A Travellerspoint blog

September 2011

Exploring Stockholm

Meeting old and new friends



Stockholm is the largest of the cities we have visited so far, although it's still not overcrowded and appears very clean. On the Saturday we had arranges to meet up with an old friend if mine who had kindly agreed to show us around the city! After meeting Patrik and his girlfriend Iris at the subway we travelled a few stops and got off to see a large park in the city that apparently during the summer is full if people having BBQs and swimming in the water there. After a short bus ride we headed for another part of town where Patrik wanted to show us a great view of the city. After walking up some steep slopes and some sets of stairs we arrived at the highest point of Stockholm! We were being treated to a very sunny day, where everyone in Stockholm seemed to have been tricked, and where now carrying their jackets and jumpers. This meant the view was crystal clear and allowed us to take some impressive photos of the vista across the city and the river in front.



After descending the hill we walked to where we could pick up a boat to get across to one of the other islands Stockholm is spread across. Here is where Stockholm's  zoo is located which is called Skansen. The zoo is set out like an old swedish village, with old traditional single story houses with roofs that are insulated by having grass growing on them. the majority of the animals in the zoo were native to Sweden. They had a large area where people were dressed up going about their business in costumes that appeared hundreds of years old. There were even people showing examples of traditional trades such as glass blowing and pottery.

(an example of the grass roofed buildings)




(I did not have the heart to tell him i'd seen his stuffed cousin!!!)



After the zoo we went to grab a bite to eat and then onto a bar at the end of the road where our first hostel was situated. After the food and a few beers we were feeling a bit more ready to go out for the evening after the tiring day. First stop was the Viking bar, where the staff are dressed in old clothing and the place serves traditional Swedish food and drink. Patrik suggested that we shared a pottery jug of mead (an old drink made using honey, which tastes like a sweet pale ale). 



There is lots of nightlife in sweden and due to the fact that we have bought travel cards that allows us 7 days of travel and the subway runs 24 hours during the weekend Patrik said we should move onto another side if town to see another friend of his and mine who works in a busy bar. It was nice to see Christian again, and he was very kind in getting us beers and sone fancy snacks all at a cheap price! 





This is where the evening begins to get a little hazy, but after more drinking we went back to the hostel for some tea and coffee before calling it a night!

The following morning was a struggle, as we had to get ourselves packed up to move to our new hostel in a different part if town. After arriving we had to wait to get checked in but as we were all tired from the previous nights shinanagens we just chilled a park and got some food. We had been asked by Patrik and Iris if we wanted to go to the cinema which we all agreed would be nice! We went to see 'The Help' which was about racial division during 60's America. It sounded like quite an intense film to watch as we were all feeling a little delicate, but we all really enjoyed it!

We have plans to see Patrik and Iris again on Tuesday, when we are going round theirs for some food, and Christian should be attending too. Other than that I expect we will explore Stockholm ourselves and maybe find some museums of interest.

(there will be some more cultural pictures in the next blog i promise!)

Posted by Christian25 03:19 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm_travel_sweden Comments (0)

Gothenburg to Stockholm

The last leg of the Swedish adventure!


Gothenburg has been a good stop on the early stages of this travel. Although the weather has been relatively poor I have enjoyed it very much! It's a nice city with a bohemian vibe to it, this maybe due to the fact that is a university city, many of which seem to be art and design related. The back streets are full of little cafes and boutique shops that unfortunately can only offer me window shopping opportunities. It's the sort of city that appeals to me though, good looking well dressed people mingling in the hubbub of the different scenes, meeting in record shops to have poetry readings. Not that I attended a poetry meeting, and for all I know it would have been in Swedish, but the concept excites me! 

We had a look around Sjofartmuseet, which despite its name is not as comical as it sounds. It is Gothenburg's maritime museum, which I had suggested as an option if the weather was poor after accidentally finding it on google maps at the top of the road we were staying on. Surprisingly it was a fascinating place, and made me realise how much the port has influenced the growth of Gothenburg and it's society and culture! There was a simulator allowing you to experience driving a boat in and around Gothenburgs port unfortunately it didn't take us long to run it aground and set off the emergency alarms. However, the second attempt was more successful once we realised we were initially on the hardest level and sailings a Stena Line ferry in extreme weather conditions!





(This reminded me of my dogs at home!)

We have done plenty of walking already, once we eventually come home at this rate will need a walking holiday to detox! On one our walks I got myself excited standing outside the stadium of IFK Goteborg, and asked a steward if I could walk onto the side of the pitch for a photo which he was kind enough to allow! Smith and Kailey didn't share my enthusiasm but generously humoured me. 








The journey to Stockholm started late yesterday morning, our train leaving Gothenburg at 12pm. It was about a 5 hour train ride but was surprisingly pleasant, despite being told twice that we were sitting in someone's seat. Luckily a nice Swedish lady took pity on us resolving the situation both times by saying that they could sit with her, due most likely to my disheveled appearance sporting particularly long facial hair, which isn't usually my thing! I'm in two minds to continue to let it grow for a bit, that's the whole point of traveling to do something different or adverse from your normal practices at home,  I think its also because I didn't realise I had the potential to grow a beard so this is a first for me!

Enough about my beard!

Much like the trip from Oslo to Gothenburg, the scenery on the train was great, I assume due to the fact that we were crossing through the middle if Sweden there was not so much of a diverse range of landscapes or lakes and rivers, but I still found the scenery interesting! Once arriving in Stockholm we decided the Hostel which we are staying at for 2 days before moving to another for the last 4 days of our Swedish leg was within walking distance! It didn't take too long to get there and it feels like we are living in luxury due to the fact that it was the only hostel available this Friday and Saturday so we are paying for a 6 person private room!

Maybe this new found luxury had gone to our heads as we decided to go out and have a meal. We found a nice Italian Restaurant and went crazy having a starter and a main!!! It's made me realise how much of a snob I am when it comes to food and how only after a week away I'm missing quality food! I think though as we go on, if we can treat ourselves every now and then it will be beneficial to morale, well in my case anyway! I had a delicious lasagne after we had shared a large bowl of salad and some ciabatta bread.

Stockholm seems like a very bustling city and definitely the busiest of the places we have been to so far, I'm looking forward to exploring the place that they call the Venice of northern Europe. Apparently situated on or over 12 islands. Today we are going to meet up with another Swedish friend of mine called Patrik who I met several years ago on holiday, Patrik and his girlfriend have kindly offered to show us about Stockholm which will be nice!

Posted by Christian25 02:07 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm_travel_sweden_traveli Comments (2)

From Oslo to Gothenburg

On the road again.



The train ride from Oslo central station to Gothenburg took a little longer than I had anticipated, this was not a problem though, I have always and quite luckily been blessed with a contented disposition where I rarely get bored! However, I will hold my hands up and admit to being a fidget, but I think that's allowed.

The train ride lasted 4 hours in the end, in which there was some reading, some card games, listening to some music and some soulful pondering out of the speeding train window out onto the Scandonavian countryside. I'm pleased we are taking such a unique trip which allows us to see this landscape which we will compare to all the different places we later visit.




(views from the train)

Leaving Oslo behind wasn't hard for me personally, I felt desperate to get the travelling underway. Oslo was a good experience and I enjoyed my time there, but it's difficult on our budget to live in a country that is up there in the top most expensive in the world. Sweden is known for being pricey too, but we have been pleasantly surprised already with how much cheaper it seems. Probably not that dissimilar to the U.K. but compared to Norway we will live like kings!

The weather so far in Gothenburg isn't anything to write home about at the moment, it's a bit damp, but it was the same when we left Oslo. With any luck it will brighten up and at least it's not cold. At this rate the thermals will be wasted money. The room we are staying in consists of two bunkbeds and a single, it's a bit cramped as all beds are taken, but as I always maintain, it's just a place to sleep. One of the guys is from Israel and has been travelling for months. The other we have not even met properly yet!

There is plenty already on the agenda that we want to do while we are visiting Gothenburg. Today we went to the Universeum, which is Scandinavia's largest science museum, there was an aquarium and indoor rainforest which was interesting. We took a detour back to the hostel in the rain so that we could check out the natural history museum as well. As with most natural history museums are it was a taxidermists paradise! still quite interesting to look about even though all the information was in Swedish. 






(This was my favourite example of the taxidermy we encountered at the Natural History Museum)


We are hoping the poor weather will hold off for a day to allow us a boat trip tour of the city which would be nice, and due to the cheaper prices we can afford to buy some things from the supermarkets to make ourselves packed lunches! Bonus

Posted by Christian25 14:38 Archived in Sweden Tagged sweden_travelling_gothenburg Comments (1)

Tourists in Oslo

We woke up early and set off into Oslo, The Oslo Cathedral is only around the corner from our hotel was our first stop. It is not an ornate Cathedral like those I have visited before, however due to the tributes outside dedicated to the people who lost thier lives in the recent terror attacks, there was a very sombre and understandable respect!



Memorial, Many flowers have been removed or have since died.


Inside the cathedral.

We then took a walk up to the Palace, which is situated on the top of the hill in Oslo.


Oslo is a relatively easy place to find your way around if you keep to the tourist trail and dont go wondering through the smaller roads. after a short walk we were at the Key side at an area named Aker Brygge.


We were very lucky with the weather, although we had taken hoodies incase it was cold, i found myself tying it round me and was more than comfortable. There was a market on selling traditional Norwegian food and craft, which had a nice atmosphere, and we had a brief look round the
Nobel Peace Museum.


We arranged to meet up back at the Palace with an old friend of mine called Amanda, who is originally from Sweden, but now lives in Oslo. It was
nice to see her again, we tend to see each other now once every two years, but its nice that we have stayed in contact now for as long as we have. she offered to show us, as we had already had a busy morning, how to get to Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is a little walk out of cental oslo, going through some of the expensive housing areas. The sculpture park was interesting and had some great views of Oslo as it is vertually the highest point. The walk back was long however, due to Amanda being unsure of the best route back, it didnt matter though, and we went and grabbed a beer at a cafe and chilled out.


(Vigeland Sculpture Park

There has, and will be very little partying going on, or fancy resturants for us as travellers due to the cost of living in Oslo, and Norway in general. It amuses me that no matter where you go in the world, and who you talk to, whether they drink beer or not. The price of a place is relative to how much it costs to buy a beer!!! In Oslo's case its roughly, £8 a pint, I Think ill stick to a tap water please!

Ill use beer as a representation of the price of the different countries throughout the blog I think!

Posted by Christian25 03:41 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo_travel Comments (0)

Evacuation due to suspected fire in hotel!


As it turns out some fool on the floor above let off a fire extinguisher as a joke, although this made for a hilariously frantic evacuation, where I went against the golden rule of leaving all personal belongings and stuffed everything into my bag and hardly touched a step going down 4 flights of stairs with my heart racing! At least it was a false alarm!

Posted by Christian25 14:51 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo travelling Comments (1)

View from Oslo Budget Hotel window


Posted by Christian25 14:46 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Arrived in Oslo

Time to explore


So we touched down in Norway  landing at Rygge Airport after a smooth journey to be greeted by t-shirt weather, I would even go as far as shorts! I was pleasantly surprised how short the journey was. Flying into Norway allows you to see how wooded and wet it is, lots of islands, lakes and rivers all lined with fir trees. In all honesty it was the picture I was expecting, so it's nice it lived up to that.

Once onto the coach heading into Oslo you could appreciate the Norwegian countryside at ground level! Tall slender evergreens stretching themselves on tip toes towards the sun getting the last of the summer rays before the inevitable hard winter sets in. The roads cut through this landscape being flanked on either side, interrupted only by rock-faces that have been blasted out or long tunnels.

The wooden cladding on the monopoly square houses are either painted red or white and are dotted across fields when not concealed by the trees or rock, many look huge and may potentially be barns or outbuildings. Not too dissimilar to how I imagine parts of North America or Canada look, which I suppose makes sense as we must be on relatively the same latitude.

On arrival in Oslo we were greeted by a modern and clean looking city. As cities go it felt welcoming and has a 'buzz' about it. After very little problems our hotel was in walking distance of the bus stop, the name 'Oslo budget hotel' doesn't sound inviting, but its clean, a bed and in the centre of the action! The views not much unless you peep further down the road but it'll do us just fine! Now off to explore.




Posted by Christian25 10:27 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo_travel_city_norway Comments (2)

The 'Eve'

Almost there!

So we have done the majority of the goodbyes, not something i have ever found easy, but we had some good nights out. I still have the hardest one yet though, the parents and the two hounds!

Laying in bed on the eve of my departure and I can honestly say I have never had such mixed feelings. In my innocence an 'eve' was a significant day, i may have spent 24 days prior to an 'eve' wishing away each day in turn, counting them off with pressed chocolate. As i have grown older other 'eves' included drunken evenings that ran into days. Days that we consider all our serious wrongdoings to be obsolete and the slate wiped clean. This all due to the passing of our lump of rock round the burning ball of fire that offers us life somehow, thus allowing us to make resolutions that we are of course bound to keep!? For the first time for a long time this will be the most exciting eve that I have experienced, along with the saddest and most nerve racking! It almost begs the question,'why the hell am I doing this?' But yet that desire is so strong!

The beginning of the week was met with poor results as Smith and I went to work attempting to book some of the hostels we would need during the first legs of our journey in Scandinavia. In reality it's quite obvious that Scandinavia isn't the greatest destination to start travels off from. It's among the most expensive place in the world as far as I'm aware! However it's always been a place I have been desperate to visit. If you are to look up for a reasonable priced hostel when working in a tight budget you will be very surprised, even more so on the first stop, Oslo! After deciding to reduce the amount of nights we were staying in Oslo, we decided to have another stop in Sweden, Gothenburg. Travel and accommodation by now was linking up well before we realised it was too good to be true! 

Not a single available hostel or even hotel on the weekend of the 24th of September! We made some phone calls with no results and we left feeling rather deflated after our initial excitement. Luckily the next day the Gods were looking down on us, as we found a hostel cancellation of a 6 person private room, which we jumped at. Thus, i suppose, the Gods were also metaphorically pick pocketing us too! At least we had a roof over our heads, and since then we have had relative success joining travel and accommodation. 

For a long time now this whole experience has been inconceivable but now it is genuinely sinking in! Hopefully after a whole evening spent packing and re-packing my bag I'll sleep soundly and wake up tomorrow with as much enthusiasm as I have always felt on the notion of traveling. Otherwise I'll look very foolish after making such a fuss about this travelling malarkey to be kicking and screaming, being dragged onto an aeroplane!

All we need is a successful, comfortable and exciting few weeks of our journey and I think we will embrace our new lifestyle and become fully fledged travellers looking at the world through new eyes and embracing the new societies and cultures that await our discovery! Next time I write I'll be on foreign soil all being well!!!

Posted by Christian25 15:49 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged planning Comments (2)

An Introduction.

Becoming a Reality.

On September 16th I will embark on a journey I have dreamt of for years, with a rough route planned, but by any means, with two of my best friends! It has the potential to create some of my fondest memories as well as being a soul searching quest at a point when I'm at a crossroad in my life. I would be lying if I told you an exact time I considered travelling to be one of the most significant goals I have in life. It annoys me that I cant remember, but it also makes me think that maybe its destiny and in fact its something that has been inbuilt within the genetics of my being. Which is probably a load of bollocks, but it sounds good!

I am a firm believer that 'things happen for a reason'! This has been an underlying theme to many things I have done in my life so far, and I suppose a convenient excuse I can give to things that either go for, or go against me. Another view I have always adopted, which can often be conceived by an onlooker as either lazy or un-organised is that 'I'll cross that bridge when I come to it', often leaving things to the last minute to squeeze out any chance of another direction, decision or offer that might change the course of the outcome. I suppose it is also because sometimes I want the decision to be made for me, often it is more exciting that way!I think that these views though are adopted by most travellers, to maybe plan or allow for too many preconceptions takes the wind out of your sails and can make the trip predictable and stagnant!

Travelling has been on the cards now for such a long time, when discussion, then later a plan was conceived over several games snooker in late 2010 with Smith (during which I was always winning!) many people considered it to be another fantastical yarn, as they had heard it all before! I'm speaking on behalf of Smith, but as far as I'm aware he has had a similar desire to go travelling for as long as I have, however, we have always, up until this point had separate ideas of what we wished to do. I am not sure I had ever told Smith my idea, but I was aware of his and Kailey's plans of caravanning round Europe, working on cruise ships and living out in Australia on a working holiday visa. Just like me though, nothing had come to anything. After explaining to Smith my ideas of 'travelling' (backpacking) our way to our different destinations, crossing boarders and continents seeing different cultures and meeting new people, a few days later, Smith was on board, and in his usual 'bull in a china shop' approach set about making plans.

In nine months of planning, not a great deal has changed to the original route. Apart from the decision to now fly from Moscow to Beijing, instead of pass through Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian railway. Although disappointing, on reflection its not the end of the world (an apt pun I think). Due to the amount of time we would have spent on a train, and how much extra it would have cost to see the Russian and Mongolian wilderness at a time of year (October/November) when it would have been getting, for want of a better word, 'nippy' wasn't a hard decision to make!

During the writing of this several of our visas which we are having processed before we go are being dealt with by the countries individual embassies. Courses of injections are completed, proscriptions pending and massive rucksack gathering dust in the loft with all the other travel items collected over the past months of planning stuffed inside and mounting extra weight to lug across the globe. (I'm still unsure if the three of us having matching bags are a good idea?) Regardless of the worries and anxieties concealed under the excitement, it only feels like a few weeks ago that I was telling work I was buggering off gallivanting across the world! On nights out with friends, people ask, 'what you doing with yourself now?', a very cliché but polite greeting, to which most answers blur into one, especially after a few beers and the next time I see them, the same line of questioning is proposed! I have spent the last nine months saying the same thing, that 'I'm off travelling'. Listing the countries I'm visiting monotonously! I think people are now becoming bored to hear it again! I will be experiencing my first Christmas and Birthday away from family (and dogs) and friends, and I'll miss them all like mad, but its a small world now, made smaller by social networking, I will never be too far away! So lets get this show on the road, lets fly the nest and hopefully learn a bit more about our little blue planet and what it has to offer before its too late!!!

Posted by Christian25 12:54 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged planning_introduction_travel Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 10) Page [1]