Monday, September 16, 2013

Mum, if you're reading this, I haven't booked another weekend away...don't worry.

This is a little retrospective post because this time last year I was in the lovely Linkoping in Sweden visiting my friend George who was studying there at the time. I hadn't started my blog yet so I couldn't post about it. So indulge me.

Linkoping is a teeny tiny little town two and a half hours from Stolkholm airport by bus. Fortunately, it's actually closer to Stolkholm Skavsta airport than Stolkholm itself is (classic Ryanair) so when I saw flights for just £11 each way from Gatwick to Skavsta, I snapped them up straight away. Ironically, the bus from the airport to Linkoping actually cost me more than a one way ticket from the UK to Sweden...God bless Ryanair! (I may be the only person to have every said that).

Beautiful, quaint white washed houses and leafy tree lined streets mark my memories of Linkoping. And bikes. Lots of bikes. If you don't have a bike in Linkoping then I'm really not sure how you get around because it appears the entire population has a bike surgically attached to their being from birth. Which was absolutely ideal for me. Whilst George was off doing student-y things I busied myself with a ride around town and along the river on my cheery red borrowed bicycle.

I wanted to stop and get a drink but unfortunately my budget has (and probably never will) stretch to Swedish prices. I can't quite bring myself to validate the extortionate cos of living in Sweden when a cheap pint of beer in a tiny town will cost you at least £5 and a sandwich will  be in the £7-£8 region. Here is where Sweden falls seriously flat on its face for me; its almost too expensive to enjoy it. Although to be fair, no one going to Scandanavia expects it to be cheap and I was probably naive to try and spend 4 days in Sweden on less that €100. (But I did!) So, instead of the normal things I do on holiday, we searched for lots of cheap alternatives...a free game of tennis, a bike ride around town and lots of good at student hang outs.

Having saved so much money on not buying £5 coffees, I put my spending money towards a train ticket to Stockholm for the day. Last minute train tickets are about the only thing you could classify as cheap in Sweden, we managed the 4 hour round trip for around £30. Arriving on a soggy day we waited for a break in the clouds as we plodded round the old town and along the river. Stockholm is an absolutely beautiful city, even in the rain and you can content yourself with exploring on foot and not spending too much money.

When the sun finally shone weakly through the crowds we headed to Skansen Wildlife Park which is smack bang in the middle of Stockholm and home to an array of native Nordic animals. We skirted quickly past the wolves because George was being a scaredey cat and headed for the friendlier goat petting pen. On the way a red squirrel tried to climb into my bag and come home with us.

Skansen also has lots of exhibitions on the way Swedish people used to live and when we went in September it was eerily quiet and empty - meaning we had the run of the park almost to ourselves.

On the way home we passed through the lush fir lined Swedish countryside back to Linkoping. Northern Europe is beautiful in a completely different way to the scenic journeys I took in Spain or through France and I will definitely be back one day to explore more. Maybe with a bit more money though.

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