The Start of Northern Europe. – Ryan Lau –

We arrived in Oxford and met up with James and Hayley (our cousins) who hosted us and showed us their lovely English town. I was the most surprised that all of the land in Oxford is owned by all the different colleges and you can go all the way from Oxford to Cambridge all on college grounds! I was sorry we had to leave for it was only was a short visit and Oxford is a very interesting city which feels like it has many secrets waiting to be uncovered.

We spent one night in the beautiful northern city of Copenhagen before boarding our 11 day Baltic cruise. We went on an amazing food walking tour where we tasted traditional open faced sandwiches and a delicious Danish hotdog. We also had salty licorice which is very popular and common in Copenhagen but was not very appealing to me. I found Copenhagen very clean and I was looking forward to returning after our cruise.

In Estonia they say that summer is their favourite day of the year for it is almost always raining. On our biking tour we visited the president’s house which is pink! Concealed in the backyard of an abandoned mansion were massive sculptures of Lenin and Stalin from when Estonia was ruled by Russia. I tried a variety of sausages such as: wild boar, deer and my favorite, horse! Every year they have a huge two day singing festival for the people love to sing, and even when they revolted they did it by singing their patriotic songs.

St. Petersburg was our most eastern stop on our trip.The most beautiful building we saw  was the Cathedral of Spilled Blood with brightly coloured designs and onion domes all over it. The outside of the Hermitage was surprisingly uninteresting, masking the beauty within. I found it interesting that most things in the Hermitage were copies or original pieces of artwork from western Europe. Our final stop on the tour was to the summer palace of Peter the Great, the fountains are purely gravity run with no electric pump to help it. To get there we took the hydrofoil where the front actually comes out of the water as it goes to the other side of the bay. St. Petersburg was very beautiful but felt un-welcoming and restricted in things you could do, see and learn.

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