St. Patrick’s Day 2015

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick's Day!!

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick’s Day!!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

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St. Patrick’s Day 2015

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

Annette & Frank Margo/Schwerin, Germany

Open Seas and Open Minds

Annette & Frank Margo with Ammon and Carter: June 28, 2012

Astronomical Clock: Rostock Cathedral: Rostock, Germany

Outside Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle: June 28, 2012

When we started taking cruises in 2008, we had no idea we would meet such wonderful people. I am going to post my “Open Seas and Open Minds” article with this blog in case you all would like to read about some excellent people from around the world who really mean or have meant a lot to Carter, Ammon, Sean, and to me.

On our port-of-call in Warnemunde, Germany we found ourselves conversing and bonding with a couple from Texas named Annette and Frank Margo. They became new, honorary grandparentsfor Ammon and Carter, and, once again, our children and we have been blessed. After the cruise, we exchanged emails, and we have corresponded frequently since the cruise. Frank and Annette, we love you!!

In addition, we saw three different cities this day: Warnemunde, Schwerin, and Rostock. We spent most of time in Schwerin. It is a quaint city, but Schwerin Castle is the only “real” thing to see there. It was definitely not a place to buy souvenirs because, frankly, there is very little artisanship there.

Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid, Ammon, & Haven: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

The Little Mermaid, Sean, & Carter: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

Tivoli Carousel

Tivoli Carousel: July 2, 2012

Early spring of 2012, Sean and I debated on several days in Copenhagen with a horrible itinerary flying back to the United States to home or making it to London, England with a very comfortable and accommodating itinerary home. Since we (Carter and Ammon included) enjoy London, we chose a one day tour in Copenhagen. Like several other places, guess what we’ve decided? You got it! We want to return to Copenhagen.

The Baltic Cruise was round trip out of Copenhagen. Both the embarkation and disembarkation days were cool and rainy: quite depressing. It was a shame that this lovely, seaside city looked so gray and dreary. However, like I said it is a pretty city.

Both Ammon and Carter thought it was cool to see the “original” Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. We also visited a quaint cathedral, but the highlight of the excursion was Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli (a world-renowned amusement park). We did not have much time there, but Carter and Ammon got to ride a carousel (it’s kind of becoming their “thing” to ride carousels from around the world…LOL).
So, too quick of an excursion for such an interesting and pretty city. Lord willing, we will return.

Helsinki, Finland

Sean, Ammon, Haven, & Carter: Near Porvoo, Finland July 3, 2012

Carter inside the Rock Church

Porvoo, Finland

Sibelius monument: July 3, 2012

It was our second time to Helsinki, Finland, and we decided to take a more rural tour of the area. We did not go to the bustling downtown area this time. Our tour guide was EXCELLENT, and she made this experience EXCELLENT (our tour guide from 2010 was a dud).

We started early near the water, traveled to a village named Porvoo, had lunch in a restaurant that had been converted from a dairy barn, saw the Sibelius (music composer) monument of tubes, visited the The Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church) hewn from inside a huge boulder, then back to the ship.
The day was nice and “laid back”, and it was wonderful to recharge after the intense touring of St. Petersburg the previous two days.

We highly recommend traveling to Helsinki.

St. Petersburg, Russia

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood : St. Petersburg, Russia

Our Whole Crew: St. Petersburg, Russia outside Church of the Spilled Blood

Inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral: July 2, 2012

The Pine Trees are fountains! Peterhof Palace Gardens

Peterhof Palace: July 2, 2012

Tomb of Peter the Great: Peter and Paul Fortress St. Petersburg

Wax Figures in the Yusupov Palace: Rasputin (Integral part in the downfall of the Royal Romanov Russian Dynasty) is about to murdered with the help of Felix Yusupov

Hermitage Museum of Art: July 1, 2012

I wish I could say “ I’m in love with the city of St. Petersburg!” , but I cannot. I appreciate it, and I THINK, I could like it, but I’m just not there yet. Sean and I have spoken with several fellow travelers these past two years, and they are quite “smitten” with the city. I do think it’s quite pleasing to the eye and loaded with history: to me very sad history.

We have been there twice, and each time there are literally “hoards” of people. There are traffic jams, traffic accidents (our own bus driver hit TWO cars on our 2nd day of touring). We have had two intelligent, informative, and friendly tour guides these past two trips, but the regular people we have encountered have neither been friendly nor enveloping. Both times I have been there I have experienced that “Give me your tourism $$, then get the heck out!”

Russia’s Czar, Peter the Great, created this “young” city (1703) from swamp lands. He dragged his country practically “kicking and screaming” into the modern era of the world. However, he died, Russia couldn’t “keep it together” again. It seemed to almost have it with Alexander II, but he died at the hands of a homicidal maniac.

I wrote this time last year of “Victims of History” such as Mary,Queen of Scots and Czar Nicholas II of Russia. I first heard and read of the Nicolas when I was about 11 years old. He had such deep love and devotion for his wife, son, and daughters, but not the same love for the people of his country…that is the tragic downfall.
Okay, what I do like very much from St.Petersburg…. 1)St. Isaac’s Cathedral, 2)Church of the Spilled Blood and just outside of St. Petersburg…3)Peterhof Palace Gardens.

Tallinn, Estonia June 30, 2012

Tallinn, Estonia with the Emerald Princess in the Background: June, 30, 2012

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Tallinn’s Lower Town Square

Fat Margaret’s Tower: Tallinn, Estonia: June 30, 2012

Over 25 years ago, I remember having a geography class, and my professor had us label and recall Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on a European map. The gist of the lecture when mentioning these were, “These are Baltic countries which are very similar in language and culture. They are a part of the Soviet Union.”….end of the lecture on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. What a shame, right?

For several years, Sean and I had heard very positive things regarding the sites and people of Tallinn. We were not disappointed. The mixture of middle ages architecture, Russian Orthodox (we actually saw a funeral in the Russian Orthodox Church while we were there) named the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and other historical architecture was very quaint and pleasing to the traveler’s eye.
If the opportunity arises, we will return to Tallinn.