Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Oh the Swedes and the end of the tour

Onto the land of the Svens and Bjorns.

We had a really great time in Sweden. The drive to Stockholm from Oslo was similar to the approach to Halifax through the lake region. We also got our fair share of ABBA music on the way, so I felt right at home. When we arrived on Thursday we got dropped off for a wander about downtown. We spent the evening people watching (even better than Oslo) and wandering around checking out clubs. We also had some amazing Swedish Thai food - who would have thunk it.

Next morning we went to a really cool museum, Frau I think, which houses the ship that was the pride of Stockholm but sunk in the harbour on its maiden voyage. Too many cannons. It was a pretty cool museum though and even had the skeletons of the people who sunk with it in the 17th century. Definitely worth checking out! Friday was another wandering about day where we checked out a really cute heritage park in the older part of town, and wandered the narrow streets of old town. The park was very quaint with people walking around dressed in "authentic" clothes. There was even real "wildlife" so we got to see some wolverines pups wrestling about. The two highlights of the park were the amazing Swedish meatballs, and Toto was playing a concert that night so we got to hear their sound check. Unfortunately, they did not play Africa - sad day. The best part of the old town was the hilarious tourist stores, it would have been a crazy cat-lady heaven (Errol take note). The beer was also nice. I forgot to mention that Friday was Canada day so we had a rousing rendition of Oh Canada on the coach and later subjected the rest of the tour to the musical genius of B4-4. Apparently no one outside of Canada knows "get down", weird, I know. We capped off the night at a fantastic Swedish club where we were all underdressed and not blonde enough to fit in. Regardless, we shuffled. We had an incredibly exciting cab ride home full of unregistered cabs, highways, running out of gas, flagging more cabs and finally paying a killer rate to get back to the hotel. It was definitely a night to remember.

Saturday morning was not a happy one. We all made the mistake of signing up for the Stockholm City Hall Tour adventure and all almost puked in the lovely Blue hall where they receive the Nobel laureates each year. The Blue hall isn't blue. That fact, and the shiny room made of gold and glass are the only things I remember from the entire tour - money well spent. We killed the rest of the morning walking, moping and napping. Mid afternoon we caught the coach and boarded the ferry that would take us to Finland. This ship was absolutely hilarious. They treated it like a 12 hour cruise ship complete with hired photographers, mascots, theme music, shops, a fancy buffet, a casino and a couple of night clubs. It was a hilarious and very fun experience. We also really enjoyed it's nickname "the love boat" as it apparently used to get pretty wild in the 60's. The crew leaving in Helsinki treated this as our last night so we went all out. Needless to say, another highlight night.

Sunday morning we took a driving tour of Helsinki so saw most of the big sights. We then wandered about for the rest of the day, did a bit of shopping, and relaxed down by the harbour. I spent the day with my California Girls friends so had a riot people watching. Unlike gorgeous Stockholm, Helsinki was divided between sickly skinny sad looking people who gaulked at our bright clothes, or Ed Hardy clad meatheads. So as I said, great people watching. That night was kind of depressing knowing that half the group would be continuing on to Russia and the rest of us dispersing. But, alas all good Contiki tours must come to an end.

It was a fantastic trip and I would recommend the company to anyone who enjoys fun. I saw some amazing sights and made some great friends.

And so with the end of Contiki comes the end of the post.

Until next time.

Picture: the model of the ship in the Frau. The museum was extra cold and dark to preserve the 400 year old ship so the picture of the real thing didn't turn out that well.

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