I have been back in Vienna for three weeks now and have to say that I still haven´t really settled here. My head is in the clouds and my heart in Sweden. It is a strange thing to undergo- one moment I am in Stockholm and the other I am back home, realizing that nothing has changed. It is as though I have never been gone…
When I am in my room, I am constantly thinking about changing something. I imagine my room at Lappis and wonder, who is going to move in there next. I am thinking about my favourite spots in Stockholm- the rock in Södermalm with an amazing view over Stockholm and Lappis Beach, where I have spent many evenings.
Nevertheless, what I miss the most are probably all the people that I have met. My friend Wouter, who is back in Amsterdam now, wrote to me: “We will never have that life back. But it´ll stay an amazing memory for the rest of our lives.”
I feel like a different person now. I would immediately go on Erasmus again and my desire to travel is bigger than ever.
I am really thankful that I was enabled to do this semester abroad. I want to address a huge thanks to my father and mother, without whom this experience wouldn’t have been possible. My parents always stand behind me and do everything they can to help make my dreams come true! I love them so much and can´t thank them enough for this!
It is actually a funny story how I chose Stockholm as my Eramus- destination- or should I say how Stockholm chose me…: From the beginning of this whole process I was mind set that I would go in Erasmus in Kingston- a little bit South of London. I love London and British people- plus my sister lives there! It has always been a bit unclear if I could actually go there, since the curriculum for our teacher- studies in Austria have been changed and nobody knew if I would get credits if I went to the university in Kingston.
Anyway, last September I went to the International Office of my university and my Erasmus- coordinator, Mr. Pirolt, told me that Kingston is no longer a possibility for me. Another student of our partner university in Lower Austria had gotten the spot. Mr. Pirolt also mentioned that I could do an Erasmus semester after I had done my Bachelor, as a seventh semester. I remember this moment as if it was yesterday. I wanted to cry. Instead I thought “no”. I want to go abroad now and I will find another destination. My only condition would be that it had to be a city. So I just started asking about random cities that I have been to and knew that I liked them. “Is Copenhagen available?”, “No.”, “Is Stockholm available?”….“You are lucky because since this semester we are partners with Stockholm University!”
At this point this wasn´t necessarily an advantage, as it was a long and hard process to find out the terms and conditions with this university and conformable courses in English so that I would get enough credits. A few months later, after having planned almost everything for my trip to Stockholm, my coordinator came up to me and told me that the girl that was going to Kingston changed her mind. Now, nobody was going to Kingston but it was too late to change my destination. For a moment I was a bit angry at this girl, but then I thought “This must be fait.” And I was right! I am so glad that I went to Sweden, this exotic Northern country, where I saw things that I would never have seen; places like Lapland and Norway which I would never have travelled to if I would have gone to England. So I would also like to thank this random girl from Lower Austria for having applied for Kingston, so that I wasn´t able to go… And of course, I would also like to thank my coordinator Mr. Pirolt for having helped me plan everything and having been so supportive all the time.
After the first half of my Erasmus semester, during the Easter holidays, where I was in Switzerland, I downloaded an app called “1 Second Every Day”. A friend from Lappis told me about this app and I loved the idea of it. It works like this: You film one situation every day with your phone and upload it to this app. Then you can choose one second out of this footage that you want to keep. Every day you will have different shots of different places and people. After some time, it is so much fun to watch the whole film at once, as I remembered where I have been and what happened that day. At the beginning I sometimes forgot to film, but after some time I was excited every day to choose a film- worthy situation. It also got me thinking: what am I going to make special about this day, which is worth capturing for this app…? In total I have filmed on 68 days- the video being 1.08 minutes long. I have decided to share this video with you. You might want to watch it twice, since one second is actually too short in order to get a good impression of something. In the bottom I have made a key, so you can see what each second is about. Hope you like it!
My last thanks go to the members of Stockholm´s Academic Forum, where all my blogs have been posted. Dan, who I have sent my blogs to and even met at his office to get to know his colleagues and working space, has done a wonderful job! It has been great fun to write these blogs- not only as a source for my family and friends to keep track of what I am doing, but also for myself as a memory or diary, which I will always have.
And at last, thank you to myself- I am proud that I went on Erasmus!
All the best,
Glacier 3000 in Switzerland
Plane back to Stockholm
My friend Nina came for a visit
On the way back from one of my favourite vegetarian Restaurants: “Herman´s”
A corridor dinner in our newly renovated kitchen
Wouter and I on our way to Oslo
On the train to Bergen
Main square in Bergen
Odda- the deserted location of our Airbnb
On my way down from the mountain
On our way back to Oslo
On the train via Stockholm
My favourite park: Humlegarden
90s- Party in a corridor kitchen
On the bus after dancing class
After our Science- course with my two Icelandic friends Dianna and Eyglo
Night out with Kim and Wouter and Mario´s red umbrella
Kulturnatt in Stockholm- we got into a snowstorm after a ballet show
Recovery day at Lappis… It was hailing outside
Lappis- scream with Kim and my friend Surya who came for a visit from Vienna
Packing for our outing to Uppsala for Valborg (huge spring- celebration in Sweden)
Club in Uppsala at Valborg
Swedes waving their caps- welcoming spring on the main square in Uppsala
Going for walk at Lappis Beach with Kim
On the “tunnelbana” on my way back from the preschool where I did my internship for two weeks
At the preschool
Dianne´s Birthday at Lappis
Fika with Kim and my Swedish friend Linn
Rooftop Party at Slakthuset
Coming home from my British neighbour Dan´s Birthday dinner
At the live viewing of the ESC first semi final
Douwe Bob and The Common Linnets giving a concert at the Pet Sounds Bar
Dance lesson at the preschool
Singing with the kiddies
Public viewing of the ESC finals in Kungsträdgarden
On the bus with Kim and Elias
In the Opera House with Kim and Linn after having seen an amazing ballet staging of “Alice in Wonderland”
ESN- quiz to the Eurovision Song Contest
Last Bojan- Clubbing (Club on Cumpus)
Corridor Party at Kungshamra (other housing campus)
Visiting Fjäderholmerna in the Archipelago with Dan
Discovering the most beautiful spot on the rock in Södermalm
On the plane to Amsterdam
Main square in Amsterdam
“Lecker Friday”- celebration at the housing campus of my friends in Haarlem
Airport at 4 am
BBQ with my corridor mates at Lappis
Watching the traditional guard exchange at the palace in Stockholm with my mom and her friends
On a boat in the Archipelago
Good- bye BBQ for my Icelandic friends… and Kim being silly
Dinner with my girls: Kim, Juul and Karo
Another dinner with my girls: Linn, Kim and Emilia from Vienna
Rooftop party at Slakthuset
Good- Bye BBQ at Lappis Beach for my Italian friends
Fancy dinner in Gamla Stan
Dim Vanilla concert at the Pet Sounds Bar
Day at Skansen- an open air museum in Stockholm
Typical Swedish graduation celebration
Out for drinks with Kim and my friends from Haarlem
Dancing on the terrace at Kaken
Last evening with my friends from Haarlem at Lappis Beach
Back at the preschool for their final presentation
Lappis Beach again
My last evening in Stockholm with Elias, Kim, Linn and Victor
It has been a while… But I must say I have had the best time ever these past months! I can´t even describe how wonderful Stockholm becomes in spring! Everybody is outside, celebrating on roof- tops, flowers are blossoming everywhere and it feels like the happiest place whenever the sun is out. Sadly my semester here is coming to an end… I am enjoying these last few days before I go back home on Friday! I have had a lot of visitors lately- some of my best friends plus my mom and her friends have paid me visits these past months!It has been so lovely to see them again and share my experiences in Stockholm with them!
I have been asked a several times what my favourite thing on this Erasmus semester has been… That got me thinking for a while. So many amazing things have happened over this passed half- year and I simply cannot choose one specific event… So I have decided to choose my top 10 favourite events starting from the beginning of April!
1. The start of my “Science Course at University”
I have really enjoyed my second course at Stockholm´s University! It´s focus was mainly on hands- on activities, e.g. what one can do as a teacher to bring children in contact with science and technology. We did so many creative things and I am also lucky to have met so many great new people through this course! On the photos you can see how we created an ecological cycle with natural material (top) and how we were instructed to draw something from nature in detail to realize nature´s complexity and esthetical beauty!
2. The visit of my friend Surya and our Valborg- celebration in Uppsala
My good friend Surya visited me at the end of April and stayed with me at “Lappis” for a week! I was so happy to see her again after a long time! Some of you might now about the Swedish celebration “Valborg”. With this celebration we welcomed spring in Sweden. Thereby we went to Uppsala- one of Sweden´s most popular student cities and experienced some wild parties!
3. Dianne´s Birthday Party at Lappis
This was probably the hottest day I´ve experienced in Stockholm that I can recall. My Dutch friend Dianne celebrated her birthday at Lappis and had the idea to barbeque with some friends. It was so much fun as we basically danced, ate and laughed the whole day long! In the evening we went to our “Lappis- Beach” on campus, watched the sunset and made a bonfire there. I will never forget this day…
4. Carrying out my 2 weeks of Teacher Training Practice at a preschool!
The course about science and technology, which I have already mentioned above, also entailed a programme called “Teacher- Training- Practice” where us students were able to work in a preschool for 2 weeks. I have never worked with such young children- which at the beginning made me a bit nervous. But I must say that those two weeks made my stay in Sweden complete, as I have learned so much and got to work with the sweetest children on Earth!
I created a science- project about “sound” with the children and I think they had as much fun with it as I did. On one of the pictures you can see the result of one of our experiments: we put a moist sheet of paper on a loud- speaker and dripped paint on it. The vibration of the music, which I played, created a painting. This experiment should have helped to the children to “see” sound. The children had a lot of fun and so did I! I have to thank my supervisor Babita Buck so much for guiding me through these two weeks!
5. The Eurovision Hype!
As the Eurovision- Song Contest took place in Stockholm this year, I got really interested in it! I got tickets to the first Semi- Final in the “Globen- Arena” and watched the finals with my friends at the public viewing- screen in the city centre! It was a lot of fun to experience the ESC here, since the Swedes really knew how to promote this celebration!
6. Discovering my favourite spot in Stockholm!
This is probably my all- time favourite spot in Stockholm! It is situated in Södermalm where one gets a beautiful overview of the city! I discovered it as I went to a bar on the other shore and saw people standing on this huge rock. I have been there several times now with my friends and can only recommend it to anyone who is going to Stockholm!
7. The visit of my Mom and her friends
I was so happy to see my mommy (third from the left in the picture) after these few months! She arrived with two of her best friends and I had so much fun showing them around Stockholm. On the first day we went to Skansen- the famous open- air museum in Stockholm where one can see houses and streets just as they used to be in the middle- ages! We were so lucky with the weather and I am so glad that my mom fell in love with this city as easily as I did!
8. My spontaneous trip to Amsterdam and Haarlem
After the ESC, I decided to pay my – as my Dad calls them “Study- Buddies” in Haarlem (close to Amsterdam) – a visit! We study at the same university in Vienna, but have decided upon different destinations for our Erasmus trip. It was perfect timing to go to The Netherlands, as my Dad was also there- doing some fabulous illustration work for the “Anne Frank House”! It was so lovely to see all of them again and do fun things in Amsterdam as well as in Haarlem!
9. Enjoying Lappis- Beach at 11pm…
Since I have prolonged my stay for a week, I had to say good- bye to so many good friends lately! Lappis Beach is the perfect location for “farewell- barbeques”! If one goes there at this time of the year, it does not get completely dark anymore… It feels so special to be able to witness this natural phenomenon!
10. The visit of my friend Emilia
My sweet friend Emilia came to Stockholm last week! It was great fun and we had beautiful weather! I think she enjoyed her time a lot! I´m happy to see her soon again!
11. The visit of my friends Kathrin, Veronikaa and Anja
These were my last visitors. My “Study- Buddies” Kathrin, Anja and Veronika! It was a pleasure for me to guide them around Stockholm- especially since they hosted me in Haarlem a few weeks ago! I showed them all my favourite places in Stockholm and introduced them to my fellow corridor mates. Although it was a bit tight in my room at Lappis, it has been great fun to have them here! Today I bid them good- bye, knowing I will see them again only in a few weeks!
A lot of people have asked me in these passed weeks, how I feel about going home again. I have to say that as sad I am to be leaving this wonderful place I am also looking forward to being at home again… I love Vienna and it will be great to see all my friends and family after this exchange semester!
Hear from me next week… One last blog is on its way!
After a long brake of writing, I am happy that I have found some time today for a new blog. What has happened since my last entry? First of all I went home over the Easter holidays for 10 days, to spend time with my family and friends after having spent already two months abroad (although it didn`t feel that long). It was really good to see my beloved ones again and also to be spoiled at home, not having to worry about what to cook or hoping to get a free washing machine in the laundry- room at Lappis.
My lovely family, a goat and I in Gstaad/Switzerland where we have our second residency!
Then when I came back to Stockholm I had some friends from Vienna coming over for a visit, which was also a big treat to have them here!
Me and the girls!
The highlight of my past week has been something very special. The day after my friends left, I started my 7-day-adventure trough Norway with my friend Wouter!
Day 1, 5th of April
Wouter, who is from Amsterdam and also is in the training to become a teacher, had planned a while ago that we wanted to make a trip to Norway together. After having thought hard about where exactly we wanted to go, we decided on: Oslo, Bergen and Odda- which is a small village in the mountains where we planned to do a big hike. The only things we had booked though were our train ride to Oslo and our accommodations in each town, which were private rooms in Airbnb apartments. We didn´t know yet how or when exactly we would go back to Stockholm. So, to start our journey, Wouter and I met at 5 in the morning at Stockholm´s Central Station since for some reason there was only one train going to Oslo that day. The train ride took 5 hours and luckily we both could sleep a bit so that we weren´t too tired to explore the city for the rest of the day.
Already the moment we got off the train I had a really good feeling about the city. Like Stockholm, Oslo is situated by the sea and has a really nice harbour. Wouter and I decided to walk to our Airbnb- place first in order to drop off our bags. It was then that I realized I might have brought too much stuff since by the end of our (long) walk my wrists felt soar from pulling my suitcase around. I was really lucky though because Wouter has a brilliant sense for orientation and on the whole journey we didn´t get lost once. (Thanks to him because my sense for orientation is very very bad…) Our Airbnb apartment was situated in Grünerlökka- a very green part of the town. There are many parks there, a river and several cafés as well as restaurants. Our host wasn´t at home but he left us two tickets that would let use the city bikes in Oslo. We immediately decided we wanted to do that!
In the end we spent the whole day cruising around on those bikes, which were also brand new! It was so much fun! We went to the modern opera house, down to the harbour, to the big fortress and in the end to the long shopping street.
At the end of the day we were pretty exhausted and went back to the apartment to get ready for the evening. Then we also got a chance to meet our host- André. I was really craving “fish and chips” that evening- since I had the best fish and chips on my Lapland- trip when we went to Narvik that one day! Wouter and I found the perfect place for this and afterwards we went on a bar- hunt by the riverside. We took some nice pictures and finally found a cool bar that was specified on beer. It was a very cosy evening and I got a really good first impression of Oslo!
Day 2, 5th of April
We only spent one night in Oslo, since our journey went on to Bergen. Bergen is on the West- coast of Norway and a 7- hour train ride! We were actually quite excited for the train ride because everybody we met who has been to Bergen told us that we were about to see the most amazing landscape! This was absolutely true- although the last stretch of the ride was the most impressive!
When we arrived in Bergen it was already 7pm. We both got off the train and knew that this was a really special place… As we walked to our next Airbnb- place (which was not as far as the last apartment since Bergen is a very small town) we couldn´t stop gasping because of the beauty of this town. Bergen is the second biggest city in Norway and is surrounded by mountains and the sea. Although the weather was really bad when we were there, we couldn´t imagine what this place would be like in summer, when already it is so amazing in the rain.
Our Airbnb- place was great! We were greeted by our host David who gave us a small map and guide- booklet for Bergen and circled some destinations which are worth visiting. Wouter and I went out for dinner- a restaurant recommended by David called Zupperia. We had an amazing dinner at the harbour and afterwards we went for a stroll to the famous “Bryggen- houses” of Bergen. At the same time we were looking for a nice bar to go to. This took quite long and by the time we found one that suited us, we were soaked through because it was raining really hard. Of course I was wearing my black leather boots that evening and clumsy as I am walked strait through 2 puddles that night. When we got back to the Airbnb- place I was really happy about a warm shower!
Day 3, 6th of April
I was very happy that we had a whole day in this adorable town. In the morning we went out for breakfast and agreed upon taking a funicular to the top of one of the mountains, where one gets an overview of the whole town. Unfortunately we had such bad weather that day and didn´t see a lot up there, as it was rainy and foggy. But this weather gave the town a very special atmosphere- it was almost like in a fairy- tale. Wouter and I found that we now understand why Norwegians believe in trolls…
The rainy weather is nothing uncommon in Bergen. Last year apparently it rained 230 days … As much as I loved the town- because of this fact I could never live there. As we walked through town we realized that the people of Bergen didn´t care much about the rainy weather. Most of them didn´t even wear hats. Wouter and I walked through the whole town, which isn´t that big, but when it´s raining and it´s hilly it takes a while to see everything. That day we walked 22 000 steps! (Don´t worry I didn´t count them- my phone did that for me.)
(S)trolling around in Bergen…
Tomorrow our journey would go on to Odda, which is a 3- hour bus ride from Bergen. Wouter found a beautiful spot on the internet called “Trolltunga” (the translation would be troll- tongue) which is a rock being pushed out by a mountain and therefore giving the impression of a tongue. He really wanted to do this hike- which is 28 km long and takes 10 hours. At first I told him I didn´t want to do it but then I thought it is a great life- time experience and we booked our bus ride and Airbnb there… Little did we know about what was going to expect us there…
Day 4, 7th of April
Wouter and I got up early to have some breakfast at the apartment and then headed to the bus terminal of Bergen. This day was the first sunny day, which made us really happy! At the bus terminal we found out where our bus left from and as we still had some time left, we put our luggage in a locker there. Then we went out for a last coffee at a café in a park, next to all the museums of Bergen. Sadly we didn´t visit any of them because by the time we arrived there the day before, everything was closed already.
After the coffee we kind of had to hurry back to the station… we had lost track of time. We had five minutes left and I told Wouter that we should run! Unfortunately at this point Wouter´s phone fell out of his jacket and landed with a loud cracking sound on the ground. Totally out of breath on the bus he realized it was completely broken… This was the beginning of a small series of bad luck…
The bus ride was absolutely beautiful! We went through the mountains where there was still a lot of snow and we took a ferry through a fjord. Those three hours went by very quickly.
On the ferry.
When Wouter and I arrived in Odda we had two things to take care of. First: our Airbnb wasn´t exactly in Odda, but a 15- minute cab ride away. Our hostess told us we could pair up with another Airbnb- guest in Odda and take a cab with her. Since Wouter´s phone was no use anymore and he was the one communicating with our host, we hoped that we would find that girl without any troubles.
Then we had to go grocery shopping for the next 2 days. We had to buy enough food for this night and the whole day tomorrow- where we would be hiking. After that we went to a wifi- spot and checked if there were any new messages from our hostess telling us where to meet Gillian (the girl we wanted to take a taxi with). I read through the information given on the Airbnb website and couldn´t believe what I read: there was NO kitchen at the apartment!! We had just bought pasta, eggs, cheese and milk and there was no refrigerator, no stove no nothing to make use out of our groceries…I kind of panicked at that point and went to the supermarket again just to buy some extra things that did not require to be cooked. Wouter went to find Gillian, which luckily worked out fine. We took a cab and arrived in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains, a lake and maybe 3 more houses.
This place “Skjeggedal” looked haunted. We went to find our rooms- our hostess was not there and she didn´t even leave a key, so there was no way to lock the place after going out… The place was alright- although I had no reception on my phone, no wifi and no kitchen. At least there was a water boiler… I was a bit frustrated and also a bit scared for the 10- hour hike the next day. The rest of the evening we spent taking a walk together with Gillian and then thinking about what to do for dinner.
On our walk through Skjeggedal…
Wouter had a marvellous plan (although I didn´t think it would work at the beginning). He boiled some water and constantly poured it over the pasta until it got soft. It took maybe 45 minutes until it was ready but I was so happy to have a warm meal for dinner and it was also quite tasty! Then before going to bed with sheets that felt like paper- because they were meant to be only used once and then thrown away (another thing which made me feel uncomfortable there), we played a fun pantomime game with Gillians Ipad called “Heads- Up”. This lightened the mood and Wouter and I were happy to have found a new friend. Gillian would also do the hike with us and we decided to go to bed early in order to be fit for tomorrow.
I just couldn´t fall asleep. I was thinking about the 28 km hike and the fact that I actually don´t like hiking at all. I was worrying about having to carry a heavy backpack the whole day and through conditions like snow, rain and a cold weather. I was not quite sure if I would make it tomorrow. Then I thought about a conversation Wouter and I had in Bergen about doing exciting things in life and testing one´s boundaries… I did actually want to go out of my comfort zone and prove to Wouter and myself that I could to it.
Day 5, 8th of April
The next morning we got up at 7 and prepared our snacks for the hike. At 8.30 am we would meet at the Trolltunga Tourist Office with our guide. I didn´t know that we also had to carry a pair of snowshoes because it was snow all the way to Trolltunga. I was so scared that I hardly spoke anything. Our guide, Daniel, was very sweet and told us that 70 000 people do the hike every year… but most of them in summer. Wouter, Gillian and me were the only people doing the hike that day. On the way up we had to stop every 15 minutes for a water brake and to take off some clothes because we were getting pretty warm.
After about an hour we reached the top of the first stretch. We had to put on our snow- shoes and walked past some huts that were residences in summer. I was talking to our guide and asked what would happen if one couldn´t go any farther. On the map I could see that there were some rescue huts on the way. Daniel said the only way to get down again was to actually turn around and walk back… Even if one got injured.
The upper red line shows the hike. Source: https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=trolltunga+hike+map
That made me worry. I could see that I was already struggling and although the guide said that I could make it to Trolltunga, I felt very insecure. We made it to our lunch brake, which was on a rock just before the second steep uphill hike. I thought very carefully about what I wanted to do. I had a very bad feeling about going on with the group and felt that I shouldn´t do something that felt dangerous to me. I didn´t have to prove myself to anyone and should have fun on this trip. So I made my decision: I wanted to go back down. Gillian had to lend me her phone, since mine still didn´t have any signal. I was a bit worried about going down on my own, since it was foggy and I did not really pay attention to my surroundings on my way up the mountain. Daniel gave me his number and said I should call when I was unsure where to go. He explained the way back- which was only tricky at the beginning because our first stretch was along a serpentine road. When I would find that, I would have no problems anymore.
So I started my hike down. I was supposed to go left and when I got to the snow- mobile tracks I should follow them to the right until the serpentine road. I went to the right too early though. I was walking in the wrong direction for a vey long time since even a sign pointed into the direction “Skjeggedal”. I called Daniel and described my surroundings. I had just crossed a small river. He said this was the right way and as long as I wasn´t going uphill I would be okay. I walked pretty far uphill thinking it was correct. Everything looked the same. I called Daniel a second time since the road just kept going on uphill and this gave me a weird feeling. Daniel then remembered that this path was for the summer. I went back and tried to follow his instructions. The sun should be on my right side and I should turn to the right at some point. Of course I also missed that point. I was so frustrated. I saw myself passing out in the snow and nobody being able to find me up there. Then I heard a bark! A dog was nearby which meant a person was nearby. I saw an open garage with a snow mobile inside. I shouted: “Hello? Is there anybody there??” (This sounds like from a movie but it is true…) The dog started barking even more and a man came towards me! I told him that I was lost and needed to go to the village! He explained the directions to me but I knew I wouldn´t be able to find it. I think he felt that too and offered to bring me to the road on his snow mobile! I was rescued… A huge weight fell from my shoulders. As a thank- you I gave him my maxi- size chocolate bar, which I had bought for the hike. He was happy about that and I felt like the luckiest girl on Earth finally on my way down to civilisation.After another hour I was down. I took a shower and called a cab to take me to Odda for the rest of the day. I did not want to spend my day in “Haunted- Ville”. I called my father and sat in a café with wifi- access and felt a lot better. I decided to go back to the Airbnb as late as possible, since the group would only be back at around 8pm. I even managed that so well that we all arrived at Skjeggedal at the same time! I was happy to see my friends again. They said it was amazing but it was good that I turned around when I did because the hike got more and more difficult. I was glad to hear that and felt really good about my decision. I was happy that they got to see Trolltunga (even when it was foggy). We had a fun evening at the apartment having snacks, drinking tea and playing the fun game again. I felt that this was the longest day of my life and I was never so happy to go back to a city again than at this point.
Back on the serpentine road!!!
Day 6, 9th of April
Our cab came the next morning at 9.30 am. We all went to the café that I was at the day before and Gillian booked her onward trip to another fjord. Wouter and I would take an express- bus to Oslo at 11 am. It would be a 7 hour ride again and was absolutely beautiful! I even thought it was more beautiful than the train ride to Bergen! Here are some images:
We had to book another Airbnb place because there was only one train a day going back to Stockholm. This time we took public transport to our apartment, which was again in Grünerlökka. It was a cute place with a very friendly host called Maria. She offered us to go out with her and her friends but we were both really exhausted and just went out for dinner and a drink at the harbour. We had a fun evening and Oslo felt so much livelier than the last time. The next day our train to Stockholm would depart at 11am. We were both looking forward to home…
Down at the harbour in Oslo! (By the way it´s 9pm and still light!!)
Day 7, 10th of April
Another sunny day! Wouter and I left the Airbnb- place at 9am and went to have our last breakfast in Norway. Another thing we were looking forward to was the fact that everything would be a LOT less expensive in Stockholm! Norway is I think the most expensive city to live in in the World. A thing I really enjoyed experiencing and recommend to all young travellers that don´t want to spend a lot of money for accommodations is the concept of Airbnb. You get to meet some locals by doing that, have a nice furnished apartment and it really does not cost a lot!
We had a relaxed morning and a good train ride back home, arriving in sunny Stockholm at 4 in the afternoon! I think now we both had enough snow, rain and cold days. Although I had a great time and I consider Norway as one of the most beautiful countries I´ve ever been to, I think my next trip will be to somewhere in the South!!!
I have been to Lapland this week! It feels so strange to be back home in Stockholm now, as this place has absolutely enchanted me and I definitely want to go back there some day.
The trip was organized for Erasmus- students in Sweden and I have to say that it was one of the best and most exciting trips I have ever made!
We had beautiful weather, snowy landscapes and fantastic people on board. “On board” because we went to Lapland by bus – the “Lapland Express”, as I call it… which is an 18- hour ride. I underestimated the size of Sweden: the distance between Stockholm and Kiruna (the town we went to first), is about the same distance as from the South of France to the top of the Netherlands. So, pretty, pretty far.
For those of you, who don´t know so much about Lapland: It stretches over the North of Sweden, Norway and Finland and is situated above the Arctic Circle. Lapland has indigenous tribes, who pursue reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. Lapland is also the “home” of the Aurora Borealis- the Northern Lights, a physical phenomenon. But more about this as you go on reading….
For this blog I have created a “travel- diary” or “Lapland- ABC”, to show you what the program for this trip was and what wonderful experiences I have made. If you want to do something fun while reading this blog, you could listen to the music that I have listened to during this trip. Alt- J, one of my favourite bands, is great to listen to while travelling and makes me think about Lapland now when I hear their music…
Departure from Stockholm! All the students (52 in all) met near Stockholm´s Central Station in order get onto the bus with all our luggage, filled with warm clothes for this trip. Everyone´s aim was: to get a seat by the window! Since the ride is 18 hours long everyone wanted to make sure to get a good place to sit and sleep.
At first I was a bit unsure about this way to travel, but I happily realized that this journey wasn’t as bad as I expected. The bus made two stops for us to walk around, get some food and fresh air. The bus ride also gave me the chance to get to know new people.
We also got to meet our wonderful tour- guide Amber, who is at home everywhere around the World, but originally comes from New Zealand. She is like “Wonder- Woman”, as she has been living out of her backpack since eight years now, gives tours all over the World and teaches scuba- diving. This trip to Lapland with us was her 50th time and now she will head back to China to give tours at the Great Chinese Wall. Luckily I was able to fall asleep on the bus and woke up in the morning in a beautiful winter- wonderland!
I took this picture at our first stop during the bus- ride. The beautiful sunset predicted the weather for the following sunny days…
First impressions of Lapland: Snow, snow, as far as the eye can see!!!
Day 2: “K” stands for “Kiruna”
This is a screenshot from my phone in Kiruna. I was so far up North!!
The dog- sledding tour-guide took this photo for me with my Polaroid -camera…
In total there were three of these sleighs with doggies, pulling us through Lapland´s amazing landscape!
Our first destination of this trip was Kiruna, the largest town in Swedish Lapland. We arrived at our hostel there at 8 am and got greeted with a huge breakfast! After we had had finished our delicious meal, we could move into our rooms and half of us prepared for the very first activity: dog- sledding!!I think I have never dressed warmer in my life for this activity, only to get to the “husky- farm” and discover that we have to wear even thicker suits to protect us from the cold! The weather couldn´t have been better for this day! I even got to sit in front on the sledge and had a marvellous view!
The dogs were so excited to run and I was thrilled to do something so special. After a quick stop for some hot tea and coffee in a tipi, the adventure continued with snow- mobiles! We paired up in tows and got to drive a snow- mobile back to the farm. It was a lot of fun, although I am generally not a fan of all “jet- ski”-type mobiles. I will never forget this day! It was one of the most special experiences I have ever made!
Our first destination of this trip was Kiruna, the largest town in Swedish Lapland. We arrived at our hostel there at 8 am and got greeted with a huge breakfast! After we had had finished our delicious meal, we could move into our rooms and half of us prepared for the very first activity: dog- sledding!!I think I have never dressed warmer in my life for this activity, only to get to the “husky- farm” and discover that we have to wear even thicker suits to protect us from the cold! The weather couldn´t have been better for this day! I even got to sit in front on the sledge and had a marvellous view! The dogs were so excited to run and I was thrilled to do something so special. After a quick stop for some hot tea and coffee in a tipi, the adventure continued with snow- mobiles! We paired up in tows and got to drive a snow- mobile back to the farm. It was a lot of fun, although I am generally not a fan of all “jet- ski”-type mobiles.
Back at the hostel the same group of students prepared to be guided around Kiruna by Amber. Kiruna is very small, but also very famous because of it´s iron mine. Everybody who lives in Kiruna either works at the mine or lives there because their family members work at the mine. The mine itself has 400 km slopeways of tunnels and due to it´s constant expansion, the town centre has to literally be moved. All the houses have to be torn down and rebuilt in the new city centre. Even the 100- year old church has to be sawn into two halves and be reunited some place else!
The Kiruna Mine!
The church is very special, since it is a meeting point for all religions. The style of the church is more like a Viking- design, masses are held for all kinds of religions there!
The Kiruna Church!
After the tour, we had time to go food- shopping for the next three days, as from tomorrow on we wouldn´t cross any restaurant or supermarket anymore.
In the evening most of us went to the pizzeria of Kiruna and back to the hostel to play some games of “Werewolf”. It was a great first evening with great people!
Day 3: “I” stands for Ice
I slept really well after the night on the bus and had another excellent breakfast at the hostel, before getting ready to leave for our new destination: the Ice- Hotel! This hotel is literally completely made out of ice and designed by artists from countries all over the World. Every year the Ice Hotel looks different because it melts down when summer comes and has to then be rebuilt in winter. Everything is made out of ice. The Ice Hotel even features an Ice Bar as well as a church with different themes every year. This year the theme is “space” and one can see this when looking at the decorations and designs of the church. Apparently about 100 weddings are hosted there in a year as well as numerous baptisms! I thought the idea of the Ice Hotel was pretty cool, and I liked that one could see that the water quality is so good because the ice was totally see- through! I don´t think I would want to stay there though… I prefer heated hotels…
The Ice hotel
Ice hotel church
After the Ice Hotel, the next destination was the “Sami Family” with a reindeer farm. The Sami- people are the indigenous people of Scandinavia. In former times they suffered from the segregation between them and the Swedes and also from the fact that the Swedes wanted to make them change religion from Shamanism to Catholicism.
The Sami Family are reindeer herders and have a whole paddock with reindeer- mostly calves! As we arrived, we were again split into two groups. One group started by warming up in the tipi with reindeer- meat and –soup. Meanwhile the other group was able to feed and pet the reindeer! They were so sweet and elegant! I took many pictures of and with them! The experience in the tipi was interesting as our host introduced us a little bit to his way of living and his culture. It was a wonderful afternoon!
The Sami´s reindeer herd!
Warming up in the tipi!
At the end of the day, the “Lapland Express” took us to our new hostel in a tini- tiny town called Abisko (Western from Kiruna). The hostel is very big and newly renovated with nice rooms and an enormous kitchen for us!
We were all excited because tonight we would barbecue in a tipi close to the hostel and hopefully see the Northern Lights!
The tipi- experience was a bit different though than what I thought it would be like. First of all, it was sooo cold in there. Secondly, the fire was very small and yet produced so much smoke that after an hour my eyes were red and itching. Third, the food took ages until it was grilled and everyone was starved by the time they finally got something to eat. (Not me though, because I had already eaten before that.)
Buuuut we all got rewarded by Amber´s message that the Aurora Lights were visablex! All of us rushed out of the tent and stood under this long stripe that made a wavy movement and kept coming out of the same direction. It was amazing! The “glogg” (hot wine) that Amber made kept us warm while we watched the Northern Lights change.
It was a great day and some of us got fantastic pictures with their cameras, showing the actual glowing colours if the Aurora Lights.
The beautiful Northern Lights! Pictures were taken by Fan King Yiu Chris!
Day 4: “N” stands for Norway
Today we would go to Narvik, a small town in Norway. The bus ride there would approximately take 1 h 15 min. At first Amber wasn´t sure if we could go, since the road to get there, is often endangered by avalanches. Luckily the weather conditions were ideal for that day, the sun was shining and we all got onto our “Lapland Express”.
The landscape was amazingly beautiful. We even saw a reindeer mother with her baby in the woods.
After having passed the Norwegian boarder, we stopped at a fjord! The sea by the fjords never freezes because of the golf stream! With the mountains, the stony beach and seabreeze in my hair I felt like a fjord- mermaid….
After half an hour we went on with our journey. We arrived in Narvik at around 12 pm. There we could choose from doing three different things: Having a “fika” at the Scandic Hotel with a view over the town, having fish and chips at the “Fiskehallen” (fish market) or exploring the town a bit. My friends and I decided to start with the fika and ended up having the most delicious fish and chips everrrrr!
The view from the Scandic Hotel over Narvik
At 2 pm we went back to Abisko because we had another program on our schedule for today: sauna evening and jumping into an ice-hole! On the bus we were divided into 3 groups who could enter the sauna after another. Back at the hostel we had some free time before going to the sauna. The kitchen had the perfect cosy atmosphere for playing cards and making dinner. At 8 pm we met in front of the hostel and were guided to the sauna- which was a good 15 minute walk in a minus 18 degree night…
As we got to the sauna we first went to check out the ice- hole which we planned to jump into later. I saw it and thought: “NO”. From the sauna you had to walk down a small hill and across the lake to then crush the ice before jumping into the hole. There was also only space for one person in the hole. We were told to go there in pairs, so that always one person could hold the flash- light, as it was pith black outside. All of these facts made me lean against jumping in… We went back to the sauna- hut to warm up. It was so great to arrive in the warmth and relax. Amber then told us a bit about the sauna itself. To make my feelings about the ice- hole even worse, she also instructed us to not dive under the water, since we could get brain-freeze and wouldn´t be able to recover for months. Also we might cut ourselves on the ice because it is so sharp. Now I was sure I wouldn´t go in…
After about 30 minutes in the sauna the first pair started to run to the ice hole. It was thrilling to watch them run and hurry to come back as fast as they could! Having returned to the sauna they were totally amazed by this experience. My friend Laura then asked me if I would join her to jump in. I don´t know why but I suddenly heard myself agree… I think we were the fifth couple to go in. In order to do so we had to put on socks to not cut our feet on the ice. We ran so fast to get to the hole! Laura said I should go in first. I didn´t even think about how to get in… I just jumped… into the -5 degree water…. and I went straight back out!It was amazing and yet I think I will never do this again!
I must be crazy.
We were back at the hostel at 10 pm and found out that the showers only gave cold water. At least the lake- water has already cleaned us after the sauna… We ended the evening with playing cards and all had a good night sleep after this adventurous day.
Day 5: “S” stands for “Stockholm”
Last day in Lapland! Some people from our group have signed up to go ice- climbing in the morning and the rest of decided to climb the Abisko – mountain “Nuolja”. No just kidding. We had to take a very small chair lift to get up there which was a bit scary, since the chair- lift looked quite unstainble. After having arrived at the top, we went for a small “hike” in the snow and took some pictures.
Enjoying our last hours in Lapland…
The view was beautiful and that was this moment when I figured what Lapland means to me:
I felt like being the only movement in a black and white photograph. Everything is still and quiet and looks unreal. I felt like I was in an enchanted place and my feelings of time or stress disappeared completely.
View from the ski- hut.
Before we finally headed back to the hostel, we had some hot chocolate at the ski- hut and took some more pictures.
We had a great time together! Photo taken with my Polaroid.
At 2 pm we got onto our “Lapland Express” and bid farewell to Lapland. We all agreed that it was one of the best trips in our lives! I was not at all worried about the 18- hour bus- ride anymore. We played games, watched movies, listened to music and had a quiz about Lapland (which my group won- just saying). At 8 am we arrived back in Stockholm.
I want to thank all the amazing people who were on this trip for making it so special!
Lapland, I will be back…
Thank you Laura, Cédric, Juan and Ky Fan for the pictures!
 The Arctic Circle is the most notherly latitude of the Earth. On polar night, the sun doesn´t rise at all, on midnight sun, the sun doesn´t set.
I am having a marvellous time in Stockholm! I love that I am free to do whatever I like at any time of the day… Here you can see a short overview of my passed week:
Pic 1 +2: I visited a modern art museum with my friend Wouter, called the “Artipelag”. It is situated eastern from Stockholm in a small town called Gustavberg. Even if one is not a big fan of modern art, it is definitely worth a trip going there because the architecture and the situation of the museum is so impressive! It is so beautiful there: the forest, sea and sunlight turn the Artipelag into a magical place!
Pic 3: Another corridor- dinner took place last week! This time on Valentine´s Day! We decided to make our own individual pizzas and they turned out to be so delicious! Who said that Valentine´s Day is only for lovers? The right people, great food and good music can give Valentine´s Day a whole new purpose!
Pic 4+ 5: These photos show the result of a study- date… Wouter, Elias and I had planned a serious sit- down to finally get some work done. Although as we met at Stockholm´s famous coffee shop “Drop Coffee” and realized that the Wi-Fi there wasn´t working, we thought we might as well visit a museum instead… So we hopped onto a ferry- boat that brought us to a small island in Stockholm where one can find the “Museum of Modern Art”. (You must now think that I am crazy about modern art… Don´t get me wrong: I am a big fan of art in general but these two trips to modern art museums just happened like that…) It was a fun day and I am so glad that we all postponed our studying!
Pic 6;7;8: I have discovered my new favourite part of town: Mariatorget, which is located in the South of Stockholm, in Södermalm. There one can also find many cafés and small streets with very old houses. As I was walking through these streets I suddenly found myself at a beautiful viewpoint, looking out on Riddarholmen (a small islet in central Stockholm). I can´t imagine what this place must be like in summer when it´s already so beautiful in winter… In Pic 8 you can see the subway station of Mariatorget. I photographed it because I liked the art installation there a lot! Did you know that all the underground stations in Stockholm could be considered as the largest art exhibition in the World? In order to prevent graffiti- vandalism in the underground the government let artists show their art at the “tunnelbana”- stations! I think this is a great idea and it also makes walking underground more fun!
Now I would also like to inform you about something else…
I still go dancing and study Swedish, but last week I have also started a new project: I have started to learn Swedish Sign Language! Some of you might not be familiar with the fact that every country has it´s own sign language- it is like entering a whole different culture.
I have always wanted to learn sign language but I never have had the opportunity to do so. I now have the chance though, due to one of Stockholm University’s great offerings: the “Language Café”. Every student can sign up there as a language- coordinator or just attend different Language Cafés. One can then improve or learn a foreign language, meet new people and have coffee together. I for example attend the Swedish Language Café and help out as a German- speaking coordinator once or twice a week.
Anyway, I saw that there was a Language Café for Swedish Sign Language. The coordinator for this café, Tatu, is from Finland and in addition to his knowledge of Swedish Sign Language he is multilingual!
He is a great teacher and we have decided to make a short movie to give a quick insight into what Swedish Sign Language is like…