Saturday, April 18, 2009

Stockholm Day Five

Today we went to Vaxholm, an island with a fortress on a small island just 400 meters away from it. To get to Vaxholm, we had to take an hour boat ride. The ride was interesting because we could see some of the islands around Stockholm.

We walked around Vaxholm for about 40 minutes before finding the tourist office, which we needed to find to figure out how to get to the fortress. We could not understand why a town would put their tourist information office in a place that it difficult to find and why they would not have good directions at least to find it.

After seeing Vaxholm, we took the boat back to Stockholm. Upon arriving back in Stockholm, we went to the Mint Museum. It may have been the most interesting museum in Stockholm. The museum has the world's first banknote and the world's biggest coin, along with a one-trillion Deutsch Mark.

As you can imagine, we had a lot of fun thinking about the world's biggest coin and how it was used and whether it was used as a shield at times or not. It's hard to tell how big the coin is, but it is rather like a shield.

The one-trillion Deutsch Mark was from the 1920s when the exchange rate was 4,200,000,000,000 Marks to 1 US dollar.

The following morning we left Stockholm and returned to Bratislava. Overall, Stockholm was a neat city to visit. It is not a must-see, but it is a relaxing city with nice people and a few interesting points.

Stockholm Day Four

As Stockholm is a city surrounded by numerous islands, we decided a bike ride around one of the islands would be nice. So we rented bikes and biked around one of the islands. It was good to see parts of the city that we normally wouldn't have seen.

After riding bikes, we went to the Royal Apartments and the Treasury. We decided that neither of us like looking at the possessions of royal, rich dead dudes. They had such large rooms and it was a little extreme.

In the evening, we went to an Easter service. The service was in English. There were maybe 30 people at the service and it did not feel much like Easter, but it was good to attend the service.

Stockholm Day Three

I picked up my brother David at the airport in the morning. He looked pretty tired. He had been flying since around noon US time the day before. We dropped our bags off at a hotel and made our way to the Vasa Museum.

The Vasa Museum houses the only 17th century ship, the Vasa. The Vasa sunk on its maiden voyage and was not found for 333 years when someone realized where it was. They brought it up from the seafloor and then fixed it up a little. The ship was very impressive. It felt like I was in "The Goonies."

David was a little tired from his flights and it was a nice day, so we took a nap outside the Vasa Museum on a patch of grass. After a half-hour nap, we went to Skansen, a large outdoor museum with old houses and such. It looked very similar to something you might find in an old western town. Walking around Skansen, we realized that this is not the place for young, hip guys like us. It seemed that we were the only people there who were not either under 10, over 60, or was with someone under 10.

After this museum, we went into a few churches and then David was still tired, so we returned to the hotel for a nap. Then we went to dinner and got some Swedish meatballs. They were very delicious.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stockholm Day Two

The second day in Stockholm began with a hostel breakfast, followed by a walk to the National Museum, where there was a special exhibit on Pre-Raphaelites. I enjoyed the museum, but it wasn't too exciting because I cannot quite remember much about it.

After that, I walked around the old town and found the Mediterranean Museum, which I got into for free. They had some nice Egyptian artifacts and some idols put next to a mirror, which made it seem that there were twice as many. Neat trick, museum.

I had wanted to go to the Arms Museum and walked there but soon found that it was closed. The day was nice, so I read a book outside for a little while. Since many of the smaller museums were closed, I decided to talk a walk through a park and found a hill overlooking part of the city. I sat upon the hill and watched a group of Stockholmies skateboarding for a while. Some were pretty good, but it was funny to watch some of them try the same trick over and over again and fail over and over again.

That night, I tried to get to bed early because I had to wake up early the next day to go to the airport to pick up my brother. This didn't work though because I was sleeping in a 12-person dorm room. I'm not a fan of sleeping in these sorts of rooms. People just walk in and out and I am a light sleeper, so I never sleep much.

Stockholm Day One

On April 9, I flew to Stockholm, Sweden. I had the desire to visit Stockholm after spending three hours waiting in the airport when I first came to Europe. I did not have a chance to see the city at all, so I wanted to return.

I flew RyanAir, a low-budget airline similar to something like Southwest Airlines, and arrived about in a city about 80 minutes from Stockholm. Many low-budget airlines do not fly into convenient airports.

I arrived into the city at around 4 p.m. and hoped to see a museum before heading to my hostel. However, I spent around an hour not knowing which direction I was going. I left a square going in four different directions and it wasn't until the fourth time that I got it right. I arrived at the museum just after it closed.

The first day was a bit of a disappointment because I could not see much of the city or any museums; however, I noticed a little convenient store that I hadn't seen in years: 7-Eleven.

According to Wikipedia, there are 77 7-Elevens in Sweden, most of them being in Stockholm. I was so amazed because it seemed at every 7-Eleven in Lansing closed and turned into a liquor store. I came to the conclusion that 7-Eleven went under. (Note: they didn't have real Slurpees. They have something similar to Slurpees, but they do not taste half the same. And I didn't feel like I could mix the flavors.)