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 his post shortly after I got home, and I thought he could probably do Öland for that, but I couldn’t possibly have come up with enough ideas from my two days in Kalmar andÖland to provide a five-day itinerary. Plus, with my rental car and one of the more expensive rooms I stayed in, there was no way I was going to recommend anything for under $100 a day.
Continue reading “The frugal traveler in my footsteps”

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 day in Iceland was spent at the Blue Lagoon. The photos on their web site are very cool, lots of steam. I’m pretty sure they took their pics in the winter. I was there on a warm spring day, so my pics don’t have the same romantic/spooky quality.
Continue reading “The Blue Lagoon and Post-Trip Reflections”

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 seven hours and forty-five minutes, I will cross seven time zones. This makes me wonder. If you walk in a circle around the north pole, do you pass through all 24 time zones? And what time is it at the north pole?
Continue reading “Snæfellsnes”

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 means I need to do it more often. With all the raw beauty of Iceland I’m seeing, it feels like I’m just scratching the surface, and that’s just Iceland. There’s so much of the world waiting to be seen, not enough time, not enough money, and not enough youthful energy to do it all.
Continue reading “The Golden Circle and Langjökull Glacier”

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 guided tour that was almost as good as the one in Tallinn, then walked around some more. There were a lot of highlights:
Continue reading “A day in Reykjavik”

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 my flight didn’t leave until 15:30, so I used the morning to visit one last museum and do a last bit of shopping to try to use up my remaining euros. Then I took the bus to the airport and arrived at Keflavik at 15:55. I got some cool pics from the plane:
Continue reading “Farewell Scandinavia, Hello Iceland”

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 who were killed when the ferry Estonia, traveling from Tallinn to Stockholm, sank. I was actually the soloist in our performance (and recording) of the piece, and the text I sang was from a news report of the disaster.

The confluence is this:
Continue reading “Day trip to Turku and Naantali”

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 choir of three voices singing a cappella, and I think five women worshipping), so we were able to stand in the back and listen to the service, smell the incense, and enjoy the music and the ornate iconography. It looks Russian (and the tour guide yesterday referred to it as Russian), which makes sense because it was built originally in 1868, when Finland belonged to Russia.
Continue reading “A lot of walking in Helsinki”

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 was jet-lagged and that her shoes turned out to be unsatisfactory for walking on cobblestone streets.

The first thing we did was catch a guided bus tour. It picked us up two blocks from our hotel and took us around to see all the main sights. We had two stops along the way. The first was at the Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Church in the Rock (it was blasted out of solid granite and capped with a copper dome and skylight, and the interior ceiling is a spiral ribbon of copper 13 miles long. Very impressive. (It was built in 1969.)
Continue reading “Helsinki and Suomenlinna”