Weather: Sunshine and light breeze.
Air temperature: +26°C
After a most gentle overnight passage further into the Baltic during which we rounded the southern tip of Sweden, we awoke to a most delightful morning of sunshine and the post picturesque view from our berth over the harbour to the town of Rønne, the ‘capital’ of Bornholm.
Known as the sunshine island, this small part of the Kingdom of Denmark has a long and rich history, including the unusual round churches of the 11th century and the fact that a couple of towns were bombed by Russia after the Germans had signed the armistice in 1945.
After breakfast, the compliment of guests divided into their respective groups and boarded their coaches for the Cultural Tour and the Natural History Tour. I accompanied the latter and we set off across the gently rolling landscape of wheat fields dotted with the delightful thatched farmhouses all painted ‘Bornholm Red’, the correct tone we were told was achieved by mixing bull’s blood with pig urine!
First stop, Echo Valley - which lived up to its name and was looking beautiful with its trees and wildflowers at their peak. This was also a special place as the valley is a ‘rift valley’ sitting astride the juncture of two tectonic plates. A walk along the valley floor and a scramble up a rocky path took us through the beach woodland and spruce plantations to a viewing tower erected in the 19th century for the benefit of the visiting Danish king. Most of us braved the heights but Conrad wimped out!
Back on the bus we headed for Almindgen and the walk around the lake that looked perfect, reflecting the sunlight. Here, the group subdivided into birders who went off to a hide to look at feathered things while I led a botany walk to enjoy the rich diversity of wildflowers. Our tally for the 45-minute walk was 16 flowering species amongst the highlights of which were the white water lilies on the lake and two orchids - the Northern marsh orchid and the Greater butterfly orchid.
Our last stop was an inn, deep within the forest, where we were treated to a much-needed cup of coffee or tea and a slice (or two!) of freshly baked Danish pastry (which for some reason is called Vienna bread in Denmark!) Refreshed, although partly deafened by the squawking of a couple of Blue macaws in a cage, we headed back to Rønne where some guests de-bussed and headed off into town.
Back on board, lunch was followed by an afternoon of exploration in town (transport was provided on a most riotously painted bus) or a reflection on our most pleasant and informative morning.
At 16.30 we let the lines go and set out on a calm but misty sea, our destination Travemünde and sadly, the end of this voyage. But before we all got to maudlin, Kristine put on a show of the wonderful photo/video DVD of the entire cruise that she had filmed and edited. This was a delightful trip down memory lane and a work of art in its own right. Even though this cruise has only been 14 days we really have covered a lot of territory, had many adventures, seen many exciting and interesting things, and made many new friends.