Sunday, 25 June 2017

Day 5 - St Petersburg (Day 1)

Viking Sky arrives in to St Petersburg, just behind us. Quite amazing to be in Russia!

Another gloriously warm morning greets us as we have tea on the balcony and slowly edge into the port of St Petersburg, The Viking Sky is now shadowing directly behind us.  We are in Russia; not quite sure what to expect. We have been told by SPB to expect at least 45mins to clear the immigration and not to expect anyone to crack a smile during this process :) 

It does indeed take exactly 45minutes and none of the ladies ever do manage a smile. It actually looks like it shouldn't take half as long as it does. We spend the time in the line with a NZ lady watching each booth and the time seems to range between a few minutes if you have all your paperwork in order to up to 30 minutes per person or sent back if you dont have your tour papers which act as your visa.

Anyway we finally get through and meet our guide for the day 'Elena' who speaks perfect English and guides us to our 18 seat Mercedes Bus, opulently decorated in an Amber wood effect (your going to see a lot of this in Russia)
Russian orthodox cathedral of St Peter & St Paul within the Peter and Paul fortress.
Once we are all assembled, which takes time as everyone has to get through immigration, we are on our way. St Petersburg is made up of many interconnecting islands (by road and canal) and our first stop is to one of these on which stands the Peter and Paul Fortress. Within the Cathedral here lie the tombs of all the great Czars and Elena does a great job taking us through the history(tomb by tomb)

 The Czars' remains are beneath the tombs. The green one is Alexander II's, the red jasper one is his wife Maria's.

We have often visited exhibitions at the National displaying selections of Icons from the Eastern States - but these are usually panels or individual paintings removed from there original purpose so its very impressive to see how a proper Icon Screen  is actually used in a Russian Orthodox Church.

Unlike a Christian Church the Alter/Sanctuary is hidden behind a gate of icons from the nave of the church when a service is not being held. Overtime this gateway has become so decorated with gold leaf and the icons themselves that its now the most decorative part of the building. They are simply stunning.

The pulpit is never used, services are conducted from the iconostasis screen.
Back on to the bus and into the air conditioning - phew. And its time to head out to Peterhof which we will reach by one of the many Hydrofoils you see darting around the river Neva. Its a short wait on the riverside and a relatively quick trip (though I do doze off).

Hydrofoil across Gulf of Finland to the Peterhof Palace
Elena is the master of handing the SPB flag to one of our small group and darting ahead of us to get our admission tickets before we even catch up. The first thing that surprises you when you arrive here is how big the hydrofoil port is. There's room for 6  and they zip in and out like clockwork - and this is just people arriving by water at the beginning of the season.

Peterhof Hydrofoil Port
So where are we. Its very hard to try to simplify Russian history but basically it was a hugely powerful and rich royalist country before the revolution. It also had extremes - it was hot and warm or bleeding freezing so you had to build a few palaces; one for winter; one for summer and one for your dresses and one for your art etc etc etc .. And basically every Czar that came along decided they needed to do a bit of home improvement/extension on what the previous Czar had built.

Peter the great started this little homestead for himself as a summer cottage.  He had a bit of cash to burn and wanted to impress and had seen Versailles. He also liked fountains (by the way every fountain is powered naturally - no pumps - just pure gravity; and miles and miles of pipes and lakes and pipes and lakes and smaller pipes and pressure.

Its opulent - its impressive and its vast. The gardens stretch for ever: fortunately we walk around at quite a leisurely pace through the woodland, as its getting warmer and warmer.

This is the garden shed
Goodbye Peterhof
Its soon time for lunch and Elena drives us to a little hotel that has a banquet dining room attached to the back and seems to be a venue SPB use a lot as the car park is full of their mini buses.

Borscht is served!
Lunch is traditional Borscht, Chicken Dumplings and a dessert and is included in the tour price - as are the shots of ice cold vodka to wash it down with. Lots of `down in ones` followed by grimaced looks - when in Rome! (though Elena points out Vodka and Russia is a bit of a myth as the Fins/Polish are the biggest drinkers of it)

One tiny corner of the palace
Next we are off to Catherine the Great's palace at Pushkin. Clearly having that little summer place that Peter built at Peterhof wasn't enough for Catherine (especially for a lady who had 15000 dresses). Its hard to actually stand in any position to get a sense of scale using the camera of this place so I'm going to borrow a drone photograph from the palace's own web site.

The horeshoe of buildings at the back of the lawns were for cooks and servants
If you thought Peterhof was a little  bit "flashy" - this place is so plush that if you stood still in the rooms for too long you would probably end up coated in gold leaf. Its no surprise to learn Elton John has declared it his favourite place in the world  and has performed at several private parties here (wonder if Putin was invited ;)

A Dining Room - One of Many
Ballroom - Eltons favourite venue
Nice little surprise on the way back - it was planned but we didn't realise just how much fun this would be. Elena has decided we must have a trip on the St Petersburg Metro System as there is nothing like it in the world. 

After a quick recon and distribution of barrier tokens we are fully instructed and ready to go. If we get separated we have to head to an unpronounceable station thats a few stops down the line. The trains run strictly every 60 seconds in each direction and the doors are allowed to be open at the platform for 6 seconds (it must be great fun in the rush hour). It's beautifully clean & efficient, unlike NYC.

This - is a platform, the pillars are cut glass!

Every station is slightly different in design with classical marble and frescoed decoration all styled in iconic communist motifs. Chandeliers hang from the ceilings - the subway in Soviet times was considered to be the Palace of the People and was to be decorated as such with statues of the working man from various industry decorating throughout.

Its 6pm by the time we return to the ship - a simple process to get back through immigration. A fantastic few drinks in the sun on the Waterfront Deck and a great meal again finishes our first great day in Russia.  The Getaway stays here overnight for another full day in marvellous St Pete.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Day 4 - Tallinn Estonia

A cloudless sky greets us when we awake, the ship is  slowly backing in to the dock at Tallinn. Its just ourselves and Viking Sky here today so hopefully not too crowded. We dont have a tour booked for Tallinn as we have an intensive package booked starting tomorrow for the two days in St Petersberg - so after a nice relaxing breakfast on the balcony  we head out down the gang plank to take ourselves around Tallin with the help of a tourist map and some bits and pieces on the ipad.

Mmmmm Croissants :)
NCL hull art - you always know when an NCL ship is in port.
Its a short walk from the ship across a couple of roads to the old city walls. From here you find yourself in a lovely medieval town - hardly touched by the Second World War as the bombing focused on the more modern industrial and port side of the city. In fact the whole town is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Entering through the gated walls you find yourselves walking towards the beautiful town square which is a little reminiscent of Brugge which we visited last month. Its a good (though typically for a town square - slightly overpriced) place to sit down for a nice fresh coffee and to get your bearings on where to head next. Tourism (and especially cruise ships) is a huge industry here and you will notice most of the restaurant waiters and waitresses dress in costume - It adds a slightly odd Disney feel to the whole place.

Tallinn Town Hall Square
Also worth noting is that the other big industry here is technology; Tallinn is in fact Europe's equivalent of the Silicon Valley California - so its a bonus to get non stop city wide wi fi and whilst here: time to delete those hundreds of useless emails sent to you whilst on holiday.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The town is split into two parts - the lower town (All-linn) where the Town Hall Square is located and Toopea which sits on a fortified hill and is topped by Toopea Castle part of which is now the parliament and several fine churches including the  Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky. Beautifully decorated inside and out with gold leaf and mosaic.

Toopea Castle Walls
After a morning exploring we head back towards the town square where we are accosted by a couple of not so buxom wenches trying to entice us with  large 'gentleman sized beers' in huge clay vessels. Who can say no to such an offer. The bar/restaurant is called Hortus and is directly behind the town hall. You can choose to sit in a tent inside or use the lovely sun deck next to the town hall tower.

We wander back through the stunning flower markets and the south gates of the city. Its still lovely and warm. We are both highly impressed with Tallinn its an exceptional little jewel of a medieval city - despite the weather we buy a new umbrella (this should guarantee we have no rain)  as we left the Berlin ones on the coach - Doh!

Viru Gate - Tallinn
Lifeboat testing on the Getaway.
We take a late lunch back on the ship.  Today the buffet excels itself with some of the thickest, juiciest  and meaty king prawn burgers I have ever tasted - mmmmm. Perfect with an ice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc or two. As usual the time soon flies by when you're doing nothing and we and the Viking Sky are pulling away together and heading out into the Gulf Of Finland towards St Petersburg. Woohoo!

Oyster Rockefeller at Ocean Blue
Dinner tonight is another visit to the Ocean Blue. We have tried to book most of the premium restaurants to tie in with the nights when we are not out touring all day and half asleep by the evening.  The food is excellent as usual - in fact tonight its better than usual if a little sinful (Scallops and Belly of Pork really ought to be banned under some cholesterol law - but the 18 hour slow roasted pork is like butter (wait that sounds even worse)and the scallops like pure silk).

Scallops and pork belly with veal jus and grapefruit
Its a great meal and another great evening - but can you  please go dark at a decent time - tomorrow I suspect is going to be a seriously busy day.

Click here for next day 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Day 3 - Sea Day

It's a  gorgeous sunny and nice warm morning to wake up to  just as the Captain promised. We have a relaxing breakfast on the balcony having now mastered how to fill the order card in correctly. We are on the starboard side and have the sun streaming in. Its lovely  and the sea today is like a mill pond. The map shows we still have a long way to go but there is  a full day and night to sail before we reach Tallinn( we're almost north of  Gdansk, Poland)

We spend the afternoon on the deck lying back enjoying the sun chatting and reading - its amazing how time just drifts away on these days.  It's soon time for lunch (great Indian meal for me ) and wine and blue moon beer (these wash down the Indian perfectly)  followed by Camparis in the sun. There's lots to do but I think we will give the slides and the rope walking a miss until another day. More than happy to relax after yesterday and sit on the deck above the pool so we can watch the various bands on the outdoor poolside stage perform..

Rope Course deck 17- you can walk the plank and stand 170 ft above the sea.

Deck 15 pool and stage from deck 16
We have dinner booked in tonight at "The Bistro" always one of my favourites both on the Epic and  Jade (who can resist the Mushroom Soup in the Bistro - its an NCL must do). However a small complaint - the food is great (as usual) the service excellent; but who  on earth decided that this position on the Getaway was a great spot for what is suppose to be a premium restaurant - an interior room - seriously!! Now to be fair the one good thing the room  does have going for it is it's small and cosy and therefore a nice quiet experience (though they can't seriously think that anyone would want to sit outside  practically under the casino in what is  basically a corridor pretending to be a street.

Bistro - French restaurant
The food though is excellent. Veal for me and Dover Sole for Jack - starters Crab and horseradish and of course the mushroom soup.We ate dinner quite early so it gave us some time to catch the end of the first show of Burn the Floor (yes the professional ballroom dance show I said I didn't like when we are on the Epic). Oddly I preferred it  here. The sound in this theatre is much better (loud and powerful) and the live percussion comes across really well (it's just lacking that full live band though). Maybe the dancers and the staging was a bit better too. Did our usual trick of standing at the back so Jack can dance and I can pretend I can dance in the dark - Argentine Tango bring it on - oops another chair broken.

Burn the Floor - Main Theatre
Coming out of the dark theatre and wandering  out onto the promenade deck we had forgotten that as we head further to the North the sunset is getting later and later. There's no land in sight at the moment though the cruise ship 'Viking Sky' can be seen a few miles ahead of us. Revitalised by the fresh air and inspired by watching the dancing we head off to the Fat Cats club to hear Into the Drift, who are great!

Vikings ahoy - load the cannons
I have to say the Japanese and Chinese (like the Italians and Spanish on Costa)  take their dancing seriously. In fact they seem to be so focused about getting the feet and hand positions correct and cha cha cha ing to everything that  I'm not even sure they can relax or hear any of the soul of the  music, such is their concentration. I dont think Len Goodman would be pickling his walnuts to this but  Bruno would say its entertaining to watch and they put my lack of effort to shame so they get a 10 for effort (note to self- remember to book dance lessons before next cruise - I probably said this after the Costa cruise)

And then its time for bed. Its still not gone dark and I'm not sure it ever will. An enjoyable sea day that was welcome after an exhausting day in Berlin. Tomorrow should be nice and relaxing as when we reach Estonia we will be docking practically on the doorstep of Tallinn.

Click here for day 4

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Day 2 - Port of Warnemunde for Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie, entrance to what was the American Sector of Berlin West
Breakfast in the room. Ever since the Transatlantic with Celebrity I don't think we have ever bothered with climbing up the stairs for the rugby buffet breakfast experience - Gemma spoilt us forever though we are yet to find her match. I dont quite understand why people put themselves through the whole buffet experience unless its to study how different cultures interpret the word queuing. TBF I think Savor is open most mornings if you prefer a waiter service.. Anyway tea (Earl Grey Hot!) is delivered on time as two flasks of hot water though the toasted muffins and croissants seems to have been misinterpreted as several rather random danish and cinnamon rolls. I also swear that it doesn't matter who you cruise with - if you ask for marmalade you will always get apricot jam. Anyway its enjoyable though the weather as expected looks diabolical - so a quick hot massage shower (woohoo!!) dressed and brollies at the ready we are ready for Berlin. Whats a little rain when you live in England.
The drive to Berlin wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact the scenery is basically grass, trees and the odd windmill - Jack says I'm being kind and it was trees, trees and more trees (apparently they were dull trees at that) - no hills of any description, just a never ending horizon of German fields and forests. Luckily the Kindle's battery lasts out and the coach has reclinable seats. There is a comfort break halfway through at a small service station where a poor German lady is suddenly attacked on all fronts by mad English speaking tourists demanding 50c Euro coins to use the bathroom whilst waving 50E notes at her. She handles all of this with typical German efficiency which gives me a glimmer of  hope for Brexit negotiations.

We are finally deposited outside the Berlin Olympic Stadium built for the summer of 1936 games by Architect Werner March. A great Nazi showcase of the Aryan race until Jesse Owens threw a spanner in the works. Here we meet Stefan, who runs the Berlin side of the company (SPB) whilst his wife runs the outfit in St Petersburg (he asks us to say hi to her from him). He introduces us to our guide the wonderful Jan - who is the teacher you always wished for but instead got the one who put you in a coma for the day. I swear we learn more in a day regarding the Kaisers, the 1st - 2nd and 3rd Reichs, the Nazis and the Cold War than I have ever known before. Jan has a perfect Oxbridge sounding English voice - is a lawyer by profession but enjoys his other job, guiding in Berlin - his thesis was on the Reichstag. His style is highly effectual, highly non PC (in his words-hurray) and very dramatic as he runs around drawing maps in the ground. German history is quite complex but basically its like Game of Thrones without the dyed grey hair.

The rain has eased a little - and Jan spends some time getting his little group  to say where they are from. So basically all Americans bar two families from Cuba & Singapore and us - Jan turns to us and pleads for us not to leave the EU. You may have noticed in the picture above a man dressed in shorts - t shirt and slippers. I can only assume they had an inside cabin and simply didn't notice the weather had changed overnight  or they were caught up in the BA lost luggage fiasco that happened the week before as both he and his wife ended up looking like they had ridden river rapids after 10 minutes.

On that note you'll notice a theme developing in these photos - dont forget to pack a brolly. Its quite odd but as Jan takes us through the complex history of the Tsars and the horror and lunacy of the 3rd Reich and Nazis that the grey gloom seems to actually fit the city.

Brandenburg Gate
 Jan takes our orders for lunch (which he says will be a typical German affair - sausages then!) so it will be ready when we arrive at the traditional German restaurant. Here he helps serve the dishes  and steal tap water for us to go with our beers and wine. (Germans like to charge for tap water - Be aware if they seem grumpy when they serve you that's fine and normal, Jan tell us - if they shout loudly at you they may be slightly annoyed - dont even ask what service will be like if they dont like you)

After Lunch the rain finally stops and it appears the sun is trying to break through - the forecast was correct then and we continue on our tour taking in more and more iconic buildings, including this subtle and thoughtful monument to the book burning event in Bebelplatz Square. Through a glass window in the square where the burning took place a library has been created with empty shelves.

There are so many buildings in Berlin that are recognisable  due to the fact you have probably seen them or the huge squares in historic footage of the many rally events that took place once the Nazi party came to power.

Altes Museum


However the most visited area is a small crossroads  in to what was the American sector during the cold war. To be honest Checkpoint Charlie is a bit of  a disappointment after all the beautiful architecture and classic buildings. Its basically a fake tourist copy. Other than the fact its in the correct place everything about it is false including as Jan points out 3 spelling mistakes on the board. However there is nothing fake about the remaining section of the Berlin Wall (unlike the  -ahem- bits of it you will see for sale as fridge magnets).


I probably have only covered half of what we saw and did today. Its a long day and yes its a long coach trip but we would not have missed it for the world. This is what we both love about cruising - waking up to a new place of interest in a different country every morning. We say our goodbyes to Jan and head back to the ship in glorious sunshine - though mainly asleep.

We are totally exhausted by the time we return but a quick shower and dinner in the MDR revitalizes us for the evening. Food is excellent again and our wine waiter is especially jovial tonight. The Tropicana dining room still has the same issue that I described in our last trip report on the Epic. When the band's playing in the dining room the sound can be really dodgy depending on where your sat - all we could hear was bass boom. We sail away late in the evening after dark - waved on by many locals and to the accompaniment, by coincidence of a large firework display a little further down the coast. The captain confirms that we are going to have good weather from this point onward and as its a sea day tomorrow we can look forward to a nice lie in.

Click here for day 3

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

NCL Getaway - Baltic Cruise - Pre and Day 1 Copenhagen

2nd - 3rd Jun 2017

The timing of this cruise and the flight times meant that if we were to see any of Copenhagen we would have to take a flight out the afternoon before our cruise day. We used Easyjet to fly directly from Manchester to Copenhagen a nice short hop of about 90mins . The airport is to the south of the city and the port to the North so we chose an apartment/hotel in the redeveloped old port area to the North within walking distance of the fort and  den Lille Havfrue -little mermaid statue. Booking these type of rooms gives you the equivalent size of a hotel suite plus a little kitchen - handy for a quick breakfast. The Adina rooms were spacious, clean and in a nice area of the town.

Initially my plans to get to the rooms were just to hop in a taxi, but we couldn't resist taking the train into the city (about a 20min ride) and then taking a taxi from central station (which is right opposite the Tivoli gardens) to the hotel. On reflection a better plan would have been to stay on the train for a further stop North to get out of the central city as we spent most of the taxi ride sat in rush hour gridlocked traffic in an annoying Mercedes which had some eco habit of turning off the engine every time we stopped moving and thus turning off the air conditioning - Copenhagen was warm and humid tonight.

Checked in and had a great dinner at a little trattoria across the road form the hotel (most of the guests seemed to be Americans heading for a cruise) but it was reassuring to see a lot of locals in here and the food was excellent (as was the local draught beer)

den Lille Havfrue
Boarding began at about 12pm the following day and reception informed us we could just leave the bags in the room until then so we had a leisurely walk across to the little mermaid. The first surprise was the weather. Hot and sunny at 8am (at least for us) and not at all what I was expecting from Denmark in early June. The harbour is only a few hundred yards from the hotel and it doesn't take long to realise you're in the right area as there are what seems like hundreds of tour buses descending on a small strip of esplanade to drop people off to look at the little mermaid. Last week I noticed on the news that  she had been doused in red paint as a  protest (fortunately they hadn't cut her head or arm off this time) but this had all been cleaned off.

Dan on the Bridge to Kastellet and St Albans Church
Barracks - Kastellet
Behind this area is a lovely Anglican Church and the Winston Churchill Park which both guard the entrance to Kastellet, a star fort which has been turned into a public park, though the central buildings are still official barracks. We completed a circuit around  the star shaped walls in the sun. I like Copenhagen, nice people - very clean city and well organised.

MSC Magnifica
All this strolling around passed the time so it was time to return to the room grab the suitcases and head to the ship. Not as simple as it sounds as taxis seem to be a little bit of a rarity once out of the city centre and the hotel could not get hold of one for at least another hour. Fortunately there is a bus stop right on the corner of the street which appears from the map to go all the way to the Cruise Terminal buildings - however you must have the correct Danish Krona in coins and we had none. A solution came from the fact you can spend Euros in the Netto opposite and get change in Krona so armed with a bottle of water and some very odd looking coins with holes in the middle we got the bus. It was packed full of cruisers and we had a lovely conversation with an Italian man who was doing the similar cruise with Costa (we had looked at this and a few other options but no one seems to better NCL on the itinerary other than Viking). In fact quite a few ships leave every day from Copenhagen to begin their Baltic cycle; today at the terminal was NCL Getaway, MSC Magnifica, Costas Favolosa, Vikings Sky, RCI Serenade of the seas (I think we last saw this on our TA whilst in Nassau and it still looks like it desperately needs a lick of paint and some rust remover) - with all these passengers to deal with daily its no wonder taxis are so hard to find.

Terminal 1 - Copenhagen Cruise Terminal
The bus dropped us next to terminal 1 which seems to be the Getaways usual spot. Boarding was painless with no lines to speak of. There are no airway type walkways onto the ship here its just a simple gangplank into the bowels of deck 4.  Rooms were not yet ready as it was a little too early but the decks are all open as is the buffet. Avoiding the first lunch buffet scrum as its usually everyone's first instinct we climbed to deck 6 where Savor ( one of the MDRs) was open for a more refined sit down 3 course lunch.

Jack - Wine - and Lunch in Savor ( or Savoury is we named it!)
Our package had included the Ultimate drinks package and 4 upgrades to premium restaurants - grats were included. We booked a mid ship mini suite (why don't NCL just call this a larger balcony room) quite some time in advance so received double latitude points and had a nice $300 credit gift waiting in the room as well. The room is a little larger I think than NCLs Epic mini suite  and has a much better bathroom including a body massage shower and twin sinks. The balcony though is a little on the small side though we knew in advance about this so it was not a surprise. Pri introduced  himself  and indicated our cases would appear within the next  couple of hours so we decided to go and explore around the ship.

Jack's most excited that the fish carpets are back like they had on the Jade - at least she will know which is front and back for a change (just remember - the fish swim to the front). One of the things I never liked about the Epic was the pointless promenade deck where you cant see anything as it has a dual purpose as the lifeboat deck. The Getaway has overcome this problem in a similar (if not quite as successful) method to the Costa Diadema we were on in March. The lifeboats have their own deck and a wider promenade deck gives uninterrupted views out to see and wraps around 3 sides. This area also allows the Getaway to open up some of the premium restaurants to the outside as well - which is probably fine as she cruises around the Caribbean - not sure if the evenings will ever be warm enough in the Baltic.

However it does allow some great seating and outdoor bar areas that are perfect for sun-downer cocktails - though there is a slight if rather obvious flaw in this idea in that cabins directly above these areas are surely going to get some noise issues - perhaps that's why they made the balconies so small so you wouldn't be to tempted to sit on them whilst quietly watching the sunset (an issue in itself in the Baltic as it feels like it never goes dark).

Eventually we are unpacked and one by one the ships all leave Copenhagen, peculiarly all heading North which is odd as Berlin (or rather Warnemunde) is directly to the south under the TV famous Oresund Bridge ("The Bridge") that connects Copenhagen (Denmark) to Malmo (Sweden). It seems that whilst the Bridge is certainly tall enough to allow ships through, the water itself is not deep enough for the larger vessels to pass.

The usual NCL sailaway party then time to change for our first dinner and first experience of the latest edition to the premium restaurants "Ocean Blue". A seafood specialty restaurant, its decor is nice and calming, its staff attentive and most importantly the food is excellent - we book straight in again. I recommend the Oyster Rockefeller - Dover Sole - Cold Water Lobster  and any dessert.

We have trips planned for the morning all pre booked with a third party company SPB tours (other tour companies are available). Big thanks to the roll call organisers on cruise critic which gave us a further discount on SPB Tours usual prices. Smaller groups and way better value than NCLs own options we booked the Berlin full day and 2 day Deluxe for St Petersburg (don't forget you must have a trip booked for St Petersburg or you wont get past immigration without a full visa) your trip ticket becomes your visa as long as the tour company are registered to do this.

Its an early start tomorrow and a rather depressing 3 hour drive to look forward to. But you're only here once and I can't see Berlin ever being on my weekend away list. So an early-ish night after checking out various bits of entertainment around the ship. A  quick  check of the map shows we are heading south again. Weather forecast looks miserable tomorrow with heavy rain forecast for Germany but the good news is that rain front is heading east in front of us and behind it is clear weather which hopefully should last for the rest of the cruise.

Click here for day 2