Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia Trip
by John Fuhring
Stockholm, Copenhagen and Home
When we docked at Stockholm and picked up a tour bus, we took on a old Swedish frau as our local guide. She was a strict old bitty and Peter really laid into her with his dirty old man routine. She was shocked and insulted as were many of the passengers. I thought it was a hoot and enjoyed it superbly. You know, I really didn't like that old gal very much and after the free tour, I wasn't about to pay extra for the follow on. I exited the bus there at down town Stockholm with directions on how to get to the hotel. I had a very nice time wandering around and visiting the landmarks even if it did rain on me for a while. Stockholm sure is a beautiful city. I asked some of the merchants who's stores I went into if there were any stores selling horse equipment and got directed to a non-tourist part of town quite a ways out in the suburbs. I found the store, went in and found the prices there were quite reasonable - especially for Scandinavia. I asked the young woman working there if she spoke English and she said yes a little. Well, she spoke English very well indeed. We had a very nice talk and she showed me a scarlet riding coat that was reasonably priced. She asked me what I wanted a coat like that for and I told her that I had been awarded my club's colors and I was privileged to wear such a coat on fox hunts. Well, she didn't hold with that sort of thing at all and wasn't too pleased with me even after I told her that we simply chase coyotes and almost never kill them. It was a fun afternoon.
The next day we started to load up the bus when we discovered that it had been broken into. How ironic! We had traveled through all of Eastern Europe and Russia and experienced no trouble, but get to beautiful Sweden and we get robbed. One of Mary Ann's friends had collected amber, clocks, old Icons and a ton of other things worth a fortune and almost all of it was gone. I think that I accidentally saved some of the stuff though. After the bus was loaded with people (and before I was aware that things had been stolen), I unexpectedly returned to my room to get something I had forgotten. I had the impression that somebody was in the bathroom, but since I had already checked out, I thought it probably was the maid. When I went out in the hall I noticed a piece of luggage with one of Mary Ann's friends name on it. I thought I would be a hero and pick it up and present it to the person who had "forgotten" it. I think now that it must have been part of the stolen loot and was hurriedly left in the hall when I unexpectedly returned. I very much suspected the hotel staff and am pretty sure this robbery was an "inside job." You know, places you think are dangerous many times are not so bad and places where you feel safe may be the most dangerous of all and for me, Sweden might might fit into the latter case.
I could say a lot more about Scandinavia, but to tell the truth, by the time we got to Sweden I was really burned out - I mean, I was throughly sick of it all. Sorry to say, I wanted to just go home and ride my horses and sure wasn't interested in seeing another damn palace or artifact. Looking back now I regret my attitude and wish I would have taken more of an interest in some of the great things that I just refused to go to see. I am sure that Mary Ann's friends thought I was a real jerk.
We took another shorter ride on a much smaller and much less deluxe ferry from Stockholm to Copenhagen, Denmark. The tour ended for me when I left the group at Copenhagen and ventured there all by myself. My sister and her friends wanted to go on a "girls only" visit to friends in Hamburg, Germany and the remainder of the tour was going back to London. Rather than see London again, I stayed behind so I could tour Copenhagen before flying home.
I wandered around Copenhagen and enjoyed the sights although I really wanted to go home. I stayed at a horrible little hotel right along the railroad tracks. This room would literally shake and you had to cover your ears when a train went by. The hotel was occupied by some very friendly German vacationers who would greet me one and all with a gud morgen as I passed them in the narrow hallway - maybe they thought I was German because I wasn't as unfriendly as the Danes were to them and would say gud morgen mein herr back to them . The clerk at the front desk was a young Danish woman who was really nasty to the Germans (the Danes still hated the Germans for WW 2). I got into a conversation with her (she was kind of pretty) and I told her that the Danish community of Solvang was only about 50 KM from where I lived. When I said Solvang, her face twisted up in a mask of disgust and she said, "ya, ya, ve know all about Solvang." " The king and queen visited and it was all over the television, but it is not Denmark and we think it is very stupid." I didn't say it, but I wanted to say that Solvang is actually more Danish than Denmark and the only real difference is we don't have prostitution or open use of drugs and our taxes are a whole lot less not to mention that it is warm and sunny most of the year including the winter time.
I did do one thing while in Denmark that was interesting. I took a train to the far end of the island of Zealand, to this wonderful little village (very much like Solvang, but without all the tourist junk) and went through a little Viking ship museum there. I really liked that museum. It had the preserved and reconstructed remains of several different kinds of Viking ships setup for display; everything from large-in-the-beam trading ships to the notorious "Longship." They had new boats you could walk into in various stages of construction so you could see how they were built. The reason there were so many surviving artifacts at this place was because this little town was once the site of a petty kingdom that was ruled (at the time) by a Viking Queen. The Royal City was at the end of a long firth and in the middle of the firth there was a shallow reef. To keep other Vikings from sailing down the firth and raiding the little kingdom, several types of over aged Viking ships were filled with rocks and sunk on the reef making the water too shallow for even a Longship to enter. For centuries stories of this Queen and her ships lingered in the lore of the local people until this century (20th) when archaeologists decided to see if there was any truth in them.
Well that's about it for the story, the rest is simply how I got home and that's not worth mentioning. If you liked the story or if it sucked, why don't you sign my guest book and tell me about it.