As We Travel » Scandinavia http://www.aswetravel.com Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:07:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Planning A Scandinavian Road Trip http://www.aswetravel.com/planning-a-scandinavian-road-trip/ http://www.aswetravel.com/planning-a-scandinavian-road-trip/#comments Thu, 04 Jul 2013 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=41515 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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A road trip through the far north of Europe is the perfect way to explore one of the most beautiful regions on the planet. This is especially true during the short but intense summer period, when the locals tend to make the most out of the long hours of sunshine. Outside cafés and restaurants are […]

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A road trip through the far north of Europe is the perfect way to explore one of the most beautiful regions on the planet. This is especially true during the short but intense summer period, when the locals tend to make the most out of the long hours of sunshine.

Outside cafés and restaurants are generally filled until late and the large cities feel particularly lively during this time of the year.

A road trip between the Scandinavian capitals provides a great opportunity to get to know unique cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, while giving you the chance to pass some truly majestic scenery along the way…

Experiencing Stockholm

A perfect place to start your roadtrip through the Nordic capitals is in Stockholm. Built on 14 islands, the Swedish capital offers a unique beauty, combining nature with stunning architecture, great shopping opportunities and a vibrant night life.

You should definitely give yourself at least a couple of days to experience Stockholm and visit some of the city’s best sights, such as the Gamla Stan medieval city centre, the Royal Palace and the Vasa Ship Museum.

Once you’ve spent enough time Stockholm, you can then take a car rental from Sixt to start on your Scandinavian adventure.

The Stockholm to Copenhagen drive

From Stockholm you can venture south driving along the beautiful Southern Swedish coast line. Some of the highlights along the way include a visit to the medieval castle of Kalmar and the glassworks produced in the region of Småland.

From there you can continue to the charming town of Ystad before reaching Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden, and finally crossing the famous Øresund Bridge to reach the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

As with the Swedish capital, you should allow yourself a couple of days in the city, enjoying its lively summer atmosphere and visiting the main attractions such as the Little Mermaid Statue, Tivoli Gardens and Chistiansborg Palace.

Also make sure to stroll along the beautiful harbor Nyhavn, it’s one of the most picturesque areas in the city!

Getting from Copenhagen to Oslo

If you’re ready to take a break from driving, you can always drop off your car rental in Copenhagen and take the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo. If you would prefer to drive, you can head across the Øresund Bridge once again, heading north from there to visit Sweden’s second largest city, Göteborg and heading further north to Oslo from there.

On your way up you should definitely stop over in Göteborg for a day, exploring the old Haga, Slottsskogen and the many cafés lined along Linnégatan. It’s a great city full of life and atmosphere!

When arriving in Oslo, attractions such as the Viking ship museum, the National Opera and the Holmenkollen Ski Museum are waiting. It is definitely worth noting however, that if you are on a tight budget, you may want to keep your visit to Oslo rather short as Oslo is infamous for not exactly being cheap.

One of the best free things to do in Oslo is checking out Vigeland Park, the world’s largest sculpture park and one of the most popular attractions in the city.

From Oslo, you can either drive back to Stockholm to complete your Scandinavian roundtrip, getting to explore inland Sweden along the way, or you can finish your trip there.

The great thing about hiring a car is that you don’t not necessarily need to return the vehicle in the same city which allows for numerous options. For those on a tight schedule, just driving from Stockholm to either Copenhagen or Oslo may already be a great opportunity to explore Europe’s majestic North.

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3)

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Helsinki, Finland – A Quick Meeting With Santa Claus http://www.aswetravel.com/helsinki-finland-a-quick-meeting-with-santa-claus/ http://www.aswetravel.com/helsinki-finland-a-quick-meeting-with-santa-claus/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2011 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=21343 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Despite coming from Sweden, a neighboring country to Finland, and despite the fact that they even speak Swedish as a second language and that the country was once part of Sweden – I never had any real plans on visiting Finland. It seemed like a beautiful country, and the thought of visiting northern Finland and go […]

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Despite coming from Sweden, a neighboring country to Finland, and despite the fact that they even speak Swedish as a second language and that the country was once part of Sweden – I never had any real plans on visiting Finland.

It seemed like a beautiful country, and the thought of visiting northern Finland and go dog sledding would be an experience of a life-time, but it also seemed so… distant…

I’ve traveled to all corners of the world, all the way down to the other side of the globe to New Zealand – but for some reason Finland seemed harder to reach.

I know it doesn’t make any sense at all, and luckily, with the Europe Train Challenge, I finally – at the end of the whole thing, managed to reach Finland.

I didn’t know very much of the country.

All I knew was that in Sweden you call it ”the land of the thousand lakes”, that they are the kings of Heavy Metal and that they speak the loveliest, most adorable Swedish accent.

The one thing which surprised me on our visit to Helsinki, was the atmosphere. I had heard that the Finnish people were distant, cold and hard to reach (just like my view of the country itself had been), but they turned out to be quite the opposite: warm and welcoming.

The people acted more like people do in small towns and on the countryside.

They were more than happy to speak English, the open-air markets seemed more like those in eastern Europe, and a small question to a guy in a bakery led to him excitedly telling us all about the Finnish cuisine, its tradition and what his mother used to make for him as a child.

But I think the absolute best memory I will have of Helsinki was that of 5 am in the morning on the day we were leaving.

Stepping off the tram on the way to the ferry, we had just realized that we were completely lost when we heard someone yelling:

Where are you going?!

Turning around, we saw an old man with a long, white beard and a large round belly standing in the doorway.

He held up the door as we ran across the street in the rain, and entered a small room packed with unorganized papers and dolls from floor to ceiling.

He introduced himself as Santa Claus – and there was no doubt in my mind that it was actually him.

He had it all; the beard, the body, the potato nose, the round glasses and that gruff grandpa voice – it was the most unexpected ending to our stay in Helsinki, but where else would you meet Santa than in Finland?

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Stockholm, Sweden – The Best Of Both Worlds http://www.aswetravel.com/stockholm-sweden-the-best-of-both-worlds/ http://www.aswetravel.com/stockholm-sweden-the-best-of-both-worlds/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=21341 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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The most famous song about Stockholm is one that every Swedish person knows, it’s called “Stockholm in my heart”, and is a song about the love locals have for their capital city. And even as a girl born and raised in Gothenburg, its “little brother” who wants to think it’s the better city, I have […]

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The most famous song about Stockholm is one that every Swedish person knows, it’s called “Stockholm in my heart”, and is a song about the love locals have for their capital city.

And even as a girl born and raised in Gothenburg, its “little brother” who wants to think it’s the better city, I have to say that it’s hard not to love Stockholm.

Best Of Both Worlds

There are few places in the world like this, combining the best of both worlds – literally.

The city is a vibrant cosmopolitan place with great shopping, fashionable people, lots of bars and clubs and great little boutiques.

At the same time you’re always surrounded by water, as it’s situated on 14 islands, and the nature is just around the corner.

The water is perhaps the best example of combining the best of both; it’s salty AND sweet at the same time!

I love how a capital city can be so involved with nature, how you can just walk across a bridge and enter a huge park, or just hop on a ferry and escape the city within minutes to explore the ”country side culture” of Sweden.

I’ve never been to another capital city where people go fishing in the middle of the city next to the Parliament – here, it’s part of many peoples’ every day life.

The Old Lazy Town

The Old Town is so quaint, with houses in different shades of yellow and streets leading to everywhere or nowhere it reminds you of the villages you see in pictures in children’s books.

But walking around in The Old Town I realized for the first time how ”lazy” we are in Sweden – nothing here was open until 11 am, and most boutiques closed around 4 pm or earlier.

In most of Europe you’ll find shops being open from early morning to late evening.

In Stockholm, some places I wanted to visit, like the Knight’s House, was only open for two hours a day…

As Swedish As It Gets

The changing of the guard at the Royal Palace was perhaps the best example of Sweden in general.

While in other countries it’s something rather serious, in Sweden it was … different.

After all the serious drumming and marching through town, some man cleared his throat in the speakers and said with many ”uh’s and eeh’s” that the orchestra would be playing a few songs …

And they played… ABBA…!

It can’t get more Swedish than a man fumbling for words at the Royal Palace (our king is known for just that), and the tunes of ABBA during the changing of the guard.

The Most Beautiful Scenery In Stockholm

Leaving on the overnight ferry to Finland, we slowly criss-crossed for 4 hours through the archipelago with islands dotted everywhere around us.

Swedish red and white wooden houses and flag poles with the Swedish flag proudly blowing in the wind this was the perfect way to leave Sweden.

It’s a beautiful last photo I took of Sweden, a good memory – until we visit there again next time.

Have you been to Stockholm? What did you think of the city?

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Oslo, Norway – Expensive And Lots Of Swedish People! http://www.aswetravel.com/oslo-norway-expensive-and-lots-of-swedish-people/ http://www.aswetravel.com/oslo-norway-expensive-and-lots-of-swedish-people/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2011 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=21339 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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I’ll probably get a lot of people disagreeing with me on this, and maybe I’m totally wrong to say it – but Oslo didn’t leave much of an impression on me. It was small, cute and nice, but I have a very strong feeling that the country side of Norway, places like Bergen and Stavanger […]

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I’ll probably get a lot of people disagreeing with me on this, and maybe I’m totally wrong to say it – but Oslo didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

It was small, cute and nice, but I have a very strong feeling that the country side of Norway, places like Bergen and Stavanger – are completely different and amazing.

I can hardly wait to organize a trip to Bergen, Tromsö and the fjords, but Oslo?

Well, this time it was a bit of a lukewarm experience, which is ok, you don’t have to love every place you visit.

There really was nothing wrong about the city, but for some reason it failed to leave much of an impression on me, although there were a few things which really did stick out:

Experience REALLY Expensive For The First Time

You think Denmark is expensive? Go to Oslo! In Oslo you can experience first hand what expensive really feels like.

I never thought I would say “let’s wait to buy that until we get to Sweden”, as prices were pretty much half there.

Yes, Sweden is cheap compared to Norway.

A local bus ride through town would cost you 40 NOK (7 dollars), and a take away pizza 246 NOK, 44 US dollars!

I don’t know how all the homeless people made it through, it would have to be the worst place to be with no money.

Understandably it’s not that easy finding cheap hotels in Oslo, but there are a few cheap hostels around and we made it through by avoiding eating out every night.

Every Second Person Is Swedish

Every second person you’ll meet working in a supermarket, shop, restaurant or hotel – is Swedish.

According to the Swedish media (I don’t know myself if this is true), many young Norwegians don’t want these types of jobs, and meanwhile tons of Swedish people move to Norway and take any job available to save some money.

It was crazy to see how many Swedish people lived here, and I can’t quite understand why.

Yes, you earn more money, but you also spend a lot more – so in the end, doesn’t it even out?

The Closeness To Nature

Oslo is surrounded by green pine forest, blue ocean and the typical Scandinavian red houses with white corners, it’s easy to get out of the city and experience more of the landscape that Norway is famous for, which was great.

I will definitely return to Norway, hopefully soon, but next time I want to see what Norway is actually famous for, and see if it lives up to its rumors of being the most beautiful country in the world…

Have you been to Oslo? What were your impressions and experiences?

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Denmark: The Happiest People In The World? http://www.aswetravel.com/denmark-the-happiest-people-in-the-world/ http://www.aswetravel.com/denmark-the-happiest-people-in-the-world/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2011 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=21336 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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As we stepped off the train in Copenhagen, the station was packed with young 20-something people in muddy gumboots lying on the ground, passed out or still drunk hammering away on guitar strings – it was the day after the Roskilde festival – known as one of the biggest festivals in Europe. But “the party isn’t over […]

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As we stepped off the train in Copenhagen, the station was packed with young 20-something people in muddy gumboots lying on the ground, passed out or still drunk hammering away on guitar strings – it was the day after the Roskilde festival – known as one of the biggest festivals in Europe.

But “the party isn’t over until the fat lady sings”, and there were many people still singing while playing their guitars at the station, and although Roskilde festival was over, another huge world famous festival had just begun in Copenhagen – the Jazz festival.

During the summer Copenhagen really feels like a melting pot of activity – there is always something happening, always something to do, and it has the same atmosphere as in Amsterdam – chilled & unpretentious.

For some reason it seems as though Jazz just brings out the best in people – what other music is enjoyed by so many people from such a wide age-group as jazz?

In Scandinavia it’s not very common that people mix over the age groups. 75 year olds don’t usually go to the same places as 20 year olds, but the Jazz festival really brought people in all ages together, all sitting down on the cobble stoned ground or stone stairs, tapping their feet and swinging from side to side with the rhythm.

We felt like people in general were quite upbeat and relaxed, which is funny because Denmark has been voted over and over again for having the “happiest people” in the world.

They smoke more than any other Scandinavians, they exercise less and they don’t eat very healthy – yet they’re still happiest of us all, and during our stay there it actually seemed that way.

Was that really true?  Were we just “lucky” because of the festival vibe, or are the people there actually happier?

We decided to simply ask the Danes themselves, and the answer was quite interesting.

One guy made an interesting point: “I think a better word would be ‘content’. We accept our situation and our outlook on things is often ‘it’s not as bad as it could be’. We’re not happier, we just don’t have very high expectations”.

But there is something different about Copenhagen, it reminds me a little of Amsterdam.

In Copenhagen they have an area called Christiania, a place with their own rules, own laws and own flag, also it’s a place where they smoke and sell weed in public, and where we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras…

It’s a bit wacky and crazy in some places, and just absolutely stunning in others.

Nyhavn is the most beautiful harbor I have ever seen – with its colorful 18th century houses, and the nostalgic smell of waffles the whole way along Ströget is just irresistable.

Copenhagen has many sides, and just like in Amsterdam it’s up to you how you choose to enjoy your time there.

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