Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-07-31

Stayed the night in Gothenburg

prev - next

From: Bron Gondwana <brong@brong.net>
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 19:42:36 +1000
I'm going to use Kate's method of just filling in the past few days in
one go rather than doing it day by day - for now. This will mean you get
a little less junk mail from us (I do tend to write long emails).

After we got back from the internet (finally) on Friday night we had
drinks and worked out our plan for the next day. We decided that
leaving at 1pm would get us to Lule? (in northern Sweden) that night.
Luckily we thought the time change was the other way, or we would have
been very stranded.

Public transport in Finland is pathetic, at least the stations are.
Neither the train nor bus stations had any idea about connections in
Sweden. All they could suggest was to take a bus the whole way - which
is fine, but the conditions of our Eurail passes only allow us to use
buses where they substitute for trains - so we had to get a train to
Kemi, then a bus from there to Tornio. Just across the river from Tornio
(Finland) is Haparanda (Sweden). Of course, this being a Saturday, the
station at Tornio was completely closed (only a lady in the junk-food
shop who didn't speak English).

We waited for 2 hours at the bus stop, without a single bus coming past.
People accumulated slowly, but we discovered they were there for the
overnight bus to Stockholm, which needs to be booked in advance and
doesn't support our tickets. We ran into a very nice local lad (Ville)
who tried to help us find a bus (the bus arrived, stopped for 5 seconds,
and drove off again before we could reach it - while we were chatting to
Ville - lovely service Finland bus companies, yes indeed). He gave us a
lift to the Haparanda station, saving us from a real mess!

Bus to Lule? was fine, but when we arrived we decided to take a taxi to
the youth hostel (pre booked with someone who's English wasn't
brilliant). The taxi took us to the wrong address (he didn't speak any
English), and only by pointing at the address in the Lonely Planet and
being forceful did we get there. Cost was about $24 Australian (120skr).
When we got there we discovered that it hadn't been a hostel for over 5
years, and the price was double! Oops. Wound up catching a bus back to
the location the taxi driver tried to take us to in the first place!

We had a share a single bed at the hostel in the city, but at least it
was cheaper. Woke up late (sleep was difficult with the heat) and went
to the museum, which was great. After the museum, everything was closed
(stuff closes really early here in summer because workers want to have a
holiday too!), so we wandered back to the hostel and caught up with the
Slovenian girl (Mattya) we had met the night before and were travelling
to Stockholm with.

The train station was closed all weekend, so we had to buy tickets on
the train. Swedish trains charge a "booking fee" even if you buy the
tickets on the train, but they didn't give us seats, so we kept having
to move. We wound up in a train carriage that had no electricity
(failed fuse!) and most of the toilets on the train were out of
service. We didn't get much sleep - not impressed with T?gkompaniet
(the train company).

Monday (29th) in Stockholm: we were still really sleepy when we got off
the train. Booked tickets to G?teborg - the queue (everything is
electronic queuing here) had over 100 people in front of us! Doh! Then
got into a queue for (information/tickets) which didn't sell us single
go tickets - only pointed us to another place where we could queue for
tickets. Thanks for the informative signage guys. Finally reached the
hostel (40 dorm beds in a big basement - cheap and no frills, but not
too bad) and fell asleep for a few hours. Woken by someone from a radio
station looking to interview people in hostels!

We walked through town after lunch. On the way over the bridge to the
palace, Kate saw someone who looked like Tiff walking along the other
side of the bridge. We called out - and indeed it was Tiff! We thought
she was still back in Helsinki, having managed to miss us by a couple of
days absolutely everywhere (she travelled the other way through
Finland). We wandered around the old town, had dinner and planned to
meet the next day.

The basement was actually dark (first time we'd had dark in ages) and
nobody turned the lights on, so we slept right through until 11am (we
were supposed to be checked out by 11 - oops!) Packed quickly and back
into the city to meet Tiff. We decided on the palace as our tourist
thing, and saw heaps of tapestries, amazing rooms and a museum of the
history of the palace. On the way back to the station afterwards we
bought food for the trip, but we think we left our Scandenavia Lonely
Planet book there, because we can't find it now. Oh well, one thing we
won't have to post home!

X2000 high speed train was great. Christer met us at the train station
and we trammed back home. Tickets and machines are similar to Melbourne,
but they last 90 minutes (exactly) from first validation. The card also
has a fixed amount of money on it, so you press a button on the front of
the green box to select the fare instead of buying a different card. The
machine eats that much money off the card, and you are validated. You
can also put more than one person on the same card, which would be
really handy sometimes in Melbourne.

Today we went into the city to meet Tiff (she caught the train down this
morning), checked out a museum, then caught a ferry to see the ruins of
some old fortifications. They weren't that interesting, and we missed
the next ferry back by 30 seconds! Not so good, but after buying food
for dinner at the biggest shopping centre in Sweden, we were a little
happier. Kate also found some really good quality polarised clip-on
sunglasses, so she'll be able to handle the weather here better.

The trip to Germany has to go a long way out of our planned route due to
the stupid restrictions on the Eurail tickets, so we're going to skip
Hamburg and spend an extra day in Vienna and an extra day in Berlin. It
seems a pity, but it's just too fast otherwise. Anyway, I have to go
wash dishes (having been voted official dishwasher for the night).
Kate's learning a new card game, and Tiff (who couldn't find a hostel)
is setting up to sleep on the couch here!

Oh, and Christer has a US keyboard, it's a pleasure typing on a keyboard
where they keys are in the right place!

Calendar Diary Places Photos Home [last update Tue Apr 22 01:15:04 2003]