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Things you wish someone told you before your first Baltic cruise

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--It could be cold. Definitely bring warmer clothes than you think you'll need.

 

--Berlin was awesome. We booked with an American expat (Masters degree in German Studies from Brown) tour guide who arranged a private driver from the port. Her love of Germany abounded during the 6 hours we had with her.

 

--Tallinn was the best stop on the Baltic. So many things to see and do there, most of which are not listed in your cruise materials, like the Bastion Tunnels and the KGB Museum. A quick search engine search will find the details on these.

 

--I'm a stamp collector and I was able to make it to a post office in every port (except Berlin, Sunday) easily.

 

--Walk in Copenhagen. There is a postcard view around every corner.

 

--Our guide in Russia had a 2-day-long script that seemed as if she was still under control of the USSR. That was disappointing.

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Pick out a very good pair of shoes: something that can handle walking on «COBBLESTONES» day after day.

 

Also important which I am glad we did was a day of rest in Helsinki where we just took it really slow. The Baltics is a port-intensive cruise.

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Several have mentioned good walking shoes. Do you have any suggestions? Do you think that athletic shoes (Nike type sneakers) have enough support for the cobblestones? Thank you:).

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Several have mentioned good walking shoes. Do you have any suggestions? Do you think that athletic shoes (Nike type sneakers) have enough support for the cobblestones? Thank you:).

 

I would say YES. I think many people say to get a good walking shoe, opposed to people who live in sandals et al.

Any good sneaker will do fine as long as you are comfortable in them.

 

Cheers

 

Len

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Several have mentioned good walking shoes. Do you have any suggestions? Do you think that athletic shoes (Nike type sneakers) have enough support for the cobblestones? Thank you:).

 

Yes. I love my Asics. They have the built-in gel inserts and are very comfortable. The gel helps in absorbing the shock whilst walking on surfaces such as cobblestones & concrete.

jill

Edited by dogs4fun

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IF you like to do some things on your own, buy Rick Steve's travel book on Scandinavia. He gives time saving, and money saving, ways to tour most of your stops. We wear ECCO walking shoes. IF YOUR SHIP DOCKS IN WARNEMUNDE (for Berlin) be on top deck at sailaway. We were told to do this and we did. AMAZING. As we sailed away down the river, people came out of the on shore bars to wave at us, horns were blowing, fireworks were lighting the sky. I do not know if this happens every time, but most people missed it because they were tired from their day in Berlin, and turned in early. The Baltic was our first European cruise experience, and got us hooked. We have been able to do several other European cruises, and this summer are doing Norway. Enjoy.

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Thanks for all the tips, we are planning our first Baltic cruise for August 2013.

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Linen in Tallin. Before you buy nesting dolls, check them all out.

 

dogs4fun: Yes. I love my Asics. They have the built-in gel inserts and are very comfortable. The gel helps in absorbing the shock whilst walking on surfaces such as cobblestones & concrete. jill

 

Nghthawke: Pick out a very good pair of shoes: something that can handle walking on «COBBLESTONES» day after day. Also important which I am glad we did was a day of rest in Helsinki where we just took it really slow. The Baltics is a port-intensive cruise.

 

Yes' date=' very good and wise[/b'] comments on BOTH comfortable AND solid shoes. You'll be on your feet lots and the various pavement surfaces can be seriously challenging. Don't worry about fashion in this area of the world. Safety can also be an important factor to consider. People get busy with all of the wonderful sights and are not always looking down where you are walking. Some of the stone used can be a little slick in places, etc.

 

Also given the port-intensity, having a lower-key day can be helpful to rest up and pace yourself. St. Petersburg is the super star in this area and you need a plan for the days before and after that Russian visit period to prepare and/or adjust your body and brain. Can't be go-go for all of the port days in the Baltics.

 

Good, smart shopping points by Alberta Quilter. The quality on items such as the nesting dolls can vary greatly. The cheap ones can look and be just that way. Many shops in St. Petersburg will have a variety of price levels and craft/painting quality. At the Hermitage, they have a gift shop area and it might be good to check your options there. You can go on the Hermitage website and see some of the options that they offer.

 

Tallinn is one of the better places to shop for a good combination on quality and value. Below are a couple of examples on what we saw and did there. Plus a few other visual ideas and options.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Did a June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 114,555 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 91,937 views.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

 

 

Shopping is great in Tallinn. Here we are inside a nice linen shop near the City Hall.:

 

1A-TallinShopkeeperLinens.jpg

 

 

Here is a Tallinn street-shop vendor with various woolen items at her stall near the famous Viru Gate as you entered the lower walled area. This area is commonly called the “Sweater Wall”. Very charming and interesting. Good values and buys.:

 

1A-Tallinn-MarketShopping.jpg

 

 

At Stockholm’s Royal Palace, the changing of the guard is one of the key highlights and is handy, close to the next-door historic old town area. And it’s free! No charge or tickets required.:

 

1A-StHolm-Guards.jpg

 

 

Private, personal tours can be worth it, especially in St. Petersburg. Here our group of four, with our guide, Jane or Zhenya from Anastasia, we are viewing and learning more about one of the two da Vinci masterpieces (Madonna Litta or Madonna and Child) at the Hermitage after an early admission. There are only 14 such painting by this artist existing in the whole world. We did an early admission at the Hermitage, lessening the crowd battles and adding to the enjoyment in this spectacular place/set of five palaces AND museum. It is both! This Madonna and Child was probably painted in Milan, where the artist moved in 1482. The Madonna's tender gaze as she looks at her son, and the tranquillity of the distant mountainous landscape, reflect humanist dreams of Ideal Man and a Harmonious Life. Experts says the painting reveals great beauty in its coloring and composition. The painting came to the Czar's collection and museum in 1865 from the collection of Count Antonio Litta in Milan.:

 

1A-StP-HermitageDaVinciViewing.jpg

 

 

Copenhagen’s Nyhavn or “new” Harbor is actually old and charming. This waterfront entertainment district is lined by brightly colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. Serving as a "heritage harbor", the canal also has many historical wooden ships. Lots of people and fun activity!!:

 

Boat.jpg

 

 

Helsinki’s main market is right on the water with lots of goods and foods for sale:

 

1A-Helsinki-Mark-Dwt.jpg

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From our previous travels to these great cities/ports of Europe, here are some of my book and research tips. You might grab, maybe from your public libraries or ask for them to do a book transfer they can process for you, such super excellent visual books such as Eyewitness, Insight, etc. Rick Steves, Fodors, Frommers, Lonely Planet, etc., can work well, too. In my opinion, no one travel book has it "ALL", perfectly and completely for all of your needs. These resources, especially the visual ones, can help you better figure out your priorities, in advance, for what you want to do and see. That early research is very important. Don't wait until you get on the ship to "GUESS" what might be of interest. I always build a "file" on my laptop computer for each port stop with highlights from that reading and then pulling up stories/articles from the travels sections of the New York Times, Telegraph of London, Wikipedia, etc. All of those help to consider your many great options. Amazon can be very good in providing such books at reduced prices, plus some used books websites. Lots of great options!!! Especially in these days of the Internet, it makes things easier to research and plan ahead. You can use Google.com for great access to various text items, plus a wide variety of visuals and maps. One option for some private tour and other local options is to contract the tourism office in each of your ports. You can use Google.com and put in the search term such as "city/port name tourism office". Then follow-up to each of those office by e-mail, ask your questions, get their suggestions, options to consider, etc.

 

As you pull together this info, it easier to go back to read, re-read items, pull out key highlights using the cut and paste computer features, etc. We are doing New Zealand and Australia in early 2014 and I have already pull together over 600 pages of info, news clips, options, etc. Then, there are my photo files. I will search Google.com or Bing.com in the images section to look at visual examples for these key places we are going to visit for the first time. The visuals in both travel books and from the Internet really help get a "picture" for what to do and visit.

 

Then there is the question of what and how do you want to “ENJOY" and "EXPERIENCE" things in the Baltics, etc? Rush-rush and gulp it down like soda pop or beer . . . OR . . . sip and savor the moment like fine wine, doing people watching, sensing an enjoyment of life and the humanity, the architecture, history and charm? It's your choice. I just wanted to be honest and make sure you understand your options and timing trade-offs.

 

St. Petersburg Guides??

The honest truth is that there are a number of very good to excellent private firms in St. Petersburg. Most people liked their tour and will beat the drums and say theirs are the "best". Of course, they have only tried one and do not have much real sense of "comparison". It is my suggestion to write to four or five of the top firms, tell them exactly what you want, seek and love. See what you get back and which one is the "best fit" for your specific personal needs and travel style. Some people are very happy and satisfied with the basic, standard "formula" tour that is offered up. I am NOT a big fan, however, of "one size fits all".

 

Others, like us, want things to be a little more custom. In our "planning process", I asked lots of questions (after doing some advance reading and research) and got back many good replies (quickly) from Anastasia that helped me get my arms around the many options in St. Petersburg. Getting your trip "flow" and "pacing" is very important for St. Petersburg. We were super happy with how it all worked in having a great mix for what we saw and how it fit together. Another key factor is their "flexibility". Once in Russia and doing the first day, we asked about a couple of "schedule adjustments" and they got things done in a smooth and excellent manner. One item was a request to stop at a shop to buy a Russian-style military hat and I asked about getting an early admission at the Hermitage to avoid some of the bus/mass crowds at the regular hour. Making things custom and personal was very important to us. Some firms are flexible and very responsive. Others are not that way, nor interested or caring. You need to determine what you want and need.

 

Just like there are many different sizes, styles and types of shoes, the same is true with private tour companies. We don't all wear and have same types of shoes for all needs, occasions and purposes. Below are a few of my visual samples to get folks prepared for the great glories that are there in St. Petersburg.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Did a June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 114,555 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

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From our previous travels to these great cities/ports of Europe, here are some of my book and research tips. You might grab, maybe from your public libraries or ask for them to do a book transfer they can process for you, such super excellent visual books such as Eyewitness, Insight, etc. Rick Steves, Fodors, Frommers, Lonely Planet, etc., can work well, too. In my opinion, no one travel book has it "ALL", perfectly and completely for all of your needs. These resources, especially the visual ones, can help you better figure out your priorities, in advance, for what you want to do and see. That early research is very important. Don't wait until you get on the ship to "GUESS" what might be of interest. I always build a "file" on my laptop computer for each port stop with highlights from that reading and then pulling up stories/articles from the travels sections of the New York Times, Telegraph of London, Wikipedia, etc. All of those help to consider your many great options. Amazon can be very good in providing such books at reduced prices, plus some used books websites. Lots of great options!!! Especially in these days of the Internet, it makes things easier to research and plan ahead. You can use Google.com for great access to various text items, plus a wide variety of visuals and maps. One option for some private tour and other local options is to contract the tourism office in each of your ports. You can use Google.com and put in the search term such as "city/port name tourism office". Then follow-up to each of those office by e-mail, ask your questions, get their suggestions, options to consider, etc.

 

As you pull together this info, it easier to go back to read, re-read items, pull out key highlights using the cut and paste computer features, etc. We are doing New Zealand and Australia in early 2014 and I have already pull together over 600 pages of info, news clips, options, etc. Then, there are my photo files. I will search Google.com or Bing.com in the images section to look at visual examples for these key places we are going to visit for the first time. The visuals in both travel books and from the Internet really help get a "picture" for what to do and visit.

 

Then there is the question of what and how do you want to “ENJOY" and "EXPERIENCE" things in the Baltics, etc? Rush-rush and gulp it down like soda pop or beer . . . OR . . . sip and savor the moment like fine wine, doing people watching, sensing an enjoyment of life and the humanity, the architecture, history and charm? It's your choice. I just wanted to be honest and make sure you understand your options and timing trade-offs.

 

St. Petersburg Guides??

The honest truth is that there are a number of very good to excellent private firms in St. Petersburg. Most people liked their tour and will beat the drums and say theirs are the "best". Of course, they have only tried one and do not have much real sense of "comparison". It is my suggestion to write to four or five of the top firms, tell them exactly what you want, seek and love. See what you get back and which one is the "best fit" for your specific personal needs and travel style. Some people are very happy and satisfied with the basic, standard "formula" tour that is offered up. I am NOT a big fan, however, of "one size fits all".

 

Others, like us, want things to be a little more custom. In our "planning process", I asked lots of questions (after doing some advance reading and research) and got back many good replies (quickly) from Anastasia that helped me get my arms around the many options in St. Petersburg. Getting your trip "flow" and "pacing" is very important for St. Petersburg. We were super happy with how it all worked in having a great mix for what we saw and how it fit together. Another key factor is their "flexibility". Once in Russia and doing the first day, we asked about a couple of "schedule adjustments" and they got things done in a smooth and excellent manner. One item was a request to stop at a shop to buy a Russian-style military hat and I asked about getting an early admission at the Hermitage to avoid some of the bus/mass crowds at the regular hour. Making things custom and personal was very important to us. Some firms are flexible and very responsive. Others are not that way, nor interested or caring. You need to determine what you want and need.

 

Just like there are many different sizes, styles and types of shoes, the same is true with private tour companies. We don't all wear and have same types of shoes for all needs, occasions and purposes. Below are a few of my visual samples to get folks prepared for the great glories that are there in St. Petersburg.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

oh Terry !! you are after my own heart !! we have always planned our vacations worldwide, like you, i thought we were the only travelers that did this !! We even go as far as reseaching eating places, making lists of three or four different restaurant choices in loads of different types of dining, eg, casual, formal, chinese, italian, spanish, mexican etc, etc.We generally stick to it and have never been let down ! sometimes we dont stick to it, but boy! has it been fun doing the research!!! Our holidays dont last 2 weeks, they last a year !! , happy travels, happy times, wonderfull memories !June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelonathat had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 114,555 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at: oh oh s

Edited by fizzy1

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oh Terry !! you are after my own heart !! we have always planned our vacations worldwide, like you, i thought we were the only travelers that did this !! We even go as far as reseaching eating places, making lists of three or four different restaurant choices in loads of different types of dining, eg, casual, formal, chinese, italian, spanish, mexican etc, etc.We generally stick to it and have never been let down ! sometimes we dont stick to it, but boy! has it been fun doing the research!!! Our holidays dont last 2 weeks, they last a year !! , happy travels, happy times, wonderfull memories

 

Appreciate your nice and kind comments. YES!! That advance research and planning BOTH helps make things smoother during the trip, plus adds to the understanding for ALL of what you are seeing and doing.

 

We are looking forward to our first “down under” visit, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Celebrity Solstice sailing, departing Sydney, doing 14 days on this ship we loved in the Med in June 2011. We will be finishing in Auckland. Plus, doing some pre-cruise options for Cairns/Port Douglas, the Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, then Kangaroo Island near Adelaide before departing from Sidney’s scenic harbor. And, probably post-cruise in Queenstown and stopping in Hawaii on the way home to break up that long, long flight back. Been doing lots to prepare during the past nine months and have over 600 pages of "stuff" on my laptop computer file for this trip. Fortunately, the Internet, plus lots of good books from the library, allows pulling together great info and options to consider. Much easier to do that prep these days!! Plus, wonderful info and great people on these CC Boards.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 92,491 views.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

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Hence my favorite saying that the planning is almost as much fun as the vacation! Good to know that there are other "fanatic planners" out there!

 

 

Dolfans

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Not sure if this is mentioned on this thread or not so I thought I would add that the time changes frequently on this cruise. The two nights before you arrive in SPB you will lose an hour each night. Be sure to rest up because you won't be getting as much sleep as you think!

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Hence my favorite saying that the planning is almost as much fun as the vacation! Good to know that there are other "fanatic planners" out there!

 

 

Dolfans

YES !!! the planning IS as much fun as the vacation its self !! infact a few years ago we had to hold back a bit on the planning as the vacation itself was becoming a bit of an anti climax !!!!! so we now know how much to prepare before hand and make ourselves go off piste sometimes !!

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Appreciate your nice and kind comments. YES!! That advance research and planning BOTH helps make things smoother during the trip, plus adds to the understanding for ALL of what you are seeing and doing.

 

We are looking forward to our first “down under” visit, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Celebrity Solstice sailing, departing Sydney, doing 14 days on this ship we loved in the Med in June 2011. We will be finishing in Auckland. Plus, doing some pre-cruise options for Cairns/Port Douglas, the Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, then Kangaroo Island near Adelaide before departing from Sidney’s scenic harbor. And, probably post-cruise in Queenstown and stopping in Hawaii on the way home to break up that long, long flight back. Been doing lots to prepare during the past nine months and have over 600 pages of "stuff" on my laptop computer file for this trip. Fortunately, the Internet, plus lots of good books from the library, allows pulling together great info and options to consider. Much easier to do that prep these days!! Plus, wonderful info and great people on these CC Boards.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 92,491 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

WOW !!! thats one hell of a trip !! fantastic, cant wait to read your report

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YES !!! the planning IS as much fun as the vacation its self !! infact a few years ago we had to hold back a bit on the planning as the vacation itself was becoming a bit of an anti climax !!!!! so we now know how much to prepare before hand and make ourselves go off piste sometimes !!

 

LOL! I can so relate! You should see my travel binder. I have to pay extra to check it on the plane!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

 

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do!"

Walt Disney

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Not sure if this is mentioned on this thread or not so I thought I would add that the time changes frequently on this cruise. The two nights before you arrive in SPB you will lose an hour each night. Be sure to rest up because you won't be getting as much sleep as you think!

 

Thanks - helpful to know!

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Yes, very helpful to know! We will need to remember to catch up on our zzzz's for busy touring days in SPB!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

 

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do!"

Walt Disney

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If you are going to be pre or post cruise in Copenhagen, Check out what week the Malmo Music Festival is in Malmo Sweden and if your dates work for you to attend. It is a simple train ride from the station over there for a fabulous free street music festival. You get off the train and walk into multiple music venues with every genre of music and street vendors.

We just happened upon it on the last night of a Baltic Post cruise stay. It was a fabulous end to a wonderful cruise. Just be careful if you have a 24 hour train pass it will not cover you to leave Sweden and return to Copenhagen. Also I think someone else warned on this thread that there is a difference in the Kroner.

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WOW !!! thats one hell of a trip !! fantastic, cant wait to read your report

 

Tennant: Not sure if this is mentioned on this thread or not so I thought I would add that the time changes frequently on this cruise. The two nights before you arrive in SPB you will lose an hour each night. Be sure to rest up because you won't be getting as much sleep as you think!

 

Appreciate the nice comments and encouragement from fizzy1 on our upcoming Australia-NZ "adventure".

 

YES' date=' Tennant is right on the challenges with the changing time zone as you move east towards St. Petersburg. Our 2008 cruise started from Dover, UK, so it was a [b']constant "down-shift" of losing hours with the shifting time zones[/b]. BUT, then when we moved west towards Stockholm to finish our cruise, we gain an hour back. That helped a little. Overall, the Baltics are very port intensive with time pressures, especially with so many great options on things, places to see and do.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

Did a June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 115,253 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

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LOL! I can so relate! You should see my travel binder. I have to pay extra to check it on the plane!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

 

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do!"

Walt Disney

lolol !!!

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LOL! I can so relate! You should see my travel binder. I have to pay extra to check it on the plane!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

 

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do!"

Walt Disney

 

What makes it funnier is that it is true!ImageUploadedByTapatalk1358895548.796208.jpg.9457646b5ae482cf64b769e541d2dc6e.jpg

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

 

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do!"

Walt Disney

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