You make me smile

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
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Trip End Aug 03, 2008


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Flag of Sweden  ,
Friday, July 4, 2008

Before leaving the hostel this morning, had a quick chat with some of the bunkmates.  Some guy from Michigan and some girl from Vancouver who is currently studying in Leiden, in Holland.  There was another girl with a Scottish flag on her backpack, but turns out she's actually Swiss.  Funny because I didn't think she looked Scottish, but didn't think she looked Swiss, either!  She's headed to Helsinki, too, but is flying instead of taking the night ferry like I am.  Anyway, that was enough human contact for me - I've been in a bit of a solo mood lately. 

Off to the Cathedral - pretty blah stuff.  The same was true of the Nobel museum - they did have one slightly interesting exhibit called "Design 4 Science".  Things viewed under an electron microscope were either presented as art, or were the inspiration for other artwork.  Since I still had some time left to use my Stockholm Card, I popped over to the Royal Armoury - another blah sight.  A pretty crappy day so far, I must say!

Still with some time left, I popped over to the treasury - boring.  Some of the crowns that the nobility wore looked more like the cardboard ones you get from Burger King, than anything regal.  Next up was the Mint - blah again!  I would never go to any of these sights under separate admission, but since it's covered ... I think today I set a record for most boring sights in the shortest time period. 

I had some time to kill before the changing of the guards - I chilled down by the harbour, listened to some music, and munched on some macadamia nuts.  Mmm ... honey roasted ... Did some quick shopping at the Galeria mall, near Sergels Torg - I needed some more shorts because I expected much cooler temperatures in Scandinavia, and really didn't bring enough.

Back to the Hotorgshallen food market for lunch - I was VERY tempted by the middle eastern deli that I saw yesterday, but again ended up having the fish soup.  I can't get over the amazing taste and value at this place and again, can't get over how I ate until I felt like puking.  Damn included refill!!!

Did some quick browsing along Drottningatan again, and headed back to the hostel to pick up my bag.  It was time to catch the bus to the harbour for tonight's Helsinki ferry.  Kind of annoying - the bus pulled into the bus stop, but it had absolutely nothing identifying it as being the correct bus, and the driver said nothing after he pulled up.    
 
I noticed that my backpack seems fuller and heavier, but I have no idea why.  It can't be accounted for, because the only thing I've bought so far is that pair of shorts today, and I've actually used quite a bit of body wash and lotion, etc. 

It took forever to get on the ferry - there were computer problems so we all stood around for quite some time.  Friggin' hot in the terminal!  I finally made it on board and realized again that I'm no longer a cruise fan.  Swedish and Finnish people use this cruise as a big duty-free shopping/drinking excursion, so the ship is nothing but a giant shopping mall.  The prices in the on board restaurants actually weren't that bad - they weren't really gouging, so the prices were pretty in-line with what you see on land.  But don't think that I am suggesting that the food is affordable, because it's still very expensive.

The captain announced that there were over 40 nationalities on board today, but I've read that in general, over 90% of passengers are Swedish or Finnish.  There are actually two ferry lines that do the cruise but I went with Silja, the more expensive cruise line, because my railpass gave a discount on a cabin bed, whereas Viking only gives a discount on passage.  Of course, with Viking you could save because you don't need to have a cabin, and can sleep on a chair, deck, or wherever.  Silja actually was running a promotion that gave me an even better price than the railpass discount, so I have a bit more to spend on food now!  I would've preferred going on Viking if I could've gotten a cheap cabin bunk - they're more of a budget line, so there would be more backpackers than on Silja, where it's all families. 

"Up Leon", a circus troupe from Brazil put on a pretty low budget show - I have to cut them some slack because it was geared more towards kids, but it was still pretty cheesy.  It improved with some acrobatic maneuvers, but I found the contortionist portions to be a little disturbing ...

I went back outside for the sunset - very cold and windy.  It was quite a strange sunset, almost like a double sun.  The sun actually disappeared for a while, and then re-appeared.  I think there were some clouds right on the horizon, and the sun must have disappeared behind them.  Then the clouds shifted and the sun re-appeared, only to have the clouds shift again, splitting the sun in half and making it look like there were two suns, just before it finally set.  Does that make any sense?  Either way, it was cool!  And I don't know if it's because I never looked before, but you could really see the curvature of the Earth at this far northern latitude.

It was probably the most memorable sunset I have ever witnessed.  As I watched, I repeatedly listened to one of my favourite songs from the past two years, "You make me smile".  And it certainly did ...    
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