Thursday, 5 June 2014

Sweden & Helsinki

We encountered quite the extensive bus journey today from Norway to Sweden.
The beautiful scenery started to taper off as we made our way towards the bustling city of Stockholm. 
Now I don't have all that many photos to share with you, as we went out one night (self explanatory) and I also had a false alarm losing my's how it went down. 

When we arrived in Stockholm we very promptly got ready to head to the Ice Bar, the very first ice bar in the world. 
We were handed out coat and gloves, got a drink token and I used mine for a mango chillie cocktail - so good! 

We got some group photos with pops 

And continued the night onto an awesome club called Sommar.
The night looked a little like this 

And a little like this 

(Double parked all night) 

But it mostly looked like this 

We managed to polish off approximately 9 drinks, lost Stacey for the night, salsa danced with the Russian and got in an unlicensed cab with 8 people back to our hotel. 
Oh and our cab driver Marcus, gave sally a banana and said "don't tell the others"...and offered us vodka from underneath his van.
A super random night to say the least!
And thankfully we found Stacey - happy times all round.

Day 2 - 
With only 2 hours sleep and literally no darkness all night, we got up with great difficulty at 7am. The breakfast at our hotel is amazing but incredibly hard to stomach. We pop on the bus to head into the city at 8.15 *groans* 

Our first stop is the Vasa museum,  showcasing a boat that sunk 300 years ago, it didn't see much ocean either as when it was first sent off to sea, it sunk immediately because it was too heavy, classic Sweden. 
So they resurfaced it and put it in a museum.  When we got there we were an hour early however, so we had a little snooze on the grass. 

The museum is amazing though! The ship is enormous and fantastically detailed and definitely worth it being resurfaced 

We take a stroll along the waterfront which is sunny and gorgeous 

And head to the royal palace to see the changing of the guards. You can tell I was on struggle street today because I didn't take any photos of it, but I can tell you that it was awesome to watch!

We met back with the group, said farewell to some people leaving us in Stockholm and met the newbies back at our hotel. We had some dinner and crashed, hard. 

Day 3 - 
Unfortunately no sleep in today as we had a pretty early start to see the Stockholm town hall where the Nobel peace prize banquet is held.
We walked through the blue room 

(Quite obviously not blue) 

And the gold room which is covered in 17 million gold leaf mosaics 

Because our bus was late we only got a brief 20 minute tour and then decided to head to Sanskar park.
When we arrived we realised it was a zoo and we didn't have enough time to check it out, next time Sweden! 
On the walk back however, I realised I was no longer holding my phone - shiiiit. 

The girls reassure me that it's probably on the bus, so Sally and I decide to check 

No luck in seeing it, we decide to check out the royal armoury which had a game of thrones exhibit on, I've never actually watched game of thrones but enjoyed the dress ups 

And rode a horse...

Clearly not a real one, I can barely ride a bike

Our bus driver Ricky meets me at the bus and much to my relief, my phone is sitting on the chair! Fantastic!! 
We head back to Central so we can hop on what pops likes to call "The Love Boat" 

We got on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki that is literally stuck 30 years in the past with it's entertainment and carpet choice. 
We locate our rooms (which are below the car deck, winner) and grab a drink at the pub 

(Skittles, Sophie, ailsa, yumi and Stace) 

We have an all you can eat buffet organised, plus all you can drink wine. Safe to say we took full advantage of this and I ate my body weight in potatoes.
I also tried caviar for the first time! 

Its an acquired taste I think ...

But we sang a little karaoke

And the whole contiki group took over the dance floor in the casino (where we saw 8 year olds on the pokies) 
I may have also done a little interpretive dancing...
It was quite a fab evening, and made better by the fact we got to walk back to our room, no cab necessary!!

Day 3 -
We had a little later rise today thankfully, and entered a FREEZING cold Helsinki.
Windy, rainy, cold. But we need to make most of our time here so we head to two different cathedrals. A Lutheran and a catholic cathedral, both very different from each other but really interesting to see

This is the uspenski cathedral (catholic) 

We then wandered down to the market area to suss out finlandian cuisine, something strange caught my eye...

Yes everyone, you can eat Rudolph in Finland

We then get offered some free food by a finlandian. However I'm not a seafood fan, but my boyfriend I'm making an attempt to try new things for his benefit :P

Obviously loving it.

It's still FREEZING cold with the rain and ice wind so we decide to grab a hot chocolate (quite possibly the best I've had in my life) and I buy a new moose friend named Sven 

We caught a ferry to Soumelina which has an old fortress on it, a good idea in theory, not so much in practice as obviously the island is surrounded by water therefore windy. But we do a little exploring in what looks like a hobbit village 

Turns out it's actually a cellar for prisoners.

We get back into the mainland after almost hitting hypothermia and decide to warm ourselves up with some reindeer 

Actually rather enjoyed my reindeer meatball! 

We caught our coach back to the hotel for an early night so we could be fresh faced for Russia tomorrow! 

I loved Sweden despite my phone scare, however I'm not sure if it was the weather or not, but Finland didn't really meet my expectations. I've actually always wanted to go there but I guess. sometimes it's the places you least expect to be good, that end up being the best :)

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