Helsingborg, Sweden is a very nice town.  In actuality, it is only 13 nautical miles from Copenhagen, so the trip from one to the other is relatively short.  My day began at 4AM.  Yes, for the first time in decades, I actually got up before the sun.  The reason?  The island of Hven (now just Ven). 

In 1576, the astronomer Tycho Brahe was given the island of Hven to build Uraniborg Observatory.  This was, and continues to be, the single largest capital outlay for a scientific project, in terms of Gross Domestic Product.   Since we were passing it, and  since I talk about it in class, I decided to wake up and see it.  First, I went to the buffet (Conveniently open 24/7) and got myself a cup of coffee.  Then I stood at the rail in the pre-dawn glow and watched as we approached. 

This is Ven.  It is not really all that impressive.  In fact, the story goes that Denmark and Sweden have fought over this island for decades.  Each wants the other to claim it!  The history is what makes it interesting.  Tycho Brahe had convinced King Christian IV of Denmark (which at the time controlled most of Scandinavia) to support the building of the observatory/science lab.  Hven was chosen, and the observatory built.  However, Uraniborg soon proved inadequate to Tycho's needs and he built Stjerneborg Observatory right next to Uraniborg.  Because Stjerneborg was underground, it was far more stable and better for the precise observations Tycho wanted to make.  When the king removed his support, Tycho could no longer afford to operate the observatories and he abandoned them.  Both were destroyed shortly after Tycho's death. 

I was hoping to get pictures of Stjerneborg, which has been restored, but it was obscured by the trees that have grown nearby.

It should be in the distance, to the left of the picture, beyond the trees.

So, I got some pictures of an island with no really distinctive marks, so I could show my students the island where Tycho Brahe set up the first scientific research institute since the Library at Alexandria.  What to do now?

First, how about looking around at the ship with nobody around?

Port side
This is the port side of the ship, looking aft.  The red light you see let folks know that this is the port side.

and starboard
Starboard has green.  The idea being that when you see a set of lights, you can tell whether the ship is heading towards you, or away from you...  Aircraft use the same thing.

I looked around a bit, then noticed something odd.  The quality of the light was changing.
Yep, the sun was beginning to rise.  This is the first sunrise I had witnessed in probably two decades.  It was pretty amazing.

sunrise, continued
What amazed me was the speed at which it happened.  From the time I noticed the first sliver of sun peeking over the horizon, to the time it was fully up took just over five minutes.  Pretty impressive.

sunrise composite

Eventually I finished my coffee, stopped glorying in the Wonders Of Nature and went back to the room.  Sheila woke up and we got ready to go ashore.

Me and Ven
Here I am, standing in front of the island of Ven. (It is the slightly denser bit of haze in the background.)

Arriving at Helsingborg was a bit different from the other ports.  Helsingborg is not a deep-water port, so the ship has to anchor offshore and take you into port by tender.

When you need to abandon ship, you are taken off in a lifeboat.  When you go into port in a non-emergency situation, you go in a tender.   Amazingly, both are the same boat.   They lowered the lifeboats, brought them around to a port in the lower part of the bow, and began ferrying passengers ashore. 
The tender/lifeboat
This is our tender.  We are now ashore.

The first thing we encountered was the tourist information desk, specially set up for tourists like up.  It was staffed by an attractive young woman in traditional costume, and she cheerfully presented us with a map to the area with the shopping and historic areas circled.

At the other end of the plaza there was a statue.  It was a representation of the final scene of the play "Hamlet".  I became part of the audience.
The play

I thought it was kind of funny that the tourist information lady pointed out on the map where the Keep was located.  The keep pretty much dominates the town, looking down on it from the hill above.  This is the view of the Keep from town:
The keep

To get there, you have to walk down a lovely shopping street.  We were there before the shops opened, so it had a fewer people than later in the day.
Shopping street

We walked up to the Keep, which was an impressive structure.   Here we pause by the fountain on the stairs to the Keep.
Us by the fountain

And a bit further up, the Keep itself:
The Keep

It is a 14th-century structure, officially named Karnen Tower (there should be an umlaut over the "a", but my webpage editor can't do that).

Near the top of the stairs Sheila turned to take a picture of the way back down.
Looking down

The view from the top of the battlements, at the base of the keep is impressive.  Our ship is in the background.
Looking down at the town

And the view of the Keep from this point.
The keep - Spooky

It is always helpful when the locals have signposts to help direct you to your destination.  It is even more helpful if you know the local language...
the signpost

And the Keep, as viewed from here:
The Keep

Flags from Scandinavia, near the harbor entrance.

So, we went back down the shopping street and returned to the ship.
Walt in the tender

Sheila in the tender

The ride back was rather dramatic...
Scary ride back

Actually, the ride wasn't that bad, but I thought the picture was cool.  The pitching of the tender had thrown spray onto our windows.

Once we were back on board, we took a moment to appreciate the ample seating provided for us by Princess Cruises.

And once again, I take a moment to look at the water.
me at the rail

Those of you how know us are asking yourselves "So, you guys walked down a shopping street in a foreign country.  What did you buy?"



bread and butter

Best.  Bread.  Ever.

And how did we enjoy this?
Food glorious food!
Clockwise from left:
Bread and Butter from Sweden
Bread from Sweden with Gouda cheese from the Netherlands and Reindeer Salami from Norway
Just bread from Sweden
Weinerbrod from the same shop in Sweden

And for dessert:

About this time we turned on the TV and learned that London had been the victim of a terrorist attack.  Four bombs had gone off, three in the tube and one on a bus.  It was a dark moment, and put a shadow over the remainder of the trip.

After a rest, it was time to dress up for dinner.  It was a formal night again, which meant I had to put on a tie and coat for a second time in a week.  But this time, we had something extra special in mind.
Our waiters
Yep,  that's the Dom Perignon that Sheila ordered for us.    These two guys are our waiters, Adrian, on the left, and Lagunas, with the bottle.  They were a couple of cut-ups.  Sheila was trying to get a photo of Lagunas with the bottle and Adrian jumped in, saying "You have to have me in the picture!"

Here, Lagunas pours the Champagne.

I strike a pose:
Me with Champagne

...And I drink...

So, how is Dom Perignon?  Is it worth the expense?  The short answer is "yes."  The long answer is "Hell, yes."  I drink wine from time to time, and sparkling wines occasionally, so I do not have lots of experience with things like champagne.  However, I could tell instantly that this was head and shoulders above anything else I had ever had.  Amazingly smooth and drinkable it would be remarkably easy to finish off a bottle of this stuff.  Which is exactly what we did. 

Two glasses
Dom Perignon.  Buy a bottle and share it with somebody special.

So what did we have to go along with the wonderful champagne?
Sheila had Pheasant.

I had Halibut.

Both were quite tasty.  And for dessert, "Singing mouses",  according to Adrian.
Singing mouses
Mmmmmm. Chocolate mousse.

All in all, a superb dinner, followed by another beautiful sunset  from the deck.

The following day was another "at sea" day, with no obligations.  So we had breakfast,

...Played Bingo...
Bingo tickets
(we did not win)

...Walked around the ship...
Aft end

deck chair

And packed up all our belongings in preparation for our return to England.

We also tried to use the computers on the ship to  email friends and family.  Sadly, internet access is unpredictable and amazingly slow from onboard a ship, and they still charge you a huge amount per minute, regardless of whether or not you actually get the page to fully load...  We did manage to get a message to a couple of people, but that was it.

We disembarked at 9AM the next morning, returning to Southampton and England.

Next: Back to England