Leaving the White Cliffs of Dover. June 2012
We enjoyed a pretty uneventful drive to Dover. The rain was teeming down for most of the way, so I sat back and enjoyed the wonderful panoramic views of the beautiful English countryside that we were about to leave behind.
On arrival at Dover cruise terminal our luggage was magically transported to the ship, and we were leisurely processed through the boarding procedure.
Margaret and I were shown to our cabin, and after the usual tasks of registering our credit cards, and discovering where our dining table was located, we went off to enjoy a very welcome afternoon tea.
We then retired to our cabin, before taking part in a mandatory fire drill, after which we bathed and changed.
We then went on to to enjoy a wonderful five course Saga Ruby dinner, followed by an entertaining and colourful, singing and dancing show presented by the on-board entertainment team.
Transit Through the Kiel canal
Margaret and I enjoyed a hearty breakfast and then worked it all off by attending the line-dancing class.
We then attended the lectures on the itinerary of the first few ports-of-call, we will be visiting. We decided to include an extra trip in Helsinki, an advertised strenuous trip, that we are hoping, Margaret's
poor aching legs will be able to cope with.
We then enjoyed a lovely al-fresco lunch on deck of grilled fish and meat. We were quite lucky really, we managed to eat our lunch in glorious sunshine, however as soon as we had finished eating it poured with rain.
After lunch we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon before we reached the Kiel Canal and I began taking photographs of the scenery and the passing ships
The waterway is very busy connecting the North Sea to the Baltic Sea and is the most widely used maritime canal in the world An average of 250miles (460kms) is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the Jutland peninsula. This not only saves time but also avoids potentially dangerous storm prone seas.
There are large lock gates at each end of the canal, and it was very interesting to see our Captain at the helm, directing operations as the "Saga Ruby"was maneuvered through them.
A Nice relaxing at sea
After breakfast, I took part in an hours line-dancing. This was followed by a lecture about the up-coming ports of call. Following this we decided to book a tour ashore when we reach Poland.
The sun was shining beautifully, so we decided to spend the rest of the morning relaxing on a couple of sun loungers on the Lido deck. We were served another excellent al-fresco lunch, of grilled herring straight off the barbecue. We then spent the rest of the day totally relaxed on our sun-loungers. Margaret attended a fashion lecture in the afternoon, while I continued to relax, buried in my book.
At about 4-30pm, we retired to our cabin to dress in our formal attire, to attend the Captains welcome aboard party in the ballroom. I wore my white Dinner Jacket with a royal blue bow tie and cummerbund and Margaret looked stunning in a long royal blue dress with a black short woollen shawl on her shoulders.
After dinner, we danced in the ballroom to the live music played by the Saga Ruby orchestra. This was followed by some entertainment from a comic magician, which we found quite funny at the time, but not a very memorable experience. Then we retired to our cabin and we both were almost instantly fast asleep. A lovely restful day at sea.
We reached Drottningholm Palace and we began taking photographs of the gardens and the wild fowl in the lake. The palace from the outside looks very stately and well maintained. The guards in uniform, with fixed bayonets, were changing their tours of duty, while we waited and we were allowed to take photographs of them. There was an impressive array of statues alongside the lake, predictably getting used by the local pigeons as perches.
We entered the front of the palace, where we were informed that photography and taking pictures is strictly forbidden. This rule was strictly enforced by a band of palace attendants, who were obviously students and very enthusiastic, and keen to carry out their duties.
The wall hangings and the paintings and furniture on display were wonderful to see and admire. A feeling of the opulence and the lifestyle of the royalty of Sweden was everywhere.
A very memorable example of a wall hanging was displayed in the first room we visited, and showed an angry bull being grasped by the neck, by an early Greek hero. We moved through the three or four floors of the palace that were open to the public, and admired the the beautiful furnishings and treasures that were on display everywhere.
Another stunning memorable painting, was of a pack of hounds tearing two foxes apart. The artist had captured the cruelty and vicious expressions, and the deadly looking teeth of the dogs, brilliantly.
Then we visited one of the bedrooms belonging to a royal princess. This was furnished as a memoir to a prince who died young, together with his young wife. The princess had the bedroom walls painted black. There were many paintings in this bedroom depicting life after death and resurrection and a feeling of the sadness in the life of this young royal was revealed.
After our tour of the palace, we went on to explore the gardens which were very well maintained in every way. There were statues and fountains in the formal Italianate gardens, with beautifully kept lawns and a wonderful lake full of wildlife. The lake was the home of hundreds of Swedish ducks, which our guide informed us were unique to the palace, and had simply arrived many years earlier from the mountains.
Below is a slideshow of photographs of the palace and the gardens. Click the first picture and press the play button~~~~~
Our first stop on our trip was a visit to the Temppeliaukio Kirkko, a church hewn from solid rock with an amazing impressive copper ceiling. There was also a huge built in organ with massive organ pipes that rose from the floor to the ceiling. We were also lucky enough to be able to hear a young lady playing beautifully on a grand piano. The rock was impressive and the feat of engineering required to construct this wonderful church was incredible. We were allowed to wander around and take photographs at our leisure, and Margaret purchased an icon at the entrance. The church is Lutheran, but Russian orthodox church icons were on sale.