Baltic Cruise - Day 8, Stockholm

When we arrived in Stockholm it was raining, but we boarded one of the HoHo buses (hop on, hop off). Our first destination was the Vasa Ship Museum. It was a viking ship built by Gustavus Adolphus, a reformer and king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He led Sweden to military supremacy during the 30 Years War. The Vasa sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage after sailing barely 1300 meters in about 15 minutes. The brackish water of the Baltic kept the wood well preserved until 1961 when she was raised, after being in the sea 333 years. The Vasa Museum was one of our favorite stops on the cruise.

Model of Vasa in Stockholm Harbor
Carvings on cannon hole covers
After we toured the Vasa Museum, we hopped on a bus and went to the Swedish History Museum. We mostly toured the ancient and viking exhibits. Then we hopped on another bus to get back to the ship before we sailed, but after a the driver found out we wanted to go to the NCL ship, we were told to get off the bus, cross the street, and get on another bus. We were told that bus would not leave for 15 minutes, and would not get back to our ship before the all-aboard and lifting of the gang plank.The driver got permission to go ahead and leave to get two dozen of us back to the ship. By the way, we do NOT recommend Open Top Tours in Stockholm. We ended up making it back with about 10 minutes to spare.

Nordic Museum

Crusader Helmet in Swedish History Museum
Seal in Swedish History Museum
Viking Helmet in Swedish History Museum
Hair of human sacrifice in Swedish History Museum
Model of an officer on Vasa
Longboat of Vasa
The deck, rope, and top boards of side are not original
3-meter long Lion Figurehead
Backgammon board for crew
One of 64 bronze cannon on boar
Sculpture of Viking Warrior
Gunports on Vasa
War Progaganda Sculptures on Vasa

Baltic Cruise - Day 7, Helsinki

Joshua has decided he never wants to travel where English is not the first language. We spent about 2/12 hours walking in circles, or at least the taking the long way, to find the information center. The maps on the cruise ship were pretty useless, and the data plan for Dan's phone did not have a useable GPS.

We finally found our way to the ferry port, where we boarded a ferry for Suomenlinna, the sea fortress off the coast of Helsinki, Finland.

Helsinki Cathedral, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral

Statue of Luther in the Cathedral
Suomenlinna Church built in 1854
Waterfront at Suomenlinna

Walking on more Cobblestones
Inside the Military Museum

Fire Station

Yes, Discerning History did a little A-roll
Submarine Vesikko, launched in 1933
We caught the ferry near the submarine, and it only took about 30 minutes to get back to the ship. We made it back with about 5 minutes to spare before they pulled up the gangplank. Did I say it was a brisk walk?

Baltic Cruise - Day 6, St. Petersburg

Port of St. Petersburg
We had a quiet day on board ship our second day in St. Petersburg since it was the Sabbath. We read scripture and prayed for all the Hope and Sovereign families we could remember (we should have brought our deck of prayer cards!) This was the most relaxing Sabbath I can remember, since there were no sheep to minister to, but we really did miss the fellowship of the saints.

Here are some photos of cruising out of the St. Petersburg:

The dome of  St. Isaac's Cathedral

Aid to Navigation on end of jetty outside St. Petersburg 

And then we got to watch the sun set over the Baltic from our private balcony:

Baltic Cruise - Day 5, St. Petersburg

Egyptian Sphinx on River Neva

For some, this was one of the favorite days of the cruise, probably because we had our own private tour guide who spoke English, and van with a driver who knew where we were going. They even took us to clean restrooms that didn't require coins when we asked, in gift shops with complimentary hot tea, coffee, cookies, and vodka (we were in Russia, after all!) The day started out a bit rainy, but the Lord was kind and brought the sun out before our evening boat tour.

Church of the Spilt Blood
The church is built on the site of where Tsar Alexander II was hit by grenades, which mortally wounded him.

Bronze Horseman, Peter the Great
Throne Room in Hermitage Museum
Mosaic Floor at Hermitage Museum
Intricate Door in Hermitage Museum
For our family, the Hermitage was not the highlight of our tour in St. Petersburg (too many violations of the 2nd Commandment and too much nudity), not to mention just too much materialism. We wish we had asked to tour the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Communications Troops, which is a "must see" for military history buffs (I think there a few in our family!) But we went to the Siege Museum instead, which was very interesting. It is to remember the 900-day siege by the Nazis during World War II. We had a guided tour by a woman who was very enthusiastic about the exhibits, but our English speaking guide was not quite as enthusiastic, although she appreciated that the museum depicted how bad it really was.
Diary of a young girl during the siege of Leningrad
Doorway to altar in Peter and Paul Cathedral
We were probably must struck by the opulence in St. Petersburg, which is evident in this tiny portion of the altar in this cathedral, which is the burying place of all Russian Emperors and Empreses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. It is situated in the middle of the Peter and Paul Fortress, which is a city within a city on a small island the Nev River to protect from a possible attach by the Swedish army and navy.
One of the many bridges
Palace Facades on Water
When Peter the Great built St. Petersburg, he wanted to show all of Europe that Russia was powerful, and he spared no expense. There are no records of how many peasants died building the extravagant palaces for the government officials, but it was more than a few thousand. Knowing that most of the Russians lived in extreme poverty under communism, seeing the wealth of the government was astounding. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule,  the people mourn." Proverbs 29:2 KJV