Algae Travels to Russia with Love

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by GOS, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    PRE-TRIPPEE
    Hi everyone. I know you haven't heard from me in a long while, but good news! H&R took me on another trip...this time to the Baltic region on RCCL Jewel of the Seas. Here's a link to RCCL so that you can learn a bit about the ship we sailed on.

    http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/fin...o:13dlht8th?br=R&shipClassCode=RD&shipCode=JW

    R's Mum and Dad sailed with us this time, celebrating thier 50th wedding anniverary. :woohoo: No need for plane flights this time. It was just a couple of hours in the car to the port of Harwich in Essex.

    This was our itinerary:
    17th May - Sail away from Harwich, UK
    18th May - At sea
    19th May - Copenhagen, Denmark
    20th May - At sea and H's birthday
    21st May - Stockholm, Sweden
    22nd May - Helsinki, Finland
    23rd May - St Petersburg, Russia
    24th May - St Petersburg, Russia
    25th May - Tallinn, Estonia
    26th May - At sea
    27th May - Oslo, Norway
    28th May - At sea
    29th May - Arrive home in Harwich, UK

    H had been talking on Cruise Critic for some months and were due to meet all the Cruise Critic members in the Champagne Bar after muster. The formal Meet and Greet was on Monday at 12.15 in Hollywood Odyssey or Vortex bar on Deck 13.

    When H&R packed they found a stowaway...yes, Little Red. Big Red and I got it on, last August, and Little Red was the result.

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  3. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Well cruise fans, we made it. The journey to Harwich was painless and meeting R's Mum and Dad (Tom and Rose) just half an hour for the port worked like a dream. Harwich port is a very industrial with only a few cruise lines departing from the port. The car park opened at 10.30 and we were one of the first in the queue. The shuttle bus took us over to the small warehouse-type terminal building, which is located right beside the train station. Check-in began at 11.00am and we were on board by 11.30am.

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    After a quick glance at our surroundings, we look the lifts to deck 11 and Windjammer Buffet. The view from the glass lifts were spectacular - a huge glass window presents you with wonderful views of the sea and also of the Centrum, the heart of the ship. After a relaxing lunch and a very welcome cup of tea, we made our way back down to deck 4, where our cabins were located.

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    The cabin is laid out very much like many other cabins/cruise lines, and not showing any signs of wear and tear. Time to explore this beautiful ship and the Miller Clan set out to find out what is on offer for them over the next 12 days.

    As I said before, the Centrum is the heart of the ship and the majority of events and activities are centred round this area, with bars, shops and Tides (the 2 storey restaurant) which radiate from it. RCCL have arranged an Expo-type event introducing all the activities available on the cruise. You had to answer questions based on the different activities and then completed answer sheets are put into a raffle bin and then 10 lucky winners are drawn. Prizes ranged from spa treatments, free bingo games and credit on Internet access.

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    Muster was at 4.30pm, with sailaway at 5.10.

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    The weather was so windy and overcast that there wasn't much of a sailaway party. We stood at the front of the ship for a while taking photos and some video until it gets too cold and we retire to our cabins to unpack and get ready for dinner.

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    We have opted for My Time Dining and have asked for a table at 6.15pm, which works quite well, as the majority of the first dining cruisers have made their way into the dining room by the time we make our way into dinner. The obligatory photos are taken at the table and we had an enjoyable dinner.

    The Welcome Aboard Show was at 7.45pm and we only just made it. The show is enjoyable with a extreme balancing act, dancers and singers and we are introduced to the cruise directors staff. The Cruise Director, Joff, reminds us of Basil Forty (from a 70's UK sitcom). Shops are now open and after browsing round for about 30mins, we make our way to the Schooner Bar for the first instalment of Trivia. The Miller's are successful and win Name that Movie Tune with a score of 14.5 out of 15. :woohoo::yay:

    Finally exhaustion overcomes H and she says she must go to bed. We lost an hour's sleep tonight - the first of three. After setting the alarm for 8am, our first day is complete.
     
  4. Claire L

    Claire L <font color=blue>Enjoys a good broadway show<br><f

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    Oh sounds like a great start to a memorable trip :)

    Claire ;)
     
  5. jjk

    jjk <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/images

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    great start :goodvibes
     
  6. A fat english gent

    A fat english gent DIS Veteran

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    I need to know about Rick and the hairy ladies,am in.....:rolleyes1
     
  7. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    After losing an hours sleep last night the alarm woke us up at 8.00am (really 7.00am)! H&R met Tom and Rose for breakfast at 9.00am. Looks like most mornings will end up the same with them making their way to Windjammer - the buffet restaurant on deck 11. With wood panelling, ships lanterns and other memorabilia, it is decorated to make you feel that you are sailing the high seas on a old tall ship.

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    The plan for today was to explore and just take the day as it comes. With the sun shining and the sea calm, the Miller Clan head for the open deck. As Tom wants to try his hand at golf we make our way up to deck 11. R wins with H in close 2nd. Tom and Rose finish 3rd and 4th respectively. They stop to watch a rock wall climber and Tom wanders over to see what it's all about. Will he take the plunge and have a go? Not if Rose has her way.

    The Clan wander round the deck taking in all the sights that they missed on their first day - it was so cold and windy that they didn't venture long on the open deck. They find the Seaview Cafe and decide to come back later to read the menu as it doesn't open till 12noon. Down another level and they arrive at the Windjammer Restaurant again, this time at the other end and they find a refreshment stand, so stop for a refreshing cup of tea.

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    The girls are in need of some retail therapy and so they head on down to deck 5 where the shops and photo gallery are located. After purchasing their embarkation and the first night dining photos, it's back to the cabin to deposit their purchases. The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle is being held on Deck 13. When the group arrive at 12.15, they find that they are too late. The CC M&M was rescheduled to 11.30am and H has missed the announcement left in their cabin. Oh well.

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    H wants to finish off yesterdays edition of the blog for me and publish it, so she has to sit in the Centrum area to log on to a Hot Spot. So with coffee in hand the 3 amigos sit and wait whilst she finishes.

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    This afternoon, the Cruise Compass has scheduled Progressive Trivia in the Safari Club. R, H, Tom and Rose hurry on down after finishing off a quick bite to eat in the Seaview Cafe, and meet up with H's sister and her party. They team up and join in all the fun. The idea is that on each sea day the points that you win are rolled over to the next day, giving you a final total at the end of the four sea days. We wait and see how well they do.

    There is another trivia quiz scheduled to take place in the Schooner Bar - Name that Tune. This time 50's and 60's hits. The group are not so successful this time. No key chain today.

    Formal night tonight - the first of three. The group are ready by 5.15pm and line up with everyone else to have their photos taken. Then it's along to the Captains Reception party. Captain Thore Thorolvsen introduces all his senior staff and gives a brief history of RCCL to the assembled throng. As there is alot of first time cruisers this is just another chance to sell RCCL, but I have to say a very personable Captain, not like a certain Disney Captain, that I won't mention!

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    Dinner tonight, like last night is in Tides at 6.15pm and they have a lovely meal, topped off with H receiving her birthday cake and song from the waiting staff singing Happy Birthday to her - 2 days early, mind.

    As the show is not until 9.00pm tonight and with a few more photos taken, the group decide to change and so make the evening more comfortable. Those waist bands are already starting to feel tight. The show tonight is Johnathan Kane, an Elton John tribute act. He was extremely good and the only act endorsed by Elton John World. He even had members of the audience up on stage at the end dancing to Crocodile Rock. A good finale.

    One final quiz this evening. This time Guess the Celebrity. This time the prizes were a lot better - a bottle of Wine and a Cruise package, but no luck tonight. The group call it a night at 11.00pm - Copenhagen tomorrow, and they want to be fresh and ready for what the day has in store.
     
  8. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    The song says it all - Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen. As we made our way up to breakfast, we get our first glimpse of the weather for today, and it looks glorious. The sun is out and there was hardly any breeze. Our tour didn't start until 12noon, so we had a couple of hours to wander round the port area.

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    A short stroll away from the ship were a few shops all selling Danish goods and souvenirs. A little further on and we came to the famous little mermaid statue made famous by Hans Christian Anderson (and of course Disney). H posed for her picture, whilst Tom and Rose sit and watch all the passers by.

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    As we made our way back to the ship we took a few pictures of another cruise ship in port with us today - the Celebrity Century. Back onboard and after a bathroom stop and taking time to gather our belongs for this afternoon, there is just time for a cup of tea on deck 11. The Clan takes a stroll round the deck and find the beautiful Solarium. The roof has been moved back and there are quite a few cruisers taking in the early summer sun.

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    The tour departed from the dockside at 12noon and everyone is onboard (including Little Red) and ready to go. First stop was the Little Mermaid statue, but as they had done this morning the Clan stay on the coach. The coach continues its journey after 5 minutes and heads into town. We stop briefly again at one of the canals with bars situated along one side as the sun only shines on one side each day to take pictures. Hans Christian Andersen is said to have rented a couple of apartments in the area in his lifetime.

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    Back on the coach again and the last stop on this part of the tour is the Tivoli Gardens. Not only does it have extreme rides, but as the title mentions, it has some of the most beautiful gardens H has seen in a long time. The group stroll round the gardens, eating ice cream and taking the most amazing flower pictures. H is dubbed the next David Belamy (a British botanist) by R as she won't stop taking flower pictures with their new camera.

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    The 1.30mins soon passes and the tour progresses out of the gardens and they all take a 15 minute brisk walk down to another canal to catch the boat for the harbour cruise. The boat took them past some of the most important buildings in Copenhagen, such as the New Opera House, the Royal Palace and Maersk (the largest shipping company in the world). The final destination is the Little Mermaid once again, and they alight onto the dockside and made their way back to the ship.

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    A cup of tea is what is needed with a few cookies on the side. This tides them over until dinner which was in 1hrs time. Casual dress tonight, but there is no excuse not to change. H has a Trinidad Punch - the drink of the day, which was extremely delicious. There is time after dinner to hang round the Centrum listening to Country and Western Music tonight and H joins in some of the line dancing. Soon it is time for the evenings show in the Coral Theatre - West End to Broadway. A tribute to all those famous shows such as Cats, Les Miserables and We Will Rock You.

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    Once the show ended the group made their way quickly to the other end of the ship and the Safari Club. Tonight's show is entitled "The Big Music Quiz" with a chance (a slim chance) to win a car! The quiz overran in the end, but H&R said they hadn't laughed so much in such a long time. The evening ended for them with 40 minutes of Karaoke. Not something they usually like, but a couple of the acts were so bad, it reminded them of the auditions for X Factor. Finally they say good night at 12.50am. Tomorrow is H's birthday and another day at sea.
     
  9. Claire L

    Claire L <font color=blue>Enjoys a good broadway show<br><f

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    Oh wow sounds like a great day and some wonderful piccies :)

    Claire ;)
     
  10. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks Claire.
     
  11. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Happy Birthday

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    Yes, today was H's birthday and she was awake at 7.30am, even though they didn't get to bed until gone 1.00am last night. They had a wonderful evening, full of laughter. H wants a cup of tea, so with I Pod in hand she leaves Rick in bed and climbs the stairs from Deck 4 to Deck 11 for a brisk power walk. Half an hour later with tea in hand, she's back and it was time for cards and presents. She got lots of cards and some lovely presents (she says thank you very much!).

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    Breakfast today was a bit later - 9.30am, again in the Windjammer. Rose wanted to wash and dry her hair so both her and Tom go back the cabin. H&R set out for a morning on their own. A quick trip to the shop - H buys a T.shirt and a fleece jacket. A quick look at the photos in the gallery and then time for a coffee stop. Whilst R uploads the blog, H joins in with Wii Baseball and wins 2nd place and receives a Silver Medal. H then joins in with scrap booking and meets one of the CC members that she missed on Monday. They make arrangements to meet up for the Denrus tour.

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    Then it's time to see if Tom and Rose are ready for the afternoon, but H&R have to search the whole ship, until they arrive in the Safari Club for this afternoons edition of Progressive Trivia, and find Tom and Rose waiting for them. They don't do to well this time, they were in about 8th place. Napkin folding is next in the Schooner Bar. Once this is finished they hang around the bar area with their coffees and wait for the next round of Trivia - Name that TV theme tune. No luck again, but they have plenty of fun taking part.

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    Dinner tonight is in Portafino's and the Murder Mystery Dinner Show. They all have a really good time - starters, fillet steak, Tiramisu and lots of wine. The Maitre D presents H with a birthday cake and the whole restaurant sings Happy Birthday to her. They are all a bit squiffy when they finally leave at 10.00am. Time for a final game of Trivia - this time Majority Rules and once again, it turns out to be lots of fun, but no prize.

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    The evening comes to an end at 11.15pm giving H's sister a tour of their cabin. She is interested to see what the difference is between the two cabins. There isn't any, except the balcony.
     
  12. Claire L

    Claire L <font color=blue>Enjoys a good broadway show<br><f

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    Oh wonderful way to spend a birthday :)

    Once again great piccies :thumbsup2

    Claire ;)
     
  13. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Thanks Claire.
     
  14. A fat english gent

    A fat english gent DIS Veteran

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    Heather 1.00am stay ups?, it would appear you stay up later depending on the company your in.....:snooty:

    PS....Two observation,first being the houses in Copenhagen looks like the ones in Cork and the second being it would appear your losing the fight with Rich for any left overs at meal times,anymore weight loss and you'll be as slim as me dear.......:rolleyes1



































    You look great kid.....:flower3:
     
  15. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Yep, you're right on the houses. They do look like the Cork ones. As for the weight-loss...I put on weight:eek:
     
  16. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Today was the first of five port days. Bit earlier for breakfast today 8.45am as the tour - Stockholm Panorama and shopping met in the Coral Theatre at 9.45am. The bus left promptly at 10.15am and took a tour around the centre of Stockholm passing the Royal Palace, Cathedrals, Museums, Theatre, Parliament Buildings, theme parks and much more.

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    The first shopping stop was at Stockholm's oldest handicraft shop, selling items that are made by local people in the outlining areas of Stockholm. No purchases here, but they are given a welcoming gift of a fridge magnet.

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    The bus tour continued, taking a trip through the shopping centre of the city. The next stop is at the oldest Crystal shop in Stockholm. H treated herself to a Swarovski necklace. Well, it was her birthday yesterday. H&R also had time to purchase a pair of trainers each at a neighbouring shoe shop.

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    The tour continued on, making it's last stop in Old Town, which is situated, just behind the Royal Palace. Lots of little cobbled streets make up the old town and are full of interesting antique, curio, souvenir and coffee shops. Only 50 minutes here, but enough time to buy a thimble and fridge magnet for H's friend at work and also to have a delicious ice cream.

    The tour arrived back at the port just before 3pm and after a quick restroom stop, they head up to the Windjammer for a cup of tea. Just what the doctor ordered! H finished off the blog for me from yesterday's activities and started the next day's edition. The cup of tea ends up as a light snack, which they took down to the Schooner Bar for the afternoon's edition of Trivia. The ship departs Stockholm whilst the game was in session and they watched the passing scenery from the huge windows of the bar area. They do say that persistence often pays off, and today the group are successful and win. Hooray. Pens and high lighters are the prize today.

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    Time to change for dinner and this time cruise casual in the Tides Restaurant. The restaurant staff put on a little show at the end of the meal for all the diners and H joins in the Macarena. R just shrinks into the corner! As Crown and Anchor members, H&R have been invited to the Welcome Back reception tonight in the Safari Club, so Tom and Rose are going to spend some time in the Centrum listening to the Rock'n'Roll hour. They agree to all meet up in the Coral Theatre for this evenings show.

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    Tonight was a Celine Dion Tribute Act (Tracey Sheilds). She was a finalist on a British show called Stars in their Eyes. She was extremely good and sounded very much like Celine herself. A very enjoyable show.

    As there was only 50 minutes till the next show, Love and Marriage Game Show, the group decide to stay where they are and wait. Tom and Rose have a drink and H goes to the shop to purchase her postcards to send home. The show started at 10.45 and the compare is Joff - the Cruise Director and H says he has been one of the best Cruise Directors that H&R have met. The show is the usual format where the wives answers questions whilst the husbands are out of earshot and then the husbands come back and try to match their answers with their wives. The couples are very funny, but one of the ladies becomes unwell towards the end and has to leave the show. The show ends on a rather flat note. Never mind, it was good anyway.

    Finally, they returned to the cabin at just after 12.00midnight. They had to put their clocks forward an hour again tonight - the 2nd of three lost hours. Tomorrow Helsinki.
     
  17. irongirlof12

    irongirlof12 <font color=blue><marquee>Am I the only one who lo

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    sounds like a fab trip, love the piccies
     
  18. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    Thanks Andrea...more to come.

    BTW - love your comment about Ghiradelli's. I'm there with you!:thumbsup2
     
  19. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    What a full day yesterday and today was just the same. We even had our 2nd formal night tonight, but more of that later.

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    The group met up as yesterday and had breakfast as usual. The meeting point for today's excursion was The Coral Theatre again - Helsinki Highlights and Architecture. Not a huge group of people today, but they hadn't expected the Stowaway - yes, Little Red hid in H's bag and rode along with the group. He's trouble that one...just like his mother.

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    The first stop on the tour, once outside of the city was Hvittrask, which is situated on the banks of the White Lake (Vittrask). It was built by 3 famous Architects in 1904. The decoration/style is very Art Nouveau with some very lovely views of the lake and the surrounding area. Down by the waters edge, it is so very quiet, you could almost here a pin drop! Here's Little Red, just about to be locked in the Dungeon!

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    The coach picks them up and as they head on back to the city they learn all about Finnish life. Did you know that Education is free for children up to the age of 18 and if they decide to go into University that is also free? Foreign students can also come to Helsinki and enrol in the courses for free too. They do pay approx. 25% taxes (more if you are a big earner).

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    Once in the city, they pass the Olympic Stadium, built originally for the 1940 Summer Olympics. Due to the war, this was put on hold until 1952. The next stop was a Lutheran church, built within a rock face and aptly named the Church in the Rock. A beautifully designed modern style church with an amazing copper wire roof.

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    As they continue on the tour, they pass lots of old Russian styled buildings and then finally stop at the Lutheran Cathedral in the city centre. On their way they pass the Central Station designed by one of the Architects who's house they viewed this morning.

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    Back onboard ship and it's time for a light lunch and a cup of tea. Rose needs to turn up some trousers and then catch 40 winks, Tom goes with her. H and R head for the Solarium - H blogs for me and R settles on one of the sun loungers for a quick nap. At 4.30pm, the usual Trivia Challenge is replaced with a Sudoku Challenge. R, H and Tom, take part and H and Tom come 2nd and 3rd and win another high lighter.

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    Time to change for dinner and the group meet at the usual time and make their way to Tides dining room. It's British menu tonight with roast beef and roast chicken as the main selections and sherry trifle for dessert. The group exit the dining room and stop to have their pictures taken in the main Centrum area. Back in the cabin, they find immigration forms to complete and decide to take the forms with them and make their way to the theatre to complete them.

    Tonight the show in the Coral Theatre is City of Dreams. An excellent show taking four cities as settings for music and dance numbers. The show included some wire and curtain flyers, just like Cirque.

    The Millers call it a night as the clocks go forward another hour and its a very early start.
     
  20. A fat english gent

    A fat english gent DIS Veteran

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    I WANT THAT HOUSE.....:sad2:


    I love Architecture i could simply walk around all day just looking up at buildings,it's a bit nerdy so can we have this as our little secret?....:rolleyes1...:flower3:
     
  21. GOS

    GOS Livin' for Disney holidays with great friends

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    I took so many pictures inside and outside of this house Chris. It was really art-nouveau in decoration. I'll post some more this weekend.
     

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