An overnight ferry from Turku put us in Stockholm early this morning. Today has a been one of settling in. Laundry, getting acquainted with our neighborhood, figuring out how to pay for parking and all the other minor/major travel challenges upon arriving in a new city/country. Also we are tired. I was up at 3 AM watching us glide along the coast and into the fjords as the sun rose. It was so spectacular that I just decided I can always sleep when we get home. This country could not be missed! Bob has been amazing placing all faith in our goddess of GPS, Emily Garmin, who now seldom scolds us with RECALCULATING, RECALCULATING. It has worked so well!!!! She warns us of speed traps, cameras and lots of things we don’t always understand and directs us to take things like the second slip road onto highway whatever.
The four day apartments stays (which we have here in Stockholm) are a welcome respite from hotels. Breakfast and light dinners in the apartment with more abudant mid-day traditional local fare works very well for us. We also enjoy “living,” albeit so briefly, in neighborhoods instead of the tourist/commercial areas where most of the hotels are located. Everyone is so helpful. We just stand on a corner with a map or perusing the parking ticket dispenser and soon the village is there offering help and debating amongst themselves in their own language the best way to help/guide us. It never ceases to amaze us and we ask ourselves if we are so gracious and forthcoming at home.
Yestesrday, before boarding the ferry in Turku in the early evening, we spent the day exploring the countryside outside Helsinki which is verdant, productive and lush. Driving in the morning through the farms and then in the afternoon we spent going through an original Victorian wooden fishing and shipping village, Old Rauma. Although it dates back to the mid-fifteenth century as a village, the current structures are early and mid-19th century replaced and rebuilt after numerous fires razed the original town. Currently, the 600 buildings/houses are all lived in but preserved as a World Heritage site. Their description does not refer to the clapboard ornate mid-nineteenth century style as Victorian but Mid-century Romantic or Empire Cladding describisng the wide clapboard siding. After all they weren’t under the influence of the English queen.