scandinavian adventure // sailing the baltic


from iceland we flew to helsinki to meet up with my parents. thankfully we had a little down time for much needed study, tv-watching and laundry. once my parents arrived from california we made our way to the harbor to begin our baltic expedition. we boarded the princess anatasia (check out st peter line for details) and explored our home for the next four nights. st peter line is a russian ferry line that transports people and cargo throughout the baltic area. we sailed helsinki - helsinki roundtrip with stops in stockholm, tallinn and st. petersburg. our room was teeny-teeny-tiny with twin beds, a teenier-tinier bathroom (but at least it was ours!) and no window. eeeek. on the bright side, there was an information desk, duty free shop, and of course restaurants & bars. the price was absolutely unbeatable (at first we thought it was a joke) and as long as we didn't think of anastasia as a cruise ship we were golden. i would recommend st. peter line to anyone on a budget (and up for an adventure).
first stop and favorite stop : stockholm, sweden. i could have zigzagged through gamla stan's quaint alleyways for days. we took our time exploring the city and even stopped for pika (AKA swedish coffee break) at this cute place. btw, cardamom cake = life. learn more about fika here. after more meanderings, photo shoots, bakery stops and window-shopping we had the best beer of our trip here. GO THERE if you are in stockholm. highly recommend. the highlight of the day was our anniversary dinner gifted by my parents which consisted of traditional swedish meatballs. AMAZING. complete with boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam. many thanks to mom & dad for the most delicious meal of the trip. 
next stop : tallinn, estonia. our weather was wet and windy but nothing a pint of must nunn couldn't cure. we wandered lower town, wandered upper town (for red rooftop views) and then... wandered some more. the cramped and crooked medieval streets were very storybook / fairytale -esque, especially in the rain. we stopped to dry off and eat some giant savory crepes at this local haunt in between all the wanderings. wandering works up an appetite. ;)

last stop : st. petersburg, russia. after waiting in some long immigration lines we were bused to st. isaacs square. my main goals for the day? the state hermitage museum and CAVIAR. both were realized, both magnificent. the hermitage's leading structure - the winter palace - steals the show but the museum also houses an enviable collection of dutch art which happens to be my absolute favorite. we needed days but only had hours so we moved quickly through the corridors soaking in as much culture as possible. from there we hit the streets - the main drag of nevsky prospect - for souvenir shopping and our fanciest meal of the trip. (the waiter wore white gloves... need i say more!?) my dining experience included a delicious fish entree (pictured below) and of course my beloved caviar  (pictured on instagram) with a splash of ice cold vodka on the side. all-in-all russia was a huge success. some of the most amazing memories seem to be made in the most utterly foreign places that push us completely out of our element. russia was just that. the next day though brought a change of pace. it brought a week of comfort and familiarity yet excitement and unexpected surprises. one of the best weeks of our lives.
final part of our scandinavian adventure to be cont.

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