And so it began, our long long way down to Sydney. First stop was Airline Beach, around 800 km south of Cairns. It took as about 10 hours with a bus, with 2 short breaks in between. The bus was nothing special, no WiFi or chargers in it, at least it was interesting to look through the window and watch the Australian landscape, which is quite different from what we have here in Europe.
In the evening we arrived to Airline beach, where our next adventure awaited. As soon as we disembarked the bus we were greeted by two local Cockatoos who were screaming over our heads, but we had no time for them since we were in a hurry to check-in for our sailing trip in the following days.
The next day we boarded a small/medium? catamaran that will take us sailing around the islands for the following three days. We were joined by about 15 other young people, from Germany, Italy and UK. And were led by Kiwi (New Zeland) skipper and Aussie guide.
The boat was surprisingly spacious inside, I think there were 25 or even 30 sleeping spaces on board. Veronika and I were positioned on the left side of the boat, but we didn’t spent a lot of time inside, since it was so beautiful to be on deck and watch the sights around us.
We did variety of things on the boat, we prepared the sails, watched for turtles and other animals in the water, plaid games, talked and so on. A big surprise to all of us was the food. It was plentiful and good. It turned out that the skipper was a very good chef in youth, owning a couple of restaurants but decided later that he wants to do something else in his life.
We sailed around the islands, stopping at different locations in order to go snorkelling. One of such locations was Whitsundays beach. It is a large beach that goes way inland and is covered by a snow white, very fine sand. All in all it makes the water look nice shade of light blue and to top it off, whole bay is full of stingrays and other large fishes. I even saw a shark, 5 m from me in the water (I was standing in the water at that time). Luckily it wasn’t vicious, only about 3m in length and by the looks of it afraid of me, since it swam away from me as soon as I started to walk toward it.
We spent whole morning on the second day here. Swimming, and looking for stingrays. They were plentiful and can almost disappear in the sand – I almost stepped on them 3 times and you don’t want to do that, they can sting you with their enormous stinger on the tail.
It really was an incredibly beautiful beach and the time just flew by.
The evenings and mornings were especially amazing. It was cold, but the colors of the sky were amazing. I don’t remember ever seeing such a purple color of the sky before.
As I said in previous post in general it is very dangerous to swim anywhere in Australia, you have tons of animals that can kill you, sharks, crocodiles but the most dangerous are jelly fish, that is why we always had a wet-suit on when we went swimming, even if the water was above 24 C.
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…