Yearbook – Cruising the Baltic

In order to go through all of the places I visited this summer without putting my dear readers to sleep (and then we walked into the palace door to a vast array of gold statues and billowing curtains. As I walked up the stairs, I could almost feel the presence of Catherine as she prepared for her guests, waiting for her in the Amber room…), I thought I might break things down into a yearbook type summer:

Most Stylish: London, England
Men in suits and women in business causal drinking outside of the pubs – everyone just looks put together here. Plus, the accent. I mean, so posh.


Most In Need of a Red Bull: Copenhagen, Denmark
Maybe I was there on a slow day, but part of me wanted to just yell or something in the middle of the street to see if anyone was awake… yawn.


Most Likely to Steal Your Heart: Tallinn, Estonia
Not really expecting anything from this place but it turned out to be interesting historically, and young in spirit with a bit of edge. Seemed like anything was possible. Although the winters are long, the city sparkled.


Most Dramatic: St. Petersburg, Russia
There is a bit of faded glory to this city. Many of the people just needed a bit of an update. However, the country is working diligently to restore the cultural heritage and in my opinion, it is well worth it. The city’s treasures are a marvel to look at and I felt like I was in the presence of greatness whilst in the cathedrals and palaces.


Most Likely to Vote for Itself: Helsinki, Finland
Apparently this city was voted most livable city in 2012… and our guide really enjoyed talking about how much better Finland was then any other place on earth. And yes, there are many great things about this country, but it reminded me of the kid in class that always raises his or her hand with the right answer. I get it, you are wonderful but I can’t keep acknowledging you every two minutes.


Most Surprising: Stockholm, Sweden
I loved the design and creativity of this city. All these little details in the signs, the boutique shops, and the art work. Plus, the architecture, particularly the buildings deigned in the1920’s, really inspired me. And there was free Wi-Fi on our tour bus… yes!


Most Quaint: Visby, Sweden
I found this little corner of the world so very quaint and charming. Red roses climbed up walls and one of the churches also included a modern art exhibit. Plus there was an ancient, Gothic cathedral that would make a great location for a wedding. I could easily spend a week here roaming around the alleyways.


Most Popular: Berlin, Germany
This young city just had a great vibe and an energy that is difficult to describe. It confronts and owns it’s dark history head on, and as a result, represents the vitality of the future. Opportunity and ideas seemed to surround us.  It is the one city that I could see myself living in.


Most Memorable: Spending time with my mom, dad, Aunt Judy, and Uncle Patrick
From UTFART to Ausfahrt to the Keech… there just too many laughs and good times to write down. I am truly one lucky girl.



  1. Awesome chapter in your blog! Loved your view on each location and photos are great. Makes me want to go back and re-do my backpacking trip of Europe – miss the constant surprises and adventure. Look forward to talking with you about this first part of your trip and and the castle part you’re in now. Love you Claire!

  2. Claire, loved your yearbook take on these places. I can’t believe that after 39 years, Copenhagen STILL deserves “most in need of a red bull”. I was there in ’74, and even after a liquid lunch at the Carlsberg Brewery, it was still a yawner. The best part about going to Copenhagen was the train ferry we took from East Germany (still East Germany in those days) across the Baltic to Denmark. Biggest disappointment, how small the little mermaid was in the harbor, surrounded by shipyards and just general ugliness. Biggest surprise there, changing of the guard at the palace. I chalked it up to being January (dreary and cold), but what gives during the summer? Is Legoland still a big deal there? So glad you got to spend time with the fam.

    1. Your part about the statue was too funny! I was thinking, if this is an important tour stop, it’s going to be a long day! They didn’t mention Legoland so sounds like it’s not the flavor of the month any more, but yes, snoozer!!!

  3. I love how your modeled your blog after a high school year book. It sounds like you had an absolutly amazing trip, seeing parts of the world other’s would never think about visiting. My favorite part was about Finland, the amazing child who just will not stop raising their hand with the right answer. Keep it up girl 🙂

  4. Christy

    Claire, what a great way to share the flavor of your travels. I think you are going to be the worldly one whose posts I never skip. Thanks for keeping me on the list. I love how much you appreciate family times.

  5. Claire, thank you for the photo essay! It brought back memories our trip to Scandinavia last summer (mom and me). I think Copenhagen in the summer, is perpetually a yawner because the Danes leave town for their summer homes. I read somewhere that the Danes are the happiest people in the world. They’re really wealthy with access to tons of social services and 3-day work weeks for all. Totally didn’t get the allure of the Little Mermaid statue. Debi was so right.

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