To all of you out there that are in desperate need of a break from all the post about the recent election, I am here to relieve you! 🙂
The past few weeks have been full of crossing off the last two Nordic countries. Sweden and Finland. We also snuck in a trip to Estonia, which was a wonderful addition.
We ended October with a quick trip to Stockholm where I was taken by surprise by how much I feel in love with the city. Don’t get me wrong I was totally excited to go to Norway’s neighboring country, but I figured it would be very similar to Norway. This, I was wrong about. The city of Stockholm was beautiful and diverse. It was a hint of Copenhagen and the canals you can find there and a hint of a big city feel like… London(?) Mainly due to the architecture and how you could feel a strong presences of the history of the country.
The first day we were in Stockholm we just walked around the city and hit up one of the many H&M’s the city has… considering the store was started in Sweden. We found a great burger place with great food and MILKSHAKES! We all know that I have a deep love for those things, so I of course inhaled that! 😉 We ended the day with going to an ice bar. We put on these huge ponchos and mittens and went into a bar that was made entirely of ice and had a drink in a glass that was made out of ice. They have these bars in some of Europe’s biggest cities, and it was definitely something fun to do!
The next day we went to the old town, “Gamla Stan”. This is where the Swedish royal palace is and where most of the touristy things are located. We were lucky enough to watch the changing of the guards at the castle which was great to see. Hundreds of people stood outside the palace to watch the process. Megan, Dede, and I (and many other people) couldn’t help but laugh at one of the guards that was holding a flag. Two of the guards were standing next to each other, with flags and it was a windy morning. The one guard kept getting hit in the head with the flag next to him. The flag would fly in front of his face or land on his head so he couldn’t see. All of the other guards have a straight face, but this guard could not help but crack a smile. Every once in a while he would even move out of place so that the flag would get off of him. It might have been one of those moments where you had to be there, but we couldn’t stop laughing.
The next weekend we were off to Helsinki to stay with a family friend of Megan’s. Our host and hostess were amazing and so hospitable. We were shown all around downtown Helsinki which was so nice to actually know what we were seeing. Many Finnish people are lutheran and so we were able to see the most beautiful lutheran churches I have ever seen. Being lutheran I got pretty excited over this. We even were able to see the President of Finland! We were driving right passed his residents when he was pulling into it! The best part about our visit to Finland… they had SNOW!! Now most North Dakotan’s are probably thinking, “why the heck are you excited about snow?? We have it in ND!!” In North Dakota, you never really get to enjoy the snow because it gets too cold! But in Finland it was the perfect temperature to enjoy it! And it was so fluffy and perfect!! Every morning we woke up we ran to the window to take pictures of the snow!
Saturday our host organized a trip to Estonia for the day. A very common thing in Helsinki is to take cruise ships to some of the neighboring countries for the day. You are able to bring your car along and even stay overnight on the boat. Since it was a national holiday that Saturday, most things in Finland were closed so it was the perfect opportunity to hit up another city!
Estonia was beautiful. We were in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was extra excited for this trip because my roommate here in Norway is actually from Estonia. My roommate and I were both excited for me to go experience her home country. We only had about 3 hours in Tallinn so we spent the majority of that time in the old town. Since Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, the history was apparent all over the city. It was amazing to learn all about what this now thriving country had gone through just 25 years ago. Our hostess was able to tell us all about the history and what it was like to live in this part of the world during the Soviet Union time which really interested me.
Old town, Tallinn has a very eastern Europe feel that is told by the architecture and the stores that they have. We were able to eat at a Russian restaurant and we even tried some real Russian vodka… Estonia was also perfectly covered with snow, and it made the old town market area even more perfect. The trip to Estonia really made me more interested in learning more about the Soviet Union and all that happened during that time. I really loved the small eastern European country and would definitely love to go back someday.
For the next two weekends, I will be laying low in Bergen and preparing for my last two finals. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here (obviously) Dede and I will be off to Dublin to celebrate with an amazing friend of my family. We will then come back to Norway for a few days before leaving to hop from country to country. I feel like my time here is quickly coming to an end and I want it to slow down. 😦
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”- Ecclesiastes 1:9