Sunday, January 01, 2006

Stockholm and Tallinn

Katie and I headed into Stockholm to see what we could see, and get a feel for the city. Rugged up in head to toe thermals, we walked through some of the main shopping mall, and out to Gamla Stan (old town). We managed to catch the Swedish changing of the guards outside the royal palace, after being amazing at the snow sitting on all the beautiful buildings surrounding us.

We wandered along the shore of the little island that is the old town, and then through the tiny, gorgeous cobbled streets. So cute! We eventually stopped for a drink and cake, to try and thaw out, before we wandered around some more. (Photos)

Jenny met us at the bus station, and we figured out how to get to our overnight ferry. Boarding a boat very much like the Spirit of Tasmania, the Tallink ship took us from Sweden to Estonia overnight. Once the ship hit the middle of the Baltic Sea, and rougher waters, we began to question the choice of the all-you-can-eat buffet personal challenge. After watching some very bad dancing, and trying our luck with the party games in the nightclub area, we headed to our cabin to sleep off the seasickness (or not sleep, as it turned out).

Another stamp in our passports, and we were in Tallinn. We checked into our ultra modern hotel - Ulemiste Hotel, and then winged in on the local bus into the city. Whilst we hit the jackpot with the bus outside of the hotel, which did take us straight into town, we did misjudge getting on and off on a few trips, and ended up doing a tour of the city port a few too many times!! The bus was also a different price every time we rode it - I don't know what was going on there, but we collected a full set of tickets!!

That day and the next day we walked around Old Tallinn, the most preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. The first day was one of the coldest days of my life, wandering around in failing daylight at 3pm trying to get our bearings as it snowed down on us. The thermals seemed to make little difference - and the fact that I landed on my arse in the ice once or twice didn't help things at all!!

The Town Hall and the square was beatuiful, and we wandered around looking at the amazing churches (Olaf! And the Russian Nevski. Such amazing buildings), the old city wall, and the old old buildings lining the little streets.

We had a yummy dinner (hunger strikes when it's dark, although I think it was only 3pm again!) in a classy restaurant in the Town Hall square on our last night in Estonia. The rest of town that we saw was boxed shopping malls, and concrete - a modern city with a well preserved medieval heart. (Photos)

Jenny and Katie turned a shade of green on our Nordic Jet Line across to Helsinki the next morning. We arrived at our hotel - Hotel Simonkentta - just in time to have a drink for the Australian New Year's Eve.

We have now walked around Helsinki to get our bearings, and our Finlandia supplies for a large evening. Happy New Year!

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