hamburg and Cuxhaven, on the River Elbe. The area is known for its beautiful nature and also known for their good apples, which are exported to many places. As well it has a rich tradition in coastal shipping, although these times are over now, and are over as well for the various shipyards of the region.

Here, you see some photos of the Elbe island Krautsand, with nature and a laid up ship in Ruthenstrom. The small grey coaster in the background of the last photo is actually a museumship. There are three museumships of this kind in the region. The "Jan-Dirk", the "Greundiek", and the "Iris Jörg". I once took a trip onboard the "Greundiek" from Stade and it was an unforgettable trip onboard this cargoship of the past.

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The island is not really an island anymore, the piece of water that makes it an island was crossed by a ferry many decades ago, nowadays you could cross with with rubberboots on a good day and there is a bridge, of course. I usually go there by bicycle, it takes 15 minutes from Drochtersen, the nearest village, where I live.

You can go there, watch the nature and see things like this, a raven who has appetite for fish - and goes fishing, like the seagulls are doing.

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Also, what London Heathrow is for the international air traffic, Kehdingen is for all kinds of geese, who are making their Big Stop here, on their way from North to South in the beginning winter time. There are massive swarms of birds during November/Dezember, here you can see some barnacle geese, resting before moving more South, spending their summer in arctic regions. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnacle_Goose

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Also Canada-geese can be seen in huge swarms of birds.

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As I am also interested in ships, there is no lack of ships to take photos of. All huge containerships you will see going to Hamburg ports, bulkers, tankers and also many chemical tankers going to Stadersand, where there is a huge industrial complex, in need of products, delivered by these ships.

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Also, when there is enough time, and not much going on, it is worth to look what you are walking on. Perhaps it is "nothing", but there is actually moss and lichens growing on the stones, which are due to the tides also sometimes under water.

Along the river Elbe, there are also small channels which you can use by boat, to get to villages like Assel, here some views from the water side:

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Of course, it is not always summer here in Kehdingen, we have winter too. You can take the bicycle as well, but please wrap yourself into warm clothes, and enjoy a day out in the nature:

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I hope you enjoyed learning something about this region in the North of Germany, that is far away from the better known places like Hamburg, Berlin, Munich. Although, we are NOT in the middle of nowhere. After all, within 1,5 hours we are in Hamburg - in the case we are in the need of experiencing the Big City life. And, when we have enough of that, we know where beautiful nature is to be found.

From time to time, I will update this, depending.

Transatlantic from Montreal to Liverpool and Antwerp September 2008
cornelia73
When planning a voyage, I not only want to relax, sleep long, enjoy good weather but as well I want to see something of our planet, I want to get a feeling for the distances, and the beauty of the nature.

For this, I had booked a very special trip on autumn 2008:

A voyage across the Atlantic, from Montreal to Liverpool and Antwerp.

Getting there, meant to take a high-speed train (TGV) to Paris, and fly to Montreal. There were a few days for exploring the city of Montreal before boarding the German built (Sietas Shipyard) "Jonni Ritscher", built in 2006, 178 m long, 26 m wide.

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Unfortunately the flight to Montreal was overbooked, so I got money offered plus free stay at the hotel, for flying next day. A chance to take the suburban train from airport "Charles de Gaulle" to Paris city center and have a stroll on a warm summer evening.

Basic details of the voyage:
The ship voyage did start on 24 th September at the port of Montreal, prior to this two nights were spent in a hotel.
Arrived at Liverpool 1 st October, stayed until 2nd
Arrived at Antwerp 6 th October.

I will here share some photos with you, but alot of experiences are hard to tell, so if you have some questions, please ask and I will get very talkative, no doubt ! As well comments are welcome, and best of all, if this report awakens your mood for travelling. Then, this report has solely done its job.

The two days prior to the trip, I strolled along the city, walked up to the Mount Royal in Montreal, enjoyed the autumn nature, took photos of the nature as well of buildings. Here you can see some of these. The city is very clean, with old and new buildings very close together.
It is said, that people in French Canada do not speak English, or do not like to. No, this was not the case, the people were very friendly and DID speak English. I as well ate one of the best burgers there ever, fresh made, and it was possible to choose the ingredients.

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After two wonderful days in Montreal, it was time to get to the port and onboard the ship „Jonni Ritscher“. It was dark, so I didn‘t see much of the ship.
Onboard I went straight to my cabin, and were supposed to leave in the morning 08.00, but when I looked out of my cabin-window I saw what was behind us. I had a cabin facing stern, so I did not have to fear that a container could block my view. Anyways, here are some views of Montreal harbour!

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The trip was leading us down the River ST. Lawrence into the North Atlantic, which could sometimes bit a "bit" rough in autumn. Along the river, many beautiful bridges were seen and ships, that I never saw before. Also the famous Castle Frontenac at Quebec I saw. But I was not very impressed because it looked sort of dark and depressing.

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These were the last photos taken of Canadian territory, it was the end of the 24 th. September 2008. There would not be so much to see after this, as we were heading towards the Atlantic and there were not any other ships seen. I think, there could have been some, but these were to far away to be seen.

There was not much happening during the Atlantic crossing. I had a few books with me, my laptop and I did use the time to sleep alot, and just watch how the weather and the sky have changed. It was not very cold, so I still could walk to the bow, and sit down there and get some warm October-sun, as well watch various seabirds flying around. Being used to routes that follow very close the European coasts with almost every day another harbour, I was impressed by the vast size of the Atlantic and the sheer mass of water and the fact, that any land was far far away.

Although, the most impressive view - and one that I won't forget all my life long, was a star clear night. Far away from any light pollution by cities etc. looking up to the sky full of stars, that was feeling almost as if we were in space, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. This can't be compared with anything else.

The best thing have been the sunsets, it is not like some people say, that if you have seen one, you have seen all. Each one is different, and especially at sea, there is not anything in the way. Let‘s see, whether you can agree… The weather has mostly been nice, apart from a rough part starting in the Irish Sea. Apart from the Steward, nobody got seasick, though.
It was impossible to get into Liverpool locks because the wind was too strong, so we had to wait one night on the sheltered side of Isle of Man.
Also some traffic on the way to Liverpool, taken out of my cabin-window. while We were anchored off the Isle of Man.

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We saw alot of old rotten stuff laying around in the port. As well some old floating sort of old stuff. An MSC ship, built 1977 and looking quite rusty and dented.

Such is as well always interesting to see for me, as this way I could see, how they used to build ships in the past and you can compare with some of the new stuff around. So, me and the other passengers have been standing on the deck, making comments and pointing with the finger towards the old rustbucket, which actually turned out to be the ex. "Frankfurt Express" of Hapag-Lloyd, built 1977.

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For us passengers it was enough time to explore the city of Liverpool and we were very happy, to see a famous guest there: The cruiseliner "Queen Elizabeth 2". It was one of the last journeys of this ship, so we were especially happy to see it.

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Unfortunatelly the food onboard "Jonni Ritscher" was not very good, it simply was not very spicy. So once on land we were looking for an Indian restaurant, to order something hot and spicy to compensate this.

As well slowly it came to my mind, that the voyage will last only short time, and that Antwerp - the destination of this trip - is close.

The weather started to be dark, foggy and not very nice. Only few photos were made, due to this. The pilot for River Scheldt was coming onboard and we were arriving in the very late evening in darkness in Antwerp. There, I spent one night in a hotel near the railway station and after this, I went home by train, taking with me all these impressionos of a voyage across the Atlantic.

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Voyage onboard "Aila" Netherlands-Finland-Russia-England-Netherlands 06.06.2011-17.06.2011
cornelia73
Piece by piece I am planning to put my voyage reports online, so here comes the next one.

I've done it again, in June 2011, went by Finnish cargoship "Aila" from Rotterdam to Finland, Kronshtadt, to e, duration 10-11 days. Outgoing Rotterdam, via Kiel-Canal to Helsinki, from there to Kronshtadt near St. Petersburg in Russia, continuing to Klaipeda and further, via Skagen to Teesport and Rotterdam, where my voyage has ended, me taking the train back to Basel then. I'd like to share some impressions from the voyage with you, please enjoy !

Ship was the 2007 built "Aila" by Sietas in Germany, owned by Langh-Ships Finland, chartered by Containerships. Crew was solely Finnish, I was the only passenger. Out of 13 people, 4 women onboard including me, which was a nice experience. Excellent Finnish food, clean ship, and as it goes, including all you can expect from such a trip.

Here you can see my cabin onboard and a look to the ship just behind us. As well a friendly "provision" by the Finnish captain, which consisted of mineral water, some beer and a brochure of the company Langh-Ships

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Going from Rotterdam to Kiel Canal, via River Elbe, to Kiel Canal, taking pilots and to Helsinki. A sunset on the water is always a great thing, no matter how many trips, each of them is different.

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and here, locks of Kiel-Canal, passing through, to avoid going around Norway.
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Time on the Baltic Sea, time to sleep, and finally arriving in Helsinki. But, no time to go to the city, there are not so many containers to discharge and not enough time. Once again, what a beautiful sunset and it is June, so it is only dark a very few hours. It was very warm and good to sit outside.

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The next destination was Kronshtadt and I was in hope, that there was enough time to take a bus to St. Petersburg. Unfortunatelly there was no berth available in port so we had to go for anchor.

Finally after one afternoon anchored off Kronshtadt, a good possibility for me to climb up at the wavebreaker in front of the container and take photos of bypassing ships, we arrived at Kronshtadt. There were various types of ships seen, to my surprise, an old Hambourg harbour ferry "Reeperbahn", built in the 50ies, and named after the famous Red Light district of Hamburg. It is used as a sort of accommodation-thing I believe, unfortunatelly I could not find out more.

After arriving, a quick trip to the city had to be done, but not much time. I took a bus, to Lenin Prospekt (the main street) and walked around. I had to get back after a few hours because discharging cargo was finished soon. No bus went by, but someone was collecting people by car from bus station and I told him the name of the street, located near the port and that way I went back, together with two women. Bought some icecream in a supermarket nearby and walked back, just to hear that we are going to stay one full day longer because the only functioning crane in the port went broken ! Bad luck for the company, good luck for me, so next day one full day in Kronhstadt. I did not dare to take a bus to St. Petersburg, I only know a few words in Russian and getting not only lost in translation but getting lost alltogether was a too high risk for me !

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So, next day I was going to the bus station, to get to the city center.

As well I was going to the park, where some statues of national heroes were. There is also a statue of the famous Admiral Makarov, see more here: http://www.russojapanesewar.com/makaroff.html The Statue shows him, below icebreaker "Ermak" and a polarbear. Someone told me, please touch the nose of the polar bear, wish something - and it becomes true !

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The guy with the stone face on the photo below, I know him, I have seen him before. And, he is still there, I did wonder, for how long still ?

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Finally, loading and discharging was continued and the trip continued Klaipeda.

The weather has been the same as before, very warm and incredibly calm. Took photos of some ships, including some of the newest Finnish "booze bombers", ugly colorful ferries, that bring Finnish peoople on their need for cheap alcohol to Tallinn and back (if they manage it to the port).

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Approaching Klaipeda Harbour.
There was no time to get onshore but what was going on in port, was interesting as well. Various ships, including many of famous German Sietas shipyard, one coaster which I found out, was built in Austria, far from the sea and many other older ships, plus a victim of a real disaster, the LISCO Gloria.

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Departing in the afternoon again, we had a longer way ahead, this time not via Kiel Canal but around Norway to Teesport in England.

Near Copenhage, we passed a small, old German built coaster and I took many photos of this. Later on, I saw that the captain was watching me with his binoculars - taking photos of his ship.

Teesport, a harbour with only small capacity for containers, but alot for chemical tankers. Actually, in the darkness the harbour looked much nicer than during daytime.

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The journey of 14 days duratin slowly came to an end, after Teesport, we arrived Rotterdam again and I took the train home.

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Visit onboard Finnish icebreaker "Urho"
cornelia73
Visit onboard August 2013 during summer holidays in Helsinki (Katajanokka)

Thanks to 1st officer Tapio Tammento and Ms. Pia Broumand.

Some basic info:
The ships are laid up for summers, but for 6 weeks maintainence work is going on. For 4 weeks, each ship is entirely closed, but only one at a time. Ships there were: "Voima", "Urho" ("Sisu" was for repairs at Tallinn/Estonia) "Otso", "Kontio". Kontio is now also equipped as an oil-recovery vessel. The company "Arctia" also plans to add these facilities to their other icebreakers. More here: http://www.arctia.fi/oil_recovery














Going onboard, to the bridge. Some info:
http://www.arctia.fi/en_urho





















There was not so much time, so all plans etc. were photographed quickly.









Visiting ships officer where all kinds of paperwork is done, ordering spare parts, proviant etc. and an extra cabin which is not used. Colors still 1970 style.





The ship is named after the ex. Finnish president "Urho Kekkonen". A photo of him and a book for special guests. The ship was used and is used also for VIP-meetings. Although, nowadays if you have a conference/a party, you can call at Arctia's "event manager" and rent the conference-room, as well they serve food.

http://www.arctia.fi/events

Only in Finnish, but it says that one can rent the facilities onboard "Urho" and "Sisu" and as well have gastronomic service from

13.5. - 28.6. und 5.8. - 29.11.


Sauna, messroom (one for officers, one for ratings), library, fitness-room and - a swimming pool. INSIDE - of course :)




















Engine room, last photo shows the equipment that is used for pumping water from side to side to make the ship move when it is stuck in ice. This ship has FOUR screws, we went only in the engine room to the forward. There was alot of repair going on, and all was extraordinary clean.



















The above mentioned conference room, and - it has also modern art.







The time was running, we went outside to see the giant winch which is used to tow vessels in case there are difficulties to follow the ship.









Finally we learned, that "Voima" will be sold or scrapped, and that "Arctia" is going to replace it by another conventional (not multipurpose!) icebreaker.

I hope, you enjoyed the read,

Cornelia

FINNLINES trip from Travemünde to Helsinki 16.-20. August
cornelia73
Here are some photos of my summerholidays in Helsinki. It was an offer by Finnlines, Travemünde-Helsinki & retour including 3 nights in Seurahuone Hotel in Helsinki for a reasonable price.

The Finnlines ships were: "Finnstar", "Finnmaid". We had very good Scandinavian buffet, although the ships cabins could be a bit cleaner, we had a pleasant time onboard.

I hope you enjoy looking at the photos, if you have questions, please ask. I can recommend Helsinki in summer, and in winter, too. In winter it is even better, because you do not have to fear to feel too hot, but we were lucky, temperature was not above 20°C.

Please enjoy,

Cornelia



Here you can see the "Finnstar" prior to our boarding in the port.









We were leaving Drochtersen on 15.08.2013 in the evening to board the ferry around 23.00. Departure was 03.00. That meant, we were asleep when they were leaving the port of Travemünde and when we woke up, we were already away from any land, in the mid of the Baltic Sea. We were visiting the Restaurant to have a delicious brunch and some coffee. After this, it was time for a walk on deck. The "Finnstar" has a vast deckspace as you can see, so there was plenty of space for all people and no crowding.











We arrived in the morning of 17 th at Vuosaari harbour in Helsinki. After that we went by bus and metro to our hotel "Seurahuone" in the center of the city. It is actually a high-class hotel but we had a very cheap offer for this by a travel-agency in Lubeck.









We first went to the market square and its surroundings, they were selling all kinds of stuff there, from fish to souvenirs and potatos, fruits etc. We did not buy any berries or apples, these had horrible prices. Looking closer, we saw why: Many of these were imported from Germany or Spain. Finland is perhaps not the ideal place to grow fruits, we thought.
Also we were walking around the Katajanokka islands, having a walk, having a look at the icebreakers which are laid up there during summer time.















Our hotel was located just opposite the railway station and we did not need to watch TV, because allwe had to do was, looking out of the window and see the city alive, constant coming and going of people, busses, trams, taxis.



















Another day we took the 1952 built ferry "Suokki" to the island Suomenlinna (wikipedia does provide you with info on this historic place in case you are interested). We strolled around this old military area which has as well interesting nature and enjoyed the day, and as well the big ferries to Stockholm, which were leaving from the city harbour.























A visit to Hietalahti was also planned, it is the area where the old "Wärtsilä" shipyard had its place, nowadays it is Arctec Finland, they are building ships for use in Arctic regions. They had as well a museumship there, a tug "Turso" which was given to the Soviet Union as reparation payment, but a group of enthusiasts has brought the ship back to Finland a decade ago and keep it running for now, and keep it in good condition.

As well we went to the Western Terminal, where the ferries to Tallinn and St. Petersburg are departing. You can call these ships "booze bombers" because they make alot of their money for people who go to Estonia or Russia for having a good time and drinking cheap alcohol. You can believe me, alcohol in Finland is incredibly expensive so the only way to get some cheap is, to get abroad.

The two ferries going to St. Petersburg, run by St. Peter Line, made me very happy this day. These ships were actually built for Finnish companies back in the 80ies as "Finlandia" and "Olympia". The ships were sold to other interests in Europe, one was sailing for DFDS to England and the "Olympia" for P&O from Portsmouth to Bilbao - through the rough bay of biscay all year long. I have been on both ships so this was a very happy moment for me.

On our last day we also went to the sailing harbour of Helsinki. There were various old ships there, but also some remakes. It was a good thing, to see these ships close up, after all these modern types.













After three days it was time to say good bye, we went to the port the same way we came from there, and did board the "Finnmaid" around late evening. We had dinner onboard, a late night in the bar and a good sleep. The next day we had one day completely at sea and arrived in the evening at Travemünde, when there was another ferry of the same company departing and few other ships in the port.



































Finally, a few random photos of Helsinki and arrival in Travemünde. I hope, you enjoyed the read and comments are very welcome.