Kalmar Castle
Kalmar Castle

When I decided to go to the Nordic countries, I quickly realized that two weeks wouldn’t be enough. This was my first three‐week adventure. And it still wasn’t enough.

This trip marks the first time I blogged about seriously, starting with my earliest planning. I brought my iPhone and a bluetooth keyboard on the trip and blogged daily.

In my planning, my itinerary evolved significantly. I originally hoped to include Norway, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t squeeze that into three weeks with all the other destinations.

I started with three nights in Copenhagen. In spite of the dreary weather for much of the time, I had plenty of opportunity to explore on a bike tour as well as on foot. I also took a day trip to Roskilde.

From Copenhagen I took two trains and a ferry to get to Ærøskøbing, on the island of Ærø. I spent a night there and had an early morning bike ride before a long day’s travel to Kalmar.

I stayed in Kalmar for two nights. Most of the full day I was there I spent on the neighboring island of Öland, touring in a rental car. I still had plenty of time in the evening and the next morning to explore Kalmar before catching my train to Stockholm

I staying four nights in Stockholm. Besides visiting a lot of museums, I rode a bike through the Djurgården, saw one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and got out of the city to Drottningholm Palace, Fjäderholmarna , and Uppsala.

I took an overnight ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, arriving early in the morning, so I had a full day plus most of the second day to explore the capital of Estonia. In addition to enjoying the winding cobbled streets of the old town, I saw the Song Festival Grounds and the excellent Kumu art museum.

I took a late afternoon ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, where I stayed four nights. I did a ton of walking, really enjoying the Finnish architecture, and took a day trip to Turku and Naantali.

My final destination was Iceland. I spent five nights in Reykjavik, taking tours on three of the days, and stopping for a day at the Blue Lagoon before catching my flight back to Seattle.

Photo Albums


Copenhagen (117 photos)
Ærø (105 photos)
Ærøskøbing Doors (36 photos)
Kalmar and Öland (258 photos)
Stockholm (276 photos)
Uppsala (68 photos)
Tallinn (125 photos)
Helsinki (109 photos)
Turku and Naantali (25 photos)
Iceland (336 photos)

As usually, I took way too many pictures, so here’s a highlight album, with the best of the best:

Highlights (163 photos)

Blog Posts

Arriving in Copenhagen (with a stop in Oslo) (5/14/2012) - Part One: Written in the Oslo Airport I’m not supposed to be in Oslo. But here I am. Actually, I’m at the airport, not actually in Norway. All seemed to be going well yesterday when we pulled away from the gate at SeaTac right on time. We taxied a while and then stopped. The pilot more…
Loooong day in Copenhagen (5/16/2012) - When I got back to Ivan and Lars’s apartment last night at about 8:30, I started to write a blog post about the day, and I was literally nodding off as I was typing. I guess that’s what happens after a long day following just 4 hours of sleep. I woke up yesterday morning at more…
Roskilde and more of Copenhagen (5/16/2012) - I’m at the central library using their free internet. It’s just 17:00, and I am planning another bike tour, again with Mike, this time an evening tour that starts at 19:00 and goes further afield. I forgot to share some of the fun facts I learned on yesterday’s tour: There are 1.8 million people living in more…
Day Five: Farvel København (5/17/2012) - 9:45 a.m. I just boarded the train to Odense, where I change for Svendborg, where I get the ferry to Ærø. Today is Ascension Day, a holiday in Denmark, and the train is packed with people getting away for the long weekend. I don’t have WiFi, so I’m going to have to post this later. more…
Svendborg and Ærøskøbing (5/17/2012) - A few random thoughts to start off: I was able to type a dollar sign using the keyboard at the library in Copenhagen using Ctrl + Alt + 4. If I do that with my little Mac keyboard, nothing happens. Why can’t they put international symbols and letters (like the elided AE or the o more…
Ærø (5/18/2012) - I forgot to mention yesterday that one of the highlights of the day was the lunch I had when I arrived at Ærøskøbing.  (I’m at Odense Central Library as I write this, waiting for my train to Copenhagen and, from there, to Kalmar.  So I have all the quaint characters in the Danish alphabet at more…
From Ærø to Kalmar (5/19/2012) - 17:00 I just got on the train to Kalmar. We should depart in about 10 minutes. The monitors in the station tell you which cars are going to which destinations. Not all the cars on this train are going to Kalmar, only 11 and 14. I got on one of the cars that I thought more…
Kalmar, Öland, and Kalmar (5/20/2012) - It’s actually Day Eight, Sunday, May 20, 9:30. I didn’t blog last yesterday because I was on the go all day and was too tired by the time I got back. I started the day the same way I ended the day on Friday, with a walk around Kalmar.  It’s a nice town, built largely more…
Kalmar and the train to Stockholm (5/20/2012) - I just deleted my entire blog post as I was attempting to copy it. So this is my second attempt, and it won’t be as interesting or as witty as my first. When I got to the train station this morning to make my reservation, I learned that all the express trains to Stockholm were more…
Intro to Stockholm (5/21/2012) - The train ended up arriving in Stockholm 35 minutes early last night. I’d originally messaged Niklas, the owner of the apartment where I arranged to stay via airbnb.com, with my expected arrival time, but then when my plans changed, I messaged him several times over the course of the day to let him know, but more…
A Stockholm assortment (5/22/2012) - I’m at a restaurant that’s actually in the same building as the apartment where I’m staying, and it’s one I’d read about before my vacation started. It’s called The Urban Deli. Niklas also recommended it. Unfortunately when the waiter came and I asked him to recommend something, he recommended a cod dish and then remembered more…
Great museum, awful museum, and a concert I’ll never forget (5/23/2012) - First, I have to thank everyone who’s left a comment or a “Like” on Facebook. One of the best cures for the occasional loneliness that sets in when traveling alone is the feeling that my friends and family are a part of the experience. Keep those cards and letters coming! I’m going to start today’s more…
Uppsala, Ferry, and Tallinn (5/25/2012) - Thursday 24 May, 22:30 We set sail at 17:45, went through about 4 hours of the most beautiful scenery, the sun has set but the horizon is still glowing red out my cabin’s porthole. We arrive in Tallinn at about 10:00 tomorrow. I loved Stockholm, but I was ready to move on after four days. more…
Tallinn and arrival in Helsinki (5/27/2012) - Saturday, 26 May 19:30 I’m on the ferry, about an hour from docking in Helsinki. We left Tallinn about five minutes before the scheduled sailing time of 18:00, and I’ve been looking for a place to plug in my phone on this boat because I was bad about conserving the battery today. I finally found more…
Helsinki and Suomenlinna (5/27/2012) - Today was an “Intro to Helsinki” day. Mary and I bought one‐day Helsinki Cards, thinking we’d cram as many of the things that are covered by the card as we could into one day. It was a good idea in theory, but there was only so much cramming we could do, especially given that Mary more…
A lot of walking in Helsinki (5/28/2012) - Pretty much all I did today was walk. Helsinki is a very walkable city, but I really covered a lot of ground today. Mary and I started out together. We went to Uspenski Cathedral, the main Finnish Orthodox church. It’s normally closed on Mondays, but there was a service going on (about four practitioners, a more…
Day trip to Turku and Naantali (5/29/2012) - I’m going to start today’s post by talking about an interesting confluence related to my trip. About ten years ago when I was singing with the Esoterics, we performed a wonderful piece by the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae. He wrote this piece in 1997 in memory of the more than 852 people more…
Farewell Scandinavia, Hello Iceland (5/31/2012) - Yesterday was mostly a travel day, so there wasn’t a lot to blog about, and there still isn’t, since I just woke up and am at a neighborhood coffee shop having what they call an Americano. (I’d call it a slightly watered down espresso.) Mary left early to catch her train for St. Petersburg, and more…
A day in Reykjavik (5/31/2012) - No matter how well I understand logically that the sun doesn’t set here until almost midnight, when I look outside at 10:30 pm and see bright sunshine, my mind can’t understand why my body is so ready for sleep. Today I got acquainted with Reykjavik. I walked around on my own, then took a free more…
Þórsmörk (6/1/2012) - I can’t think of any words superlative enough to describe the things I saw today. I can talk about where we went, the names of the places, and such. I can post pictures (check out my Iceland album starting with the picture above), but they are just not an adequate representation. There were six of more…
The Golden Circle and Langjökull Glacier (6/2/2012) - Sometime in the last few days, my vacation stopped feeling like I’m on vacation and started feeling like my regular life. It’s as if being in new places, seeing new things, and meeting new people is the norm of my existence. I guess that means I could get used to this. And I guess that more…
Snæfellsnes (6/4/2012) - It’s my last night in Reykjavik, and the last night of my Nordic adventure. Tomorrow at this time I’ll be home. Well actually, I’ll still be in the air somewhere over Canada, as it’s still afternoon in Seattle, and my flight, which takes off at 17:00 local time, lands at 5:45 p.m. Pacific time. In more…
The Blue Lagoon and Post‐Trip Reflections (6/18/2012) - I’ve been home for two weeks now. I’ve finally gotten all my photos organized and uploaded to Google Web Albums, and I’ve gone through all my blog posts from the trip and updated them with a few details I’d previous omitted, but mostly by interspersing some of the best pics of the trip. My last more…
The frugal traveler in my footsteps (7/31/2012) - I was both delighted and wistful to read The Frugal Traveler’s most recent post about his journey through Scandinavia. Before he began his trip (and while I was in the last week of mine), Seth Kugel posted requesting readers provide him with ideas for a five‐day intinerary in Sweden for under $100 a day. I found more…