Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A few days in Stockholm

After Tallinn Liisa and I decided to take the ferry to Stockholm and spend some time there with her friends and family. I enjoy taking the ferry once and awhile. Unlike Liisa I haven't taken it too many times so I'm not sick of it and there's still some novelty to it. One odd thing about Tallink is the pricing schedule, the cheapest price we could get was for a "cruise", which is basically a return ticket in a suite with a double bed that you need to come back with the same day after spending 8 hours in Stockholm. Obviously we didn't use the return part of the ticket but I'm not sure why they make this the cheapest ticket when there were cabin with 4 beds available that I'm sure are less desirable. Anyways, the ferry was relaxing and got us early enough to leave most of the day to do things.

After dropping our bags off at Liisa's apartment we decided to take the train up to Uppsala where Liisa goes to school. I'd never been there so it was nice to see where she spends a lot of her time. We took the local commuter train (think GO Train) there, it cost about $25 round trip which is pretty expensive if you have to do it often but still a decent deal considering the distance you travel. Uppsala itself is a very nice university town with a lot of history. It's one of the oldest universities around, has the largest church in Sweden next door and am active student life. Later that evening we met some of Liisa's cousins for drinks in downtown Stockholm. I'm always shocked at the price of beer in Sweden, at about $10 a beer we didn't stay out too long. In one sense it's an outrage but then prices like that may force me to cut down my personal consumption of beer. :)

The next couple of days were spent mostly with Liisa's family, most of who I hadn't met even after 3 years together. Aside from me not understanding a lot of the conversations due to my poor (read: non-existent) Swedish skills it was really nice to meet everyone and get a feeling of her family.

One nice surprise was that I managed to go to the Summer Days event held by the Estonian Fraternities and Student Unions. It was held at a lakeside camp ground known as Veski-Järve where Stockholm-Estonians have been going for years. The event was not very large and was mostly represented by EÜS members but it was interesting to talk to them none the less.

The night before I left we went to Liisa' friends house for dinner and then briefly to a private party at some yatch club. The party was much more affordable than bars (10 drinks for $25) which is probably why these types of events are much more common than in Toronto. The next days Liisa and I had to say our goodbyes as I got on a (long) flight back to Toronto.

Overall, I'm always impressed when I'm in Stockholm. Aside from the high prices and taxes, Swedes appear to live a good life. Liisa says that there's quite a class system in Stockholm that is unpleasant but other than that it's a great place. What amazes is the infrastructure that the city has. The amount of tunnels, bridges, overpasses, good roads and great public transit puts Canada to shame. Toronto can't even fund it's daily life let alone do any major infrastructure investments so seeing a city that does it well is a nice change.

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