Scandinavian Awesomeness – the final chapter

Chilled in the room for a while, even managed a nap, as well as a spa bath & shower before heading out to get some food – ended up at a local pizza joint (we do love out pizza here!) and had some food there. Didn’t really feel like partying hard, so back to the hotel for a quiet night in watching Twitch streams on Alex’s laptop.

Next morning was pack up and head to Stockholm, our final destination. *sniff* Breakfast super early (8am, as that’s the earliest they open breakfast on Sundays!) to which we were treated a rare and spectacular site – the Swedish bogan, in full force. Bunch of very drunk guys decided to come into the breakfast bar in the hope of continuing their drinking. When all the wait staff ignored them, they then got a bit rowdy and started just yelling random slogans through the restaurant and into the lobby. Felt a bit sorry for anyone who was still asleep!

Then time to head off – checked out, said goodbye to Jess (who was amazing! When she got our car for us, she even gave us some travel bottles of water!) and then off to Stockholm.

Uneventful trip, stopped for some food and fuel just after Jonkoping, then through to Stockholm to arrive at about 4:30pm. It’s very odd having it be dark at 4pm in the afternoon over here – actually, it gets darker quicker than that now, even as early as 3pm!

Checked in, handed over the keys to the car and lugged all our crap (and I mean *ALL* our crap) up to the hotel room – because now is the time we have to try and fit in all our souvenirs and bits and bobs into our suitcases. This is going to be fun >.>

Abandon the packing/unpacking/repacking in favour of some food – end up at a local pub-type place where they did SCHNITZEL! Was very excited to finally see a real schnitzel! I had the veal schnitzel while Alex had some kind of bacon and cheese stuffed pork thing – he seemed happy with it at least!

Finished food, light wander through the Stockholm streets at night time (we’re actually really close to where we stayed the first night here!) and then back to the hotel for an early night because the next day is going to be big – LOTS of walking.

Wake up bright and early – and head outside onto the balcony. Surprisingly now as cold as I thought it’d be. Warm enough to get away with a t-shirt and hoodie, certainly! Head out to find some breakfast, as I didn’t get breakfast included in this hotel (silly me). Wind up at the local sweets bakery – chai tea & carrot cake for me (I’m such a hippy) and double espresso & some banana รฉclair thing for Alex. Not the healthiest of breakfast, but it was certainly tasty!

Then off for the walk to head across to the island that holds all the museums and other amusements. Really lovely walk past the harbour and through old town – the buildings really are beautiful, some are older than Australia (which says something!). Finally make it to the museum island and navigate our way to the Vasa Museum.

Wow. Just wow. Pictures can’t really describe how insanely awesome this giant ship is. It’s gorgeous. I’m still amazed by how well preserved it was! The details in the carvings and the fact that so much of it has been salvaged and conserved is just a marvel. We spent a good three hours going through the Vasa Museum, learning about it’s history and how it was preserved. Extremely fascinating – is why we were there for so long!

Quick dash past the gift shop (obligatory teaspoon…we have so many damn teaspoons!) and then onto Skansen, the open air museum and zoo. We were mainly interested in the zoo ๐Ÿ˜›

Once we reached Skansen, realised it was also food time, so called into one of their cafes and had a quick bite to eat, and some home made cordial (as they didn’t serve any soda!) which was actually rather delicious and made for a nice change.

Also met a lovely little squirrel who was ferreting away nuts outside the restaurant. Managed to snap a few photos of him before he got too shy – Alex is right, squirrels are far cuter than possums.

Then onto the park – first stop was the old town, where you got to see a lot of the old craftsman shops – most were closed, but the glass shop was open and it was beautiful to see. Had to get out of their quickly, wanted to buy so much but know it wouldn’t make it home in one piece!

Further walking took us to the Sami village setup, which was cool – confirmed that a a few of the huts we’d seen while in Lapland were Sami.

Then the animal part! Reindeer, elk, bears, there was *supposed* to be foxes but I couldn’t see them, seals, otters, lynx (about 7 of them in one enclosure!) and the wolves. I love the wolves – they’re beautiful. Did exactly the same thing they did in Ranua too – constant scouting. You could see their well-worn trails all through their enclosure.

By this time it was about 2:30, so time to head back, finish off our shopping and get back to the hotel for some food and a good nights sleep.

The shopping part was fun – spent the best part of an hour and a half searching for souvenir shops to pick up the last few things I wanted to grab (I’m a collector, and wanted matching sets from Finland, Norway & Sweden!) and we just couldn’t find any! Lost hope, gave up and started navigating towards the hotel when….TADA! When it rains it pours. We would’ve walked past about 15 of them. Was certainly able to finish off the last of our shopping!

Walk back to to the hotel was lovely – it was only 4:30pm, but was already dark and the city looked amazing. Stockholm really is a beautiful city. On the way back, a silversmith jeweller caught my eye. Thought most of his stuff would be too expensive for me (I so, so wanted some of the silver cuffs he had on display, but $1000 was definitely out of my price range!) but he had a gorgeous rock crystal and silver pendant that I fell in love with….which *WAS* in my price range. So I now have a beautiful piece of jewellery to remember this place by ^_^

Back to the hotel, no time for a shower, just a quick change of shoes and then off to the hotel bar for dinner. Was amazing food – no wonder these guys rate so high on TripAdvisor. Was very happy we decided to have our last Scandinavian dinner here!

After dinner (and desert!) back up to the room to complete the packing – which I managed quite well, I must say – and then another relatively early night because tomorrow is leaving day ๐Ÿ™

Leaving day arrives and we’re both a bit sad to be heading out – neither of us really want to go, there’s so much more we wanted to see and do! Ah well, next holiday! Get up, quick brush of the teeth and then off to find a quick breakfast before heading out to the airport.

Final breakfast was the place where it all started – Wayne’s Coffee, right near the hotel we stayed at when we first landed in Stockholm. Cronut for me, chocolate muffin for Alex then back to the hotel to pick up the car and head to the airport. Think we’re both a little teary about having to leave…

Quick trip to the airport, only 20 minutes! Dropped off the car – think Alex felt a bit sad leaving his “beast” behind ๐Ÿ˜› Bus trip to our terminal (and the bus driver was nuts – braking was certainly not his strong suit…) and then to check-in. Luggage not over weight, so we scored there! Was a bit concerned, but was less than 23kg for both and we were allowed up to 32kg! Headed over to the security screening and heading out of Stockholm was a bit more rigorous than heading in – had to take off almost all my jewellery and my shoes, with their faux-metal buckles. Even my glasses! Alex had to take of his hoodie, as even the zipper in that was enough to set it off. Both of our bags were “set aside” for extra checking – mine due to a glass jar of boiled sweets (Cavendish & Harvey, of course!) and Alex’s was due to a bottle of water that we’d forgotten was even there!

No lounges in Arlanda (for us) so spent some time at a coffee shop where there was power (phone was already nearly dead, thanks to GPS >.<) and Alex spotted a sign that said “Flat White” – the first place he’s been able to get a flat white while he was here!. Was then up to the gate for boarding…and we were lucky enough that there was no one seated with us on the plane, so got a bank of three seats to ourselves! We’ve now got our fingers and toes crossed that we get something similar on the flight from Dubai to Brisbane. Hopefully far less people wanting to head to Australia ๐Ÿ˜›

Few screaming kids on the flight, but semi-noise reduction headphones certainly help, could only tell when there was a lull in sound. It seemed like a relatively quick flight, even though it was about 6 hours long. Lovely meal on the flight – seriously love the food you get on Emirates flights, exceptionally nom in comparison to Qantas. Watched a fair few episodes of West Wing (Season 1) through the in-flight entertainment system, simply because West Wing is awesome and I can listen to it without needing to watch, so that allowed me to dose a bit while on the plane.

Didn’t really sleep, but relaxed a bit. Landed in Dubai, no gate available for us so we off-loaded onto the tarmac and onto buses, then a 10 minute trip to the terminal. More security theatre where, yet again, a lovely Arabic woman commented on my “beautiful violet hair”! Landed a seat in the lounge with some power – plugged a few devices in to charge, grabbed some food (nice chicken curry!) and some drinks to start our 10.5 hour marathon wait.

Chilled for about 2 or 3 hours then decided to go and get an hour or so sleep, shift sleeping – found some banana lounges that were free to stretch out on and Alex took first turn at sleeping then it was my turn. Think I managed at least 30 minutes of full sleep – Alex thinks I could sleep anywhere. After waking up form our naps, needed a refresher so time for a shower – not exactly the best showers here. Tepid water (nothing hot) and no pressure. Glad I didn’t decide to try and wash my hair! Quickly showered then headed out for some breakfast and drinks – that’s the one thing I noticed, being in air-conditioning for so long you get severely dehydrated you need to keep drinking!

A few coffees around 6:30am to keep us going and a bit of breakfast yumcha (PORK BUNS!) to fuel the last few hours of staying awake before our flight.

Then decided to trek to our gate – checked online and found that our gate was in another part of the terminal and we needed to catch a short train to get there. Was going to do some shopping on the way, but wasn’t particularly impresssed by Dubai duty free. Sorry folks, no Dubai souvenirs.

Got to our part of the terminal and headed to the lounge in this section – much nicer than the other lounge! Short wait, only an hour or so, then we boarded. Sadly, not as good as last flight – completely packed ๐Ÿ™ Not even a bank of 3 to ourselves. Made the most of it – reclined as soon as we could, window closed and eye mask on. Managed about an hour of dozing before lunch/dinner.

Food was consumed and then it was time for more sleep. Watched all of West Wing Season 1 to put myself to sleep ๐Ÿ™‚ Worked like a treat! Few hours sleep, dozing in and out while watching the TV.

Ran out of TV, so watched The Incredibles (because it’s a cool film :-P) then an episode of Penny Dreadful – which I’m now completely in love with (Eva Green is just amazing).

Breakfast served at about 4am Brisbane time, and then a short wait to finally land at about 6:30am! Also, our Ynuverseum umbrella has managed to make it all the way home! Very chuffed that security let us through with it each time!

So, as a final wrap up, I’m going to leave you with a few things we’ve learnt on this trip:

  • Airplanes get insanely cold – no matter where you’re going, how hot/cold it is outside, doesn’t matter; the plane will be freezing and the blankets they provide you with are certainly welcome!
  • Airline food can be good – but it can be too rich for some people >.> This (I’ve now learnt) is because your taste buds actually taste things differently at altitude, so it needs to be richer…doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the affects ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Sleeping on a plane is not the same as sleeping in a car – in a car, you’ve usually got the ability to stretch out a bit more than on a plane, unless you have an extra seat to yourself
  • Everywhere else is way more advanced than Australia when it comes to internet – free internet everywhere, including at bloody SUPERMARKETS! This is something I wish we’d adopt.
  • Going somewhere where you don’t know the language is terrifying – but after the first day or so, knowing that almost everyone (under 50) speaks English makes you feel a bit better, especially if they smile at you with that “Oh, tourist” expression ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Purple hair gets you some extremely weird looks – also some interesting attention from both middle-eastern women and from quite a few men!
  • Cyclists are not all equal – Australian cyclists have nothing on Scandinavian cyclists for being scary on the road! Scandinavian cyclists have right of way…and they enforce it. I honestly don’t think they’d have any hesitancy in running a pedestrian over!
  • Driving on the right is totally counter-intuitive and insanely scary until you get used to it…though I never really did, so driving at home should be fine!
  • Swedish people are friendly has hell – but I swear they’re all laughing at us weird foreigners politely after we’ve left
  • Finnish people are strange – no eye contact, no smiling, they’ll cross to the other side of the road just to give themselves more space, very VERY big on personal space, but very friendly and VERY chatty once you get them talking (Hello to the lovely lady who runs Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi who spoke to me for at least two hours while we were there!!!)
  • Norwegian people are so damn happy – it’s no wonder we wanted to stay there. They smile all the time and random people laughing is common. Living there would be awesome…for Alex ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Scandinavia has a thing with people not sleeping together – all the beds are single beds (or king singles) pushed together, you get your own individual blanket. Was odd at first but now I’m thinking of implementing the “each person gets a blanket” at home – certainly means you stay warmer!
  • Finnish drivers are very, very polite – but terrifying when it comes to overtaking
  • Scandinavians have exceptionally cool childcare, the kids go out into the cities all the time and you can see them from a mile away because they’re all in insanely bright hi-viz clothing attached to a hi-viz cable. Seriously hysterical to watch ๐Ÿ˜› It’s like a miniature slightly drunk conga line!
  • Audible lines are way cooler in Scandinavia than Australia – they’ll certainly wake you up!
  • The coffee is definitely better at home – as are the breakfasts! They’re big on cold cuts and cheeses, not so much on cereals and breads.
  • The history is evident over in Scandinavia – their buildings, streets, lamp posts, statues, even street signs all point to such a long history. There really isn’t anything like it in Australia
  • Heated bathroom floors are just completely AWESOME!
  • Lemonade is not lemonade – it’s Sprite or 7up. REAL lemonade is what you get if you ask for lemonade, but it’s delicious!
  • Licorice is everywhere – they love the stuff, even to the point of turning it into an icecream O.o On the other hand, they don’t understand the idea of potato chips >.<
  • Vikings didn’t actually have horns on their helmets, despite popular belief. The only true viking helmet every found doesn’t have horns!
  • Random waterfalls are quite common in Norway and northern Sweden…just like “Oh, road, driving…oh look, waterfall!”
  • Squirrels are WAY cuter than possums
  • Reindeer really will just walk out in front of you on the road and not give a shot about you coming towards them – and if I was that big, I wouldn’t give a shot either O.o They will also just stop and stare you down, as if daring you to try and go around them…
  • Snow feels weirder than first thought – it’s not soft, it feel more like the stuff you get in a hacky-sack ball.
  • No matter how prepared you think you are for the cold in Lapland…you’re not.
  • Winter tyres are actually necessary in Finland O.o
  • No one uses their phone while sitting at dinner….NO ONE. Both Alex and I felt a bit rude, but then got over it quickly as we realised that because no one else was doing it, we had free reign of the wireless where ever we were ๐Ÿ˜›
  • The cities are really compact so that you can walk almost everywhere….or so you think ๐Ÿ˜› We did way more walking than if we’d been at home but I think that was just due to sheer laziness of not wanting to get the car out of parking!
  • Parking garage lifts are terrifying. Cars do not belong in lifts. Ever.
  • Jess is pronounced “yes”. So Saying “Yes Jess” just means that hotel staff will laugh at you…and Alex will continue to laugh, while repeatedly saying “Yes Jess” in a Swedish/Finnish/Norwegian accent. -.-
  • They don’t have a few staples of Australian life – no musks, no meat pies and (crucial to Alex’s survival) no ginger beer or sarsaparilla!
  • Saying you’re on a honeymoon CAN work in your favour – is how we got our upgraded car which saved our arses more than once in Lapland.
  • Plant shops are common in inner cities – but they’re all little boutiques and they’re all kept to high heats and high humidities in order to keep the plants they’re selling alive!
  • All animals are fluffier due to needing a thicker coat to deal with the cold – this includes ducks and chickens, as well as cats and dogs
  • VikingLine is awesome, FjordLine not so much >.>
  • They serve beer at zoos and museums O.o
  • Toll roads are brutal in both Norway & Denmark – one toll tunnelย in Norwayย cost us $30, a toll bridge in Denmark (to Sweden) set us back somewhere around $60-65 (we’re still not sure, it depends which currency they charged us on the credit card – DKK, SEK or EUR!)
  • Windpower windmills are everywhere and look seriously damn cool!
  • Google Maps takes you on some…interesting routes. What it says is quicker and what is ACTUALLY quicker may differ greatly. For example, travelling up to 1400m above sea level across a glacier is not always the fastest way O.o

So that’s it – Scandinavia done. Hopefully we’ll be back one day and this time we’ll get to see Iceland!

So this last post is being finished while we taxi to our departure gate. Scandinavia. I’ll miss you but Brisbane, it’s lovely to be home!

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