From Stockhom I headed north, to the town of Uppsala. A university city where I was hosted by Liselott. She was from the north of Sweden and missed it’s openness and sense of community. Thanks to her I got my first sailing experience, which when I was in charge mainly we went in circles as the strong wind meant I’d turn too hard. Thanks to the patience of Martin, a scout-leader friend of Liselott, we managed to make our goals of sailing around random points and back without dying.
I started a draft of this post when I was in Stockholm. I’m not in Scandinavia, let alone Stockholm, anymore so I’ll just paste those initial notes here.
1/3 city, water, green
3rd biggest exporter of music after US & UK (lots of producers + writers)
Vassa museum – voted best non-art museum in world, home to Vassa ship – key ship of Swedish navy for 15 minutes
1676 witch hunts, 12 year old orphan boy arrived. Orphan cos his mum had been commited for ‘double whoring’ (affair where both partners were married) and turned in by his boy. Then he started telling stories about how women in the area would kidnap him at night, fly him off on broomsticks and others did the same. Court of law said it was ridiculous, priests listened and told Charles XI who ordered women to be put on trial aka tortured until they confessed. burnt at stake but first decapitated other than one who had gunpowder round head so head blew off.
Strongest laws against child brutality in the world
Good Friday is like Halloween in US cos people think that’s when the witches went off to speak to the devil, in current times kids dress up as witches (boys and girls) and ask for sweets
13th of December – St Lucia’s day, as it was the shortest day before Gregorian calender and people believed it was when witches came down. Now people dress up as St Lucia and put candles in their hair (electric candles for kids to stop the fire risk) while hanging out coffee and bread
Swedish police ensignia has two wooden axes, a sign of decapitation as it was the way regular rich were executed (proper rich got a sword)
Islam highest second religion because of refugees and immigrants which Sweden takes as by far the highest amount as a per capita
Church tax 0.5%, many people pay even though they don’t have to because they feel that the church does a good job
Sweden has lowered income tax a lot in the last decade due to right wing party
Restaurant prices high beacuse workers get more, on average about double similar jobs in the UK/US
Municipal government – if you have worked 365 days during 3 years you must be hired – leads to people being hired and working for 360 days before being fired.
The most random thing to happen in Stockholm was that I got to see U2. I’d gone on a free walking tour, and had a couple of questions for the guide so I waited until the end to ask them. Everyone left but myself and a Norwegian guy. He ended up giving our guide a U2 ticket instead of a tip, even though she assured him on multiple
Anton had had a date the night before and had not come back to the island. I had his keys, and so sat around waiting for him, but after almost an hour and no e-mail back I hid the keys and rowed back to my bike (having to do three trips to let me row to the bike, lock one boat up, swap boats, row back, drop the keys off and then go back to my bike. It also helped that I forgot one of my panniers which I somehow didn’t realise until I landed). I can ride, but I’m a long way from Sir Redgrave
I got off the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki and the reasonably mild weather I’d been lucky to have seemed to have been over. Cold drizzle met me and I happily put my waterproofs on. I hadn’t got all the cold weather gear that I’d need, but had a pile of gear ready at home to be forwarded to me thanks to my mum. On the way to meet Anton, my host, there was a quick visit to a bike shop and the Russian & Estonian sternness had been replaced by joyful people who spoke wonderful English.
Having said farewell to Evgeniy & Nastya, my hosts in St Petersburg, the ride west to the border with Estonia was unremarkable, taking a largish road that cut through more forest and the entertainment was listening to my new podcasts. I spent the evening in my tent, put in a wooded area near a statue to the Great Patriotic War, at the suggestion of some firemen that I spoke to. Their station was in the middle of a large number of soviet-era apartment buildings (not saying much considering