Saturday, October 28, 2017

Why not to visit Sweden? All on board! With the Wandering Writer

Here we are at the end of the week, and as usual, here I come to tell another lovely destination on the Baltic Sea. I am talking about Sweden, and particularly about its capital, Stockholm.
In many countries, it happens that the capital city is the main political and economic hub of the country, and other big cities might represent the fashion or the cultural hub. Take for example Germany who has the main political capital in Berlin, but the economic hub is in Frankfurt.
In Sweden, things go a bit differently. Being the most populated city in all the Nordic countries, with its 2,3 million inhabitants in the whole metropolitan area, it represents the center of it all, cultural, political and economic life.
This, however, doesnt mean that the other cities are less important and not worth mentioning. On the contrary, Sweden is rich in very beautiful cities which can make you fall in love at first sight.
The first human settlement dated back to the stone age in 6000 BC and was founded as a city in 1252 by the Swedish statesman Birger Jarl.
Stockholm can be reached easily by plane, or boat and since I live in Finland, my trip started at the Helsinki harbor in a lovely afternoon and reached Stockholm on a cloudy morning. I guess you cannot have it all in life.

Already from there, you can have a foretaste of the beauties waiting for you in the city, but dont get fooled, what you see is only a small percentage, as Stockholm is a very rich city, and if you want really to get it all, take your time and reserve a few days; you will need them.
Moving through the city is easy both by foot or by public transportation so you wont need to rent a car. What you will need is perhaps a camera, because you want to bring back some memories of that city.
The best part is definitely the Gamla Stan, or the Old Town previously known as Staden mellan broarna (The Town between the Bridges).
Be warned, being a very touristic attraction, also the prices in those cozy cafeterias or restaurant might be a little inflated then respect other parts of the city. Nevertheless, sometimes even an inflated price is well worth the experience.
The city is undoubtedly full of museums and places to be visited and seen, besides the gorgeous architecture, the beautiful sceneries on the sea or in the old town. What I personally consider not to be missed is the Vasa Museum.
That is the maritime museum and is located on the island of Djurgården. The main attraction is the 64-gun warship, Vasa. The 17th-century warship is the only almost fully intact ship that has ever been salvaged after it sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.

That is the maritime museum and is located on the island of Djurgården. The main attraction is the 64-gun warship, Vasa. The 17th-century warship is the only almost fully intact ship that has ever been salvaged after it sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.
Saying that is well preserved is not enough. The ship is in amazing shape, and it is a real beauty that will leave you open-mouthed. 
One thing I have to warn you, trust, but never trust taxi drivers. We had a couple of bad experiences, and one of them was just on our coming back from the Vasa Museum. When you start your journey, keep your eyes on the taximeter, because in our case it started to run like crazy, and we asked to stop immediately and preferred to walk under the rain rather than being robbed by a taxi driver. Hadnt we kept an eye on the taximeter, we would have paid a small fortune for a ten minutes ride. Of course, those are exceptions, but prudence is never enough when you travel.
With this, I greet you hoping you enjoyed this trip to Sweden.
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

One more time in Estonia, but where? The Wandering Writer discovers

Last time we traveled to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and we enjoyed the beauties of the medieval town. This time, as I promised, we are going a little bit inside the country to discover another beautiful city; Tartu.
Tartu is the second largest city and can be reached comfortably by plane to the Tartu airport, via Helsinki. Since the airport is just an airport, we are going straight to the most interesting part of the journey, the city of Tartu.
If you thought that Tallinn got the best of the medieval architecture, perhaps you should definitely go and check out what this city has to offer in terms of architecture. Nevertheless, being a university city, it keeps well hidden its age and results in a vibrant environment full of life and events, particularly if you are interested in the nightlife. 
The University of Tartu, is already itself a real jewel of architecture, and I am almost envious as the one I frequented was quite insignificant, architecturally speaking.
I admit that at my age, I am not interested in nightlife anymore. From the crazy university student I used to be, I became a passionate traveler thirsty for history and stories told by the locals. Therefore, I cannot be of any help concerning where it might be the best place for clubbing.
However, I can tell you what it has inspired me by daytime. Well, the first thing is the general outlook of the city, calm yet restless, full of culture and rich in museums very interesting to be visited, which coexist with cafeterias and restaurants.
The second thing that I really suggest you warmly not to miss are the ruins of the Tartu Cathedral also known as Tartu Toomkirik. 

The church is located on one of the hills on the Emajõgi River. According to the history, in that place was the largest strongholds of the pagan Estonians and it was destroyed by the Christian invaders who erected the bishop fortress, and in a second time, the church.
The damages, caused by the Protestant iconoclasts in 1525, together with the action of time (and perhaps the revenge of the ancient deities still living in the surrounding forests), put the church into decay and what is left nowadays are the remains of an impressive church built following the Gothic style.
Perhaps, talking about ruins is not really appropriate, at least thinking about the general outlook, but certainly, is not something that could be used for other reasons than tourism. 
Roaming the city streets randomly you will find another very interesting building, this time in perfect shape. I am talking about the Jaani Church (or if you prefer the St. John Church).
It is just a cute building, and perhaps you might think that youve seen more impressive ones around the world. Sure, there are no doubts about it, but the theories around the building of this church are quite interesting. It was built in the first half of the 14th century. According to some archaeological studies, the church seemed to be built in place of an older wooden church, probably built in the 12th century. If this could be confirmed it would place the building of the first church before the official Christianization of the country.
I do believe that Estonia has many more beauty to be discovered, and one day, I will go through them all. I just hope to have the time to visit all the places in the world I have in my mind... and that is quite a number.
Have a lovely weekend, wherever you are!

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