First Birthday, First Steps

It doesn't seem possible but Jac turned one today. 

We took her out to dinner

and to Build-a-Bear, where it was love at first sight with this yellow Care Bear. We offered her other choices but she had no interest.

She also got her obligatory chocolate cake 

to smear all over enjoy 

(mom cheated and took Jac's dress off first. Where's the fun in that?!?)

Can't you just hear her thinking 

'I don't know what this is about but I'm going to grab it and enjoy this before Mom sees what a mess I'm making ...'

But best of all, Jac chose today to start walking.

I love how she applauds herself just before she falls down. Good job, JacJac!



We awoke this morning to find ourselves in Kiel Harbor, surrounded by sailing vessels of every description. 

It's 'Kiel Week', the biggest sailing event in the world, 

  View off the stern. 

and thousands of boats are here to take part.

  Hanging out in the Commodore Club, with a view off the bow.

We wandered the harbor for a bit 

before boarding our bus 

  Kiel Canal, the world's busiest artificial waterway

for a trip around town 

  Kiel City Hall and Opera House (on the left)

and then to Laboe, 

home of the German Naval Museum and Memorial, 

and a refurbished German U-boat 

that now serves as a museum.
The drive around town was pretty boring (I may have dozed off . . . )

but the Memorial was interesting. 

  Wall with all ships lost during WWII; WWI was on the opposite wall.

It honors everyone who has lost their life at sea, not just German military. 

The stained glass window was my favorite part - 

beautiful - and the underground eternal flame was very moving. (No pics as I didn't feel right taking photos there.)

The submarine - 

U-995 made famous in the movie 'Das Boot' - 

was as cramped and uncomfortable as you'd expect. 

No way I'd want to be on there in rough seas. How did they not knock themselves unconscious every day?? 

We spent a little time at a nearby resort, 

watching the boats on the Kieler Fjord, 

then it was back to QEII as we set sail for our last stop, Skagen Denmark.

We had a very nice send-off from the harbor tender,

passing a lighthouse 

and the sailor's memorial

on our way to the open sea.


Only two more days until we head for home.


Aristocratic Tallinn

Today's stop was Tallinn, Estonia. 

  View of Old Town in the background

We were up early, enjoying the scenery, waiting for our tour, Aristocratic Tallinn, to start at 10:30. 

  Our port neighbors

Estonia has a population of 1.3 million in an area similar in size to Denmark. 

It's been occupied by Denmark, Germany, Sweden or Russia for most of the last 800 years, gaining it's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. 

  The Swan's Lake

Tallinn is pretty compact so it didn't take us long to reach our first destination - Catherine's Palace. 


Peter the Great built this as a summer home for his second wife, Catherine I, 

in about 1730. The exterior is pretty but it's kinda small to be a 'palace'.


And then you go inside.

Wow! Everyone on the tour stopped in the doorway with their mouth hanging open. 

The original furnishings are long gone - 

the Bolsheviks stole or destroyed everything that wasn't tied down when they came to power in the 1910's. 

The building was recently completely refurbished and serves as Tallinn's art museum.

  The wall in back is original and being refurbished 

The formal lower garden is still part of the palace grounds, 

but the extensive upper garden is now part of the Estonian President's residence.

  Estonian Parliament building
Next stop was Tallinn's Upper Old Town

  Queen Elizabeth is in the upper left

which stands above Lower Old Town and is connected by only 2 cobbled streets - 

"long leg" and "short leg". (not making this up . . . )

We went inside the Russian Orthodox Church,

but picture taking was not allowed.

I made up for that by taking exterior pics from every angle I could find.

So beautiful, even under construction. 

Then a small break for shopping (hooray!)

 before we visited the Lutheran church, 

  Family crests dating from 1400s-1900s line the walls

which did allow pictures.

  This centuries-old organ has 4000 pipes, ranging in size from 3.5 centimeters to 7 meters. Still sounds fantastic. 

And threw in an impromptu organ recital while we were there. (It must have been the organist's practice time.) Wonderful!

  Our guide said the first of the 2 towers was used to imprision prostitutes "until they regained their virginity". I'm thinking they were there a long time. 

A large portion of Tallinn was destroyed in one bombing raid in March 1944 

but Old Town was spared,

 The larger round tower is called "Fat Margaret". Not kidding. 

including the medieval walls and towers that surrounded the original city. So glad we had a chance to visit.

  Tonight's dinner was "informal"
Tomorrow is St. Petersburg!!