Around the Block is cruising the Baltics this week


And then on to Krakow, Poland

Sharon and I are cruising the Baltic sea for the next week. The cruise started in Copenhagen with port calls in Karlskroner, Sweden, Gdansk, Poland, Klaipeda, Lithuania (only about 50kms from the Russian Oblast known as Kaliningrad), Riga, Latvia, Tallinn, Estonia, Helsinki and Stockholm. From Stockholm we’ll fly to Krakow to visit friends.

With all this travel, Around the Block will probably focus less on news and politics (although if I’m amused and/or outraged by something or someone, I might have to opine), and more on observations from this trip.

Here are two quick ones.


Copenhagen, which I’ve been to many time for both business and pleasure, remains a delightful, albeit expensive, city. The food scene is first rate, the people are friendly, the architecture eclectic, shopping, particularly on Strøget, one of the first pedestrian city-center shopping streets is a pleasure, and Tivoli Gardens remains the greatest amusement park in the world.

But anyone who hasn’t visited Copenhagen in a while, which includes me, as my last visit was probably over 20 years ago, will be struck by one amazing observation and one incredible fact.

Danish boys ogling a Tesla

Observation: Strolling the streets of Copenhagen I noticed a huge difference between cars in Denmark and cars at home: something like one out of four to five cars on the streets of the city are electric (EVs) or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) or simply hybrids. Amazing!

CleanTechnica: Denmark Crushes 50% EV Sales Barrier 

Fact: According to the website, CleanTechnica, 50% of new cars sold in Denmark are now either EVs (27%) or PHEVs (31%). And there are dozens of EV models from both European (particularly VW and Fiat) and Korean (Hyundai and Kia) manufacturers sold in Denmark but not available in the U.S. Why are the Danes doing the right thing while we can’t even get the EVs that are ostensibly available in the U.S. into American auto dealer showrooms? Is this just another example of American Exceptionalism?

Karlskroner, Sweden

Karlskroner is a small town in Southeast Sweden known mostly as the headquarters of the Swedish navy. It was probably added to Baltic cruise itineraries when St. Petersburg, Russia, for obvious reasons, was taken off the port call list. Normally I wouldn’t report on a stop in a town like Karlskroner because, frankly, there’s not much to report. But whenever I visit a foreign city I often think, “is this a place I’d like to live in.” After visiting this house in this heritage neighborhood, Karlskroner did not make the shortlist.

Two rooms…sewing room which doubles as a bedroom, separated from the dining room by a tiny kitchen (sink, mini-bar sized fridge, 2 burner stove) with an outhouse toilet/shower…asking price: €600,000.

And you thought San Francisco was pricey!

But more important than real estate prices is what I learned about Sweden’s military now that it will be joining NATO. While the few Swedish navy destroyers I saw looked impressive, I thought folks at home would like to see what Sweden will be bringing to the party to enhance NATO’s ground forces:

Swedish soldiers guarding the port.

Take that, Putin!

Next stop Gdansk, home of Polish solidarity. More to come.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

4 thoughts on “Around the Block is cruising the Baltics this week

  1. Enjoy!! You made me laugh with this post. I needed that compared to the depressing news today. You will just have to guess what I am talking about, but you can read it on Heather Cox’s post this morning.


  2. Wonderful to see you visiting these Baltic Countries. I know you will enjoy the eye opening, visual stimulation and the people’s appreciation for being in the EU and, especially, NATO.
    Enjoy Krakow. Want to hear all about it when we see you in September!


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