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Published: July 15th 2003
So I find myself, a budget traveller in one of the most expensive regions in the world, Scandinavia. I have been putting most purchases on my credit card and not thinking about the cost. Ok I have been thinking about the cost, £100 from Copenhagen to Stockholm!!! Yikes. I have adjusted my European travel plans now to basically loop down Eastern Europe where its cheap over to somewhere like Greece and then relax for a bit somewhere coastal. But in the meantime I'm a reluctant Scandinavian traveller. Enjoying myself immensely. Did my usual trick of arriving late and finding all the close hostels full, had to go for a cheaper one on the outskirts of the city centre. The STF Backpackers Inn is another converted school, this time the beds are placed in the classrooms, 14 instead of the 200 that I had endured in Copenhagen. The facilities are good, though no kitchen or Internet... hence these blogs being backdated.
Stockholm is a very beautiful city, consisting of many small islands with bridges between, the old parts of the city Gamal Stan for example have incredibly narrow and charming streets lined with cafes, and tourist shops. The museums of the
capital are numerous I choose to go to just two. Accompanied by Marabella from Mexico City, on whom I shamelessly practised Spanish for a day. We visited the History Museum, learnt about Viking expansion, watched most of Britain turn from green to purple as the Vikings invaded under the leadership of King Knut. The Gold room showed the best of the recovered Viking hoards, looked in awe at ancient artefacts worth untold amounts, Gold things encrusted with sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
The Vasa was 16th Century Galleon built in Stockholm that sank on her maiden voyage, drowning 50 sailors, and destroying the most expensive and largest ship in the Swedish fleet. Sounds familiar, didn't they learn from the Mary Rose? Rediscovered in the 1960's and raised, preserved and partially restored the museum that now contains the vessel is definitely worth a visit. At around 60m long, with three decks and in amazing condition the boat is extremely impressive. All though you can't actually board The Vasa, there are loads of exhibits, videos and reconstruction's to provide interest and information on the fateful and short life of the flagship of the Swedish fleet in 1628.
The hostel had a
really good atmosphere, meet loads of people, a few names Jamie, Flo, Mario - I met two Americans (Irdu and Steve) on their way to Estonia - I hope to bump into them in Tallin soon. Chatted and drank at the hostel Friday night, went out Saturday in Slussen and on Sunday stayed in playing guitar with Flo.
I've just purchased my ferry ticket to Estonia for tomorrow, a 15 hour journey getting in at 10 the next day. Originally I thought I needed a visa for the Baltic states and so had planned my visit in Stockholm to coincide with the opening hours of the Estonian consulate. The Americans had been insistent that I didn't need a visa and could just turn up, turns out they were right. I visited the consulate on Monday morning, just in case and partly because I have never been to one before. Very friendly lady told me that the rules had been changed about four years ago. Pretty much anyone western can get entry at the border, except Canadians.
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