Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Flag of Sweden  ,
Monday, August 9, 2004

Scandinavia - the land of vikings, lutifisk and tall blonde people. The history here revolves around the Baltic Sea and the attempt to control it (for trade and tariffs). I made no attempts thus far to commandeer a vessel and lay siege to any ships. I have heard reports of a "dread pirate Spanky" plundering cargo ships though.
I haven't picked up any of the language yet. Lucky for me, most everyone speaks English 'cuz I don't have a clue what they're saying.
It seems like all the Scandinavian countries still retain a royal family. Both the Danish and Swedes are very interested in their royal families (almost as much as the Brits are into theirs). I wasn't even aware that these countries still had a royal family before arriving.

I came into Scandinavia from Germany to Denmark and made a stop at the town of Ribe. It has an architecturally wacky cathedral (it's built in several different styles) and a historic town centre. Honestly, it wasn't that impressive. I liked hanging out in the park by the water better. I continued on north and met up with Martin (he's friends with Eric and Jen) and his girlfriend, Olga. We went to Legoland that evening since it's free on Thursdays during the summer. I'm glad we went on a free day 'cuz there really isn't much to see and do there (the rides are for kids). I got a free place to stay back at Martin's apartment in Odense. Odense is the home to Hans Christian Andersen so I went and saw his house and wandered around town (mostly just shopping areas).
Martin had a bbq at his place so friends came over. I must say Danes can drink. We hung out at Martin's place for a while then went into town to a bar/club. Of course, I was dancing around like a fool...and meeting Danish girls. Yada, yada, yada...I spent the next day resting and relaxing, and Martin's extensive movie collection provided good entertainment.

Olga and Martin at Legoland

On to Kobenhavn (Copenhagen) - home of the Little Mermaid statue and Tivoli amusement park. You know you're not in the USA when a travel book lists getting hit by a bicycle as the main danger of the city (though there are bicyclists everywhere). I got a tour of the city from Henriette, who I met in Munich at Dicky's bbq. That was cool 'cuz I got more history and local perspective than I would if I was just wandering around by myself. And she made me lunch! (I was asking about local foods so we had open-faced sandwiches with typical Danish stuff on 'em.)

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

I did a daytrip out of Copenhagen to see some castles. First stop was Kronborg, the setting for Shakespeare's "Hamlet". I floated around the pond with Ophelia for a while, but she proved not to be very lively. Then on to Frederiksborg in Hillerod. That castle was neater looking (though you still had to pay to go in...I left my v.i.p. badge at the crappy hostel). I headed up north to the beaches and hung out there. It was a bit windy and cloudy, but still nice. I wasn't getting much sleep at the hostel I stayed at in Copenhagen so by afternoon I was rather exhausted (tired eyes). That didn't stop me though...I kept on doing touristy stuff.

Frederiksborg Castle

Malmö and Lund are both small towns in Sweden very close to Copenhagen. They have some old churches and old town areas. Malmö has what they call a castle, but it's really just a big building. I think when I eventually get a house I will refer to it as a palace since it seems ok to throw around deceptive descriptions. Though going to the castle led me to the area where I got the sunset picture with the windmill.

sunset in Malmö

I stopped for an evening in Göteburg (up on the west coast). It was an alright city with canals through town and some neat looking buildings. I got a nap there and slept in the next day so finally caught up on sleep.
The weather in Stockholm was sunny and hot the whole time I was there...nice to have sun again. First thing I did when I arrived was go and lay out in the sun for an hour before meeting up with Petra's dad, Leif. He and his wife, Svetlana, cooked me dinner (Swedish meatballs!) and gave me my own apartment to sleep in. Yes, I'm spoiled. I checked out Stockholm, including the Vasa Museum with the 300 year old ship they brought up from the bottom of the harbor. That was pretty cool. Stockholm is a very pretty city with all the water nearby, especially when it's sunny. Leif and Svetlana took me on a day tour up to Uppsala and Sigtuna one day and to Drottingholm another day. They were very good to me my entire stay.

Tom in Stockholm

Monday evening (Aug 9) I take an overnight cruise over to Helsinki, will hang out there a few days then come back to Stockholm on another overnight cruise. Then it's on to Oslo, Norway.

I made a very tentative schedule for the coming months. Starts with La Tomatina in Spain on August 25, Nice around Sept 9, Paris Sept 15, Amsterdam Sept 28, E Europe in October and Greece in early November. Of course, exact dates will probably change as I'm going.

"We come from the land of the ice and snow
from the midnight sun where the hot spring blows
Hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands to fight the horde
sing and cry valhalla i am coming
On we sweep with threshing oar
our only goal will be the western shore"
- Led Zeppelin, "immigrant song"
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