A Travellerspoint blog

5: Propoganda

rain 15 °C
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Had a very poor sleep last night.. the rest of the dorm was filled up with about 7 American students who had been out all night and decided to come in around 2am! Anyway by 7am I knew that I couldn't sleep anymore so decided to get going for the day.

It was raining outside so I thought I'd go find a Maccas to warm me up with a cup of coffee (by now it is about 9am). I swear it is colder here in Stockholm than it could possibly be at home.. its raining, windy and therefore cold! No wonder people who live in the northern hemisphere are always wanting to come live in AU.. This summer of there's is colder than our winter!! (well at least the winter we have in Brissie). Today I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt (I had to go buy some in Finland because my wooly ones that I brought are too warm but my t-shirts are too cold... its a tough life when your daily dillemna is whether to invest in some long sleeved t's!!) my jacket, scarf, jeans.. its just nuts!

Anyway, it is Sunday here in Stockholm so unbelievably nothing was open at 9am! Even Maccas!!!!!! I just could not believe it! Nothing here opens until 11am, too bad if you are like me and like to get things going early in the day.. you can get going but do nothing for a couple of hours! (mental note to self: sleep in tomorrow!)

11am finally rolled around so I went trudging for about a km in the pouring rain to the Swedish National Museum. The history of Sweden is really interesting.. there is recorded history going back to before William the Conqueror (about 800AD) and they have found archelogical skeletons from about 2000 BC! Its incredible to be in a country that has such a rich and long history!

The most interesting thing I discovered in the museum is about the Vikings.. The viking age in Sweden is considered from about 1100 AD to about 1300 AD. One of the things I had always read about vikings (before coming to Scandanavia) is that they were ravaging barbarians who sailed the oceans as a kind of pirate who invaded lands, took booty and women and savaged the locals! They had different gods and beliefs, wore skins, funny conical shaped hats with horns and were definately dangerous.. Hagar the Horrible style!

Well let me tell you that all of my illusions have been destroyed! Yes they did go and conquer new lands (the Swedes conquered much of the coast line of Russia, all of Finland and many of the old Soviet states, Lithuania, Estonia etc) and they most likely wore skins etc but they certainly didn't have conical shaped hats with horns! They had metal, conical shaped hats without horns and wore chain mail! They did not have any other gods! Sweden was converted to Christianity in the early 1000s so it is highly unlikely they had pagan beliefs.. All of the images we have of Vikings has largely been created over the past 200 yrs as the Scandanavian countries have tried to create their own national ideals.. Most of the Viking stories are just that, stories! They have been made up to glorify the Scandanavian countries! In particular the Viking ideals etc have been romantacised to help the different governments and kings in the past couple of centuries "sell their policies" etc!!

It never ceases to amaze me how much of the world's history is biased depending on the leading people or the government's views of the times!

I'd had such an interesting time in the museum that I unfortunatley had lost track of time and therefore was unable to make it to another museum I wanted to go to (the Stockholm Medieval Museum) as it had closed! Yep office hours for most museums here in Stockholm are 11am til 4pm! Love the lifestyle here in Sweden!

Oh well, better try and do better tomorrow with the Swedish Palace, Museums and of course the House of Nobility!

Posted by weary_feet 00:43 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

4: Dynamite

sunny 21 °C
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Got myself going fairly early just so that I could go and see what the channel into Stockholm is like.. I'm sitting here typing this as I see the view.. Just amazing.. Exactly like you see in the tourist brochures.. Small islands, dotted with pine trees and brightly coloured timber houses and tiny little jetties! Very picturesque.. Actually so picturesque that I'm going to ditch my laptop and go find my camera to take some shots!

Checked into my hostel today (with no issues about the mixed up date). I'm staying in Gamla-stan which is the oldest part of Stockholm. The island (stan) is very cute.. lots of tiny little cobblestoned streets with very old buildings. In fact the hostel I’m staying in was built in the 1800s and is quite bizarre. To get to the room I'm staying in, I climb 8 different sets of stairs from street level!! The last two sets of stairs are so narrow that it was almost an effort to get my pack up them (on my back)!! Believe it or not I'm the only person who is staying in the dorm room.. I'm not sure if that is because the others haven't checked in yet or whether I'm literally the only one! The hostel itself would probably house a couple of hundred so here’s hoping I actually get to meet someone to have a chat to!

I spent the day familiarising myself with Stockholm. The city is really amazing.. it’s like St Petersburg (from a "wow check out that building" point of view) but much cleaner and the streets are a lot smaller.. Being on the water also helps.. plenty of gazillion dollar yachts parked out in the bay! I have found Nanna's "House of Nobility" and it is only open weekdays from 11am til 12pm so I'll go and find the coat of arms on Monday!

I spent the afternoon roaming around the Nobel Museum. Nobel grew up in a very poor family. His father left them in Stockholm when he was only 4 to move to Russia to try and make some money as an Engineer. His father was successful and so was able to move the whole Nobel family to St Pb when Nobel was around 10yrs old. He was educated in Russia and actually grew up wanting to be an author or poet. His father wouldn't allow that and forced him to become a chemical engineer. Lucky for Nobel he was forced into something he was incredibly talented at and in his mid-30s discovered how to make dynamite.

Nobel then went on to build one of the largest companies in the world manufacturing Dynamite and other weapons. By the time he was in his late 60s Nobel was one of the wealthiest men in the world and having no family of his own decided to bequeath the majority of his fortune to a trust, which would award some of his money each year to the most talented scientists, literaries and peace loving peoples.. thus the Nobel Prize was born.

The Nobel Prize has had over 800 laureates over the past 110yrs (first year it was commissioned was 1901, 10 yrs after the death of Nobel). It is awarded each year by a committee of people at 4 different institutions here in Stockholm and Oslo. Believe it or not the laureates don't even know they have been nominated for the award.. No-one ever discovers whether or not they have been nominated!

To be nominated there are two requirements; 1) that you are alive and 2) that you can't nominate yourself! The nomination requests are sent out to past laureate winners, members of the Nobel committees and certain select academics and people of note from around the world. It takes the committee almost a full calendar year to work out the winner as they spend much time researching the nominee’s backgrounds and achievements. Finally, a select group of academics from around the world are questioned on whether or not a certain nominee is worthy of the award.

A really interesting process and such an interesting museum. All 800+ past winners are displayed in the museum.. Everyone from very famous personages (Marie Curie has won twice!) thru to many, many people who I have never heard of.. A fantastic place to spend the afternoon learning about mankind's many achievements!

I'm going to attempt to attend a walking tour of Stockholm this evening (I haven't booked so fingers crossed there are some places left) so I'd better "bust a move" and head on out! Not sure what tomorrow will bring, I'll either head to the palace or maybe head out to one of the numerous museums here in Stockholm (there are over 50 listed in the guide book!)

Posted by weary_feet 08:00 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

3: A Duck called Albert

sunny 22 °C
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Had another reasonable sleep last night and woke to the most amazing buffet breakfast (puts all of the other buffet's I’ve had to shame). Spent quite some time lingering over my brekky and then took off for Suomenlinna Fortress.

Suomenlinna Fortress is a fortress built in the early 1700s by the Swedes to protect Helsinki from the Russian's. (By the way Helsinki was not the capital of Finland at this time, it was only later when the shipping port became so important that the capital was moved).

The fortress itself is really only just off shore from Helsinki (Helsinki is surrounded by islands) and takes about 20min by slow ferry to reach. The fortress has been preserved so is really a large park with old cannons and forts covering it. I really enjoyed spending the day walking around in the sunshine exploring all of the bunkers etc! A big game of hide and seek!

Had a very agreeable lunch in the sun and settled in to read my book for a little while before returning to the mainland to catch my ferry to Stockholm. I found a particularly agreeable place for lunch on the steps of one of the forts and was soon joined by this very inquisitive duck.. He came right up to me and tried to eat my lunch out of my fingers!!! Not happy Jan!! Needless to say I was chased away by this duck and had to find another place to eat my lunch-- most annoying!

Arrived back to Helsinki with plenty of time to spare before my boat departed for Stockholm.. Luckily for me I did arrive back early because on arrival at the ferry terminal I was told that my ticket for my boat was for yesterday! All I could do was stand there and just shake my head and think to myself "this could only happen to you lady!".. I really do need to spend more time paying attention to what I'm doing!! Fortunately the boat isn't super full so I was able to get on at an extra cost of only 8 Euros! Thank god! (Only problem is that I've also booked my Stockholm accom for the wrong days and am not able to contact them.. so here's hoping that I'm going to be ok for Stockholm as well....)

The ferry to Stockholm is more like a cruise ship than what I would call a ferry.. The rooms are far more luxurious than those on the Trans-Siberian so I feel a little special to have such nice accom and transport! The boat itself is fairly standard, 4 or so eateries, bar at the back of the boat, day spa type thing.. No swimming pool! (I guess for most of the year you wouldn't want to!)

Anyway I have an inside cabin so for once I'm going to get a fantastic night's sleep without the sun peaking in at me for most of the night! With that in mind I'm going to head off to sleep now and get in some well-deserved shut eye!

Posted by weary_feet 07:58 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

2: Dukes and Castles

rain 16 °C
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A very leisurely start today in my Ikea-sk room! I had to move hotels today so decided to make the most of my current room before moving on.

I had spent yesterday afternoon doing some reconnaissance around Helsinki so I knew where I was going to find my new hotel. My hotel was down on the waterfront (and had cost me an arm and a leg) which was quite nice.

After checking in I took off for the Finnish National Museum (which is housed in an old castle). On the way I decided to stop for an early lunch and tried out some Reindeer meatballs with potato and boiled veges.. Reindeer is really quite tasty.. the meatballs I had, had quite a smoky flavour and were quite tender and juicy! Tick for another local cuisine that this little black duck has tried!

Back to the museum....

The Finnish identity started in 1150 when one of the Swedish kings annexed Finland and created a new duchy. Prior to this time Finland was populated by small villages on the lakes and oceans that mainly caught and traded in fish. With the influx of the Swedes, Christianity was brought to the peninsular and the old pagan beliefs were abolished. Over the next two hundred years Finland quadrupled in population.

Finland has always been stuck between two powers, the Swedes on its western flank and Russia on its eastern. Russia eventually took over Finland in the mid-1700s and Finland became a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire until its abolition in 1905 (with the abdication of Nicholas II).

I would describe that all of the history of Finland is derived from one of the two powers above. Sweden very much grew the country into what it is today, with Russia giving it a more cosmopolitan feel towards the end of the 1800s.

After spending a few hours trekking thru the museum I decided to return to the hotel via the supermarket to get some more food for tomorrow's adventure at Suomenlinna fortress and my ferry ride to Stockholm.

Posted by weary_feet 07:51 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

1: Seagulls

overcast 14 °C
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Today has really been the travelling day! I left St Pb just before lunch time and arrived in Helsinki 30min later.. Yep just a 30min flight (with three hours of hanging around at both ends!) I did a stupid thing and left my knife in my back pack (from my last train trip) and so had to give it up at the airport.. DAMN

At the other end in Helsinki I went through the slowest immigration line in the history of lines.. I was waiting well over an hour to go through immigration. The Finns decided (in their wisdom) to only have two officers on duty for a whole jumbo's worth of tourists! Oh well.. Eventually got through and made my way to downtown.

I'm staying at the Hostel Academica which is about 0.5km from the centre of Helsinki.. Not that far that you can't walk everywhere. The hostel is something out of an Ikea catalogue! Everywhere you look is some sort of flat packed stuff that you would see if your typical store.. Just hilarious!

I spent the afternoon just walking around Helsinki trying to get my bearings! Luckily for me I was able to find a supermarket so i've been able to stock up. The city is built on the gulf of Finland and therefore the city is just filled with seagulls and other water birds. The city is a strange mixture of some oldish buildings and really new futuristic buildings.. You can really tell you are in Scandanavia!

I'm going to spend some time tomorrow checking out the Finnish National Museum and move to my other hotel (which is down on the waterfront so should have a nice view)

Posted by weary_feet 07:06 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

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