And then there were one scandinavia this is ...

Trip Start Oct 02, 2001
Trip End Nov 01, 2001

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, November 2, 2001

And then there were one... Scandinavia, this is a place I've wanted visit for a long time now. It always seemed so mysterious and far away. This trip to Scandinavia held something else for me... a visit to a good friend I met in 97 on Luc and I's first trip to europe. So off I was to visit europe of the north and my good friend Elisabeth.

NOTE: For those of you just added to the e-mail list, we apoligize for the delay but we hope you'll want to explore the past logs and images we uploaded anyhow.

The lonely Canuck

After saying goodbye to Gerry in Athens I find myself alone on a Czech air flight to Stockholm. Thanks to a 6 hour stopover in Prague and the foresight of getting a multi entry visa for the Czech Republic, I had a chance to finish my visit to this old city that I started weeks before.

I must admit that travelling alone is just not the same. I'm sure one could get used to it but it really isn't the same because you seem to be on your guard alot more and it can prevent you from letting go and really taking in the moment.

So, with a short cab ride I was at Prague Castle. This is a perfect place to see the city from the bird's eye view. I started to walk down a side street looking for the stairs down to the old city square when I found myself face to face with a wall of soldiers marching towards me. They took up the whole street so I had no choice but to backtrack to the castle entrance. Turns out it was time for their daily parade so I watched them walk down and around the castle. After going down the stairs into the old city I followed the Lonely Planet suggestion to visit the Charles bridge. You can get a good view and feel for the city from there. The bridge stands in the middle of the old city so a panoramic video of the city was definitely in order.
I took out my camera and was setting up to take the video when I heard this sound coming from behind me. It was an old man playing the accordion and smiling at me. I explained to him that this was a video that was going on the internet and asked if he could play the soundtrack. So, I took the video and then tried to give him some money which he refused. From what I gathered he was saying that having his music on the internet was enough.

After a few more sites and alot more walking, I found a nice cafe to sit and observe the people during their work breaks. I believe that you can't get a good feel for what and who a country really is unless you see how the people live their daily lives.
It was easy to almost forget that I had to get to the airport soon.
So, another cab ride and I was on a plane to Stockholm.

Stockholm - Sweden

The first thing I had to do was find a place to stay and there's no better place to do that than at the train station. I came across 3 guys speaking english so, being the shy guy that I am, I went over to introduce myself. While we were talking about possible options for accommodations, along came this girl who was pretty much in the same situation. So after some quick introductions, Dawn (her name) and I decided to head to a hostel which apparently had a double room available for us to split. After securing beds for the night, we headed back to meet our new friends for a night on the town. One of the guys was Thomas, a swedish native now living and studying in Paris. We heavily relied on his knowledge of Stockholm to guide us to a fun bar where we could enjoy our first night in Sweden.
As we walked the streets of Stockholm, we came across a dozen Norwegean women also looking for a place to go. I ran over to them and after talking with Thomas, we all decided to go to a pub nearby.
With a few tequila shots the night started pretty good. It's really fun to talk with people from all over the world and get their view on world politics and issues that affect us all in different ways.

The next day we were all meeting with Thomas at 1:00pm in the train station for a custom tour of Stockholm. After waiting for over 2 hours we decided to forget about the tour and secure a place to stay for the second night. We found room at the boathouse hostel which is actually 3 boathouses floating on the river.
Complete with internet, this hostel was very different and more fun. So, looking around we opened the small portholes that were our windows to get fresh air. One of our first thoughts was that we could crawl through the window if we forgot the code for the door or missed curfew. So, of course, I had to check the theory and started making my way through the hole. I figured if my shoulders fit then the rest of me would. What I forgot was that my shoulders can somewhat collapse and move around so, while I got half my body in, I couldn't seem to find a way to get my hips in! To make matters worst, the hard pushing I did to try to get my hips in had wedged me in real nice! After about 30 minutes of litterally just hanging around, I finally managed to get myself out of the hole! (ok, bad pun! ;-) See pictures for a better look!

I spent the rest of the cold evening touring the old city with Dawn. Stockholm is definitely a must see for those traveling to Scandinavia. Unfortunately, that was all the time I had for Stockholm. I left my new friends and made my way to the train station.
I couldn't make a reservation for a couchette on the overnighter to Copenhagen so I had to settle for a 2nd class "first come first serve" wagon. What I didn't anticipate was that people would be going places that weekend and I couldn't find myself an available seat. The best I could find was a space about 4 x 2 feet in the main hallway near the washrooms. You can just imagine how comfortable that was and how often I was woken up. It seems like everytime I finally fell asleep, I would either stepped on or awaken by the sound of the toilets flushing. I got through this mess by reminding myself I was on my way to meet my friend Elisabeth. Luckily, I was able to get a reservation on the next train from Copenhagen to Aarhus and get what I think was a good hour of sleep.

I was so excited to get off that train. Like I mentioned before, I had met Elisabeth in 97 on my first trip to europe and meeting her again was a big part of why I chose to visit scandinavia on this trip. As I made my way up the escalator, I saw this beautiful blue eyed, blond sweetheart peak out of the crowd and smile at me. It felt really good to see a friendly face after leaving my last trooper behind days before to set off on my own.
I can't say enough about my time with Elisabeth. I must admit to have being a little nervous at first, but after a quick hug and minutes of talking while walking to her place, I really felt at ease and could recognize the friend I had largely made over the internet for the last 4 years.
She introduced me to her two flatmates, Astrid and Monica, and even set me up with my own room.
By the first night I really felt at home. They were just amazing to me and treated me like a king. It was just what I needed after a month of travelling, a place to kick off my (*stinky*) shoes, drop my guard and really relax.
After having some drinks at their place and meeting one of their friends, Karim, we all went to a nice dance club for a good night. It had been at least 2 1/2 weeks (or about 3 countries ago in travel talk) since I had a good night out of dancing.
I spent 3 days and 3 nights with my friend but it felt more like a week. They made me traditional Norwegean meals and took me to see the city. Unfortunately, I still had Copenhagen to visit and a long train ride ahead of me to get back to Munich for my flight home.
I relunctantly repacked and gave them all a goodbye hug before making my way to the train station. To be honest, I wasn't much in the mood for another blitz through yet another city, but after getting back into backpacking mode, I figured I'd invest one more burst of energy and see Copenhagen.

Copenhagen - the old city

Copenhagen's old city has often been referred to as the little Amsterdam complete with canals running through it and an old port area. The streets of Copenhagen has a bit of every architectural style found elsewhere in scandinavia. For 400 years the Danes ruled most of Scandinavia and was the center of everything including the arts, trade, universities and housed the government and royal family.
I'm happy to have taken the time to visit the city. Next time I think I'll not only spend more time but return during the summer months and make sure the Tivoli amusement park is open.

One last train...

It was now Tuesday night and I was less than 24 hours away from my flight home but still over 800 kms from Munich where my plane was to fly from! So on another 15 hour overnight train I go!
This one was much better than the other one. I paid the difference to get to Munich since my rail pass didn't cover Germany and also got a couchette. I slept like a baby and woke up somewhere in Germany.
I just had time to get a bus to the airport and check my backpack before the plane left. That had to be the longest flight ever! When I got to Philadelphia, I had to re-check my pack for US customs. I'm happy I had everything with me because after talking to 3 US airways staff members, I finally found one that would change my flights around so I could get home that same night and not charge me. It felt so good to know I was going home and not have to fly to Indianapolis and back just to complete my flights.
I write this from my home computer and now, I'm gonna go have a much needed shower and alot of sleep!


The Last 3C entry...

Well, this will be our last entry for this log.
After one month of travelling and 8 countries visited between the 3 of us, we are left with countless memories and new friends that will last us a lifetime. I'm not sure how many new e-mail addresses we have or who will turn out to be life long pen pals or travel buddies but one thing is for sure... trips like these would never be the same without the people we meet and share the experience with along the way.
So, having said this, we'd like to dedicate this log to those new travellers we met and to all travellers who dare to venture on their own into foreign lands in search of new adventure and experiences.
We hope you enjoyed our little adventure and hopefully it inspired some of you to take a trip and see the world a little.
Until next time!

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