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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Absolut Stockholm

First I’d like to apologize for the delay in my blogs and for any worrying that I caused anyone.

When I last left you I had just arrived in Stockholm, Sweden and had yet to see the city. I spent the evening planning my next day and then went to bed fairly early. I woke up and headed straight to the docks to find out information on going out to the Archipelago. As it turned out it seemed it would be better to go the next day (Saturday) so I could take an earlier boat and have more of the day on the islands.

So after deciding that I would just wait and do the Archipelago the next day I had to figure out what I was going to do today. There was a boat tour around the harbor, lake and canals leaving right there in a few minutes but I took too long deciding on whether or not I actually wanted to do it and it left by the time I made my decision. I finally decided I would do it but I had an hour before the next tour left. So since I was so close to the old town I walked over there and walked all over the old town and visited the palace. I then returned for my tour and was right on time for a much later tour since I had spent so much time walking around the old town. I hopped on the boat and took a two hour tour of Stockholm’s canals, lake, and harbor. It was a nice tour but maybe just a little too long.

After the tour I didn’t have much of a plan so I just sort of walked around the city and of course meandered over to the main shopping street and large park. By this time I was really loving this city and really just enjoyed walking around as it is such a pretty city with lots of greenery. In the evening I walked over two of their islands to a bar that was to have a great view of the city and while it was a little difficult to find, it was well worth it as it did have quite a great view of the city. However it was all outside and once the sun was going down I of course got too cold so I had to leave. Not ready to go back to the hostel just yet and still needing to eat dinner I walked around that area some more which seemed to be the more lived in area and not as touristy but just as lively. I eventually found a restaurant, had a late dinner and then proceeded back to the hostel.

The next morning I woke up quite early and quickly headed off for the docks again so I could hop on a boat to take me to the Archipelago. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do there but everyone told me I just had to visit the Archipelago when in Stockholm. I asked the boat information which islands were they were running to (since it was off season now) and which ones they recommended. The guy recommended two of them to me since I was only going for the day, Vaxholm and Grinda. Since I had read about Vaxholm in my guide book and it was apparently the capital of the Archipelago I hopped on the boat for Vaxholm and off I went.

The boat ride was great as it took us past several of the islands (there are about 24,000 island off the coast of Stockholm which are called the Archipelago) and took us really close to them. After about an hour we arrived at Vaxholm. I got off the boat and walked most of the island which was real cute and had a quaint little town feel to it. I naturally found a hill to climb which gave me a great view over the islands. I then had lunch and since it was still early and I had decided to devote the day to the islands, I decided to check out the island of Grinda which had also been recommended to me.

I took a similar boat to Grinda which took about 45 minutes and was even more beautiful. I got off the boat and found myself in complete wilderness. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing here and why the guy sent me to this island. However, several other people got off with me and there was a trail. So I followed the trail which eventually led me to a café and a hotel. The café was right on the water and had a great view. I decided to sit down for a drink and debated which boat I was going to take. I could either stay on the island for 45 mins or 3 hours. However, since it took me about 20 mins to get to the café that would mean I’d basically need to turn right around. I finished my drink and realized I could try to catch the boat on the north side of the island if I hurried. Although I didn’t actually know where the north dock was (I was dropped off at the south dock) I figured the island was small and probably wasn’t too far from where I was. I set out to find it, however, I took the long was since I decided to walk along the waters edge. I wasn’t too concerned as I figured I would just take the later boat anyway at this point and was just going to explore the island a bit more. Along my walk I came across an American couple who asked me to take their photo. We got to talking and then we all three walked to the north dock. We then walked back through the center of the island to the café where they boat a bottle of wine and shared with me. They were a very nice older couple from D.C. and I was happy to have met them. I was having a great time chatting with them however I had to get back and catch my last boat so I could get back to Stockholm before dark.

I caught the boat and had a 2 hour trip back to Stockholm and this ride was even more beautiful than the previous two. The sun was setting and the sky was gorgeous thus making it a lovely ride.

I got back to Stockholm had a late dinner. The American couple had recommended that I check out the Absolut Ice Bar in Stockholm (a bar made completely of ice) and I had planned on doing it, however, I had gotten sick in Stockholm and wasn’t feeling that great so I decided to skip it and went to bed. The next day I just woke up and walked around the city some more before heading off to my ferry/cruise that would take me to Helsinki, Finland.

This boat was much better than the previous one, although it didn’t have the internet room like the previous one had had. It did however have a spa and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t resist and I treated myself to a facial. The bedroom on this ship was larger which was nice, however, I actually had 3 roommates this time which wasn’t so exciting. Especially since two of the women were Russian and didn’t really speak English, had a ton of luggage, and were in bed at 7:30 p.m. However, the other girl in the room was Australian and was about my age. I ran into her and her boyfriend she was traveling with later on the boat and hung out with them all night. We had a great time and eventually two Finnish guys wound up hanging out with us as well. We all had a fun night which made this boat much more fun as well as I was happy to have had some company for a while.

I went to bed very excited since I would be waking up in Helsinki, Finland the next day and would get to spend my time there with Wai-San. More to come on Helsinki soon.

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