A sea day to rest? You’re joking

//A sea day to rest? You’re joking

gdansk town hall from golden gate.jpgIt’s a sea day on board Balmoral, so there will be an opportunity to relax before two days of hectic sightseeing in St Petersburg on Wednesday and Thursday.
Relax? You must be kidding. One glance at the daily programme shows that every minute is packed with events, and on top of that we lost an hour’s sleep last night and will lose another tonight as the clocks are changed to bring us in line with Russia.
This morning I could have made it to Ian McCormick’s lecture on Faberge if only I wasn’t having a late breakfast, and I have to admit I also missed executive chef Dirk Helsig’s cookery demonstration.
Passing the “improvers” bridge class in the card room and the Women’s Institute gathering in the Morning Light pub, I made it instead to the first of the day’s quizzes, where an inability to recall the first names of the Krankies or what my true love gave to me on the sixth day of Christmas led to my team finishing way down the order.
Best laugh of the morning came when one passenger, in answer to the question: “What is the scientific name for a lie detector?” replied: “Wife.”
There was barely time for dolphin racing and a game of darts before lunch beckoned, and I have excused myself from the beginners ballroom dance class in order to write this.
Later this afternoon there will be another talk by Ian McCormick, this time on “Russian Laquer Legends” and he will be followed on stage by Sir Anthony Brenton, who had 30 years with the Foreign Office, culminating with a spell as Ambassador to Russia from 2004.
His earlier talk justifying the existence of diplomats was highly entertaining, and I expect his lecture on Peter the Great will draw a large crowd eager to make the most of their time in St Petersburg.
After that there’s another dizzying selection of activities ranging from table-tennis to deck quoits; foot-soaks to another quiz, and a classical concert with Dorothy Linell playing the popular music of Olde England “in authentic costume on the Elizabethan lute.”
You might think that would be enough action for one day, but tonight is Country and Western night; the production company will be putting on a show based on Oklahoma, there’s line dancing, and a themed quiz. Oh, and I almost forgot . . . dinner.
Phew !
Before I forget, yesterday’s visit to Gdansk, an hour’s drive by coach from the ship’s berth in Gdynia, was another fascinating adventure.
I chose the £24 “Gdansk On Your Own” excursion which combined a 90-minute guided tour of parts of the old town with two-and-a-half hours of free time to explore and to sample the local food and lager.
Destroyed by Russian troops in the second world war, the medieval buildings, towers and city gates of this ancient Polish city have been painstakingly restored. The Long Market (above) is a busy thoroughfare to compare with Barcelona’s Las Rambla – but with better buildings – and the colossal St Mary’s Church, which can accommodate 25,000 worshippers, is a must-see. It will look even more impressive when renovation work is finished and the scaffolding is removed from its 80-metre (250-ft) tower
On our journey from the ship and back again, we saw fleeting glimpses of the Solidarity memorial and Lech Walesa’s present, palatial home, but I have seen enough to make me want to return, perhaps for a long weekend some time soon.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:21+00:00 14 September 2010|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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