European Summer Travels

Copenhagen, Denmark
The statue of the Little Mermaid who gazes longingly out to sea from her rock to the harbor. Copenhagen is one of the most historic cities in the Baltic region; loved exploring the 850 years of recorded history.

Helsinki, Finland
Missed the all-year round Igloo hotel, but did sit for a few minutes in the Rock Church, hewn from solid rock with a celling of copper. Rode bike out to Sibelius monument which honors the best-known Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (not related to out secretary of HHS in Washington I don’t think … but maybe). It has 600 steel pipes. Cycled through the small islands and past private homes and along the coast. Nokia’s main headquarters are over here.

St. Petersburg, Russia
I get confused on this history … it’s not hard; it’s just hard to remember. Catherine Palace is the estate presented by Peter the Great to his wife Catherine in 1710, and served as the Imperial family’s summer home until the time of the last tsar. Loved the romantic park with mysterious arbors and pavilions. The opulent Great Hall was huge and magnificent – over the top.
The Amber Room was just opened to public 10 years ago. German Emperor Frederick William I originally presented the 16-foot high mosaic panels of 100,000 perfectly fitted pieces of amber to Peter the Great. They were dismantled by German troops in 1941 and sent to Germany. What we see today is an exact reproduction by Russian craftsmen. (By the way, amber with a bug in it is worth more. It is soft. Would have loved to buy a piece of amber to give to someone.)

Pavlovsk Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
Pavlovsk Palace is the formal royal summer residence of Emperor Paul I the only son of Catherine the Great.

Yusupov Palace is where one of the most controversial personalities in Russian history was mysteriously assassinated. The mystery haunts me, and it would you. Rasputin, a peasant who apparently had supernatural powers, counseled the Tsar’s family and naturally became quite powerful because of his influence over very important decisions. Thus, Rasputin was murdered on December 16, 1916, to eliminate the power of his potentially manipulative position. The story is full of twists and turns and is re-enacted in detail.

Church on Spoiled Blood is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.

At Pushkin Gallery I bought small Matroishka Dolls, Fabergé egg pendants and Russian boxes decorated by semi-precious stones from local craftsmen and some modern masters. I love the cupped puzzles that I will hand deliver to my grandson, “baby Harrison.”

The Hermitage
The Hermitage (not Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee plantation!): The Winter Palace makes up one of the buildings of the Hermitage. Considered to be the largest art museum in Russia and maybe in the world, it was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. It contains 2.7 million works of art., a masterpiece of architecture and elegant interiors. The museum features incredible art collections of Italian, French and other European masters as well as one of the largest impressionist collections in the world.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral built around 1720 and designed by Peter the Great – has become the burial place of subsequent tsars.

Peterhof Palace.
Hydrofoiled to arrive to the former summer residence of the Russian imperial family located on the seashore of the Gulf of Finland, 18 miles from St. Petersburg. It is called the “capital of fountains” because of the 4 huge cascades and 150 charming fountains. There is a huge amount of water flowing through Grand Cascade, which goes downhill, spraying into the air, while water artistically splashes. splashing artistically, and a famous chess Cascade waterfall.. (Interestingly enough, the entirety of the falls is powered by gravity instead of a pump.)

Ate lunch at the Orangerie—Russian cuisine.

Houses in Estonia
View of Estonian architecture from bike ride with my sister and her husband

Tallin, Estonia
Rode bikes with Mary through Kadriorg Park, site of Peter the Great’s Summer Palace, and then went by the President’s Palace. Apparently he is a Princetonian but I did not see the orange and black flag flying that day (wonder if he was at reunions? Finally to romantic Old Town to see the beautifully preserved ancient walls and Medieval Towers. Rode by Fat Margaret Tower and St Olav’s church and then paid respect to the old drug store, the Town Council’s Apothecary, which dates back to the mid-1400s.

Stockholm, Sweden
Founded as a fortress where Lake Malaren meets the Baltic. Only a day here so once again on the bikes to tour with Lee. 14 islands, never realized so much water. St P is a third water, a third city, and a third parks. We rode the city and the parks. The waterfront has pillared arcades and of course we insisting on cycling past city hall where the annual banquet for the