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Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14

EUROPEAN CITY STAYS centrepiece of Tallinn’s Lower Town is the Gothic Town Hall, with its distinctive minaret-like tower and famous weather vane. For a bird’s-eye view, head for the Kohtu and Patkuli viewing platforms on lofty Toompea Hill. With an overnight stay, meander the medieval, cobblestone streets of the Old Town. The area’s more enchanting than ever under the warmth of the street lights. Don’t forget to stop along the way at a cosy pub for some tasty Estonian beer. Helsinki Known as ‘The White City of the North’, the Finnish capital, Helsinki, has intriguing contrasts; from handsome and imposing neo-classical buildings and museums, to lively shopping esplanades and the colourful Kauppatori produce and craft market. This compact city is easily explored on foot, but another great way to get around is by tram. These take you to most of the highlights. Not to be missed are the elegant Lutheran Cathedral, which dominates Senate Square; the domed Uspensky Church, perched on a hilltop overlooking the city; Sibelius Park, with its monument dedicated to Finland’s famous composer Jean Sibelius; and Hakaniemi Market Hall for souvenirs and handicrafts. With extra time in Helsinki, catch a ferry to nearby Suomenlinna, a Fortress used to defend the city in the 1700s. Its military architecture has earnt it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and today visitors can enjoy the old 44 www.fredolsencruises.com fortifications, museums, cafés and some beautiful spots for a picnic or relaxing break from exploring. St. Petersburg St. Petersburg is a treasure trove of goldclad domes, striking cathedrals, baroque palaces and elegant streets. Built on 40 islands at the mouth of the River Neva, its broad, curving canals meander through the city’s heart, decorated with ornate bridges. Two or three days here give you the chance to discover many of the highlights, including the magnificent Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace; the lavishly decorated Peterhof Palace; the glorious Church of Spilled Blood; and the bustling main street of Nevsky Prospekt. There are some excellent souvenirs to be purchased, from bottles of vodka to intricately painted Russian Dolls and cosy Ushanka hats. After a day of sightseeing, view the night’s illuminations from a different perspective on an evening waterways tour; take a glimpse at the vast collection of masterpieces at the Hermitage, before enjoying an exclusive evening concert; or spend an evening at the ballet for a memorable and captivating performance. Hamburg On the River Elbe, 70 miles from the North Sea, Hamburg was founded by Charlemagne. It boasts a Hanseatic League heritage harking back 700 years. Cherishing its long historic and cultural traditions, today’s spacious and leafy city is a flourishing commercial dynamo of stylish shops, excellent restaurants and legendary nightlife. Despite being one of Germany’s most industrial cities, Hamburg is particularly green. The Planten un Blomen boasts a Japanese garden, fountains and small lakes, along with plenty of quiet spots to take a peaceful break from exploring. There are many sights and attractions to be visited during your stay, including the Hamburg Dungeons, the Kunsthalle Art Museum, gothic St. Jakobi Church and Monckebergstrasse, the main shopping street. Make the most of an overnight stay by taking a relaxing evening cruise on the Inner and Outer Alster Lakes. On the return coach journey you’ll drive through the Reeperbahn of St Pauli. Probably the most renowned place in Hamburg, it is one of the world’s largest red-light districts. For further information on City Stay cruises or to book, visit fredolsencruises.com, contact a travel agent or call 0800 0355 226


Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14
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