Saturday, 28 March 2015

Experience: Romantika + Rosella + Galaxy (+Star)

I haven't given any music to accompany my posts for a while, so here goes:

A bit over a week ago I chose to do a little trip before getting to my vacation destination. Briefly - if a normal person was to go from Tallinn to Tervakoski, they would take a boat from Tallinn to Helsinki and ask the driver to pick them up from there. Now, here's what I did.

In the evening of Saturday the 14th I met up with Anneli and Taavi at terminal D in port of Tallinn. We boarded the Romantika and set sail to Stockholm. We all booked a cruise, but for me it was just a one way journey. Before departure Anneli and I went to the sundeck to look at Sea Wind depart (which she did not, since it was Saturday), Viking XPRS depart and Finlandia come in. Since it was freezing, I chose not to wait for the Superstar to come in, instead I went to rest in the cabin for a bit. Some hours after the departure I went to explore and shop. The weather was nice with almost no wind at all, so it felt like in the middle of the archipelago - slow, still, almost boring. Alas, I had no luck in the raffle that took place in the Starlight Palace. I chose to go to sleep early, knowing that I was about to get no sleep for 36 hours, but since our cabin was far aft, it was easier said than done. The constant low frequency sound and the insane vibration once we reached Mariehamn kept me half awake through the night.

Mandatory funnel picture
Sea Wind just standing there and totally not departing
Viking XPRS freeing her spot for Finlandia
Finlandia taking the spot
Nope, still not departing
Calm seas
The next morning I got off the ship and immediately headed for the center where I spent my day walking around and shopping a bit.

Beautiful morning in Stockholm
Crowded street
Bridge to Skeppsholmen
af Chapman
Arctic Sunrise
Cinderella arriving, Gabriella hiding behind her and Djurgården 10 passing by
Birka coming in

Gröna Lund!
Royal Opera House & St. Jacob's Church
Klara Church
Stockholm City Hall and some other houses
After a nice long day in Stockholm, when Romantika had already started her return journey, I sat on a bus in the center of Stockholm and headed for Kapellskär to board Rosella with my friend Nelly on board. The time on board was mostly spent eating in the Bistro Buffet, which offered delicious meat and wine.

Mandatory staircase photo
Infamous hull stripes
Just as we got off the Rosella, Gabriella had come in as well. After taking a few photos, Nelly, Mikael and I headed a bit south to do some shipspotting.

Silja Serenade, Gabriella, Rosella
Gabriella leaving
Romantika coming in. According to my ticket, I was supposed to be on board.
Romantika backing into Mariehamn, with my friend Anneli apparently somewhere in this picture
Romantika opening her ramp, ...
... letting in exactly two and a half cars, ...
And closing the ramp.
Bye bye! 
After the shipspotting I was dropped off in the center (if you can say so) of Mariehamn in front of the Tallink office about an hour before the taxi. The following hour consisted of trying to remain sane, trying not to freeze and overstressing about the taxi. Fortunately there was wifi and some silent music was playing at the entrance of what seemed to be a small shoping center right next to the office. Nevertheless, mostly due to the cold and the fact I was very tired and the city was dead, it was possibly the longest hour of my life. Finally, about one minute after the right time when I had already gone insane about five times, the taxi came. Turned out I was the only one taking the transport that day. It was a service taxi provided by Tallink to get me to Långnäs. The ride took about 30 minutes - just enough for me to unfreeze - and when I made it to the terminal, it turned out I was the only one boarding Galaxy from Långnäs that night. I did the check-in, waited for about 10 minutes and then the check-in guy gestured, meaning that my ship was arriving and it was time to board. He accompanied me the whole walk down the gangway and connected it to the ship with assistance from the ship's crew. I walked on board feeling like a princess and the moment I stepped on board they started to dismantle the whole thing again. I highly doubt there was any cars boarding that night, so the whole experience made me feel unusually important.

Långnäs terminal at around 2:35 at night
Galaxy's livery details
Waiting as they pave my way to the ship

Now before I carry on to what happened on board and the rest of my journey, I would like to take a minute to appreciate the taxi driver, the check-in guy and every one of those people who go to work in the middle  of nowhere in the dead of the night so lunatics like me could majestically board their night ferries.

And now, when it comes to what happened on the Galaxy - briefly, absolutely nothing. The other 372 people on board were nicely tucked in their cabins, everything on board was closed and the ship was dead except for one kind crew member at the information desk. I found my happy place in being able to take photos of the ship's interior without fearing to invade anyone's privacy. 

Deck plans
Even Starlight palace was closed

Windows on the Romantika (above) and Galaxy (below)
I looked...
...far and wide...
... for signs of life, ..
... Alas, ...
... I did not find any.
Not even Joe would keep his doors open for me.
When the doors are open, it's so easy to just walk though without noticing the name of the place you're going.
That was not the case here.
Fortunately, it was not all closed doors everywhere.

What I liked about the Galaxy was the simple three colour layout. Not quite sure if her two sisters have the same - didn't notice anything on the Baltic Queen, not that I was looking. Feel free to enlighten me.
Blue bow area staircase
Green staircase midships
And red aft staircase. Notice the works of the Estonian artist Navitrolla in the staircases; he also did the livery art. 
 After looking around on board I chose to curl up near the information desk and have a little "power nap", which was probably not such a great idea considering I was feeling much worse afterwards. After about an hour of napping I noticed some people appearing and by the time the sun rose and we started nearing Turku, the ship started to look like almost 400 passengers on board. After recovering from the shivers I got up and went out to take photos.

Mandatory funnel photo
Turku lights

The ship in morning sun

At last. 

The earliest morning hours I spent mostly trying to kill some time near the harbour and later in the center. Afterwards it got a bit warmer and I finally met up with Matti who came to pick me up. We met up in the train station and went for a walk, had a lunch on board the Bore where I stayed in August, and headed home to Tervakoski where I spent the following week watching the northern lights, the solar eclipse and having a full time vacation.

That wonderful flower sculpture again
The rusty object in the foreground is a crushed bulbous bow removed from a ship after it ran aground. Thanks to Micke Asklander for refreshing my memory - the bulbous bow belonged to Transgermania who was later known as Eckerö Line's Translandia.  
After a wonderful vacation it was time to return home. This time I opted for the normal way and took the Star home. I would probably not even mention this but the sea was nice and stormy, nothing like it was during my journey a week earlier. In fact, we were told over the speakers to avoid going outside and be careful while moving around the ship three times. The spray easily splashed up to 8th deck windows and I felt like on board a ship at last. 

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