Flight from Sydney to Stockholm - Andrew Fernando
This is our first trip to Scandinavia. We will spend most of our time in Sweden and Norway, but briefly visit Russia ( St Petersburg ), Finland ( Helsinki and Rovaniemi ), Denmark (Copenhagen ). Strangely, we do not have any friends or relations living in any of these countries. We had to start from scratch and do a fair amount of reading and research to plan and organize our trip. Why did we think of going there in the first place? There were several reasons that made us decide on this trip.
First one was the time of the year. Summer time in Europe starts in June. It is logical to go there in Summer avoiding harsh Winter weather.
Then there is another point . We have been to Alaska. One day, we would go there again. If you are looking for a similar experience in Europe, then Norway and Sweden are the closest to Alaska in many ways.
We crossed the Arctic Circle when we went to Alaska. We would be doing the same thing in Rovaniemi in Finland and then in Norway. We would be crossing the Arctic Circle and driving to North Cape which is the Northern most point in Europe.
It is a pity that we will not be able to witness Aurora Borealis at this time of the year. We missed it in Alaska as well. But in summer we will be able to witness Midnight Sun.
We have seen numerous glaciers in Alaska, but we have been told that Fjords in Norway are the most beautiful in the world. We will not be able to see all the beautiful scenes the nature has to offer. We carefully drew up a travel path to be able to cover the most important tourist destinations .
We visited Santa's village while in Alaska. Well, they say, the real Santa lives in Finland somewhere in Rovaniemi. We are determined to have an audience with him. We would love to see his rein deer chariot and the live rein deer roaming in the parks. We were a bit taken aback when we found that in some restaurants they serve Rein deer meat dishes.
We knew that joining a guided tour is not going to work for us. We want to drive through national parks and stop in small towns when we want to.
Our first part of the trip is a cruise to St Petersberg. Initially we will spend two days in Stockholm, then fly to Helsinki. In Helsinki, we join a cruise to visit St Petersberg. It is a five day cruise with two nights in a hotel in St Petersburg. Then we fly back to Stockholm and rent a car at the Stockholm Arlanda airport for our driving tour.
We are keeping an open mind thinking that we will not have any communication problems when we are in Scandinavia. Our impression is that most people can speak English, at least the people we meet in the hotels. Then there is an issue of currency in these countries. Each country is different.
In Stockholm and other Swedish towns, we need to use SEK ( Swedish Krona ) . In Finland ( Helsinki and Rovaniemi ), we have to use Euros.
In St Petersberg, we will be using Rubles. In Norway, we have to use NOK ( Norvegean Krone ). I am thinking of using my Visa card whenever I can. Still for small transactions, I need money. I will be taking small amounts of different currencies to meet our daily requirements.
Another important factor is the weather. We know it is Summer, but we are travelling to places like North Cape which are cold through out the year. Again, rainy season in Summer can be cold. We need to take a mixture of clothes to suit both Summer and Winter.
I will be editing this introductory entry as we go along and find new things to report on. My impression about the countries may not be correct. Feel free to send your comments and suggestions. Are there places and attractions that we should not miss ?