Scott MacNeill


Thursday, February 21 2008

For the past couple of nights we have tried to make arrangements to visit Kiruna. We found out everything was booked up so we needed to change our plans. The waitress / bartender at the jail we were staying at informed us that from the end of January to the end of February is a national sports holiday. There are 4 sections to Sweden and each section gets one week off. This is the reason Kiruna was so full. Instead of going to the north we decided to head to a Medieval town called Visby. Visby is located on the island of Gotland, the island of churches. Gotland is situated in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Latvia. We took a flight earlier this morning and arrived in Visby by 8:30 am our time, 2:30am US time. We had to leave the jail by 6:00am to make it to the small airport in Stockholm called Bromma. The plan we were on was small and had propellers in the front -so funny!

When we landed in Visby airport (teeny tiny) we rented a car from Avis. Online they said it was supposed to be a Saab but turned out to be a Ford Galaxy. The car is European style and very different looking from the Fords back home and it smells like Easy Cheese inside to Scott's dismay.

It took only about five minutes to get to the old town surrounded by the wall in Visby. We spend the day meandering though the small city streets, reading about the wall, and the old town within. On our walk we saw the botanical garden in the old city, which I am sure is even more beautiful in the spring and summer. Scott loved it he thought he was Link on a quest. We also saw a catapult right on the ocean, Medieval ruins of churches, and walked the entire distance of the wall on the outside and inside of town. Along the way we found a few small cafe's to have coffee and to eat lunch. One of the coffee shops had walls painted with a landscape and church done in the 1740's. The house was built over part of a cemetery with graves in the basement and the ruins of an old church. I asked if we could see down there but they said no.

After walking though a park that used to be an old Viking port, we stumbled across a hotel right on the shore of the Baltic Sea. As we didn't already have a room for Friday night we took a chance, and to our delight there was availability in a room overlooking the sea. I can't wait to stay there tomorrow night. It is also "inside the walls" as they say. We are staying outside the walls tonight in what lonely planet calls "A good value but uninspiring room", and I would have to agree. Well, we are going out to see Visby at night!

Day 3

Yesterday we had a full day of sightseeing!(Feb 20,2008)
First we went to Djurgarden, which is yet another island in Stockholm, that has a couple museums and a huge park.
Here we stumbled onto the Vasa Museet. Scott and I had both read about it but had no luck finding it on any map
that we had. All I knew about the Vasa was that it was a big, old boat; I had no idea of the history though. This
huge boat, so genuinely hand crafted had sat on the bottom of the oceanway for 333 years. I was absolutely amazed
at the grandeur of the ship and the history given of the time period that the museaum provided. If you ever go to
Stockholm this definately a must see!

After this we walked to Skansen, which is an open-air museum. There were wind mills, old houses and
buildings, but most importantly there was a zoo full of Nordic animals. Until this point I had never see a
live/not on TV snowy owl, grey owl( that I actually stood right next to!), a lynx that was super cute, a fox( I
know they are at Roger Williams, but this one I saw), small and hairy Icelandic/Nordic horses, wolves, reindeer,
and moose. The zoo was the highlight of Skansen.

The last big attraction of the day was going to the Nobel Museum. Here I learned about the different
Nobel prizes given and how the laureates are chosen. I also learned about Alfred Nobel, the man who started the
whole affair, after his death I might add. He had written in his will that he wanted these different prizes given
and he was leaving his wealth to fund the prizes and the organization. Displayed in the museum there were pieces
created by art students with their inspiration coming from 5 different Nobel prize winners. It was all very

For the rest of the night we walked the streets of Gamla Stan, took the metro to a huge circular library,
had some dinner at Chutney, and then crashed!

first day in sweden

Our first day here; it has gone bye so fast yet we have seen so much and have learned so much about the city of Stockholm already. My biggest fear about traveling is that something will go wrong with the flights,we will miss our connecting flight, or that they will lose our luggage. Today, however, proved my fears wrong. Our flights went very smoothly, we arrived in Reykjavik early so we had no problems making our connecting flight into Stockholm, there was no taxiing on the runway for hours, and our bags actually came out together! It was a great flight. We were then able to figure out the SL card that would give us the capability to take any bus, train, or subway in the city. I am not so used to different forms of public transportation but this city makes it surprisingly easy. We checked into Langholmen, the prison we will be staying in for the next 2 days, and it is exactly as I pictured; small but great. Oh yeah, to see pics of these things you will have to visit Scott's blog because I have no idea how to put in the pics :) We will explore this prison a little more tonight, and maybe visit the museum tomorrow.

leaving today

We are leaving today, in about 6 hours for the airport! Yesterday we were busy getting ready. We brought in wood, packed, got the laptop ready, washed the rest of the cloths, and brought Alex the frog to my parents' house, they are so excited about froggy sitting :). We are expected to be in Arlanda Airport around 9:30am Sweden time, 3:30am our time. Going to finish packing, cleaning, and getting the kitty stuff together. See you again in Sweden!!
A map of our traveled path.