Well everyone, it's Day 14 of the trip so I thought I'd better update yous on where we've been and what we've done so far! Just arrived in St Petersburg this morning from Riga but haven't got to see much of it yet- it's snowing pretty heavily though!
As I said, it all started 14 days ago in Dun Laoghaire where we got the boat to Holyhead followed by a train down to London where we stayed the night. The next day we made our way to Harwich (one of the most depressing places on earth!) so we could get the boat to Esbjerg. From there, we got a short train trip to Copenhagen where we spent a few days.
Bikes, blondes and bars aplenty here with the latter being the most surprising. There was nearly a bar on every street corner and most of them were relatively busy given the fact that it was early in the week. Pints could set you back over 6 euro though but we eventually found a place off the beaten track where you could get a couple of Carlsbergs for 3 euro each. And I can now see why the Danes hate to see it leave- it goes down a lot easier than it does back home, hell even Tuborg tastes nice there- they must just sell the dodgy batches to the Irish!
We went around the usual tourist sites like the palace and stuff but it was Christiania which was definitely the most interesting. Set up back in the early 70's in an old military barracks, it is now basically a hippy commune in the middle of Copenhagen which governs itself! Basically just hippies everywhere smoking cannabis which is kind of surreal when you're in the middle of such a modern city.
From here, we made our way by bus to Stockholm. Unfortunately the rain hindered us a bit and we kept getting lost a lot but we still got to have a bit of look around the city and went to the ice bar which was pretty cool!! After that, we got a few pints of the local stuff, Spendrups. Wasn't blown away by it but I suppose it doesn't help when you have to cough up 6 quid! The Swedish women lived up to expectations as well but I'm gonna stick my neck on the line and say that the Montenegran women are still number 1! Tried some of the traditional swedish food, pyttipanna, which was really good but found it tricky enough to get local dishes in the rest of scandinavia/baltic region- I'm sure I'll be dying for stew by the time I get to Asia though!
From Stockholm, we made our way to Helsinki which has definitely been the best city so far. Really easy to get around and it probably has the best transport system I've ever seen in a city and in contrast to Stockholm, we never got lost once!
Got to go to an ice hockey game when we got there as the annual Karjala Cup was being played between Finland, Russia, Sweden and the Czechs. The local beer here was Lapin Kulta which wasn't too bad at all. We were staying in the Olympic Stadium strangely enough but it was probably the best hostel we'd stayed in so far. Got a tour of the stadium and the Finnish Sports museum and then went just outside Helsinki to 'enjoy' a typical Finnish past time. Winter swimming as it's known, seemed to be all the rage and it involved jumping into lake which is soon to be frozen over and then this was quickly followed by a stint in the sauna. Not everybody fully partook in it (O'Malley) but it was exhilirating enough for those of us who did!
Other than that I suppose, we nearly died but that was about it. Well not really, we were reading our map and looking like tourists in the subway on our way back from the swimming when all of a sudden everybody in the subway started running towards the exits and a load of police started shouting at us. I think it was just a small fire (O'Malley says 15 fire trucks) in the end, but as most people would do in that situation, I started running meanwhile O'Malley was dilly dallying about with his map. I think I was outside the station before he even realised. He said he was looking around for me but I just think he couldn't keep up. He still hasn't forgiven me for it!
From Helsinki we got the boat to Tallinn where we only really spent a day. Intended to stay a bit longer but the snow was too heavy so we couldn't really get around that easily. Went around the usual touristy old town and hit O'Malleys Irish pub for the Liverpool match. A Le Coq was the local brew here and it went down extremely well, helped by the fact that it was 2 quid a pint!
Riga was next on the list and got through a fair bit here in the few days. We stayed in the Naughty Squirrel hostel which at the time was the top rated hostel out of about 30,000 in the world on hostelworld and it did live up to the hype! Pints of the local beer- Cesu were about 1.50 euro here ( I realise I'm beginning to sound like a bit of an alco at this stage) but it was defo my favourite one so far! While we were here, we went to the Occupation Museum which detailed the history of Soviet and Nazi occupation in the 20th Century in Latvia which was actually really interesting and by coincidence there was a concert on commemorating the lives of the soldiers lost during that time so we were really Latvi-ing it up! We also went up to the sky line bar which gave a pretty cool view across Riga.
So we're in St Petersburg now after getting an overnight train from Riga. It was grand other than the fact that we were woken up by Russian police at 2 in the morning on the border- not the friendliest bunch of lads at the best of times!
I'll do my best to update the blog a bit more regularly from now on so until next time...
Ro Hello stranger I just taught I'd do ya a favour and summarize the above; travelled dub-Russia, many diff beers drunk, all good, price range ?1 - ?7, fav was Riga! Seen some hot birds! O'malley nearly dead! See that wasn't hard :-)