Thursday May 24, 201

IT’S HARD TO THINK OF A NICER WAY to unwind at the start of our Baltic Cruise: a full day sailing through the North Sea, with time to find our way around the Koningsdam … eat our hearts out in any number of classy restaurants … participate in 101 onboard activities … take in the first-of-many informative talks about our upcoming destinations … enjoy a toe-tapping, hand-clapping song-&-dance spectacular on the World Stage … relax in our spacious staterooms (cabins) … then fall asleep in our very comfortable beds.

And (like the song says) … we’ve only just begun!

WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN: In the 15th century, this lively city was capital of not only Denmark, but also Norway and Sweden … and is home to the oldest monarchy in the world. Copenhagen’s history and charm are reflected in the picture-perfect Christianborg and Amalienborg Palaces, the harbour-side restaurants and 500-year-old gabled houses of Old Nyhavn, Rosenborg Castle, and the church steeples that punctuate the skyline.

Sounds appealing?

Well, after sailing through the night, we woke on Tuesday to find our ship docking in Denmark. And our first stop, when we went ashore, was the statue of the Little Mermaid – Copenhagen’s world-famous symbol. While taking the required photos, we all-but brushed shoulders with Denmark’s handsome Crown Prince as he made his way up the gangplank onto his Royal Yacht. (Some women in our group were left feeling quite weak-at-the-knees and faint!)

We then did a leisurely whizz-around the city highlights referred to above, before heading to the whimsical Tivoli Gardens for some free time and Danish tucker. Founded in 1843, Tivoli is a romantic, flower-filled fun-park that has inspired many people.

You don’t believe me? Well, Hans Christian Andersen took the idea for his fairy tale, The Nightingale, from Tivoli … and Walt Disney drew inspiration for Disneyland during several visits here in the 1950s. Do you believe me now?

BERLIN REUNIFIED: Yesterday, after carefully tying up in the coastal resort of Warnemunde, we travelled by speeding train to one of Europe’s most fascinating, ever-changing capitals – Berlin. On the way, we visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (in what used to be East Germany) where the Nazis first experimented with organised mass killings. A sobering experience, the horror and awfulness made all the more real by our eloquent young German guide.

We moved from there to a yummy pub lunch at a traditional German oompah-pah ‘biergarten’, before touring the main city highlights – including the former Checkpoint Charlie (where spies used to cross during the Cold War) … the Reichstag parliament building … the imposing Brandenburg Gate … remnants of the notorious Berlin Wall … and the Holocaust Memorial, opened in 2005 as a lasting memorial to Europe’s murdered Jews.

A long, emotional day, but one we will never forget.

COMING UP: A full day at sea, while the waters of the Baltic churn by and we enjoy luxury ship-board life to the full. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

PEOPLE-NEWS: Two more hotly-sought-after Pink Pigs have left the pen for greener pastures – oink-oink …

  • ALISON was nominated for double-honours with our ‘Meet the Captain Award’ – she not only got her toilet-signs muddled and entered the men’s loo by mistake – she managed to barge in on the Koningsdam’s somewhat embarrassed skipper.
  • ROBIN T took away our ‘Tip-Top Award’ – when he was spotted in the ship’s buffet restaurant, feeding his two-or-three-times-a-day addiction to ice-cream. He’s promised to reform, and we’ve arranged counselling and detox.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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