Hello again. It has been a while but blogging is more difficult than you think, because it involves sitting down and typing a ton! And with the existence of Facebook....it is harder to blog than you may think. A friend of mine here in Finland labeled her last blog post Ugh which I think is an appropriate blog post for this one as well, but then I have a specific thing that I am talking about in this post so I will not label it Ugh, but instead Sweden.
This last weekend my host family and I went to Sweden! It was a weird feeling, to just visit another country for the weekend, but then we are in Europe. We left Friday night on the ferry to Sweden. The ferry left at 8:00 at night from Turku Harbor. And since Turku harbor is only a 15 minute drive from my house, we left at like 7:30, so that was quite a strange feeling, to leave for another country only a half hour before the boat left. The boat terminal had a feeling a lot like an airport. There was passenger check in and then many people standing around waiting for the boat to leave with their suitcases.
The boat was packed on Friday night. Many finns go on the ferry to sweden on friday night and then party the entire night on the ferry and then don't get off in Sweden and take the boat back to Finland right away and sleep the entire way back. I have talked to many people in school, who have taken the ferry to sweden many times, but in fact have never stepped foot in Sweden. There were 2700 people on board that night, so it was almost full.
On board, right after we left
Turku Harbor in the background
So we went on and then we did some shopping and looked around. We ate dinner in one of the restaurants on the boat and then we slept most of the way there. Because it is international waters, there are no taxing, nor laws for gambling, so on the ferry there are plenty of opportunities for shopping (lots of alcohol and chocolate) and plenty opportunities to gamble, even I could gamble (with adult supervision of course). With 25% sales tax, it is nice to get a relief and buy things for cheap on the boat. Of course I did get the feeling that it was quite similar to titanic, but I really wasn't worried at all. Overall, the ferry had such a nice atmosphere to it, it was very nice.
Tax free shopping!
Tax free Beer! Don't worry I didn't buy any
There is a time difference between Sweden and Finland of one hour, and the clocks had both times with the finnish flag pointing at the finnish time and the Swedish, at the Swedish time, I thought that this was so cool!
This was our room, the beds were a lot more comfortable than you thought.
Unfortunately, the ferries often leave from Turku early enough in the evening so that people are hungry and go and eat dinner in the onboard restaurants, this would seem fine, but that means you get to your destination earlier. Meaning that we get to Stockholm at six in the morning. Yeah, I know, it sucks. So we had to get all our stuff together and walk off the boat into darkness. So we found the subway and it took us to the city center. We dropped our luggage off and went to find breakfast. After breakfast, it was still very very early, but at least the sun had risen so it wasn't still dark. Looking back on it, if I weren't so tired, it was very nice to get into Stockholm and see it in the early morning, because it was well before anyone in the right mind would get up so there was no one out, and cities, especially big cities like stockholm are very different in early morning, and it was interesting to see. We went along the area by the old town and there were many fisherman fishing on the sidewalk, there wasn't the noise of lots of traffic and the sun was just coming up so I got to see the sunrise on the hundreds of years old buildings. It was really nice, if I wasn't so tired!
Something that I really liked about Stockholm was the way that the city was on several different islands. The main, oldest part of the city was at it's center and on it's very own island. It was nice because there were many bridges and there was a lot of water. There were also a lot of very old buildings there. There has never really been a lot of war in Stockholm, so many buildings have been able to stay intact. And the people of Sweden take very good care of their old buildings, especially in the oldest part of town. They were actually quite intimidating. But very pretty.
Nobel Prize museum
So we walked around a lot in the old town. We saw a lot of the old buildings, many of the tourist attractions were closed because we got there so early. But it was very nice. It is a really nice city. So then in the afternoon we saw a bit of the newer part of the city, where the big expensive department stores were. We went and had lunch with my oldest host brother who lives in Espoo, Finland but was also in Stockholm that day. We ate in the Market Hall of Stockholm, which is where you can buy tons of fresh meat and fish and bread, and all sorts of things. We have one in Turku, but the Stockholm one was much bigger.
The Market Hall
We also went to a church in town, which I am guessing is the official church of Sweden, since it was the one that Princess Victoria and Daniel got married in a few years ago. It was really nice. It was one of the most impressive churches I have been to. It had so much detail, that it was just incredible. I was totally blown away by it.
So then we went to the Swedish royal palace, which many people have said that it is the ugliest building in Sweden, but I think that it wasn't ugly, I thought that the architecture really was strong and powerful, like it said "I'm better than you" Which is exactly what you want the home of a king to say. But I may be the only one with that opinion. What I liked most about this palace is that it is like a copy of Versailles. It isn't as huge and extravagant as Versailles, but when they designed it, they wanted to have everything, especially everything that Versailles had. And one thing that I am especially looking forward to seeing on my eurotour next summer is Versailles. Unfortunately, when we toured, we were not allowed to take pictures, so I don't have any pictures, but I can assure you that it looked very nice. There were lots of rooms that were very royal.
So then later we got on a train and went a little bit into the country side and stayed the night at my host uncle's house. It was nice because it was way out in the countryside, but still very close to the city. The next day we didn't do much, we went to a shopping outlet and everyone except me bought something. On Sunday night we drove to the ferry terminal and boarded the boat back to Finland, this time I had seen a lot of the ferry before and we had already eaten dinner, so after a little bit in the tax free store, I went to bed. And we got into Turku early morning, but I was feeling sick so I didn't go to my first classes. Overall it was a really great trip to Sweden.