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SWEDEN & the BALTIC COUNTRIES


The essential StockholmFew other cities bask in such a privileged setting as Stockholm, sprawling across Lake Malaren's cluster of craggy granite islands. When June gives way to July, Stockholm becomes a Sydney of the North. Twenty-plus hours of daylight allows a lot of time for soaking up the sun, socialising down at the sailing club, or darting across the glittering blue waters on a jetski, a cabin cruiser or even a classic sailboat. Visitors can join in the fun by hopping aboard the commuter ferries and excursion steamers/


Estonia: northernmost of the Baltic states, three small yet quite different countries emerging from the shadow of the former Soviet Union.

Locked in the Tower : Be sure you don't find yourself locked up in the 14th century tower of Tallinn’s town hall and you'll enjoy this fine medieval walled city. Raekoja plats, the town hall square is lined with cafes and bars whose prices are a fraction of western European norms.



Latvia is so compact you can base yourself in Riga, the most cosmopolitan city in the Baltic region. Riga between the wars was a listening post on Russia's doorstep. More than half the population remains ethnic Russian, their numbers a potent reminder of the recent past.

Lands of the Lingering Sun With the Soviet Union consigned to bitter memory, the good life is much in evidence in a region where the sun sets some time around ten in midsummer.  For these few short months, the bodies beautiful are out in force on the beaches at Jurmala, outside Riga. There's a delightfully European feel about it all:  the beachgoers spilling onto station platforms; people snacking on smoked herring; the old-world flavour of resorts once the preserve of Red Army families.

Riga's Riches: This richly rewarding city is a treasure-house of Germanic architecture, from medieval Gothic to Jugendstil (Art Deco).



The people of Lithuania were the last pagan Europeans to succumb to the Sword and the Cross wielded by crusading Teutonic Knights, yet the Lithuanians now share a staunchly Catholic heritage with their Polish neighbours - yet not with Latvians, their Baltic brethren to the north.

Vilnius is the capital of a little-known land of Baltic beaches and mystic forests... the Prague of northern Europe, a city of baroque churches, a skyline crowded with spires, domes and the distinctive iron crosses of Lithuanian tradition.

Marx to Mushrooms Viliaumas Malinauskas, Lithuania's mushroom millionaire, gathered up his country's unwanted Soviet-era monuments glorifying Lenin, Marx and friends and put them on display in his Soviet Sculpture Museum in the forests of southern Lithuania.


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