AUTHOR: Khodadad DATE: 7:17:00 PM ----- BODY: Travel, Part I: Sweden

Well, I think I am going to write a little review of my travel. Sorry for not having pics, I forgot my Digital Cam, and had to take pics with a regular camera, so they will be coming up, promise to me 'eart!

We arrived in Nyköping (Swedish pronunciation is bizarre! This one is pronounced Noo-sho-pping) airport from Lübeck, Germany, with a Ryan Air flight. This is the best way to get to Stockholm now, since the other way, with ferry via Trolleborg and then by train, is more expensive and time consuming. The European cheap airlines like Ryan Air are great, especially if you buy tickets in advance like I did ($15 one way, tax included!!!!). The only problem is getting from the airport to Stockholm which takes an hour with the airport bus and costs as much as the flight! (I later found out that if we took a normal bus to Nykopoing and took a bus from there to Stockholm, it would have been cheaper, but less convenient, alas!).

Anyway, we arrived in Stockholm and went to the tourist office to get a room. Apparently, the city was booked out and even all of the Hostels were full (I called a few to verify, call me a pesimist!). We ended up getting a double room in a four star hotel for $100 a night, not bad at all, considering the comfort and the huge breakfast buffet! We went out to walk a little, saw a few places, had dinner, and got ready for the "city watching" day that was to come up! Good night in the four star hotel:))

I had seen Stockholm before, so I was acting as a guide to my girlfriend. Obviously, the starting point is the Drottingsgatan (Queen's Street), which is the main shopping distirct. It ends up in Gamla Stan (Old Stockholm) which is the island over which the original stockholm was built. The royal palace (the official one, not the residence of the king) is in Gamla Stan, as well as the Parliament, most old churches, best places to eat, and a collection of streets that are full of gift shops and creperies! Tourist trap par excellence, but hey, why not!

I liked the changing of the guards in front of the palace, and the palace itself is great (I am in love with Swedish royalty, especially the current dynasty of Bernadottes who are actually French!!!). The gift shops are rather boring and repetetive, but there is one that has Viking stuff (even Viking scissors!) which is good. Funny enough, we ate in an immitation English pub (Fish and Chips, better than the original! No one can make fish as bad as the English!). We did not go to see the Historical Museum (which has a great collection of the Viking Age exhibits): I had seen it (in details!), and she had no desire to see it.

The day after, we went to see my friend who lives in a small city two hours from Stockholm called Köping (shö-pping). The city was interesting, and near it there are some old pre-Viking rock carvings which suited my history buff taste very well! I also enjoyed my friend's company who like me is a great Tintin fan (yes, the Belgian comic character that is!). Indeed, he is the biggest collector of Tintin in Scandinavia. We also went to see a little town nearby which was the place were the Swedish parliament first held its meetings (In opposition to Erik of Pomerania who was trying to force himself as the king of Sweden).

The next day, we returned to Stockholm, and got ready to take our great ferry ride to Helsinki, Finnland. It was a little quick, I agree, a little too American "city-hopping", but I had seen Sweden in detail before, and we were more interested in taking the ferry and go to Finnland. That is a story by itself! --------