A Smorgasbord of Scandinavian Sights – Scandinavia

A Smorgasbord of Scandinavian Sights

July 25
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.

July 26
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
One of the most intact midevil cities in Europe is Tallinn, Estonia
Next it was on to Christiansborg Palace, which was the old royal palace. They have a constitutional monarchy so there’s still a queen. She’s been queen since 1972, but she doesn’t have any power. She does sign bills but stands next to the throne to indicate that she’s no longer in power. The actual palace is where Parliament is and the Supreme Court is. They haven’t made it to 100 years yet without one burning down, so it’s getting close, this one was built in 1927. There’s a lot of interesting paintings in the main meeting hall where the queen meets. Many paintings are of Danish history in the 20th century, especially World War I to the Resistance. I went on a canal tour for about 1.5 hours and we went to other places around Copenhagen. On Nyhavn Street, were the old port used to be, we went to eat at a trendier restaurant. This street is a popular place to be and has a lot of Danes and foreigners.

July 27
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.

July 28

The Lutheran Church is a popular tourist attraction in Helsinki, Finland
The Lutheran Church is a popular tourist attraction in Helsinki, Finland
Today it is Stockholm, which is a series of five islands. I ended up taking the underground but it’s walking distance to Skansen, which is more of a family thing. It showed some of the old Swedish way of living as far as farms, households and churches. They also had reindeer and elk. I took a walk back along the canals, rivers and bridges. Because Stockholm is a series of islands, water travel is important here and a good way to get around. It is also an attractive city because of all the bridges and there is almost always water close by.

June 29
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.

July 30
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
Nearly every tourist in Copenhagen gets a picture with The Little Mermaid
I got motion sickness on the boat to Estonia, but I got a place to stay at a B&B. It’s with a couple, an old couple, renting out a spare room. I went to the old city area of Tallinn, which is where most of the action is. Most of the city walk was based on the medieval towers and walls and the churches along the way. Tallinn is one of the best-preserved medieval cities. The Town Hall Square is in the middle and I hung out there and ate at a bar/restaurant and had shrimp pancakes.

July 31
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.