Thursday July 19, 2007

Our final port-of-call today was billed in our itinerary as “another of Europe’s most beautiful cities”. But it was misty and raining this morning as the Marco Polo made its approach to Stockholm, and we braced ourselves for a bit-of-a-disappointment.

As it turned out, the sun was shining by the time we headed off on a small-boat tour of these Swedish waterways – and we soon realised we’d kept one of the best until last!


Stockholm is made up of several peninsulas and 14 islands, all linked up by canals and bridges. And, seen from the comfort of our motor-launch, the waterfront with its spectacular buildings, steeples, architecture, colours and boats was a sight-for-sore-eyes.

As a finishing touch, we then dropped in on a stunning museum that houses the 17th century Swedish warship, Vasa. This one-time pride of the country’s navy (which took several years to build and only 20 minutes to sink!) was salvaged much more recently from the muddy bottom of the harbour – and brilliantly restored.


Another sight-for-sore-eyes? You bet …

Later this afternoon, back on board the Marco Polo, we Kiwis got together for a group photo and our private ‘Midlife Madness Cocktail Party’ … where we kissed and hugged and cried and said our sad goodbyes (and the group sang a silly song about the tour leaders – to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’).

And that, kind folks, is just about that. Tomorrow, we Kiwis (plus our three adopted Aussies) leave this lovely blue floating home and head off to parts known – some of us going home (via Singapore), and others beginning the next exciting chapter in their travels.

This grand Baltic Adventure that we’ve been sharing together has been fabulous – we’re all agreed on that. But all good things come to an end (regrettably).

So I’m signing off for now – with a big thank-you to Robyn (who’s helped me with these daily scribblings) and Mike (who’s been receiving my untold emails and photos and turning them into something really quite impressive – I owe you, Mike!).

PEOPLE NEWS: Two final mad awards were presented this afternoon:

* The ‘Losing Leonora Award’ to myself – for forgetting to count the group yesterday in Tallinn and failing to notice that Leonora was not on the coach but was still buying souvenirs. She, poor thing, had to find her own way back to the ship – on a coach full of non-English-speaking Greeks!

* The ‘It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings Award’ to Dave, Claire & Bev – for leaving the Ballet the other night in St Petersburg, walking out of the theatre, and going all the way back to the coach … not realising that what they thought was the finish of Swan Lake was only the intermission between the third and fourth acts!

TOMORROW: We’ll be airborne – so I’m signing off for now. Will return (once we’re home) with a final summing-up and celebration. Until then, “Tally ho tan tibby, old beans!”

Yours bloggedly – JOHN