|Location: Märjamaa, Estonia
|Local time: Saturday, 7:10pm
|Music: Cafe Del Mar - Vol 6
Okay, so a bad reference to ABBA I know, but how else does one begin an entry about Sweden?...
For 360EEK, or about 24 euros, it's an easy overnight trip from Tallinn to the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The ship, the Regina Baltica is basically a mini cruise-ship, complete with tacky burlesque shows and near-empty nightclubs blasting 90s dance music. When they started recruiting people for a game of musical chairs in the main show bar, I decided enough was enough. The only thing left to do was to buy some overpriced vodka and drink and laugh the night away in our window-less bread-box cabin that smelt like feet.
The Swedish coast, like the Finnish, is made up of an archipelago of many many islands (24,000 in all), some inhabited, some not. We cruised through these tranquil waters for almost 2 hours (nursing a small hangover), peering down from the tall ship at the little Swedish holiday cabins, before finally docking in Stockholm-proper.
Stockholm city (pop. 750,000) seems rather peaceful as far as big cities go. The cobbled pedestrian streets of its Old Town ("Gamla Stan") are lined with colourful buildings of all shapes and sizes, and you get that "ooh I could spend some time here" feeling, until you walk into a cafe to buy lunch. Coming from live-like-a-king cheap Estonia, the Swedish economy is hard on a foreigner's pursestrings.
It wasn't one of the most exciting capitals I'd visited, nor was it one of the most photogenic (at least, as far as my amateur photography skills went). And, disappointingly even the legendary sexy Swedish blonde girls appeared to have gone into hiding ('Ingrid, where are you?!'). Tallinn comes up trumps in that respect (although, Riga is yet to be beaten!). Still, it's a nice place and the Swedes can definitely be proud of their capital.
Useless fact #142: Plague hit Stockholm in 1711, and the population of 50,000 dropped like flies, with 1200 a day kicking the bucket.
Throughout my European adventures I've been fairly lucky with the weather, and Stockholm was no different, giving nice blue skies by mid-day. Arriving back in Estonia the day after, however, we were greeted by (now-somewhat-expected) grey skies and drizzle. I've always said that if you stay longer than a month in any one location, you can pretty much say you've lived there. I've been here just over two, and with only four days to go before we fly to Berlin and Spain, I know I'm gonna miss it in many ways, regardless of the weather!
Still, it's time for my next big adventure, and with Barcelona on the horizon, I can't bloody wait!
One of the thousands of islands dotted throughout the Swedish archipelago,
which shelters Stockholm and it's it's harbour from much of the harsh ocean weather.
Fairly typical holiday homes/cottages lining the islands' edges.
A boat is obviously essential equipment here.
A view of Stockholm city, which, just like St. Petersburg, is made up of many large islands.
A ceremony taking place at the Royal Palace
(the largest palace in the world still in use).
Yours truly, caught unawares in Stockholm's Old Town.
The Old Town (Gamla Stan) is composed of many ornate
and brightly coloured buildings such as these.
One of the thousands of cobbled streets in the Old Town.
Another shot of the city, with the Riddarholmen Church spire standing proud.
This has been the burial place of Sweden's royalty for 700 years.
The Nobel Museum, home of the Nobel Prize.
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