Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 27-30: 1 City at a time!

WOWZA. The days have been son long that it's been super tough to try to get online and blog. So sorry!

Monday we got a late start - but REALLY needed the extra sleep so it was okay. We spent the rest of the day in "Skansen," an "open air museum" in Stockholm. They say it's Stockholm's #1 attraction. It's got a zoo, and a petting zoo but the REAL appeal is in the fact that it's a place where Sweden has been preserved. They have taken buildings from all over the country to put in this park to preserve Sweden's old way of life. So we were able to see how to blow glass from a glass workshop from the 19th/20th century, as well as a church from the 1700's, market stands from the 1600s and even some Viking stuff! It was FABULOUSLY interesting, PLUS the appeal of moose, brown bears and seals - all surrounded by gorgeous gardens = YES PLEASE!

Dinner that night was at McDonalds :) 

Tuesday we got up and had the greatest of all days. We went to the Nordic Museum and saw some great exhibits about Swedish furniture from now back to the 1800s, as well as table settings from the 1500s to the 1800s, Swedish interiors from the 1600s - 1800s and fashion from the 1760s, 1850s and 1960s!!! This was also FABULOUSLY interesting. We tried to go to the Vasa museum where you can see a 100% preserved ship from the 16-somethings, but the line was freakishly long so we didn't get to go. Instead we ate a hot dog and got sodas. 

Then we went SHOPPING. If you didn't already know, the most favorite of stores, H&M, was started in Sweden and in the center of the city you can stand at this one intersection and see 4 or 5 (if you crane your head) H&M at once! So we went shopping indeed. I got some denim leggings and a long, collared shirt. Spence got some great things, too. I say HooRAH to that!!

We ate at McDonald's again. It was fine, really. And not really too expensive. After purchasing another set of tickets to get from Warsaw to Stockholm, we felt we should try to save money. 

Then we made our way to Gamla Stan, which is the Old Town island in the archipelago we call "Stockholm." It is where the palace is, and thus, the city began to be built around that. It has since become rather trendy to live and apparently actors and such live there. It's also a gaping mouth that barfs tourism at you. Every other shop is full of yellow and royal blue regalia, with "Svenska" all over it. But hey, it works. I bought a magnet or two. AAAAND we stopped at a watch store and both Spencer and I got a new, high-fashion Swedish watches. Love it.

Wednesday, we got up and packed our stuff all up. And after a ridiculously long process we got it stashed in the lockers in the central train station so we wouldn't have to lug it all around the city. We visited the royal palace. It was really REALLY neat because even though we've seen a couple palaces, we haven't seen anything quite like this. The palace in Krakow was neat and old, but basically just a museum. In Warsaw, the palace LOOKED old but was actually new, so the history is what made it most interesting. But THIS palace is actively used by the Swedish royal family. In fact, one of the princesses was just married in June, and the ballroom of the palace was used for a celebratory wedding disco. Yeah. Cool. Not to mention the royal jewels and such we saw. SO SPARKLY.

They have this museum beneath the palace that we were able to walk through that was amazing. The swedish palace began with just a single defense tower in the 1200s, and was built up from there. Around 1600, however, it burned down. Then for about 60 years, they built the current palace that we toured. In the museum beneath the current palace, we were able to see the ORIGINAL walls that survived the fire. These walls were built about 800 years ago! Crazy! They had artifacts on display - animal bones they found by an old oven that were used for food, old chain mail, old shoes - - it was amazing. So amazing. 

And, sadly, that's basically where our Stockholm trip ended. We went to the station and took a bus to the airport to fly to Edinburgh.

Oh. Fly to Edinburgh? That's riiiight. We flew with RyanAir. If there is something I can tell you for sure, it is that YOU, I, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FRIENDS, MY FAMILY AND MY FRIENDS SHOULD NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER FLY WITH RYANAIR. Oh did I say that out loud?! YOU BETCHA. You see, yesterday I had the WORST possible flying experience ever. Need proof? How about these apples: 880 Swedish kroner, (yes that's $121.88) to check an extra bag. 

See - when I paid for the tickets a month or two ago, I included one checked back for both Spencer at I. They had 2 weight options available, 15 and 20 kilos. I picked one, thinking "well, if there's a problem, we'll upgrade at the airport." OOOOH not so. We were both "allowed" to have 1 bag each, at 15 kilos (yes, that's right - a measly 33 pounds.) Well, Spencer's bag was at about 25 kilos, and mine was at 17 or something. You'd think well - just upgrade one of the bags to a 20 kilo bag, and shift the weight around! But no, we weren't allowed to "upgrade" from one bag size to the next (which was only 20 kilos anyway - 44 pounds.) AND because we had only specified that we would be taking 15 kilo pound bags, we couldn't even buy a 20 kilo bag. We had to convert a carry-on bag to a check bag and could only put up to 15 kilos in it. And that extra bag cost us One. Hundred. And. Twenty. One. Dollars. (And 88 cents.) NOT KIDDING.  Even with the extra bag (which was supposed to be carry-on so it was very small) we were having trouble adjusting everything. Had it not been for the GREAT GUY behind the desk who let one bag slip at 16.5 kilos, and the other at around 19, we would have had to throw away toiletries, books and clothes at the airport. 

Beyond that, passengers are only allowed to take ONE carry on bag. Period. No personal item or anything. One carry-on bag at 10 kilos (22 pounds.)  Because Mr. Nice guy helped us check bags, we didn't have a problem with this but he says the fees are GHASTLY if you're overweight at the gate. But what's STUPID is the plethora of over-head bin space that was in the plane. Ridiculous. Also, announcements were made on the plane every 10-15 minutes all about the food, magazines, drinks and other products the airplane had for sale. Good thing we weren't trying to sleep or anything because the announcements would have made that absolutely impossible. However, it was inconvenient to have to pause our movie every 10-15 minutes to wait for the announcement to pass so we could actually hear it.

Anyway. RyanAir is so bad. Just don't go there.

But we're in Edinburgh now which is really great.

Today was full of "Traditional Scottish Breakfast" - which included Haggis, thank you very much, - a trip to the Edinburgh Castle, a tour thru Mary King's Close - a preserved series of rooms, buildings and streets from the 1500s, - a walk up Calton hill and photo shoots of the city, and dinner at a Scottish Pub. I'm in heaven :)

Again - time is short, so I can't take time to load in pictures. Sorry!


  1. Raynair also used to or was considering the idea of requiring people to pay to use the toilet on the plane. We used an article about it in our study guide for Urinetown.

    A lot of those little country-jumping planes have super strict weight and carry-on policies. That's why we were only allowed to take one bag to check on our study abroad and have only one carry-on (though I don't think there was a weight restriction for the carry-on on our flight). Sorry about that $122.88, though. That's the worst.

  2. Well, I think I would stop the trusting of an airline whose name was "Ryanair." I mean, why is there not a "Dianeair" or for that matter, "Sproutyair?" Seems pretty weird to me. Hey, if you were on "Dianeair" I would not charge all those extra fees or make those announcements. Glad you got there ok though!!! See you soon!!!!