A Smorgasbord of Scandinavian Sights
Up to Amsterdam, where I’ve been before and liked because of its non-judgmental environment. Drugs and prostitution are legal here, but is welcoming for people who are not into that. I went to similar areas as last time like the canals and the main central palace area and the coffee shops. It took about an hour to get the reservation to go to Copenhagen for the overnight train. So, it was a busy day going from Cologne to Amsterdam to Copenhagen.
I arrived in Copenhagen today and went to my hostel, called Sleep in Heaven Hostel. It’s a coed place with 100 beds in one big room. These hostels are dirt-cheap; they’re only $15. I made reservations for Stockholm and for my ferry to Helsinki and back. I don’t have hostels any place else; I’ll find something I’m sure. Geraldo, a man I met on the train, and I went across from the train station to the huge city hall. Then we walked down Stroget; it’s the main pedestrian walkway.
|One of the most intact midevil cities in Europe is Tallinn, Estonia|
Off to Rosenborg Castle, which was a summer palace built in 1607, for a guided tour, which was well done. There was a lot to see such as the crown jewels and where the present queen resides. There’s four different main buildings that were built by nobles dating back to the 1700′s even though it was rebuilt and reopened in 1997, the 25th anniversary of the queen’s ascension to the thrown. The queen has done all the interior design since it has been reopened, and the heir to the throne lives in an apartment across the way.
After we got done with the palace, we walked to The Little Mermaid. It’s a signature of Copenhagen, a bronze mermaid sitting on a rock along the water. It’s a tourist thing to do. Then we walked down to Christiana, which was a city born in 1971 and the government has been trying to get rid of it for 30 years. It’s like a hippie commune, it has it’s own laws including legal soft drugs. We finished at Tivoli, which is an amusement park. A young Walt Disney came here to get ideas for an amusement park that he was going to build.
|The Lutheran Church is a popular tourist attraction in Helsinki, Finland|
The hotel has a laundry service so this will be the first time my clothes are cleaned. In Stockholm, I went to the Royal Palace. Like Denmark, Sweden has a monarchy but again they don’t have any power. Sweden has a king but will have a queen when this king dies. The king meets the other heads of state and they also have the royal crowns. I went through a dining room where in the old days if you were lucky you could actually eat with the king, you sat by the walls and watched him eat a 32-course meal.
A popular tourist attraction near the Royal Palace is the changing of the guard, which is somewhat similar to the one in London. The Royal Palace has 608 rooms, which is one more than Buckingham Palace.
Later, I went to the port and took a ferry to Helsinki. The first three hours are nice as the sun sets and all the little inlets and Swedish towns go past. They also have a smorgasbord aboard, which I’ll try on the way back.
Helsinki is an hour ahead and I lose an hour in Estonia, then back to Helsinki tomorrow to gain an hour back then to Stockholm and lose an hour. I had a couple of hours to look around Helsinki before my boat left, so I looked around the Senate Square and the Lutheran Church. Most people here are Lutheran even though most Scandinavians aren’t particularly religious. Then, I visited Uspenski, an Eastern Orthodox Church, around the boat terminal.
|Nearly every tourist in Copenhagen gets a picture with The Little Mermaid|
Back to Helsinki. This boat trip went a lot smoother than the first. I looked around Helsinki by going through the market and looked at the fish and shrimp. There was some folk dancing in the central park and in the western end is the Olympic Stadium, as well as Parliament and a couple of museums. I looked at Sibelius Monument, which is 600 stainless steel pipes; it was a weird looking art monument. That was a quick tour of Helsinki, I rushed through but I got the idea of what it was like, and then got the boat back to Stockholm.
I tried the smorgasbord, which was really good, with all the food and drink for about $20. They had cold meats, fish and hot meats, dessert, fruit and salad and everything, so that was really good. Looking forward to a good night’s sleep before arriving in Stockholm.