22.7 Ferry to Stockholm
Took the Viking Line ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm. It left about 5pm and arrived in Stockholm about 9am the next day. Not much happened on board. Did a bit of duty free shopping and stocked up on cans of Coke for the powered cooler box for the car.
23.7 Arrive in Stockholm
Arrived in Stockholm. Drove from the ferry to the hotel we had booked. It took a little finding, but the traffic was pretty light in Stockholm. The hotel ended up being about 30 minutes walk from the centre of town (the information centre). The room wasn’t ready, so we parked the car in the underground garage and walked down to the city and to Gamla Stan, the old town on the island in the centre of Stockholm. We walked around and had coffee, then visited the Science Fiction bookshop there. Did more shopping and walking around the centre of Stockholm. It was a very hot day. Had a drink in the evening and looked up a restaurant in the local guidebook for dinner. Found a nice Italian place close by our hotel.
Had breakfast at the hotel in the morning. Some bus tour was there and the buffet was quite full. Found the local underground station and bought a 10 trip ticket, then took the underground train to the central station and then out to the natural history museum. They have an IMAX theatre (70mm film on a hemispherical overhead dome, 760 sq. m screen and 15000 watt sound system). One of the more interesting movies didn’t start till midday, so we looked round the museum. The movie was T-Rex and the theatre was full of families since it was still the school holidays. The movie was dubbed into Swedish, but it wasn’t hard to follow. Our seats weren’t so good, but it was still quite impressive. With the right movie it could probably make you very sick.
Took the train back into town after that and then walked to Skansen which is a large open-air museum. It is near the Vasa ship museum, just along the road a little. It has a zoo and a large number of old houses and workshops. People are dressed in period costume (1800’s) and do handcrafts, etc. It was another hot day and we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. It was quite nice in the zoo part. Lots of wolves, bears and other such animals. They all looked a bit hot as well. One of the bears was sitting in a pool up to his chin and chewing on a broken tree branch and throwing it around. He was quite cute and just like a big dog with a stick.
After spending the afternoon there we went to Tivoli Gröna Lund, which is the amusement park in Stockholm. It is in the same part of town, just next to the Vasa ship museum. It was packed as well. Lots of rides, rollercoasters, etc. Actually as we noticed later you can actually hear the people on the free-fall tower screaming across the other side of the harbour J .
25.7 Leave Stockholm
Another breakfast in the hotel. The bus tour must have left because there were fewer people at the breakfast buffet. Pia had found a shopping centre advert on the back of the tourist guide for Stockholm. Our maps didn’t show where it was exactly, but we figured from the phonebook map it must be easy enough to find, so we headed out there before we left Stockholm. It was about 15km northwest of the city centre, and with it being summer they have gone crazy with the road works. Seems like every critical intersection in Stockholm has been dug up and nothing ever matches a map, but we found most of the signs and even found the shopping centre. Only problem is that all the shops in Sweden don’t bother opening until about 10 or 11. In this case it was 11 and we arrived about 10:30. The place was fully of factory outlets for most of the big brands here, so by the time we had walked around and seen what shops there were the place was open. Lots of cheap stuff there too, although usually not the right sizes L .
Eventually left there just after midday and went south again, through Stockholm and on to Norrköping. Just outside there along the coast is a place called Kolmården, which has a large zoo. It was quite a short drive, about a couple of hours, but another hot day and the cold box in the car didn’t seem to get very cold. We figured that we wanted to stay in a camping ground since it was cheaper and drove directly to Kolmården. There is a camping ground 5km from the park, but it didn’t look very nice, so we went into Norrköping and managed to find another one there. The one there was a bit better, so we set up the tent and went for a drive around town and then found a shopping centre with a supermarket and got some hamburger buns, tomatoes, meat patties and cold drinks. We had bought a small “instant BBQ” before we left, so we cooked up our meat and made hamburgers for dinner.
Spent the night in the tent, which was okay, but everything got very damp with dew that night. Could have been after such a hot day, or with a river being right next door.
26.7 Kolmården zoo
Left the camping site early and stopped off at a petrol station to get a bun and drink for breakfast. Headed out to the zoo. We found that it was divided into a zoo and safari and the safari was first on the road. So we went there and waited about 20 minutes for it to open. It took about 45 minutes to drive through the whole thing. There were several different fenced off areas and you could drive slowly through each one, and then through a gate system to the next one. There were giraffes, antelope, ostriches, and all those sorts of animals in several of them, including quite a few baby animals. In another were lions and then in one were bears and wolves. The bears were a bit more worrying than the lions, especially when they stop and watch the cars go past. In the bear cage you are not allowed to stop the car at all and there is a park vehicle parked in there while your drive through.
After the safari we went to the main park. It is quite large, all together in the zoo and safari there is supposed to be 1000 animals. It took most of the day to look around there and it was another hot day. Staying in the shade helped a bit, but venturing out into the sun couldn’t be avoided quite often. There were all the normal zoo animals there as well, antelope, zebras, giraffes, elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, etc. The giraffes could reach over their enclosure wall and you could pat them, which was quite nice. One of them was quite keen on getting one kid’s lollies. There were polar bears as well and they were quite funny too. They were all asleep when we arrived, but several started playing with a ball in the water while we watched. In the petting zoo Pia made friends with several of the baby goats and one little pig who was sitting in a mud pool. But then he decided he should go for a walk and shook mud all up her leg.
After getting thoroughly cooked there we left and visited the tropical zoo across the road. It was run by a different group, but was worth visiting. They had all tropical snakes and spiders and lizards. Many of the snakes were extremely poisonous. They also had alligators and a huge aquarium section as well. They had all tropical fish, along with piranhas and also a sea aquarium with rays and sharks in it.
Went back to Norrköping after that and visited the shopping centre and supermarket again. Got some bread, etc for breakfasts and had McDonalds for dinner. Another night in the tent. Leaving the door open a bit helped with the dampness this time.
27.7 To Kalmar
Left Norrköpping and drove south along the coast to Kalmar. Took some of the smaller roads and looked at a few sights along the way. Kalmar is the city on the Swedish coast opposite the island of Öland. Öland is about 6km off the coast and is about 140km long. Vikings and other people have inhabited it for quite a long time. In 1973 they built one of the longest bridges in Europe to the island (at the time). Even now the bridge is still quite impressive.
We went to the tourist office in Kalmar and decided that the local camping ground was probably a good choice. As it turned out it was probably one of the nicest grounds we stayed at. There were trees everywhere and lots of nice places to put the tent up. After setting up, it was still quite early, so we decided to drive across to Öland for a look.
We found our way across the bridge and onto the island and followed our guidebook to several ancient sites. The first we found, which was by accident, was a 1000-year-old burial site that had some standing stones marking it. We followed the signs to a small back road that was almost deserted and ended up at 1500-1000 year old burial site. There was no one else there at all and it was quite strange. During the Viking age and even before they used to mark the graves with stones, often in the shape of a circle, square, triangle or ship. Usually the body was just cremated on a pile of wood inside the stones along with belongings such as a sword, etc. In Öland these are reasonably common since it has been used as a stepping stone to the European mainland and a trading centre. In the same area, hidden in the forest, was an Iron Age (pre-Viking time) fortress that has been abandoned over 1000 years ago. You could still see the fortress walls and the foundations of all the buildings. There was also no-one else there either and it was very quiet. After looking at those places it was getting into evening, so we headed back to Kalmar. On the way out, we found the factory shop for a local ceramics factory. Very nice stuff, but even the badly marked seconds for the large plates went for about 900SEK (NZ$180). The originals go for 1600SEK (NZ$320).
Stopped in the centre of Kalmar and had a walk around. Plenty of restaurants, but nothing very interesting. Most of them were already full, so we just got a kebab each for dinner.
Kalmar is known for its medieval re-creations and markets and there was one market on today as well. The guide said that it started at 10, but when we went to look it turned out that it started at 11 which was too late for us. So we just went back to Öland for a better look round. This time we stuck to the main road and headed north about 30km to the main town, which is on the west coast. The roads were absolutely packed. For as far as you could see were cars, caravans and campervans full of Swedes on holiday. The funny thing is that none of them ever ventured off the main path and away from the beaches. The eastern coast and the south of the island were deserted.
Just south of the main town is a castle ruin. It cost to go inside, so we just had a look. There is also the summer residence of the Swedish royal family, which is supposed to have very nice gardens, but we didn’t find the signs for that and missed it. We continued on north to a small village that has an 8 storey tall windmill, just like the Dutch ones. Actually the whole island is covered in windmills, but of a different style. Usually, they are one large hut, which can rotate around an axis to follow the wind. The guidebook says that there were 3000 in the 1800s, but now there are about 400 remaining. In a few places there are Dutch style ones and the one we visited is probably the biggest in existence. It was very touristy though and the cafe there sucked. After that we drove across the island to the other coast and visited a church that dated back almost 1000 years. Inside there were models of the church as it had appears through the years and as with many of these old buildings it had changed quite a bit and was probably rebuilt many times. Probably saying it is 1000 years old is like saying that your axe is 50 years old when it has had three new heads and six new handles in that time.
After the traffic of the morning and the disappointment of the windmill we decided that the old ruins were more interesting than the touristy things. So we drove down the east coast of the island almost to the southern end. The eastern coast road was almost deserted, a few camper vans and some locals, but not much else. We also had to avoid quite a few cyclists as there seemed to be some sort of road race on at the same time. The trip was very nice, although it was another quite hot day. Went through plenty of Cokes and we even figured out that the cold box worked better if it was full and especially if the cans made contact with the little cooling plat on one side. Still, even with its 20 deg cooling it was having trouble with the temperatures in the car.
The southern part of the island is a limestone plateau that is very flat and featureless. There are some trees, but mostly just scrub and grassland. Right in the south we visited a rebuilt fortress. It was very much the same as the ruin we visited the day before, but this one had been mostly reconstructed and some of the buildings recreated. The previous one had only been inhabited for one period, but this one had been inhabited three times, up until the middle ages. The recreation was from the second period of occupation and looked quite good. The whole place had been excavated about 30 years ago and they had come up with over 20 tonnes of human remains and several Viking age skeletons. The museum inside was quite good as well. There were a few animals kept as they would have been at the time, although the sheep and goats were missing because of the foot and mouth scare. They gave a demonstration of a middle age catapult as well.
On the way back up to the bridge to the mainland we stopped at other gravesites which lay along the roadside. There were more standing stones and ship shaped graves. Driving back up the west coast to the bridge we could see the power generation windmills, of which a few dot the coastline there. Here and there were a line of six or seven along the Swedish coast or in the channel between the island and Sweden. Eventually we crossed back over the bridge and got a pizza for dinner on the way back to the camping ground.
29.7 To Copenhagen
Time was going quite quickly on the trip and we hadn’t made it very far, so we decided that there wasn’t so much interesting left in southern Sweden and that we may as well go straight to Copenhagen. There were a couple of towns along the way, which might be worth a visit, and the south of Sweden is known for its glassworks, so we wanted to stop at those places.
We left the camping ground and drove inland to the closest and one of the more famous glass factories. It was only a short drive and we arrived about 10:30 in the morning. It was a Sunday, but we figured that the places would be open since the whole area was still swarming with holidaymakers. Turns out that the factory didn’t bother opening until 12, so in the end we thought bugger that and went south towards the coast and the first town, Karlskrona. It was rebuilt in 1790 after a fire and has an interesting looking town centre and old harbour. But apart from that there isn’t much else there and everything was closed. So we drove on to Kristianstad. The south of Sweden was once part of Denmark and Kristianstad is known as the most Danish town in Sweden. It was ordered built by the Danish king in the 1600’s and is named after him. It was also quite nice, with lots of old buildings. But extremely quite with all the shops closed. It was another very hot day, so we had an ice-cream in McDonalds, so that we could use their toilets without feeling guilty. Turns out they charge for them anyway L .
Kept on going on the main highway to Malmö. That is the Swedish town at the other end of the bridge/tunnel to Denmark. We reached the motorway to the bridge late in the afternoon and headed towards it. The day was getting very hazy and sticky and we couldn’t see anything of the bridge until we were quite close and you could see the towers above the haze. There were plenty of warning signs about the toll road. Eventually we reached the toll booths and they charged us 230 DKK (NZ$55). It is very difficult to say anything about the bridge apart from it is very, very huge. This is the page for the bridge/tunnel information.
We made it across the bridge and followed the signs into the centre of Copenhagen. On the way into Copenhagen we started to see the first of the power generation windmills which are all over Denmark as well. Eventually we found ourselves in the centre and even managed to find a car park without many problems. The information centre was just a short walk away and there we found a hotel for the next couple of nights. We were expecting something some distance away, but the hotel was about 4 blocks away, almost in the centre of the city. We drove there and again managed to get a pack. Although this time we were a bit worried about leaving the car. Even though there are quite a lot of hotels in this area they don’t have any underground parking. And on the streets around there it was very messy, lots of rubbish and graffiti and druggies/drunks sitting on the corners and doorways.
We checked in and took the bags to the room. Since it was about 6pm or so we went for a walk towards the main square. A couple of blocks towards the square the streets looked a lot better and there were crowds everywhere. Even though it was a Sunday and all the shops had closed. We walked down a pedestrian street to another square and found a cafe in the middle of the square and had an open sandwich for dinner. It was very nice there, and a bit cooler as it was getting cloudy. Walked around a bit more and then back to the hotel. Found somewhere that appeared a little safer to park the car. Didn’t have to worry much though as it seems the druggies don’t stay up very late J .
Next morning, breakfast in the hotel and then outside. Found an empty car park right outside the hotel, so we moved the car there. Had to pay a parking meter for the day though. Walked to the tourist office and had a look at some things. Decided to take a “hop on, hop off” sightseeing bus (like the one with Mum & Dad in Sweden). Except in Copenhagen they had three routes and the ticket was valid for two days. It was very useful. Took the main tour and went all over the central city looking at various sites. Ended up out at the harbour and hopped off at the Little Mermaid. There were crowds there, so we walked a little up the harbour to where we had noticed more factory shops. Probably they caught all the cruise ships that came through there. Some quite good bargains there too. Sat there and had a beer/cider at a cafe as well since it was so hot. Watched the harbour and the windmills in the distance. After that we walked back to the Little Mermaid and caught the next sightseeing bus and continued back to the main square. On the way we noticed a tea/coffee shop and after the bus trip walked about 20 minutes back to the shop and had a look. They had an impressive range of teapots and teas and coffees. We needed a new teapot since our one from London had a crack in it, but there was nothing really suitable there.
Walked back to the main square and had dinner at KFC. Next we were going to visit Louis Tussaud’s, the Copenhagen wax museum. Along the way we came across a comedian in the main square who was very funny. He was giving the Christian band who were setting up next to him a very hard time, along with anyone else who was walking past. Turns out he is Irish, but seems to have lived in Copenhagen for a while. We got his CD as well. Louis Tussaud’s wax museum is just on the other side of the main square. The square is very large and the museum is also right next to the Tivoli Park, which is the amusement park in Copenhagen, although this one is a real park with trees, etc. As well as rides they also have classical music concerts and opera there. Don’t know what the relationship of this museum to Madame Tussaud’s museum in London is, but Louis was a relation of the real Madame Tussaud in France (she used to make wax casts of people who had their heads cut off) and she appears in this museum. Anyway, it was very interesting and most of the figures looked very realistic. There were a few which, although they looked good, didn’t seem to resemble the original person very much.
After going back to the hotel we had to go and visit a laundromat to get some clothes washed. We had gone through most of our light clothes already since it had been so hot. We found one about 4 blocks away and after some help from one customer and the owner managed to wash and dry our t-shirts and shorts, etc.
31.7 To Billund
Breakfast at the hotel and some money in the parking meter and we headed into town again. We took one of the other site-seeing routes on the bus and found that the Royal Copenhagen ceramic factory had a factory shop. Also the bus route went past the Carlsberg brewery which is also open to the public. It was a bit difficult to stop anywhere because of time. We had to be back and check out of the hotel before midday. So after returning to the hotel we checked out and drove to the ceramic factory. We parked the car and walked to the factory and found a tent in the courtyard full of plates and various other things, but nothing very interesting. We had a look around and couldn’t see anything else. We were quite disappointed and were just about to give up when we noticed a sign that pointed to part of the factory upstairs where it turns out the main factory shop was. The tent must have just been the bulk specials and seconds. There were quite a lot of things in the shop. All the Royal Copenhagen hand painted dinner sets and figurines. Plus quite a lot of glassware from Sweden and Denmark. And all extremely expensive. A simple figurine was around 1000 DKK (NZ$330) and a dinner plate was up to 120 DKK ($NZ40). But we did manage to find a couple of things there.
Once we left the shop we drove westward. Copenhagen is on the island of Zealand and used to be only reachable from the rest of Denmark by ferry. But they have built a bridge connecting the two now. The bridge connects Zealand with the next nearest island, which is then connected by another bridge to the mainland, Jutland. This is some information about the bridge.
“On June 12, 1986 the Danish Parliament approved the construction of a fixed link across the Great Belt. Following 12 years of intensive construction work, H.M. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark inaugurated on June 14, 1998 what had then become the largest engineering project in the history of Denmark, The Great Belt Fixed Link.
The Link comprises the East Bridge, a 6,790 m long suspension bridge between Zealand and the small island of Sprogø, a 6,611 m long combined rail and road bridge between Sprogø and Funen and an 8,000 m long immersed rail tunnel between Zealand and Sprogø.
At 254 m above sea level, the East Bridge’s two pylons are the highest points in Denmark.”
Here is a little about the bridge.
Anyway, we got across the bridge after paying another 230 DKK toll fee and continued onwards. Driving in Denmark, for the most part was as good as Sweden. Lots of motorways and a speed of 110km/h, although no-one in Denmark followed that limit and 120 to 130 seemed fine most of the time.
We followed our guide book and turned off at Vejle towards Billund. The road was much smaller, 70 – 90 km/h and a lot of tourist traffic. We ignored the turn off to Legoland and continued into Billund to look for the information centre. After finding that the town is very tiny and didn’t have one we looked up the book and found that the tourist place is actually in Legoland. So back out there and drove around all over the place and still couldn’t find it. Right next door to Legoland was a camping place, but we thought something else like a cabin or a Bed & Breakfast would be nicer, so we went there and asked about a cabin, etc. They were full, but had plenty of tent sites. We asked about the tourist office and the lady pointed it out on the map. We went there and looked but still no office. Eventually after getting very annoyed we went to the hotel and asked them. Turns out that the camping lady had told us the wrong side of the road. So we went and had another look. Eventually we found it hidden behind lots of trees, a fence and the bus parking area. There was a tiny sign that you could only see if you were in the bus parking zone. They weren’t much use either and could only offer a home stay with an old Danish woman who didn’t speak English. So we decided on the camping ground. It was a good choice though. Apart from having to pay for the showers they were very clean and there was a hostel on site with a restaurant with buffet breakfasts, etc.
So, after an all-you-can-eat buffet roast and ice-cream we went to bed, ready for Legoland.
Nice buffet breakfast at the hostel, shame about the hoards of snotty German kids running around and sneezing on the food. We decided to buy our tickets at the hostel.
Legoland opened about 10am. We walked there about 10:30. The main road past the camping ground to Legoland was completely packed with cars as far as you could see. The entrance was about 300m away and when we got there it was also blocked with lines buying tickets. Luckily we could avoid all that and pretty much walked straight in.
Since it had been so hot, we wore light clothes, but it turned out to be cloudy and a cool wind most of the day which wasn’t so nice, but it was a change from the heat. It was nice when the sun came out though.
The park itself was absolutely packed. You couldn’t have swung a cat without smacking at least a dozen Germans and a few Swedes, and hopefully a few kids too. We spent from about 10:30am to about 5pm there. About a third of the park is the miniature buildings, etc made from Lego blocks. One half is amusement rides for kids, a castle, western town and such stuff. The rest is Lego shops, a toy museum and a dolls and dolls house museum.
The shops were a little disappointing. They had Lego kids clothes and some Lego branded adult clothing items, which were quite nice. But their Lego toy selection was pretty small. They only had the basic sets of most toys and lots of the latest special items (the ones that have used Maori words for the product names). Even the more interesting Lego Technic kits were missing. There was the starter kit for the Lego Mindstorm robots as well, but it was 2000 DKK (NZ$600), so I didn’t get that one.
Still, it was a pretty amazing place and obviously extremely popular with the German tourists. The entry price was 150 DKK each (NZ$ 50), but that covers everything apart from a couple of the rides. Still, I wouldn’t want to take kids there. The most basic rides had waiting times of over 30 minutes (some up to 55 minutes). There were huge lines for all that sort of thing. Plus by the time you counted food, toys, clothes, more food and drinks it would cost a fortune. I think the younger kids didn’t appreciate the scale models either. I heard one kid comment in English that this was the second most boring place in Denmark after his house J . Towards the end we thought we would just get pancakes for something to eat. They had one place that had pancakes, topping and cream-freeze which sounded nice. We made the mistake of getting one each. The pancake was okay with the strawberry sauce in it and folded up on a normal paper plate. But they covered at least half the plate with cream-freeze, a huge pile of it. Never thought that we would suffer from too much ice-cream!
After a long day and sore feet it was back to the camping ground.
02.8 Trip north
Breakfast at the hostel again with more snotty kids everywhere.
Decided that time was running short and we didn’t want to be away much longer than two weeks. So we decided to forgo much more sightseeing in the area and head to northern Denmark for the ferry back to Sweden. Most of the day was driving. We made a few stops along the way, but otherwise stuck to the motorways as much as we could. Along the way there were windmills everywhere. You couldn’t look in any direction without seeing one or two on the horizon. Usually they were in lines of five or more.
The first stop was a Jelling. There is the site of two very large burial mounds and a church. The burial mounds date from 1000 years ago and are supposed to be for the first king of Denmark (Gorm the Old) and his wife. The current Queen of Denmark is a direct descendant of them as well. Outside the church are two large Rune Stones. One was erected by Gorm as a monument for his wife. The second was erected by their son, Harald Bluetooth as a monument to his father and mother. Bluetooth is known as the king who brought Christianity to Denmark and united it with Norway (he is the same one that the Bluetooth technology is named for). The original church to stand on the site was one of the first in Denmark. The stone is also the first place where the name Denmark is known to have been used. Parts of the church do actually date back nearly 1000 years. The first few wooden churches having burned down and then a stone one built. It has had parts added, but parts are about 900 years old. The church interior was redone for the year 2000 celebrations and as part of that the bones of Gorm the Old were returned to a casket under the church floor. Gorm was originally supposed to have been buried in one of the mounds, but Harald moved him to the original church after converting to Christianity. After excavations under the church turned up the original wooden churches and the bones he has spent the past few years in one of the national museums. It was very interesting to walk around there and they had made a very good job of restoring the church.
The next stop was much further north, in Aalborg, the site of Lindholm Hølm, where there are nearly 700 graves dating from the Iron and Viking ages. Many are marked by stone settings, especially in circle or ship shapes. When we were there it was very cloudy and misty with drizzle which seemed quite fitting. There were also sheep sitting between the stones. One old guy started walking through while we were there and when he whistled all the sheep came running which looked quite funny. He must give them some bread or something. He tried talking to us, but he only spoke Danish. Another few tourists, Danish we guess, arrived after us and he had more luck with them. Quite an interesting place though. There is a museum as well, but we didn’t bother going there.
Further on we had to stop at Frederikshavn, which is the main northern ferry port to Sweden. We stopped in at the tourist office and found the local ferry office and also got a cabin at the camping ground. We booked the 5am ferry to Sweden.
It was still mid-afternoon and there were more things to see further north. Denmark still went for about 40km further north of there. The area is very touristy and has quite nice beaches as well.
The first place we wanted to see from the guide book was the Råbjerg Mile. In the book it says that it is an area of sand dunes caused by deforestation. Much of the north of Denmark is very sandy soil and looks quite odd with very flat featureless landscape covered by many mounds, several metres tall. Afterwards we figured out that most are probably old sand dunes that have been fixed with grasses. When we found the Råbjerg Mile though we got a big surprise. The area coming into there appears like normal hills covered in grasses or tussock. But when you drive between the hills you come across huge dunes. They are supposed to be over 40 metres tall and after we climbed the first one you could see the sand stretch off in both directions, east and west towards the coastline (both of which you can see from the top). Once you get onto the dunes you find that they are made of extremely fine and clean sand and it was extremely nice to walk barefoot on them. Afterwards it didn’t stick to your feet at all. There is a car-park there and people took picnic lunches, etc with them and make a day of it. It was a very strange place.
The next was the Tilsandede Kirke, which is a buried church. It was supposed to have been buried by drifting sand in the 1790’s with the tower left as a landmark. We figured that the church had really been buried, but once there we found that the sand was only a couple of metres deep and that they had knocked down the rest of church and just left the tower, which wasn’t quite so interesting. Anyway, it looks quite nice.
The next place we wanted to see is Grenen, the northernmost point of Denmark. Here the Kattegat and Skagerrak seas meet at the point and they form whitewater where they collide. You have to walk a few hundred metres up the beach to get there and at this time of the year there is a tractor/trailer bus there, but we decided to walk. It turned out to be an extremely nice evening with hardly any wind and just the right temperature. The sea there is quite smooth as well and there was just some small waves coming onto the beach. Once we got to the waters edge we started along the beach and noticed small blobs of something lying of the beach. At first we thought they were lumps of some sort of jelly or silicone or something, but after seeing a few more we realised they were all jellyfish. As it turns out parts of the shoreline were covered in jellyfish and you could see many more floating in the waves. Some were quite large, at least hand sized, while many were coin sized. Quite a few different colours as well. We avoided touching them in case they stung, but we noticed a few kids running around with handfuls of them! It was about a 15 minute walk to the point and there was a small crowd standing there and watching the surf. Swimming is forbidden there because of the currents formed by the two seas, although a few were paddling in the water (and jellyfish!).
During the walk we looked amongst the stones in the sand for pieces of amber, which washes up on the shore of the north of Denmark. But mostly on the west coast. After getting back to the car we went south to Skagen, the main local town for dinner and had pasta and pizza. Finally it was back to the camping ground and ready for an early start the next day.
03.8 Back to Stockholm
Up at 4am, ready for the ferry at 5am. Boarded the ferry and had breakfast in the cafe. It was quite similar to the Inter-islander and the trip took about 3 hours. No duty-free onboard this ferry though, like on the Sweden-Finland ones. Ferry was mostly empty, probably because it started so early so managed a nap on the sofas.
Got into Gothenburg quite early, around 9am. Most of the shops were still closed, but first we wanted to get ferry tickets for Sweden – Finland since they could be quite full. Went to large shopping mall that has tourist information. Cashed in all our empty cans at the supermarket while we waited for everything to open. Stupid place just gave a coupon for the supermarket instead of money, so we had to buy something from there as well. No so nice since we didn’t actually have much Swedish money to make up any difference L . Found a travel agent and discovered that the Viking Line ferries didn’t actually have an office in town and that the agent couldn’t book them either. We decided just to go on to Stockholm and take our chances.
Took a secondary motorway from Gothenburg through Borås for old times sake. Had a quick look round town and a bit of a drive around. It is nearly five years since we were at school there. The university is building a large new building across the road, but not much else has changed. Continued onwards and joined the main highway to Stockholm basically only stopping for petrol and lunch. Had lunch in a cafe beside lake Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden. The area is also well known for its bars of “rock” candy, of which we bought a few. From there we made good time to Stockholm. Traffic was quite light and it was possible to cruise around 120 or so with no problems. Did manage to get passed by several large Volvos and Audis going much faster though J .
In Stockholm we were back into the maze of streets and road works again. We found the entry into the main city easily enough by following the signs, and made our way to the main Viking Line terminal. After making a couple of wrong turns and doing some circles we found a park and got inside. The place was empty and all the ticket booths were closed (it was 6pm). Luckily the information booth was open and they sold tickets. Turns out the guy there was actually Finnish and has a New Zealand wife from Rotorua. They had lived together there for several years (also Auckland, Christchurch) and were planning to move back. Because, as he said, he has lived in Sweden now for nearly 20 years and hates it J . We got our booking and then tried to get to the tourist office but as we discovered again, the tourist maps bear no resemblance to the streets, nor do they mark any one way streets or dead ends. After getting blocked into unwanted turns a couple of times by taxis, we managed to actually find a car-park, only to discovered that after eating all our Swedish change it only gave us 20 minutes of parking time. Luckily the tourist office was quite close. But after waiting in queue for a while we realised that they don’t do hotel bookings there. For that we needed to go to the central railway station office. After getting forced into another few detours and dead-ends we managed to get there, get a park, find the office and get a hotel. That was a momentary relief. On the map it looked quite easy to get there. Back in the car we discovered that the route dropped off the bottom of our map and all we had was some hand-drawn directions and an address. Still, it seemed quite easy. We were told we had an hour to get there, else the booking would lapse (unless we called to confirm it). But from the map it seemed like it was just several main roads away. Turns out that none of the roads appears the same as on the map. Plus at least one intersection was screwed up by roadworks, we ended up going in the wrong direction once and spend 20 minutes getting very annoyed driving around where we were certain the hotel should be. Turns out we were almost exactly right, but more roadworks stopped us getting on to the bridge which would have taken us the 400m there!!! Eventually we asked a taxi driver who gave use more confusing instructions and we spent another 20 minutes going back and forth along a road until Pia had the idea of looking at the map in the bus stops. Eventually we figured out that the little street the hotel was on was actually the near-motorway sized thing under the bridge we were going backwards and forwards over!!!
At least the hotel turned out okay. Well, apart from the smell of the new carpet (and glue) in all the hallways. We went to a local pizza place and had a nice pizza and beer/cider for dinner.
04.8 Ferry home
A very nice buffet breakfast in the hotel. Bacon, little sausages and all the works. Turns out the place was quite empty it was very nice staying there. Bit more expensive than the other places though, but worth it.
Since the ferry didn’t leave until evening we parked the car at the ferry terminal and walked to the nearest underground station. We used our remaining tickets on the trip to town and back. We did a bit more shopping in this huuuuuggee music store. They had stuff I had been after for a long time. Plus the even had quite a collection of Crowded House CD’s, so I got some of them too. Dangerous place J . They had a good DVD collection too. We also visited the large Åhlens department store. Their DVD department was huge. I haven’t seen that many anywhere before. Worth a visit if we need something in the future. Also went to System Bolaget (the Swedish Government run alcohol shop) to look for a very nice cider we had had before. But they didn’t stock that brand. Got a few others anyway.
Then back to the underground and to the car. Got back in plenty of time to check in for the ferry and onboard by about 4:30pm. Once we were underway we went to check out the duty free shops. Pia got some things for her and her Mum and was given a certificate for a free ferry trip to Sweden for up to four people. It is only valid Sept – early Oct though and for any day during Sunday to Wednesday which is a bit limiting. Next it was the drinks and lollies/food shop and we got more stuff there, cheap beer, some cider and various presents. Turns out there that if we had spent another 20 FIM we would have gotten another free ferry ticket! Although we have had a free ticket before for a 20 hour, overnight cruise. Probably they make up the profit in the dinner, drinks and duty free for most people.
After a quick snack in the cafe it was back to the cabin. Turns out that it was right over the stern of the ship and even though the sea was calm our cabin moved quite a bit. But we were so tired it didn’t matter much.
05.8 Home again
Ferry arrived back in Finland about 10am. After docking we drove straight off the ship and home. There are no immigration checks now with the new agreements between several of the EU countries. And even the customs are pretty slack as well now, especially with the ferries.
Took a while to unload the car though. Seems that we accumulated a few things on our travels J .