Red, White and Blue – Viking Line

The dark blue waters of the Baltic are brightened up by the red and white of Viking Line’s many crossings to Tallinn and Stockholm this summer. To liven up their regular timetable, they’ve gone as far as renting a catamaran which will be in operation until the end of October 2017. Besides FSTR or ‘Faster’, the aptly named aforementioned vessel, two of their other cruisers viz. the Mariella and Gabriella will also be called on to ply the heavy traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn together with their regular ship XPRS.

While there’s plenty of competition out there, Viking Line has always tried to stay ahead of the game with their friendly service, good food and cheap prices. The FSTR catamaran gets you from Helsinki to Tallinn in an hour and 45 minutes and is big enough to carry 835 passengers and 120 cars making it operational in all kinds of weather. The focus is on seating with airline-type loungers for everyone. The bar and cafeteria on board make sure that no one goes hungry or thirsty and for an extra fee, a hot breakfast or supper with beer and wine are available in the Club Lounge where the standard of service and products are of exceptional quality.

Viking XPRS is a little bigger with a 2500 passenger capacity taking a little longer. The two and a half hours on board can be spent singing karaoke, dancing to a live band, dining in one of the many restaurants, shopping at reduced prices or watching your kids play in the designated area. The Bistro Buffet is the most popular choice since the selection is vast and even pernickety eaters can find something they like here. Beer and wine are on tap. But for something a little more upmarket, Wine & Dine has white linen on the tables and service with lots of smiles is effortless. A 3-course meal sets you back around €38. Get into celebratory mood with a glass of Charles Heidsieck champagne at €8, a steal anywhere on the planet.

Kumu Art Museum in Kadriorg Park, Tallinn

Some hours in Tallinn can be combined with the Viking Line ticket and there are all kinds of options for all ages to keep the group happy. The Old Town always presents a photo opportunity with its architecture and colourful buildings. The Seaplane Harbour is a mecca for anyone interested in boats and sea craft, a real hands-on place where the most reluctant of museum-goer will dive into the activities. The Tele Tower is a futuristic experience with a 3-D movie to start your journey before your snappy elevator ride to the top floor where the view literally takes your breath away looking out over the city and down through the ‘hole’ in the floor. Kumu Art Museum is housed in a spectacular modern building with art treasures covering the period from the beginning of the 18thC until the end of World War II. Temporary exhibitions showcase Estonian and international artists and the performance schedule is choc-a-bloc. Besides, the walk through the immaculate Kadriorg Park to get there is a treat all on its own and there are many other museums to visit on the way.

Dinner aboard Viking Line’s XPRS at the Wine and Dine Restaurant

If time is not at a premium, staying overnight in Tallinn is reasonably priced especially when you book it with your Viking Line crossing. Budget to luxury are all within a price range that won’t bring tears to your eyes.

Here are the links to Viking Line’s timetables and ways you can spend your day in Tallinn:

https://www.sales.vikingline.com/

https://www.visittallinn.ee/eng

Getting in and around Šibenik

Spending a month in rented accommodation in any country no matter how cheap, can set you back some hundreds. Looking at car rental prices at Split Airport I decided to plunge for a taxi to get me to my destination in Šibenik at a decent hour in the evening. Jam Transfer charged me €55 one way which is not that bad considering it’s a 60 minute drive.

Banj Beach, Šibenik, voted last year as one of the best city beaches in the world.
Banj Beach, Šibenik, voted last year as one of the best city beaches in the world.

My cheap apartment was not what you might call centrally located. Although only about a 15 minute walk from the heart of town it was a somewhat longer hike to Banj Beach, about 30 minutes or more depending on the heat and coming home involved getting up a slope. Sweating my way back, I happened to notice a bike rail called Next Bike with very clear and easy instructions on how to sign up. You need a credit card, a mobile phone number and a self-created password. Once you’ve signed up with these details, you enter the number of the bike you’d like (granny needs a shopping basket…), you get a code for the lock and off you go. The first 30 minutes daily is free and then it costs you 8 kuna (approx. €1,10) per hour. This ‘bike station’ was located in Baldekin about 100 m from my block. There was another one at Banj Beach and another one on the shoreline where the action is. When you return the bike, you just pop it into a slot, there’s a beep and then another beep to signal that they’ve recorded your return. If there’s no space on the rail, just lock the bike to another one, press Return on the touch pad terminal, enter what they ask for i.e. telephone number and password and answer a few questions with yes or no like “Was there any problem with the bike…” etc. This made life a LOT easier.

Boats to the islands:

Jadrolinija is the ferry serving most Croatian islands. In Šibenik there’s a ticket office sandwiched in between restaurants on the promenade (green wooden door) but there’s also a little booth closer to mooring spot which is to the left as you face the sea passed the bus station closer to the cranes of the port.

Jadrija – See my blog: Magical Moments on Jadrija. the boat leaves from the shoreline at the beginning of the promenade where all the restaurants are. Buy your tickets on board. Time: 20 minutes. Cost: 14 kuna (€2.05).

Zlarin – see my blog: Pristine Zlarin  Time: 30 minutes. Cost: 17 kuna (€2,50) one way. Details: Jadrolinija

Žirje – see my blog: The Island and its Mysteries.  Same as above. Time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Cost: 23 kuna (€3,35). Details: Jadrolinija

Kaprije – on the way to Žirje. Time: 1 hour 10 minutes. Cost: 23 kuna (€3,35) one way. Details: Jadrolinija

Prvić Luka – birthplace of inventor of the parachute and many other innovations Faust Vrancic with a museum worth seeing. Time: 45 minutes. Cost: 17 kuna (€2,50) one way. Details: Jadrolinija

Vodice – not exactly an island but a huge resort with beaches that stretch along for miles. Reachable by boat from Šibenik. Time: 1 hr 15 minutes. Cost: 18 kuna (€2,65) one way. Details: Jadrolinija

Buses:

Krapanj Island – one of my favourites. See my blog ______________ . Take Bus number 5 from the open air market in Šibenik to Brodarica. Tickets from ticket office. Time: 20 minutes max. Cost: 24 kuna return. Then take the ferry that runs every 30 minutes from in front of the Konzum where the bus stops. Time: 5 minutes max. Cost: 12 kuna (€1,75)

Split Airport – Bus from Šibenik bus station to Trogir bus station. Timetable: Every half an hour. Time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Cost: 38 kuna one way. Take Bus no. 37 from Trogir bus station to Split Airport. Timetable: every 20 minutes. Time: 10 – 15 minutes. Cost: 11 kuna (€1,60) one way. Same applies from Split to Šibenik.

Krka National Park – See my blog: Steve and Krka National Park. Bus from Šibenik to Skradin from where you can take a pleasant boat ride to the park included in the entrance fee of the park (110 kuna/€16). Bus fare: 24 kuna (€3,48)/one way. Time: 30 minutes.