A Travellerspoint blog

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Skuleberget climb and start of Stockholm

Here are the promised pics of the climb of Skuleberget. It took about an hour to get to the top and thankfully an easier route down.

Stockholm is fantastic but more on this later.

Love Cx

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Posted by FandC 10:31 Comments (1)

Stockholm

It's a beautiful city!

sunny 19 °C

We really loved everything about Stockholm and so Think it probably merits a day by day account.

We arrived early afternoon on Thursday and set off on the train into town and found ourselves in Sodermalm which was full of activity and found a quiet little restaurant for a really good meal. We then wandered back through Gamla Stan (Old Town) which was full of gift shops and very attractive things on display.

On Friday morning we had a frustrating time trying to find the booking office for the ferry to Estonia. Eventually found it in the Central Bus station and got our tickets sorted for the ferry which we will be taking tomorrow. We visited the Museum of Modern Art which was mainly given over to photography with everything from the very weird to the very beautiful and some great portrait photos. Had some lunch in the cafe there and then bought a hop on, hop off boat ticket for a tour round some of the islands that make up Stockholm. It was near the boat landing stage that we found the Tommy Hilfiger chalet (see pic). This is not to be confused with the pic of the chalet sauna - we've ordered one of these for the allotment - what do you think? After the boat trip we made our way back to the hotel feeling pretty tired.

Saturday turned out to be the Stockholm Marathon and we stood in a place about 5 k along from the start. The leading pack came through so quickly that I missed them on my mobile camera but Frank has some good pics of the front runners. I've got a great one of Frank's hand! We then went to the Vasa Museum and at this point I'll hand over to Frank who really got into the detail about this boat!

OK....the Vasa was an oak built warship that sank without trace 20 minutes out on it's maiden voyage nearly 400 years ago. Just like the Mary Rose it has been raised from the depths, only in this case nearly the whole ship has survived. Apparently the less salty waters of Stockholm's harbour keep ship worm from eating away the timber. The ship was taken apart and reconstructed and preserved by continuous soaking in poly ethylate ... something? The techniques used here in the 1950s and 60s have since been used on other reclamation work such as the Mary Rose. The ship is now housed in a purpose built museum. It is simply stunning. The ship is very ornately carved and much of the detail appears as good as it must have been when first completed. Incidentally the reason the ship sank was that the king who ordered it's construction wanted it to be the biggest and best ship on the Baltic and he insisted on an extra deck of cannons. They did not have sufficient ballast to cope with the extra weight and it was top heavy and listed too far over shipping water and down it went.

Today was our last full day in Stockholm and being a Sunday every one seemed to be out for a stroll. So we joined in and had a very relaxing walk around the harbour taking in the fabulous views and the warm sunshine. That is until it suddenly started to rain just at that point when we were outside city hall. So we decided it was time to take a "busman's holiday" and have a guided tour of the Council Offices. They put Havant and West Sussex Council Offices somewhat in the shade. The two main halls are where they host the Nobel Prize banquet and ball. After this brief reminder of civic life the sun was shining again and we set off to a very nice cafe for smorgasbord and cakes!

We have had great fun here but we have walked ourselves to near exhaustion and will be taking it easy tomorrow.

Love F and C

Posted by FandC 14:04 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Stockholm pics

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Posted by FandC 14:11 Comments (1)

Across the Baltic - Estonia and Latvia

sunny 23 °C

It's been a few days since our last blog and there is quite a bit to cover! We took an overnight ferry from Stockholm to Estonia arriving in Tallinn on Tuesday 31st May. We were not sure what our cabin would be like and thought it would involve sharing. Given that this link to Tallinn has a bit of a reputation as a booze cruise for Swedes seeking cheap alcohol in Estonia, Christine had visions of having to share with 2 drunks. And no I don't include myself in that! There was plenty of evidence of hard drinking but I am pleased to say that we had a very nice cabin for two with an ensuite shower. We were tucked in nice and early and missed the partying. Yes all very boring but we had a good nights sleep. The hotel we had chosen in Tallinn was a disappointment. It was a casino hotel and had a bit of a seedy atmosphere. The casino was the main business and the accommodation and food were of much less importance. We were soon on Booking.com to find an alternative and moved to a much nicer place the following day. Tallinn was a quirky kind of place. It's very small for a capital city and the historic core is very nice. It's also the European City of Culture this year so there is a lot going on. We enjoyed our time there but felt we had seen as much as we wanted in a day. We had a traditional Estonian meal in the evening based on medieval recipes. The waitresses were all dressed in medieval costume and there were minstrels playing and singing as we ate. OK a bit touristy but actually we enjoyed it. There was a black English guy near our table eating alone. He was there when we arrived and had ordered the full banquet. Not sure how many courses he had but he was still ploughing through it when we left and groaning a bit as they kept bringing out more food.

The next day our new hotel was on the beach just outside Tallinn. It was small but clean and excellent food. It also had a sauna and a small pool so we made full use of these and also hired bikes to cycle along the extensive and well laid out promenade. It was a bit like California with lots of people roller blading, jogging and cycling.

The next day we travelled on to a seaside town in southern Estonia called Parnu. It was a lovely little place again with a nice promenade and a long sandy beach. They are working hard to generate tourism and have a small but pretty, historic town centre with mainly timber buildings. Most of the tourists appeared to be Finns or Germans. We did come across a Geordie selling ice cream in the high street but he seemed to think it would be hard making enough money selling ice cream in the winter and would need to go back home! We could not really work out what he was doing in Parnu!
The hotel here was fine if a little strange - somewhere between a Conference Centre and a KGB holiday camp. To quote directly from the info pack
"Pets are allowed. Please let the Reception know if you would like a pet in your room". I'm absolutely serious!

Today we moved on to Riga in Latvia. We were not expecting too much here for some reason but actually we think this is a great City. It's much bigger than Tallinn and has a much more interesting mix of things to see. I will now pass on to Christine for her to add her thoughts on Riga and anything else.

Well I like Riga so far, the old town has lots of great art nouveau architecture so the camera shutter has been working over time. It's was good walking round in the lovely sunny weather and when we had just about had enough we found a tea shop of all things and had the first cup of proper tea since leaving the UK. We had lunch on the edge of the old town very fishy - Frank had carp which he said was good, even though it tasted of river mud. I had salmon!

Posted by FandC 09:51 Comments (0)

Last day in Stockholm and then Estonia

Hi
Here are the pics. The first one is of
Drottningholm Palace - a summer residence of the Swedish Royal.
The next few are of Tallinn including the Mediaeval Banquet and the last 5 are from Parnu in Southern Estonia.

Love Christine

Sent from my HTC

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Posted by FandC 10:21 Comments (0)

More relections on Stockholm, Estonia and Latvia

sunny 23 °C

One thing we forgot to mention about our journey from Stockholm to Tallinn was the Stockholm archipelago. We had read a bit about this beforehand and therefore found some good seats on the ferry to get a good view as the ferry set out across the Baltic. It was worth it. The archipelago is simply immense. At first the ferry weaves its way through tightly packed islands and it's difficult to appreciate that they are indeed islands. Gradually the space begins to open up and you can see island after island spreading out into the distance. We must have sat watching this spectacle as the sun went down in a cloudless sky for a couple of hours and yet the ferry was still not out in open water. Nearly all of the islands have traditional and modern holiday homes on them which are in the main only accessible by boat. Some of the larger islands are connected by small chain driven car ferries and have small communities living there. I think it would be a fantastic holiday experience in its own right and maybe one to come back to another day.

The currency in Estonia is called the "eek", which is amusing enough but in practice there was not an eek to be seen. All prices and transactions are in Euros. I think Estonia wants to join the Euro but given present difficulties with the so called "PIGS" the prospect of that may be fading. Latvia on the other hand has the "Lat" and seems proud of it. You can't use euros for payment anywhere that we have seen. We have been quite content to use the lat especially as we can get a good meal for two and a couple of beers for about 13 of the little devils and that is equivalent to about £15. Not bad!

If Estonia was quirky Latvia seems more mature and self confident without having to boast about it. We went to the Museum of the Occupation today which is housed ironically in a former KGB bunker. It was a timely reminder of what went on during and after WWII to little countries like Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Latvia was originally part of the Zcarist Russian empire but managed to become independent in 1918. As WWII started the Russians moved in and took control on the false premise of protecting them from the Nazis. This lasted a year and then the Nazis did actually move in and take control as the Russians moved back to protect their homeland. After the war the Russians under Stallin negotiated to take back Latvia along with Estonia and Lithuania and established the Soviet Union which of course remained intact until Gorbechov introduced policies such as Glasnost (transparency) and Perestroika (freedom) and the whole Soviet Union began to crumble in the late 80s. We went to the square where the Latvian resistance was openly displayed and it felt good that this interesting and proud little country has shaken off the chains of dictatorship. It made us think of the parallels with the Middle East right now and value the freedom of our own democracy which we all tend to take too much for granted these days.

Sorry about the history lesson! Hope it's of interest.

Love F and C

Posted by FandC 08:30 Archived in Latvia Comments (0)

Riga pics

These are mainly of Riga food market which is huge and housed in five enormous hangar like buildings as well as sprawling all around the outside.

Also one of the Freedom Monument in the Square which Frank has mentioned in the blog.

Love Christine
Sent from my HTC

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Posted by FandC 09:06 Comments (1)

Thunder in the Baltics!

Wallender Country

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As we write this blog entry we are in the tent and a thunder storm is raging outside. We have been camping in southern Sweden for the last few days at a place called Ystad. It's in an area known as Skane which is very different from the rest of Sweden. It's a lovely area with rolling hills pretty little towns. Although there are plenty of forests it is also a very open landscape. The main reason we came here was because of a TV show of which we are big fans. "Wallender" is a Swedish TV Cop and for the real enthusiasts you can watch both a Swedish version with sub titles and a different BBC series starring Kenneth Brannagh who Christine quite fancies! Anyway for those who may have seen the shows you will know all about the beautiful countryside.

I will now pass on to Christine:

We arrived here on Monday after another overnight ferry from Klaipeda in Lithunia. This is not a place I would recommend for a city break! We had entered the town centre on sat nav and ended up at a strange shopping mall in the middle of wide featureless roads. OK if you want to shop at Zara but not so good for a picnic lunch and a visit to the ladies. We did, after some driving around, find a good beach and later on a pleasant park area by the river. We had been asked to check in 2 hours before departure for the ferry and we had to wait in the queue for most of that time in hot sunshine so were pleased indeed to get on the boat finally. It was quite small compared to the crossing from Stockholm, but we had a good meal and sleep, waking to see land and the tiny Swedish port of Karlshamn. We drove then to Kristianstad and arrived about 10:00. It was a really pretty town but there wasn't a soul about and every thing was closed. We decided in the end it must be a holiday of some kind - so Frank was deprived once again of his coffee and cakes. We drove on down to Ystad and pitched up the tent in perfect sunshine. Back to Frank......

We have had a quiet few days here, very relaxing. Today we went along the coast and stopped at a Kaseberg where we visited some amazing standing stones in the shape of the plan of a boat. The interpretation boards confusingly referred to them as both Bronze Age and Viking origin. Anyway they were in a stunning location overlooking the Baltic and were aligned with the winter and summer solstices in a similar way to Stonehenge. At the same place we also bought some amazing smoked fish and of course, coffee and cakes which in Swedish is known as Fika.

Well it's still raining and unfortunately we have to pack up the tent tomorrow as we move on from Sweden to Germany where we are looking forward to meeting up with Ian and Kelly in Berlin. Just before we close a few more words about Wallender. We have avoided taking organised tour of the various crime scenes and film sets but it's a curious thing that in this town where the TV show includes at least 3 or 4 murders per episode we have not come across a single body or indeed the faintest sign of any criminal activity...not even petty vandalism. Just goes to show that you should not believe everything you see on telly.

Well we are leaving Sweden now and will be very sad to do so we have become Swedophiles.. If such a word exists.

Love F and C

One last word on Wallender... We have resisted taking the Wallender tour on a fire engine visiting the various scenes featured in the shows. The funny thing is we have not seen a single body yet or the slightest sign of a chime in this peaceful little town

Posted by FandC 00:38 Archived in Sweden Comments (2)

Guest Bloggers expected soon!

Watch this Space

semi-overcast 23 °C

Please keep an eye on our blog for a fresh view on our journey supplied by Guest Bloggers.

They will provide you with their reflections on Berlin!

Love
F and C

Posted by FandC 09:22 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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