Monday, 5 November 2012

Cruise to Stockholm and Antique Shopping

Our itinerary in Finland included a cruise to Stockholm and antique shopping.

Mr Finland loves looking for antique bargains and we are not averse to tagging along.  There is lots of old stuff here.  Our issue, when we see something wonderful like wooden doors with decorative door knockers that would look fabulous on the Pink House up at the farm, is how the heck to get it back to NZ.

The Pink House
 Hubster also likes looking at old knives and swords - not much chance they'll get back through NZ customs with ease.  I have a thing for bells.  And teaspoons.  We've found a few but the prices are...well, just a bit Euro pricey in the center of Helsinki.  So we are happy to just dream away on our antique forays in Finland.

Our trip to Stockholm was for a completely different purpose - a quick look around the city and, while there, a visit the Harley Davidson shop.  Why?  To buy a T-shirt!

The boat from Helsinki to Stockholm provides an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone - say you've been on a cruise and say you've been to Sweden.  There are two lines that leave Helsinki early evening, sail overnight and arrive in Stockholm around breakfast time the next morning. 

Our passports weren't checked at the Swedish port which surprised us.  Apparently if you're booked on the boat back to Finland they figure it's not necessary.   Had we opted for a train trip, border security would have been in full swing.  People in the Scandinavian part of the world seem a lot more trusting than else where, we decided.

With this boat trip, you get a day to look around Stockholm and that evening jump back on board for the return trip to Helsinki.  Quick.  Easy.  And apparently cheaper than paying for a night in a hotel in Sweden.

The cheaper line, according to Mr Finland, has the most youthful (aka cash strapped) and drunk clientele.  Having matured somewhat just recently, we didn't go for that option.

This was our first cruise so we decided to splash out a little.  We booked a class A berth with a sea view.  The trip over was smooth and easy.  We explored the ship from top to bottom, wondering around the boulevard deck in the fresh, freezing cold, trying our hand in the casino, warming up with coffee and Baileys in the bow bar and thinking how lovely the full moon looked shining through our window from a clear dark sky.  It was so peaceful.  Our return was a little more rough and queasy.

That didn't stop the on board entertainment though.  Mumu still did his thing for the youngsters and, as Mr Finland had brought his young daughter on the trip, we got to enjoy Mumu and Madelaine twice.  (I have to say Madelaine was actually quite talented).

We also stopped in to check out Finnish karaoke in the ships tail end (lots of tuneless youthful shouting at this point) then headed up to suss out the band playing rock 'n' roll on the bow stage.  Unfortunately the high sea rockin' and rollin' wasn't good on the stomach so a seat amidships listening to a young lady playing a range of pieces on the piano was more to my liking.

Helsinki has a number of islands off its shores so one morning we caught a ferry out to Suomenlinna, a UNESCO heritage listed sea fortress.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  Mr Finland gave a tour of the island and its many cannon placements then it was back to his place (he has a residence there) for a Finnish lunch.  Hubster decided he quite liked the idea of island living and thought we should invest in something like this...

... he'll need to buy more Lotto tickets!

This year Finland is the design capital of the world.   So a trip to the design museum was in order as well as a trip to an antique show.   Not to mention rummaging our way through a few more antique shops and dinner in Lappi, a restaurant that dishes up traditional Lappish fare, and where I tucked into a beautifully cooked reindeer shank while Hubster tried Finnish whitebait.

We're very grateful to Mr Finland for inviting us to his place to sight see, cruise on ships, dine, drink beer, walk in snow, shop for antiques and learn about design and would recommend putting a trip to Finland fo some antique shopping and a cruise to Stockholm on your bucket list.

Ka Kite,

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