A Travellerspoint blog

Merry Christmas!

And hockey, and going back to Estonia

sunny -20 °C
View Denmark morphs into Europe... on canuck_pat's travel map.

Merry Christmas y'all! :-)

So after my last update I headed up to Helsinki for a few days to check things out and go see the Canadian junior team play before they head over to Russia. The ferry from Tallinn only takes a couple of hours so it was a pretty uneventful ride. Got checked into the hostel and with the staff's help was able to figure out where the two games that team Canada was playing were being held. The first night (Canada - Finland) was out in a far-flung suburb that doesn't have very good transit connections so I wasn't able to go see it. The second game on Saturday (Canada - Sweden) was right in Helsinki near the Olympic stadium so I was able to go and check it out (and see the Nuge!):

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After spending the weekend in Helsinki I've come back down to Tallinn for Christmas. I'm staying at more of a party hostel this time around to get more of a 'festive' atmosphere - there are many house rules that all revolve around drinking. People in Estonia celebrate Christmas on the 24th so a bunch of us from the hostel went out last night to enjoy the celebrations - suffice to say that most folks are moving fairly slowly today. Later on we're all headed over to another hostel in town for a proper lunch with lamb, ham, potatoes, etc. Should be pretty good and will probably help get things all settled down before we head out again tonight.

Not entirely sure where I'll be for New Years, but it will likely still be here in Tallinn or perhaps down in Riga. I've heard good things about Riga but am really liking it here in Tallinn - we'll see.

Regardless I hope everyone enjoys the holidays!

Posted by canuck_pat 04:16 Archived in Finland Comments (1)

Cold, so cold

sunny -24 °C
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Wow, -24 with 75% humidiy is cold. Like really freaking cold! Good thing I found this great Scottish pub that is nice and warm, has great decor and music, is right around the corner from my hostel, and has secure WiFi. Ahh, here comes my Irish coffee now. :-)
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Posted by canuck_pat 03:37 Archived in Estonia Comments (0)

On to Estonia

Next - Helsinki, Riga, or Saint Petersburg?

sunny -15 °C
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My initial impressions were pretty bang on - I really like Stockholm! Very beautiful and interesting city, albeit no less expensive than any other Scandinavian one. Moved over to a new hostel after a couple of days and just like in Copenhagen I found it to have a much better vibe and feel, even if it was a bit more expensive. I spent the week walking around and checking out the old town in more detail (very cool), and a number of museums and galleries. One of the most interesting was the Vasa, a Swedish warship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. After sitting at the bottom of Stockholm harbour for over 300 years she was raised in 1961 and is now preserved in a museum. IMGP0244.jpg

On Friday I signed up for a 'Nordic Sauna Tour' with the hostel, and had a pretty cool day. We headed out to a sheltered bay on the Baltic Sea just north of Stockholm where they have a wood-fired sauna on a raft. After getting the temperature up to a nice 100 degrees, it was time to take a quick dip in the water, which was showing at 2 degrees! Suffice to say the shock to the system was pretty intense, so there was lots of running back into the warmth. Spending the day going back and forth from the cold to the hot was pretty invigorating, and the beer at the end of the day sure was nice.
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Later on that night a bunch of us headed out for the evening and ended up at a club which is supposed to be the biggest in town, and spent the night there. 3 rooms with lots of people and a decent variety of tunes. Wandered back to the hostel after many Heinekens and arrived at about 4:30 or so. Suffice to say that Saturday was a pretty chill day.

Saturday night I hopped on a ferry and headed across the Baltic to Tallinn, Estonia. I hadn't really planned on coming here and don't think I could have even pointed out Estonia on a map, but after meeting a very cool Estonian guy in Copenhagen I decided to come over. The ferry was only about 50 Euro for a shared cabin and I'm really glad I decided to make the trip. Having said that, I think I'm letting my Newfie heritage down a bit as I've concluded that I really don't like ferries! I think I've got the drinking gene, but not the seafaring one as I swear I could still feel the boat pitching around underneath me for hours afterward. It's an overnight crossing and the water is often rougher this time of year, but it's really unnerving to feel the whole frame of the ship shudder as you're lying in bed trying to sleep.

Regardless, the old town here is very well preserved and is actually an UNESCO world heritage site because of how much of the old walls and towers are preserved:
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I spent the first afternoon and most of today wandering around and it's very, very cool. I know I've said similar things about the 'old town' part of other cities, but it really is amazing here and very easy to get around and check out. Estonia is much cheaper as well, and although I'm now working with Euros it's a noticeable difference.

I've got a couple more days here, and then my tentative plan is to head over to Helsinki (again on a ferry) to check it out and hopefully catch a couple of exhibition games that team Canada is playing before heading over to the world junior tournament in Russia. I know they are playing two games, but I don't know where or have tickets yet - but I'll figure that out. :-) From there I may try to head over to Saint Petersburg as I've discovered there is a ferry you can take from Helsinki that allows you to get around the normally very restrictive visa entry requirements as long as you visit for no longer that 72 hours. Not sure how it all works or how much it costs, but I may as well check it out. From there I'm thinking about coming back to Tallinn and then heading down to Riga, Latvia. It's supposed to be another very cool and somewhat inexpensive city, and they have a KHL team so I'd like to try and check out a game there as well. Not sure how I got on this hockey theme but why the heck not!

From there I'll likely head back to Stockholm and over to Gothenburg (and a Swedish Elite League game), before up to Norway. I'm in the midst of sorting things out with my travel agent, but heading back to Edmonton the last week of January is looking like the most likely option. I've obviously decided not to finalize the working holiday visa in Denmark as it just isn't worth it from my point of view. After spending a couple of weeks looking into jobs and apartments I found I was starting to worry about it too much and getting somewhat stressed out. That was never the point of this trip so as soon as I realized that I pretty much knew what I was going to do - enjoy myself and have some fun!

Posted by canuck_pat 13:10 Archived in Estonia Comments (1)

Sweet Snowy Stockholm, Sweden!

Plus, my bank card works again. Woo - beer money!!!

sunny -10 °C
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After spending a couple of days in Malmo, I've come up to Stockholm.

Malmo is just across the straight from Copenhagen, so a $16 and 30 minute train-ride later - I'm in Sweden! Malmo is the third largest city, and since the bridge was built a few years ago it has been exploding. Lots of construction cranes, and lots of people staying longer term in the hostel as it's very tough to find a place to live (seems to be a common theme around here). Spent a day out wandering around in the wind and snow - yes, I've finally run into winter! It's a nice place that's easy to get around. I got some good pictures of the area and the nasty looking grey sea. Wednesday night I decided to go check out the local hockey team - The Malmo Redhawks. They were founded in 1972 and played in the Swedish Elite League for a while, but are in the next division down now - you can be relegated out of the SEL so they are trying to work their way back in. Ticket was $22 for a seat in the home team end - complete with drums, chanting, songs, etc. It's like being at an European football game, just smaller. Really nice area that is apparently one of the newest/biggest in Scandinavia, but I would guess there were only about 5,000 fans at the game. Unfortunately the home team lost 5-1, but it was still a ton of fun.
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Thursday I headed over to the train station where I ended up spending most of the afternoon as my train to Stockholm was delayed. About two hours late we finally got moving, so I didn't get to see much at all before it got dark. Very cool tilting train that apparently gets up to 200 km/h in certain places - journey was still about 5 hours so I got into Stockholm at about 11pm. They've just had their first big snowfall of the year and the city looked amazing as I was headed to the hostel - you know that fresh, clean snowfall look when it's all new and everything is quiet? Very good first impression of the city for sure:
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Spent most of Friday and Saturday walking around and my initial impressions are pretty correct - this is an amazing city! The old part of town (situated on an island just south of where I'm staying) is full of old, winding, cobblestone streets. Stockholm Palace and a couple of very old churches are also located there. I took a free walking tour this morning to see some things I probably wouldn't on my own, and then spent the afternoon at the museum to warm up - it's about -15 here! Not anywhere near as bad as Edmonton at the moment, but it is very humid and I haven't really felt winter yet!

Wandered along one of the major streets in the old city this afternoon and headed into a cool looking pub for a drink. Tiny little place but the seating areas in the cellar go down for about 3 levels below ground and are this crazy warren of old stone rooms. I got down to the deepest, most out of the way corner in the place to discover two very drunk Scotsman who immediately invited me to sit down and ordered me a beer. Hung out for a few pints (and a few pulls of whiskey from their flasks) and then wandered back. Looking into a ferry to Helsinki and probably going to head out in a bit to see what Saturday in Stockholm is like. I'll let you know how it goes. :-)
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Posted by canuck_pat 12:29 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Finding duct tape in Copenhagen

Oh yeah, I'm also now in Sweden

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Duct tape, gaffer tape, canvas tape. Whatever you prefer it's an invaluable travel/camping/repair item. And it took me three weeks to find some! I've had a couple minor jacket and pack repairs I needed to do and I knew what I wanted, but couldn't find it anywhere. Went to a bunch of hardware and craft stores in a couple of cities and most folks had no idea what I was talking about. Once or twice I had some recognition (usually calling it gaffer tape), but no suggestions on where to get it. So on the suggestion of someone at the hostel I wandered over to a big Fotex store in Copenhagen - turns out it was only a few blocks from where I was initially staying. Fotex is a big department store and like Wal-Mart, London Drugs, etc, they carry a little bit of everything. Clothing, groceries, cameras, computers, candles, and - duct tape! So yes, my jacket pocket and pack are very happy now, all in a nice shade of grey. (insert requisite '50 Shades of Grey' joke here)

So as per my previous post I've been debating the merits of spending about $3000 CDN of my savings on an apartment/deposit to be able to register for my government ID number to be able to work. Then I would have to find a job, and over the last couple of weeks putting a decent bit of effort into both I have discovered that Copenhagen is very tough on both fronts. I will freely admit that I took the advice from a few of you (thanks Fab, Mike, and Carmelle) and also enjoyed my time with beer (oh God, so much beer), massive nightclubs on boats, sightseeing, castle ruins, etc so I probably could have done more. The honest truth is that I'm not that fussed about it really.

All my initial research was correct in that Denmark has a very good economy considering what is going on in Europe - and because of that there are tens of thousands of young people from Spain, Portugal, and Greece (all EU citizens so they don't have the same '3 month residency' requirements I do) who have been coming here for a while now looking for work. This is all good and as I've been realizing that I just needed to get away from Edmonton for a while, and I've also realized that I'd rather just use my time and money (even if they are both going to be less now) and enjoy myself. So on that note, time to update the map!

I'm now in Malmo, Sweden - just across the straight from Copenhagen (gotta love a $16 ticket and a 20 minute train ride!). Came over the ├śresund Bridge which was pretty cool. Bridge info I've got a couple of days here and after wandering around this evening it seems like a pretty cool place. Going to try and check out a Malmo Redhawks hockey game tomorrow, and then have a train ticket booked up to Stockholm on Thursday.
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Does that mean I'm not going to 'finalize' the working holiday visa for Denmark? Probably - it honestly just isn't worth it for me to spend so much money to get the registration number just for the potential to work.

So yeah, now to figure out where to be for Christmas, New Years, and the end of the world. Plus, Canada's world junior team plays a couple of exhibition games in Helsinki before heading over to Russia for the tournament - hmmm.

Posted by canuck_pat 11:55 Archived in Sweden Comments (3)

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