Stockholm annnnnnd Estonia!

Before the 36 photos of Stockholm and Estonia in this post, I’d first like to show you one of those random things that happens to me here in Uppsala. I was standing outside my door, when I saw a man running really fast while moving really slowly. He bounced past my door, and I took off sprinting to catch up to the strange man. As usual I had my point-and-shoot camera in my pocket. I caught up to him and we had a conversation for a few minutes before he bounded off again. Here are a photo and video to explain:

On the 8th I went to Stockholm with Lucy and Manu to walk around town a bit then attend a lecture about Northern Uganda at Stockholm University. We decided to go to the Vasa Museum, a museum built around the salvaged and restored shipwreck of the Vasa, a warship that sank to the ocean floor on the first day of its maiden voyage in 1628. On the way there, of course, I had to take a couple of photos, such as this ridiculous sign warning quayside pedestrians that cars without drivers fall into the water:

Stockholm is built on a series of islands, so naturally there are a number of bridges to cross, for the trains too.

This is a neat peace (intentional misspelling) of street art. It’s spray paint with the use of a stencil, and the green peas were drops of some other sort of paint I guess. Interestingly (for me) I googled it and found this, which is the exact same location. I wonder if it was him?

We got to the Vasa Museum after a lot of walking and a rather expensive (~CAD $5) and very short (30 seconds) public transit ferry ride. We were short on time so we sort of ran through and tried to see as much as possible before rushing off to the T-bana to get to the University for the lecture.

A miniature replica of the ship:

The actual ship, which I couldn’t fit into the frame of my point-and-shoot, it’s massive:

We were 20 minutes late for the lecture on Northern Uganda by Dr Chris Blattman, but what we did catch was interesting. Lots of statistics, of which I’m not a huge fan, but also quite interesting… other stuff. After the lecture, the four of us students (Marie had joined us for the lecture) sat with Dr Blattman in his temporary office for quite a long time speaking with him about various things to do with Northern Uganda and thesis research and whatnot. Really interesting guy, and super friendly (plus he has a neat blog).

Now onto less text, more photos. On the 11th, 16 of us hopped on trains to Stockholm followed by a bus followed by a very big boat. This one was not a shipwreck, but a cruiseliner operated by Tallink. For about €30 each we got a return ticket from Stockholm to Tallinn, Estonia sharing cabins of 4 beds each.

The boat left Stockholm at 6pm and arrived in Tallinn around 9am, when we headed out on the town to explore for the day in the bright sun. I took a lot of photos during the day, including a LOT of doors and windows. I don’t know why, but I really liked the doors, windows, and rooftops in Tallinn!

Saku is an Estonian beer, which we tried on the boat. Nothing unique really.

This wall is kind of trippy:

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which many Estonians apparently dislike as a reminder of Russia’s past rule:

This neat modern monument is Johan Pitka, a hero of the Estonian War of Independence who lived in Canada from 1924-1930 and disappeared in 1944 as the Red Army advanced into Estonia after the Nazis retreated.

I liked this girl’s bag:

And now for a few funny shots. Not sure if this sign is deliberate or not:

Definitely the worst parking job I have ever seen. And no, cars are NOT supposed to park like that on this street.

Apparently the city of Tallinn couldn’t let itself be outdone by Stockholm’s car sign (earlier in this post), so they warn you to watch out for people who think they can walk on water… so you can take a photo as they drown?

And that, is what I saw during my very short visit to Estonia.

Stockholm to Helsinki in 24 photos

On March 6th, I took a weekend trip to Helsinki, Finland with a few friends. We took an overnight boat (the Mariella, operated by the Viking Line) across the Baltic Sea and into the Gulf of Finland, arrived in town Friday morning and spent the day adventuring around town. In the evening, we got back on the boat and it took us back home to Sweden, arriving Saturday next morning.

As we pulled out of Stockholm the Sun was slowly setting, so we went topside and stayed on the outer deck taking photos until it was too cold and dark. For some reason I have no photos of Johna, an American friend who accompanied us, sorry Johna! I’ll post two of Neil to make up.

Greg, my American classmate/flatmate:

Neil, an American friend of ours, and Juan Pablo, my Colombian classmate:

Adriana, another one of our Colombian classmates:

On the left is Stockholm’s amusement park, Gröna Lund, which translates as the Green Grove, and on the right is a dockyard with what appears to be an older Navy boat:

Looking back on the old city:

As we sailed out through the straits, the Sun was really making everything glow. These red buildings are very typical Swedish. They LOVE this colour of red for houses, it’s everywhere! But I like it too, so no complaining.

The world is full of funny signs, and occasionally we find one here in Sweden or nearby. This one was on a metal door, which is apparently an explosive door…

In case we sink.

This spray-paint stencil in Swedish under the stairs on the side of the boat, translates as “Here thought M & J about each other.” Cute.

We slept well enough, no one got overly seasick, and we arrived in freezing cold Helsinki looking for adventure. This is the Helsingin tuomiokirkko which translates as Dome Church; pretty much all cathedrals in Sweden are called Domkyrkan which means the same thing. This one is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Helsinki.

We took a bit of a walk to go see the Sibelius monument, a series of over 600 steel pipes welded together, dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and officially unveiled in 1967, 13 days short of the 10 year anniversary of the composer’s death.

There is also a strange abstract effigy of Sibelius nearby. Somebody put some snow on the face, which was kind of funny, hopefully not offensive.

Later on in the afternoon we decided to hit up the Postal Museum, which was more interesting than I expected it to be.

The Finns have, for many decades, issued special Red Cross stamps:

An old-school postal worker in wax form – they had one from every era in the postal service history!

It may have enough postage, but there’s no address on this chair, so I guess it’s undeliverable:

They had a bunch of ridiculously old postcards too, like from the 1800s and early 1900s; I had no idea the concept of postcards existed way back then!

It was really cold outside so I didn’t pull my camera out too often in town, and it’s not the most photogenic city anyways, but of course we all braved the cold again in the evening as we pulled out of the port of Helsinki en route back to Stockholm. As we went, someone noticed this old submarine on the shore. Now I’ve seen random submarines in two capital cities: Amsterdam and Helsinki.

One of the most impressive things in Helsinki, which four of us didn’t manage to visit, is the sea fortress called Suomenlinna (also known as Viapori, the official name until 1918). It was built on six islands in the 18th century, at the entrance to Helsinki, and has all sorts of weird tunnels and walkways.

Another funny passport control sign, reminiscent of the one in Mariehamn in the Åland islands.

I’m jealous of the person who owns this little island, so neat!

It got cold and dark again so we went inside, spent the evening eating too much food and dancing at the club on board, and slept a few hours before docking in Stockholm. You can see Neil was happy to be going home:


My buddy Nathan was traveling around Europe for a while, and came up to Sweden for a few days to have a look around, so we took a day trip down to Stockholm to see the city since neither of us had been there.

It was a rainy day, so photo conditions weren’t very good and I took very few pics. We walked all around the city, went into stores, ate cinnamon buns (en kanelbulle = a cinnamon bun) which are apparently a very Swedish thing, and I bought a good pair of gloves.

It was Nobel Prize time, so when we went to the Nobel Museum in the old town (Gamla Stan) of Stockholm, we found news vans parked outside. While we were in the Museum, the Swedish Academy announced the Literature prize winner, although the Museum is not where the prizes are awarded or announced.

Stockholm is a city of islands linked by bridges. Gamla Stan, the old town, is a neat little island with narrow, winding cobblestone roads.

I wonder if this business was reading my blog when they were trying to think up their company name… after all, in Sweden they spell the name Andersson, not Anderson.

Outside the Stadthuset (City Hall) there are some big cement clam shell fountain things. Nate got to relive his younger days as a Little Mermaid fan:

Outside Stockholm’s City Hall it is not permitted for beings from the underwater world to emerge from the water and try to join us real humans:

We made it back to Uppsala by train (40 minute ride) just in time to eat some couscous quickly and dash off to a students party in town, to get a taste of Swedish student culture and meet some locals. It was quite fun, though I don’t have any photos to post here, sorry!