After about two hours of flight, but not before I managed to spill juice all over Veronika, we landed in Venice, where my parents were already waiting for us.
It was strange seeing them after so long but nice nonetheless. On our way home questions “how was it”, “where do I like it more (here in SLO or SWE)”, etc. were asked. We got home at 2am so there wasn’t much more to do but go to sleep. It was weird sleeping in my bed after so long.
In the following days I seem to have been answering those standard questions “how was it”, quite often. It was a bit weird talking in Slovenian on the street as well. I swear first few times I actually started speaking in English.
Slowly I went back to old habits and sadly I soon felt like I never left Slovenia. At the end of January I still had to do “oral” exam with my multimedia course from Luleå. We did it over Skype, it was quite funny actually. Professor was at his home (not in his office) and firstly he showed me a bit of his house and after I complained we have no snow here, he also showed me frozen lake behind his house where some kids were skating, after that he asked me some questions about course and I was done.
After that the only thing left to-do from Sweden, were arrange for some papers to be shipped here, so I could get my grades transcribed and the rest of Erasmus grant.
This concludes my “reports” for my Life in Luleå.
The only thing left is to gather my expenses data and present them in some nice(r) form to present them, when I’ll do this I don’t know, probably not soon. And hopeful write a better conclusion to everything.
Studying … time when everything is more interesting than studying, so why not finish this?
As we were sitting on the plane thinking what to do in Amsterdam, where we had to wait 6 hours for our connected flight, we came to an idea of maybe going to sightsee the city itself. After seeing that airport is basically in the middle of the city, it was decided, we were going to Amsterdam.
After a short flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam we disembarked and started searching for a place where we could leave our carryon luggage. The airport was huge, it took us 30min to find and leave luggage near underground, where we caught ride to the centre.
After stepping out of the train station you could immediately see difference from Stockholm, there must have been million people walking around, Christmas decorations were everywhere, there were more bikes than cars and lastly it was still bright (day) at 4pm.
After unsuccessfully trying to find a tour boat, (it’s like tour bus, but they have a lot of canals/boats in Amsterdam), we settled down for a tourist map and started walking around the centre, where most monuments were.
The city is old, with narrow streets, old tall buildings and I swear most of them are leaning (like leaning tower of Pisa). That’s probably because it’s build around the water. There are more water channels than in Venice. Strangely that town isn’t known by this but rather by its “loos” laws for drug consumption and sex tourism.
Speaking of this, yes we saw a dozen of “shady” bars and of course, women in displays. It’s kind of weird to see real people in displays like that. It startled me quite a lot, first time we went by one, when woman inside moved, as you are normally expected to see manikins in displays.
Anyway as we didn’t have that much time, the only thing we managed to do was buy some food in a local food stand and some souvenirs. Oh yea, I forgot to say, there were Christmas stands all along main street in the centre, quite the opposite of Stockholm, where I don’t remember seeing any at all.
After our quick tour of the city we went back to the airport again. After getting lost for another 30mins we finally found our gate and boarded the plane, soon after we were flying 10km above Germany toward Venice.
I’m still wondering how Swedes always manage to fully book their trains. I mean we were traveling on January 1st from 8 PM to 9 AM next morning and the train didn’t have a free sit. I’m saying this because (again) we got seats with table, which wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t people sitting on the opposite end. It’s impossible to fall asleep less than a meter away from a complete stranger, at least for me. So I spent most of the 13h ride awake, watching movies on computer. Thank god each sit was equipped with electricity socket.
We arrived to Stockholm main train station at around 9 AM next morning. Luckily we quickly found or way to the hotel, which was situated maybe 10m away of train station’s entrance in the very centre of Stockholm.
Despite official hours for check-in started in the afternoon, hotel staff was very friendly and allowed us to check-in right there in the morning. In retrospect I wish they hadn’t. Instead of a room with great view over the city, we got a room in 6th, floor with great view of office building, next to the hotel. They probably would have given us room with better view, if we asked, but I was so tired back then my brain only wanted something to sleep in.
After few hours of sleep, on bed that felt like sleeping on a cloud, we were ready to go explore the city. Firstly we went on a guided tour of the old city (the oldest island). We saw royal palace, parliament … and learned some history of Stockholm and how it became to be what it is today.
After the tour we explored the modern city centre. Predictably the whole city was still decorated from Christmas, so there were lights and ornaments everywhere. Streets were clean, there were lots of people, thousands of shops, I swear on one street there were 6 H&M shops, 10m from each other.
The sightseeing soon turned into hunting for food. We haven’t eaten anything since lunch in Luleå so we were starving. One might think it would be easy to find a place to eat in a city like Stockholm. Well yea, if you’re millionaire. All the restaurants were fully booked or prices way over our budget. To top it off in the whole city (extended) centre, we couldn’t find not one super-market like store. After hours of searching we gave up and settled for Max – Swedish McDonalds, although I think it’s better than latter.
After this we made our way to hotel to a warm shower and cosy bed. I think I slept for over 14 hours that day, finally woken up by Veronika nagging to go to the breakfast. Hah breakfast … I remember laughing how expensive it was (15€/person), when we booked hotel. But now it didn’t feel that expensive, at least compared to the rest of Stockholm.
The breakfast was a buffet, I don’t remember ever seeing so much different food in one place. There must have been 10 kinds of bread, thousands of salamis, hams, cheeses, even one really really smelly cheese which almost made me puke when I tried it. Really I don’t know if I ever ate something so disgusting, it smelled like feet and tasted like… old socks. There were a lot of sweets (pastry), homemade marmalades, honey, cereal, fruits… There were even different kind of sausages (although Swedish sausages all suck :P) and lots more. For beverages they had about 10 different kinds of tea, coffees, freshly squeezed fruit juices etc.
The weirdest thing about all this was as it was buffet you went there and took whatever you wanted on your plate. But as soon as you ate or drank something a waiter almost ran to your table to take your plate/glass to make room for new one. I’m not sure why they did this, I think one day I drank 5 glasses of juice, and each time from a new glass.
All in all breakfast was great and almost worth the money. Veronika and I both got so full we couldn’t move, but somehow managed to venture into the town again. This time we went to see change of guards at the palace, and then walked to the island with ZOO and Vasa museum (one of the most famous museums in Sweden). For some reason everything (in Sweden?) closes really early in the afternoon so despite walking for hours to get there we didn’t have time to visit anything. We returned back to the centre.
In the evening we went to the cinema to see the Hobbit. I wanted to see how HFR movie looks like and just so I can see a cinema that’s not Kolosej in Ljubljana. As everything in Sweden, we paid around 25€/person per ticket + 5€ for 3D glasses. The cinema room was nice and cosy, it looked new and pristine, no torn sits or anything. At the beginning of the movie hostess came and spoke something in Swedish, I’m actually intrigued on what she was saying. All in all I think the movie was great. The picture was bright and sharp, probably because of HFR and the story was what I expected.
After the movie ended we slowly left the theatre but not before doing something that my friends today teas me every time I talk about Sweden. Paying 5€ for glasses I thought (and still do) that I bought them and not just borrowed them, so I just took them. Not only that, I saw other people leaving them on some trash-bin so I took two more from there. Just to make sure, I can faster earn their value back here in Slovenia. =)4
After the movie, Max burger followed and then hotel. Despite having bad view, hotel room was amazing. It was big, bright and modern. Weirdly the most astonishing thing for me was the bathroom. Shower alone must have been 6 square meters. Not only that, whole bathroom had floor heating, so your feet didn’t got cold when walking barefoot through it. We also got those hotel shampoos, conditioners etc… And they smelled amazing, I can still remember the faint lime and lavender smell if I close my eyes, and in case I ever forget it I have 3 bottles of it at home (what did you expect from me =) ). Main room consisted of one big and cosy bed, office table, TV, AC, minibar… The most amazing thing here, was the lighting. Swedes really know how to light up the place, probably because they live half of the year in dark. We had numerous lights of all shapes and colours to create romantic ambient, which would probably go great with the view over the city.
On Saturday we got up early and walked to the other side of the city to visit ZOO and Vasa museum.
Zoo was OK, although so far our ZOO Ljubljana is the best one I’ve seen. In the ZOO they had mostly Nordic animals that have natural habitat in Sweden. I finally had a chance to see a moose up and close. I already said how big it is and that was when I saw it from afar. Sadly I couldn’t get close enough to touch it, which was one of my main goals of what TODO in Sweden. In the ZOO we also saw (I think it’s called) sea cow. It’s the fattest thing I ever saw, that moves. It’s so funny how it looks like a barrel with a head and it looks so friendly with those big puppy eyes. This one just came up close to me and stared at me for minutes as in give me some food please.
After the ZOO we went to see Vasa museum. This is a museum build around an old ship. The story goes that Swedes made a ship which sunk on its maiden voyage, just after living harbour (boy they must have been a great shipbuilders =) ). Anyway few years ago they found the ship, which was surprisingly intact, which is even more amazing if you know that it’s made of wood and it’s around 200 years old. If I remember correctly for some reason there are no certain kind of bacteria in the water that would digest wood.
After they found the ship they then lifted it out of water and build a museum around it, so now you’re able to walk around this enormous ship, and learn about it. Sadly it’s not permitted to go on-board.
After the museum it was evening already so we went to the Max one last time. This was it, my last day in Sweden. Next morning we only had time to eat breakfast, pack up and board the bus to the airport. Shortly after I was sitting on plane counting down my last minutes of this great adventure…
Tuesday 31.12.2013, my last day in Luleå.
Toward evening we prepared some food and headed to other building where majority of students who were staying here over holidays gathered. Again there was lots of food from all over the world, tons of people who I never saw before, or at least talked with them.
Toward 11PM we left apartment and took bus downtown. It was around -7 outside and snowing quite strongly. Yet to my surprise there were really a lot of (young) people (girls) dressed in miniskirts, wearing high heels. I don’t know how they weren’t cold or how their feet didn’t froze, since there was at least 5cm of fresh snow on the ground.
There was no stage or band in city centre as usually in Slovenia. Instead of this there were 3 stalls selling some drinks and sweets and that was it. After following crowd few meters we found a place where they were going to shoot fireworks from. Guess where? From the middle of harbour on almost half a meter of frozen sea.
A lot of people gathered to watch fireworks. Although you could tell you’re not in Slovenia since everyone made sure to have enough personal space around them.
We soon found a nice place to view fireworks from. Just at the edge of pier looking directly onto the sea. After counting backwards from 10 to 0 fireworks started at midnight sharp.
Fireworks were amazing. They were big, colourful and close, I even got hit by shrapnel which somehow made it underneath my shirt. All in all it was amazing.
After it Veronika and I decided to go home alone, since we had a busy day in front of us. We went by foot, my last hike here in Luleå. We had a plan to go over the frozen lake, snow was falling really hard by now, a great last memory to have!
After waking up following morning we ate something and began to clean apartment. When we were done it was already time to go. We said goodbye to our friends and were off on bus. It was sad, driving by the lakes and paths I’ve grown so used to in the last half a year. By the time we came to the rail station I already started to miss this place…
Being so warm lately I was a bit worried about skating over the lakes, although I think the ice must have been more than 30cm deep. But still it’s not easy to go on a lake when you see water all around (upper layers of ice melt, while below there is thick layer of solid ice still). So we decided to go to a hockey arena which is open for public (free) multiple times per week.
Veronika did surprisingly good job on skates, she didn’t even fall despite me being prepared to capture the moment on my camera. 🙁 Too bad we didn’t have time to try out hockey.
On Monday there was hockey match in the arena next door. We decided to go and see it. We bought the cheapest “sits”. We were actually standing and not sitting, later on it proved to be a good decision. During the game while all the swedes on the sits were just sitting and maybe clapping from time to time, here on stands people were actually yelling and cheering for Luleå team.
This was the first time I (we) saw hockey game in real life (not on TV). It was really good, fast and exciting. Lulea team is one of the best teams in Sweden, and Sweden if I’m not mistaken won World (or something) cup last year, so we really were watching a good game.