Thursday, August 7, 2014

Welcome Back

Welcome back to the ECC Travel Abroad Program blog!

Make plans now to join us on our upcoming trip to Scotland, May 20-27, 2015. Just click the image below for more information.

While you're here, read some of our previous posts and see pictures from our 2014 Baltic Capitals Cruise, our 2013 trip to Great Britain, and our 2012 trip to Spain.

Follow along as we blog about our journey beginning on May 20, 2015.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baltic Capitals Cruise - Final Post

Nineteen people from Eastern North Carolina sailed on a nine-day cruise on the Baltic Sea.

The photo shows the group enjoying their last dinner together before they reached the port in Copenhagen, Denmark, where all passengers disembarked and headed home. Visiting the six capitals of Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden created memories filled with rich history and culture.

ECC students Brenquitta Webb and Jennah Summerlin benefited from this life-altering experience, exploring cultures, traditions, customs, and history unlike their own....experiencing the trip of a lifetime.  

Until we meet again...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Additional Adventures in Stockholm

ECC travelers Jessie Jones and Josie Davis prepare to leave for
an excursion in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Retha Deaton, Mahlon Deloatch, Vines Cobb, and Carnell Lamm
wait for their Stockholm excursion to leave.

Parks cover nearly one third of the city, including market squares.

Stockholm boasts a high density of restaurants, with cafes and free entertainment.

Several of the ECC travelers visited the ICEBAR, a room made out of ice from the Torne River in the Swedish Lapland.  Each person put on heavy coats with hoods and gloves to enter the bar and drink from an ice glass.

One of the waterways in Stockholm.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is located at the point where Lake Malar and the Baltic Sea meet. Nearly 1.5 million people live in the greater Stockholm area.

Stockholm is built on 14 small islands. Driving through the city, one sees open bays and narrow channels.

Stockholm residents use bicycles, personal autos, Segways, buses, and other means of public transportation to move about the city.

Travelers visited the Vasa Museum, where they saw the Swedish warship, "Vasa." The museum is built around the restored 17th century warship, which sank in Stockholm's inner harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628.  Its salvage in 1961, with more than 12,000 objects on board, is one of Sweden's most important events in marine archaeology.

Helsinki, Finland and Suomenlinna

Helsinki was originally established at the mouth of the Vantaanjoki River in 1550 by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, who wanted the town to compete with Tallinn. Due to the shallow water in the bay, the town was moved to its current location in the 1640s. Helsinki became the capital of Finland in 1812.

Suomenlinna, known as the 'Gibraltar of the North" is considered to be the largest sea fortress in the world and is included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Treasures. The island is a 20 minute boat ride from Helsinki, Finland.

Suomenlinna was built to protect the country against invasion from Russia. 

Suomenlinna Island Fortress

Laura Ashley Lamm, Lance Cherry, and June Cherry touring the sea fortress.

Carnell Lamm and Retha Deaton touring Suomenlinna, a home to 800 residents.

The dry dock at the island fortress.

The history of the dockyard dates back to 1747.

A view from the island of Suomenlinna

St. Petersburg and Peterhof

St. Petersburg is a cosmopolitan city with a cultural and artistic core. St Petersburg is Russia's biggest port. The city moves across and around the the mouth of the Neva River.

Peterhof, the town of palaces, fountains and parks, was built by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. It lies on the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.  The Grand Palace is known as the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian Tsars. The layout of the 300-acre park and fountains was designed by Peter himself. The Grand Cascade consists of 3 waterfalls, 64 fountains and 37 gilded statues.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

More from St. Petersburg, Russia

The high rise apartments are located in the city and countryside for the heavily populated St. Petersburg. The rainy day is normal in Russia.  Only 50-55 days a year are sunny.  The other 310-315 days are either overcast, snowy, or rainy.

Grassy areas could be found throughout the city; however, the grass was about a foot tall - not as well maintained as lawns in the States. The weather most likely affects the ability to maintain the grounds. No lawn maintenance was visible.

The State Hermitage is one of the greatest repositories of the world's art. This Russian museum, shown in the photo, houses about 3,000,000 monuments of culture and art. The Hermitage or "Winter Palace" was an imperial residence, built for Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, in 1754 but was later converted into a museum.

The outer building is on the grounds of The Great(Catherine's) Palace. The palace and grounds were constructed for Catherine I under her husband, Peter I, and serving as a place for rest and entertainment of the tsar. The palace, with a 300 meter-long facade, is one of the main sights in Tsarskoye Selo.  The Great Hall, the Amber Room, the Picture hall and other rooms are noted for the baroque style of architecture and the gold leaf appliqué applied to the wood.

Palace visitors had to check their coats and large purses before entering the palace.  "Over the shoe slippers" had to be worn as well to protect the floors.  Photography was limited.

Picturesque waterways added to the beauty of St. Petersburg. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

St. Petersburg, Russia

Travelers (from l to r) June Cherry, Laura Ashley Lamm, Carnell Lamm,
Lance Cherry, Susan Galbraith, Freida Wright, Deborah Lamm,
and Retha Deaton prepare to disembark for their excursion
to St. Petersburg, Russia.

St. Petersburg, Russia, has a population of 5,131,967 people. With unemployment at about 7 percent in the large city, those who work full time earn about $2000 per month - average wage. Many don't own a car; they generally take advantage of public transportation. If people live in one of the many high rise apartments, they may purchase their 2 bedroom apartment for about $250,000.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia, is the third stop on our trip. Tallinn, the capital of the Republic of Estonia, is a small but beautiful medieval city on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The city was first inhabited about the end of the 10th century when the Estonian tribes built in the vicinity of the port. The port was an advantageous location on the East-West trading route.  Tallinn turned into one of the largest and most powerful trading towns of Northern Europe because of the trading routes of the other Western European towns.

Tallinn was built with local limestone, resulting in a heavy and Gothic style, as seen above. Toompea is an area of the town located on a limestone elevation 20-30 meters above the rest of the town. This area belonged to representatives of the nobility since the 13th century and was set apart from the downtown by a protective wall.

The photo above shows the protective wall surrounding Toompea.

The downtown area of Tallinn is located between Toompea and the seaport. Shown above and below are locals enjoying a concert in the Republic Square.

Upcoming Posts

Looks like our travelers are having so much fun they haven't had a chance to post any updates lately!  Stay tuned...  There are more exciting highlights of the trip on the way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Back At Sea

Thursday, May 29, the third day of the Baltic Sea cruise, is at sea. It's 60 degrees F. Sunrise at 5:31 a.m. and sunset is at 10:19 p.m. The time difference is 7 hours; yesterday it was only a 6-hour difference. The time on the Baltic Sea is ahead of the United States.

The cruise is multi-cultural with travelers from around the world. Over 40 countries are represented. The largest groups are the USA with 1012 people, Canada with 302, United Kingdom with 80, Japan with 53, and Australia with 50.

Meeting new people is part of the cultural experience!

Warnemunde, Germany

Thursday, May 29 was spent in Warnemunde, Germany, a seasonal resort in northeastern Germany. Warnemunde means the estuary of the river Warnow. The photo shows an train engine car made into a bar or pub.

Warnemunde, in the district of Rostock, is filled with outdoor markets.

Bright murals on the sides of buildings help portray the culture of the German city of Warnemunde.

Fishing boats, cafés, and bars line the water front in Warnemunde.

Shops line the waterfront of Warnemunde.

Warnemunde is the center of maritime traffic, with navigational aids, such as the lighthouse (in the photo) still in use. The lighthouse was built in 1897 and is 121 feet high.

Attractive, well-maintained homes line the small cobblestone streets in Warnemunde.

Shop owners often live in apartments above their shops in Warnemunde.

Several of the travelers ate lunch in the Cafe Wegner and enjoyed homemade soup and bread. Also dining beside us was a German family - a father, two well-behaved toddlers, and their pet dog. The dog slept at the feet of the children while they ate their French fries with ketchup. Fathers were enjoying a national holiday in their honor; retail stores and other businesses were closed for the holiday.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Warnemunde was established in 1871, the fourth one built in the town. The first was built in the 13th century. The carved gothic altar below is the work of a Danzig artist, dating from 1475.

Captain Bligh, a local bar which sells a variety of German beer, is busy on Father's Day. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Good Morning from Germany

Good Morning from Germany! Our trip to the Baltic Sea has been most enjoyable thus far and we are only getting started. Yesterday was the perfect day to get acquainted with our ship, the Norwegian Star. Our ship is filled with on-board activities and delicious food buffets everywhere you turn. Cuisines cover various cultures and even a traditional American steakhouse sits on board ship. It's a sunny cool day, today, but we hope by the end of the week the sun will shine bright for us to take advantage of the large pool and slide. Everyone needs a little relaxation! The streets of Germany await, and we look forward to sharing the sites with you. 

~ Laura Ashley Lamm

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Copenhagen, Denmark

The travelers arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, early Wednesday morning.  Copenhagen has about 1.5 million people in the city with about 1.2 million bicycles.  Bikes are everywhere. Bikes are treated like autos; drivers receive tickets if they are parked illegally!

Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen. It is the second oldest amusement park in the world.  Other places of interest are The LittleMermaid, a bronze statue by Edvard Ericksen, and Rosenborg Castle.

The Norwegian Star set sail at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday from the Copenhagen port heading for Warnemunde, Germany. Arrival time is expected at 7:15 a.m., May 29. About 2000 people from around the world are aboard with about 1000 crew members. Travelers will experience daylight until around 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Departing Washington Dulles International Airport

The Baltic Sea travelers left Edgecombe Community College at 8 am Tuesday and headed to Washington Dulles International Airport. The photo above shows the travelers preparing to check in. The flight leaves at 5:15 pm and lands in Copenhagen, Denmark at 7:15 am, Wednesday. Travelers will embark on the Norwegian Star mid-day.

Bon voyage!