The Closer

January 20, 2013

Well, I’ve been back a week and half now and have been suffering from jet lag, post holiday depression and the heat and it’s time to wrap up the blog for this trip.  Here’s a few of the best and worst and few things I learned along the way.

Best Hotel – Frey’s Lilla Radmannen Stockholm had very unique rooms and excellent staff.  Hilton Helsinki Airport Hotel was pretty nice too.

Best Meal – Cibo (Italian Restaurant) in Stockholm and the Moose Soup after the horse riding.

Best Activity – while I loved the adrenalin rush of the snow mobiles, nothing beats the purity of dog sledding.  Meandering the Champs Elysees, checking out the Christmas markets drinking warm mulled red wine at lunchtime, while not technically an activity was up on the experience scale.

Best Christmas Markets – I only have a choice of Paris and Helsinki and Paris wins hands down.

Best Christmas Lights – Stockholm

Worst flight – from Hong Kong to Brisbane was the most consistently turbulent flight, they got the crew to buckle up three times.

Worst – 12 flights in 23 days was way too many and I spent too much time sitting in airports.  Better planning required next time because I had about 5 days that were transit days.

Things I’ve learned

  • when travelling to really cold places use waterproof mascara or don’t wear any because snow flakes landing on mascara melts it and leaves little mascara streaks on your face.  However when your eyelashes freeze it leaves mascara all over your face and the only person that has the courage to tell you will be a ten year old….thank you Issy.
  • some hand warmers take a couple of hours to get up to warmth speed so don’t wait until your hands or toes are like ice blocks before cracking open the warmers.
  • nasal hairs freezing up is the most bizarre feeling.
  • you can tell the difference between -20°C and -14°C and the really weird thing is the -14 almost seem warm…..who knew.
  • nothing beats French pastries, it would have been nice to have known what half of them were.  Everywhere else has the names in their own language and then in English but that would be too much trouble for the French.
  • Swedish and Finnish languages are nothing alike and they can’t understand each other, so not like Italian and Spanish.
  • Australians always seem to gravitate to each to other and you’ll always find us up the back of the bus.
  • if you are going to Paris and intend doing a few museums/galleries and sites, the Museum Pass is worth the money but buy it in Paris.  To buy the pass in Australia was $75 but was 39€ ($55) in Paris.
  • Hong Kong is so ridiculously cheap.  I caught the ferry to Hong Kong Island, caught the bus to the Peak, paid to go up to the terrace, caught the tram down, the bus to the ferry and the ferry back for 78.80HKD which is the equivalent of 9.70AUD. The Star Ferry was 42cents each way….amazing.
  • you can take dogs on planes in Europe….yep in the cabin.  They have to be under a certain size and they go under the seat.  Not sure what it costs and what happens if they start barking or pooping and too bad for anyone allergic to them.
  • I really want to go dog sledding again but for a few days this time, maybe stay out in a cabin in the wilderness.
  • frost bite is a real possibility and there is no such thing as your feet and hands being too warm.
  • the week before I arrived in Kiruna it was -37°C and I’m glad I wasn’t there then.
  • I’ve never taken so many photos of trees, snow laden or otherwise.
  • I was really surprised at the number of people that use their phones instead of a camera.  There were also a lot of people taking photos with their ipad, which just looks really silly.
  • I can’t wait for my next adventure but I’m not sure where that’s going to be…..any ideas!!