Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki…and Tallinn

I have completed my speed tour of Scandinavia.  I am currently sat in the covered market in Helsinki having a coffee waiting for the rain to pass and I leave at one o’clock for Tallinn. (This was before I completed the second half of the blog)

Copenhagen probably wasn’t my favorite city out of the ones I visited, but I wasn’t there for the parties or nightlife, so I probably didn’t see it properly. I did have a great coffee run at the Coffee Collective. Tucked back into a side street was this massive coffee shop that had its own roast plant on the other side of a glass wall. You could Watch the guys pouring coffee beans into the bags and the smell was amazing.  I stayed there for quite a while reading magazines and drinking several different coffees. Then I was fueled for the rest of my tourist walking.

image

image

The flight to stockholm was painless and I really enjoyed the hostel I stayed at. I finally did some shopping at wesc because they were having a massive sale and I did a lot of coffe touring. I was in the “sofo” district most of the time. I also walked the perimeters of a couple islands close by.  My favorite coffee there was Coffice. Drop Coffee is the most famous, but it lacked a good atmosphere.  Maybe too many tourists. Coffice was in Sofo and had seating like you were in and office desk. With super fast wifi, people came there to get work done and enjoy a good brew and nice pastries/sandwiches/juices /watever. The barista were also really friendly and gave me advice for what I should do in my short time. I also enjoyed some snacks from Urban Deli that was pretty much like a whole foods market but with a nice outdoor patio and good people watching.

image

There was also a massive indoor food market that I didn’t bother eating at because it all looked pretty pricey. But the things they had on display looked really good…

I had an early morning getting to Helsinki. My flight was at 6:40 so I woke up at three am to catch the airport bus. I slept through the take off and the landing.  I spoke to a swedish guy at a coffee shop and we went to another coffee shop and killed time until he was getting picked up by a friend to go to a cabin for the weekend. I was way jealous.

Finland  is extremely “clean”. Actually, all of Scandinavia has been. For all the cities being capitals and major cities, the streets and housing and parks were all immaculate.  It’s sad that the US don’t take anythig seriously for being such an advanced country. Scandinavia is so well established and self sustained I wish it was so easy for other countries to catch on.

The hostel I stayed at in helsinki was on an island in an old shool building.  It had old bunkers and cannons and a good view all around.

image

image

I had a good time window shopping at all the local design shops and home goods. I really want to flat to fill with my stuff. I have several different styles that I have picked out from everything I have seen.
Helsinki really only needs a day to be seen but it was still easy to kill time there.  The ferry to Tallinn was rough sailing. I had a pretty bad headache the whole way but it wasn’t too long of a journey.  I walked through old town to get into the hostel. I still need to get some photos of the place!!  I’ll do a different post for the city. 

I have had yet another change of plans.  It dawned on me how long I will be in Tallinn and I feel like I have unfinished business still in the UK.  I was in the process of selling off some stuff, I never got to do a proper see off with the grandparents, and I really should get my darn drivers license taken care of.  So my new plan is.

Saturday- flight to Manchester
August 25th fly to Oslo from Edinburgh airport. Retrieve my bag from the hostel in Oslo, then head to the International airport in Oslo for my flight on the 26th.

Whatever happens in between is unknown.  I may go to Wales and do snowdonia with Sophie when she returns from quitting in Balestrand.  Who knows.

The hostel was fine with me heading  out, and I do a bit of helping out here and there to still get my free accommodation. Yay!

image

image

Advertisements

Lucky Number Two

Today is my official two year anniversary of when I landed in the UK to start a brand new adventure. I am currently on a bus that is taking me from Gothenburg, Sweden – Copenhagen, Denmark.

I was reading some of my first blogs from when I was settling in at my grandparents house in Birtley, and what my first thoughts were after the big move. I feel like there are things I would like to say to Katie from the past.

1. “Omg spin class, how am I going to cope with no gym membership!?!?!?”
Seriously, get a life. Yes, I still enjoy a good gym session,  but there’s no reason to get bent out of shape. Go skiing,hiking, climbing. Enjoy it.
2. “I just don’t know how to take the bus or trains, I just want to go home. This was a bad idea.”
Well done for sticking it out and conquering that mythical practice of public transport. And I’d still rather  walk than take the city bus. Chances are you’ll be late either way.
3. “I’m going to sit here and Watch everyone enjoy a good meal while I have a pack of pre cooked chicken and an apple later. It’s fine.”
I still to this day won’t downgrade the paleo lifestyle. But it’s taken a while to understand the moderation that comes with it and the ability to balance. The overall goal for anyone health minded is to be genuinely  happy, eating real food. The mistakes I easily walked into were depriving myself from easy healthy meals that came from grains like quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, or from greek yogurt, cottage cheese, Rye bread, etc. And most importantly, peanut butter. I would avoid these things and buy cooked meat/canned fish not considering the fact that they are mass produced animals that are fed things you wouldn’t feed to rats. Paleo is about 100 percent self sustained protien. Grass fed, no antibiotics, growth hormone treated, no BS.  I feel like I can travel a lot easier now that I have somewhat found that balance. I don’t feel the Urge to binge on all the pastries and ice creams like I used to when traveling. Yeah, I’ll have a nice treat to go with my coffee…and then I’ll move on and not let it torment me like it used to. Chill out.
4. “How am I going to be able to straighten my hair!?”
Still love the straight hair. But wavy is nice. Baby steps.

image

Enjoying  a “Fika” or a swedish coffee break, in Gothenburg. (Da Mateo  coffee roasters.)

I  also now have some tips and tricks that I have aquired on my travels.
1. Go for the free breakfast.
2. Check into the airport and spend the night if your flight is at a wierd time.  You can save one night’s accommodation  but be prepared to look like a troll and potentially annoyed by authorities.
3. Car share/ airbnb. It’s a money saver and you score some memories while doing it.
4. Pack ridiculously light.  And put your bag of life belongings in storage at a hostel. It’s free. For a reason?
5. Window seat.
6. Coffee is cheap, and makes you think your not hungry. And lots of water.
7. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Even if they don’t speak much English.  You never know who you can make friends with.
8. Walking/ cycling is the best way (in my opinion) to explore a city. 
9. And always look for the highest viewpoint!
10. Always soak up the experience. You’ll always have something to worry about, but you won’t have many moments like the ones you encounter when wandering the planet.

image

I left balestrand by bus and eventually made it to Oslo I didn’t really plan ahead, and I am used to traveling in off peak times of the year when you don’t have to worry about last minute availibility.  So I was lucky enough to find room for one night.  I really only had one goal for Oslo, and it was to visit the mecca of all things coffee. The one coffee shop that I was told to go to by a barista at a independent coffee shop in Manchester. The experience was unreal. The friendly barista made a couple coffees with scales, and all the posh equipment.  I stood there as he was describing the different tastes and aromas of each and how they differ. I did a bit of instagram research and read about how Tim has bought his own land in Columbia to start growing his own coffee beans. I brought up the subject and he told me about all the processes of how the coffee bean should be and how he will get to travel out there eventually. He also wrote me go to shops in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki. Then I was out the door. Caffinated. 

image

It was a typical start for me in Gothenburg. I book a cheap hostel away from the good bits,and I just assume that it’s a lousy city. Ehh. It’s great. It’s got modern buildings, old buildings, coffee galore, gyms galore, the trendy shopping district Haga, roller coasters, lush gardens, and busy main streets full of happy people and gorgeous tall blonde men. And within an hours walk from the hostel, you can find yourself in the woods surrounded by ponds and green. Pretty cool.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

I’ll be in Denmark in a couple hours where I’ll be staying two nights. The  the plan is to fly to Stockholm, stay two nights, fly to Helsinki, two nights, then take a ferry to Tallinn.

I came up with a crazy route that I could do before I go home that involved flying from Riga to Brussels, flying to Krakow, and taking the train through Prague, Vienna, and flying back to Oslo from Budapest.

I’m not doing it.

Instead I took a look at my bank account and decided that I like money and had less than I thought.  I quickly emailed the hostel I plan on staying in when in Tallinn, and I now have been booked into the staff accommodation for three nights free so they can see if I fit the part of volunteer work at their hostel. They exchange free accommodation plus extras for two shifts a week. Sorted. Time to just chill out in Estonia and let my Barclays account catch a break.

Days left before home time : 36
Countries visited: 18

Balestrand, Norway

I was pretty quick to rename this place as Balestranded but 100 percent accurate.

Rewind the day before I left. I had a brilliant dinner with Vivienne, Allison, and Andrew at the Selfridges rooftop restaurant in London. I had walked there and back from my hostel in Pimlico, and enjoyed the last bit of England that I will be seeing for a while. 

The trip to Balestrand was fairly smooth sailing. The ferry from Bergen was a great view. I’m pretty sure I saw dolphins. Once I had arrived, Sophie was stood there waiting for me and we went straight to the Kviknes hotel for coffee. This hotel is the largest wooden Swiss style buildinds in all of Norway. The view is great. All the interior is retro seating and long hallways with a massive balcony looking out at the water.

I can sit here and have coffee for free.
There is also a buffet dinner that people pay about £60 for. I have eaten there twice now. Free. Sophie gets to eat there and the hotel staff  let me in with her.  It’s a seafood based buffet with plenty of options for meat and cheese boards, veal mains, crab, mussels, and a huge dessert table. Given my OCD behavior in the past with buffets, I do really well to stock up on protein and not get wild with dessert. Maybe except yesterday.
An example would be my salmon selection salad and Rye for starter, followed by veal, haddock, salmon, and veggies for main. The chocolate mousse didn’t get photographed.

image

image

image

We are also welcome to the breakfast buffet at the other hotel down the road. Free of charge.

image

Sophie had some important Inghams staff come visit and they gave us the fruit baskets in their hotel rooms. So we also have a massive amount of fruit in our little green shack down the road that we stay in. We have really gotten a lot done such as hiking, a road trip to Voss, and a ride on the boat that takes us quickly around the fjords. The car rental was discounted for sophie being an Inghams rep. And the boat ride was free. I think the only thing we spent money on was traveling to voss, and eating pastries at the aquarium.  We also still need to visit the famous Ciderhust  in Balestrand. Other than that,  we just sit and mad.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

I would reccomend to anyone to spend one or two days here.  Then move on. The view is spectacular and the drive to voss itself gives amazing views and so many changes in the scenery. You pass waterfalls, topless male cross county skiers, old churches, everything. But Balestrand itself can come off a bit spooky. It’s almost as if all the orchards and houses are placed there like a toy village. Spotless and empty.

Sophie is going to stick out until her first paycheck, and then abandon ship. And I fully don’t blame her at all.

image

But as I sit here in the luxurious hotel people dish out enormous amounts of money for, I am definitely ready to move on.

For not all of you that know by now, I have booked a flight to LA on August 26th. I need a break from Europe and time to prepare for more adventures in the future. It’s definitely not the end of my traveling.

Days until homecoming – 43
Countries visited – 16