Next up, Finland!
So I got the crazy news about what was going on for Christmas. Robb, of whom I was staying with and is a great friend of mine told me that we would be going over to his parents flats across the street at about 16.00, so that I had to get ready or something. So I went and wrapped the presents for Nelly (his niece), and his parents. Robb’s presents had already been wrapped and such, so I just had to make sure he didn’t peek, which wasn’t too hard becasue we were just busy watching films all the time! I decided that I would glue myself to Nelly and entertain her, assuming she liked me. All would be seen in time I suppose. So we left for the flat, and arrived and I met his mother and grandmother which were both really nice, and I didn’t realize it until later but I was by far the tallest person there. The whole family is fairly short, which is weird for me being the tallest, but it was just kinda funny. Robb’s dad was just a little bit taller than him, so still much shorter than me, just an odd dynamic.
So grandmother kept asking me if I spoke Swedish, and of course I answered yes politely, but she’s Finnish so she mostly just spoke funny things. She turned out to be hillarious during dinner, which was the best meal I’ve ever had . I played with Nelly, which is Robb’s sister’s daughter. As you can see she really liked me and we played clapping games. She couldn’t stop holding on to me, which is weird because usually children hate me. She’s really adorable and I loved playing with her. The best part by far is when she grabbed the newspaper and pointed to a picture of Carola, and kept saying ‘mamma.’ I hated to break her the bad news that it was Carola, but she wouldn’t have any of it. Who would want that evil witch to be their mother anyways? *shudders*
So I taught her how to count to five, she couldn’t get past four, but I figured that I was at least usefull. She loved the little doggie toy that I got her too, so I was glad. Robb’s mom nearly had a stroke when she saw the glass figurine I got her; she loved it and added it to her collection right away and then continued to praise me forever and ever. It was very awkward being with a family I didn’t really know, and the worst part was when dad sat down and started to ask me like everything. Where do you go to school, where you are from, how are things, how is your family. All the creepy questions that I didn’t know how to answer, and with my silly Swedish accent I answered them and he laughed and I figure that it was all good because it turns out they thought I was very nice and polite! Go team me.
We went home and then watched some films on television. I was pooped after being awkward for hours, with the hillarious grandmother, and talking to mother whom was very curious and even wanted to practice her English. I accepted, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but it was easier to communicate in Swedish, honestly! Anyways, after the films we went started to get ready for bed and finally went to sleep, but not before we opened each other’s presents and ate some desert chocholates. He loved the huge bear I got as well as the salt / pepper shakers, both of which he didn’t have so it was a perfect gift! Again, go team me! Then we watched some TV and went to bed after by far the best Christmas I had ever had. I will never forget it, and the many awesome memories and moments. I never thought that Christmas with a friend could be so awesome, but I was proved wrong right away!
Christmas day for North America came and we slept in because we were up quite late, and then we got invited back to parents house for leftover meals, which were just as good as the meal itself. I felt guilty for not bringing anything so I got recepies from my mom to do apple crisp and we went shopping and got all the stuff to make it. I burnt it sorta, but it still tasted good and the family was just shocked about it; I never sease to amaze them. In any case, I will never forget my favourite drink there, Julmust, which is only made at Christmas and Easter, it’s so wonderful and is addictive! *drools*
After dinner I thought it would be nice to call family all around and wish them good things. So I did so, and then the next day I called the family gathering and it was quite lovely! Everyone was very happy to hear from me, and were shocked really. I think I surprised most of them really, but surprises are nice, and thank god for Skype. Anyone who doesn’t know what it is, or doesn’t use it, you’re fools and should figure it out now! Click here to find out more (I’m great advertisements for companies).
Robb likes shopping, it’s just something odd about him. I don’t mind shopping as long as it’s not for shoes, but I’m so indecisive that it turns into a fiasco anyways. We had promised that we would go to H&M to go on a shopping spree before I came, so it was necessary to plan it. We decided to take the bus to Luleå to shop there. We arrived 2 hours early because we were too lazy to realize that stores don’t open until mid-day. So we were cool and hung out in the bus terminal for a few hours reading news and talking about Melodifestivalen this year and the show that would be on that night. Isn’t the bus terminal so sexy, for a northern city? I think so, but I’m weird so who knows!
So we walked around in the meantime and looked at the city which is quite small obviously, but it’s quite nice to see snow on the ground and feel a little Christmas feeling. The church was very cute and traditional, and it’s right next to (even along) the main road, so everything is within 5 minutes walking distance. It’s deserted in the photo above, but that’s because the mad rush wasn’t there yet. When we came back to the mall it was crazy, people lined up and women pushing each other to get in. We went into the back way and waited for them to open the windows and people ran in, literally, and we began searching for things we liked. I grabbed anything I thought was good looking, cause I needed sweaters, and then we went to try them on. I spent about 600:- (60€) or so, which is a lot for me, on 4 sweaters and a scarf. He spent far more, and then further more later, but he had the access to his bank card and such, not I. I didn’t want to spend that much anyways, I hate spendi
ng money (totally my dad’s fault).
So we were lined up to pay and this drunk guy kept asking everyone if what he was holding came in green, it was creepy. We went down the whole street shopping and the guy turned out everywhere we went, mégaübercreepy, but it’s funny because now whenever I see a drunk around I think of him and my time in Luleå. Doesn’t sound like a good connection, but it’s a funny memory! In the picture on the right, you can find the SVT building in Luleå. I like TV buildings, it’s not a fetish, just something that interests me. Don’t judge me (not that I really care at all) but I just wanted to make a note about how cool this one is. On the left you can find the coast on Luleå with everything frozen (whoohoo winter) and the ‘city’ which is really small. This is when Robb and I were talking about going to another town but I was tired of walking and shopping (I really do hate it sometimes), so we went home and fell asleep on the bus. It was Kodak moment, but I dare not take photos!
For the next couple days we slept, and just did random stuff around the house and relaxed. Robb got mad at me because I cleaned his apartment and then kept doing the dishes. I guess I am just a compulsive cleaner! He was determined to make sure I did nothing because I was on ‘vacation’ but I can’t live without doing stuff. Yes this is a good quality (about cleaning) and yes it will take awhile for people to appreciate it. 😉
Hello world. Yes it’s me, and yes I’m alive and kicking. What a wonderful last few days it’s been! Traveling the world, and spending some awesome times with some friends! Who could have possibly thought that it was so cool? Well besides me, but that’s a minor detail!
Check out this awesome map which shows where I’ve been so far. I will make a list for you and then explain it all.
Strasbourg -> Paris -> Nyköping -> Stockholm -> Arlanda -> Luleå -> Kalix -> Haparanda
So I left for Paris at 03.30 and got to the train station without being raped, attacked, or followed. I thought that I lost something on the way, but after paranoidly searching everywhere on the ground I gave up later to find it in my pocket. Blame lack of sleep and nervousity. I got there and it was completely empty, but after walking to the wrong enterance I found my train and was set ready to go to Paris. I sat there, and I was the only person in the train, I’m not joking! I tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t since well things were very uncomfortable. When we got to Nancy, this crazy cenile woman tried to steal my seat and then realized that she was mistaken after waking me up and making me move. The only word that I can think of is ‘wench’ but it turned out she was really nice after wishing me a Merry Christmas and safe travels, despite not taking another word to each other.
I got to the central station in Paris and walked around trying to find the Metro, it was intensly large and lots of foreign people who didn’t speak French. I got to the Metro stop, and since I already had a ticket I just used it and then went on my way hopping on the right train *I hoped* Turned out I did everything right, and it’s true about the metro being so quiet with nobody talking. Everyone in Paris looks tired, which was good for me cause it made me better looking than I do.
I got to my stop and did the transfers and the metro is actually nicer than I expected. People mind their own business, but I was tempted to say “do you want a picture or something?” they just stare like crazy, it’s creepy! I got to my stop and looked around for about an hour for the damned bus stop. After walking around the quartier about 4 times, I almost got hit by a few cars, and such I followed the trail of Swedish girls that were chatting away near a band of cars.
So I got on the bus and went to Beauvais which is like an hour away, and then did my baggage stuff and went and got checked. They didn’t check my passport a single time, which I thought was hillarious! I loved it though, no complaints for me! The plane was horrible, the seats were comfortable, but I was sitting with 4 babies around me with families so I couldn’t sleep a single moment and it was so annoying. It makes me not want to have kids despite loving them. The above picture is the sight upon arriving in Nyköping from my flight, notice the smallness of the airport and the amount of Swedish people who surprisingly speak French!
This photo is from Central-Statation in Stockholm after taking the bus to the bus terminal. I got bored for waiting hours and hours and hours and hours and hours, still going, until I explored down a street that looked cool. All the Christmas decroation were nice but I didn’t want to get lost and such so I stayed along the main roads. I made a call to a friend and he said he was coming to Stockholm to go out with some friends so he came on a train from Uppsala. It turned out to be fun since we hung out in the train station for a little while and then his friends came to pick him up. They invited me out and such, which was very nice to do, but unfortunately I was very tired, I didn’t have much Swedish money, and I had my luggage with me. Despite being quite safe in the bus/train terminal, it closes very early in the evening so I had to decide what to do. Several drunks were thrown out, which was funny, and I grabbed a cinnimon bun which was amazing!
So for the next few hours I walked around the downtown core of Stockholm. Only up and down one or two streets a few times so that I wouldn’t get lost. It’s difficult at night since it’s dark and the streets are sorta empty! I walked down the main shop street and saw a church so the above picture best describes that. There were even some people around that were speaking English, which I thought was really weird! The Swedish in Stockholm is much different than I realized, as I haven’t heard the accent before. They talk fast and use lots of expressions that I didn’t understand, but since I didn’t really talk to anyone, and I blended in, it was totally fine.
So since I didn’t want to be a homeless person in Stockholm, a foreign city, I decided to take the express train (seen above) to the national airport in Arlanda. It travels at 300km/hr and took about 20 minutes to get to the airport. This annoyed me since I was trying to kill time, not gain it. I was the only one on the train (surprise surprise) but it was very nice, and comfy. Notice the classic Swedish colours, and cleanliness which best describes the country!
I non-chalontly walked around the dead terminal for some hours, since it’s not very large, and parked myself down at the internet café which was very nice and cheap! Then I decided that I needed sleep, bad! So I found a spot where lots of people were sleeping, and parked myself down to try to find a comfy seat or something. This was not possible as airports are not built for sleeping, but I managed to get a few minutes of sleep I think. Between the Finnish and foreign travelers in the terminal, and the constant vaccuum cleaner working, I was able to get a nice seat on a bench below a huge Christmas wreath as seen above. This was a wonderful view since I couldn’t sleep and had nothing else to do, no jokes! So I killed about 10 hours at this same spot, and the guy next to me kept staring at me when I woke up. I don’t think he slept, but still it reminded me of creepy France and all their people staring.
I later realized that my choice of location was very poor. I parked myself down right infront of the train enterance (seen above). This means at 5am tons of people would be coming in and out, and I realized this when some woman accidentally dropped her paper on me. As if she couldn’t see me! Usch! Anyways, went and killed some more hours looking in the shops and such, until I finally could go check in. Oddly in Arlanda, for the domestic flights there are no check in counters, this confused me. It’s all done electronically, so I had to ask a woman for help and she laughed at me since I had never heard of the electronic things. I had no baggage to check, and just had to wait. All went fine and I got my boarding pass. I lined up to security check and they went through my stuff, not oppening my passport, getting my pass, or even opening my bags, how funny. In the name of national security, oh dear, but everyone loves Sweden so it’s okay! I sat down at some random flight going to Skullefteå so that I could hear some funny accents, and then I took a short nap. Suddendly when we began boarding I heard an announcement, and when it was said in Swedish I got nervous. I got the general gist of it: we overbooked, if you want to get a rebate and such come talk to desk blah blah blah. As a paniced, nearly illegial traveller, I ran to the front of the line and made sure that I got a seat on the plane! Good choice! They still never checked my passport, and just scanned my ticket, how funny. I was very clearly the only foreigner on the plane!
I got to sit next to two nice teenagers who were reading and joking the whole way. SAS Airlines is the absolute best way to travel, hands down. It’s expensive, but they treated me like royalty. Breakfast, papers, tabloids, pillows everything for only a 1hour flight! Talk about service, I was impressed! So we arrived in Luleå an hour later and I waited for Robert to come get me. He had sent me a SMS to tell me that he would be late since he couldn’t find the airport. It turns out that he went to some airport base for the military, and then eventually found his way. We had to do some errands for his mom in the outskirts so we did so and then went home. I slept, for obvious reasons, and the vacation began.
The very next day we decided to do some shopping in Haparanda, which is on the Finnish border. It’s a tiny town with an IKEA, so we would indulge ourselves there and hope that we didn’t die of too much Finnish. In the photo above you can see as we crossed the highway with the sign going to Sundsväll, which is 5-7 hours by car to the south, and in a more ‘habitable’ environment. Notice also the snow, as I got my Christmas wish of being in a white cold place! The IKEA can be seen in the distance too. So we shopped, and found some cool stuff and had a bundle of laughs, and then went for food and saw the litle shops and such were I bought him his present.
Above is the photo the shows Finland. The white building is in Finland and all the other buildings around were made for passport controls or such before the Schengen agreement was put into place. Wonderful how the borders of Europe have somehow dissapeared in the last 15 years. Will it be good, one will see, but for me it’s freaking awesome. The best part about the Haparanda trip was the fact our bus tickets were bought as children. We both clearly said Tur & Retur till Haparanda, and they charged us children fair so it was only 69:- (dirt cheap as you can probably guess). Go team awesome, also known as 20-something-year-olds who look like 15!!
My exams are over, and having 6 in one day was just about death. I had problems with some of them but despite all of that it doesn’t matter since I am going on vacation and I don’t care about anything else right now!
In 30 minutes I am on my way to the train station to get a train to Paris, then take the Metro to the other side of the city, then take a bus to the airport, then take a flight to Sweden, then take a bus to Stockholm, then take a train to airport, then take a flight to Luleå, then get picked up by Robb.
How exciting all this is don’t you think? I think I am going to struggle and get lost at some point but let’s keep a positive attitude here!
I will try to update some things, and take tons of pictures on the way, but in any case; I’m going on an adventure all by myself and I’m scared to the bone! Go team me!