Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-07-17

Stayed the night in Stockholm

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From: brong@zebkrahn.brong.net (Bron Gondwana)
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 19:48:19 +1000
The travel day from hell!

We were up at 3:30 to pack, leaving in the taxi at 4am. Spent half an
hour sitting on the floor at Stanstead waiting for the gates to open,
then the same again sitting around waiting for the plane to go. Tried to
get our Eurorail passes validated, but the station wasn't open yet.

We had forgotten to buy food for the flight (and for the rest of
breakfast for that matter), and realised just how expensive the crappy
sandwitches at a place with a captive audience can get!

As Kate said (or will say if you're reading these by date, she posted it
all as tomorrow's entry) - Ryanair doesn't allocate seats. People with
young children get to go on first, but after that it's free for all. I
asked before the gate was opened if I could queue jump, but they said
no. We stood at the front of where the queue would form anyway, and a
lady with a baby needed someone to carry her pram, so I quickly grabbed
the job ;)

The lesson from that, grab the _back_ of the two exit rows, because they
don't let you lean the seats of the front one forward into the exit row.
I'll know better next time.

In Stockholm, after an hour and a half on a really hot bus - they don't
seem to know about air conditioning - we sat in the terminal for ages
trying to work out what to do. this was our first real time in a place
where they don't speak our language, and drive on the wrong side of the
road! We finally found lockers for our big bags, and decided to go see
some of the city while trying to get a backpackers for the night. The
original plan had been to take the ferry that day, but we thought maybe
we'd stay one night in Stockholm first.

The Lonely Planet says to book ahead at least a week for Helsinki - it
should say that for Stockholm too. We tried two backpackers, both full
- and disheartened, we returned to the train station. We were faced with
  a choice of paying for an agency to find us rooms (there was one at
  the station), or trying to get a ferry. We decided to try the ferry
  first, as that would give us a full day in Helsinki to find somewhere,
  instead of the already 3:30 time in Stockholm. Silja Line (our
  original planned ferry) was fully booked - but Viking Line still had
  space, if we were willing to sleep on the floor. Better than that, it
  was free with our Rail Passes (doesn't even use up a day on the
  ticket!) The boat left at 4:30, bus from the train station at 4:10. We
  had 30 minutes to find somewhere in Helsinki.

During summer, two buildings that I assume are student accommodation
during term turn into hostels. I called the second (and cheaper) one
listed in the Lonely Planet. Of course prices are Euro now, so I
couldn't see at a glance if they had changed much since the book was
printed. Anwyay, they had a male and a female dorm room available. I
quickly booked for 3 nights, then we grabbed our bags and were on the
bus. So much for Stockholm! We will be back in a week or so, and it was
intersting anyway. We saw a few buildings.

We were very tired, and fell sleep not long after the ferry left. We did
look out the windows at all the amazing little islands - very cute with
houses on them. The land is very 'broken up' between Sweden and Finland.

We woke up about midnight, and went for a walk. They were still partying
in the nightclub and pub down a couple of floors. Outside, you could see
the light where the sun was just over the horizon - there's nothing like
it in Australia. We tried to take a photo, but on a moving ship, it was
probably just a dark blur. When we got back inside, the bars had shut -
I guess fasionably late was just a little too late here
- so we went back to sleep on the floor.

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