Friday, October 15, 2010

Travelling to Aland, Finland

To reach Aland, Finland we had to fly to Stockholm, Sweden and then take a ferry across the Swedish border to the the small town of Mariehamn, Finland. This venture didn't seem all that complicated on paper, however, the rush of summer travellers put an interesting twist in our plans.

We flew out of Kristiansand early Saturday morning and wound up taking the voyage with Gabethuler/Schneider who are friends from Switzerland. We flew to Copenhagen and had a long layover there. We then took off to Stockholm and hopped on the cheap and convenient train to downtown. We hadn't made any reservations for the evening because we didn't know wether we would take an evening boat or one the following morning.

Once downtown we decided to stay the night in Stockholm but after contacting 16 hotels we realized there wasn't a room available anywhere in the city! Left with pretty much no options, I scrambled to locate some form of boat ride to Finland. I wound up finding a bedding solution but it involved an extra 12 hours on a boat in a cozy little room.

We made the ferry in perfect timing and then rolled immediately to our tiny bunk. There were 4 beds in a puny room on the bottom floor at the head of the ship. We took a little rest, feet hanging off the ends of the beds and then headed up for a dinner of Swedish meat balls and mashed potatoes. We then chilled on the deck and caught a lovely sunset as we pondered the landscape and likeness of the Swedish/Finnish islands to that of Vancouver Island and the Georgia Straight. Once darkness had fallen we roamed the boat looking for amusement and then watched some HILARIOUS traditional Finnish women sing kareoke in vintage costumes.

Our passage to Mariehamn should have been a direct 6 hour voyage from Stockholm. We wound up taking a long overnight trip from Stockholm to Turku and then from Turku to Mariehamn the following morning. It was actually a fantastic deal because for 70 euros we got 12 hours of amazing sleep and traveled passively at the same time! It was perfect.

It was a potentially troublesome trip due to the lack of available lodging in Stockholm, however, we were able to find an alternate option that worked out even better and gave us some time to get to further acquaint ourselves with some other guys on tour.

We then headed to our hostel and began mentally preparing for our last FIVB competition of the year. us!

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