The First Road Trip (to Norway) - Part 5

· 3192 words · about 16 minutes

So here is the final part of our very first road trip, which we made from Finland through Sweden to Norway and back.

Next morning after breakfast I called the shipping company and I tried to change our ferry tickets. Our return trip should have taken place next morning, but we definitely wanted to stay at least one or two days more. The officer in the phone said that there are tickets available for persons (for the ferry from Stockholm to Turku) on any day, but for the car, there is free space available only for the day after tomorrow. So I picked that. Unfortunately, because of the conditions of our ferry tickets, the date could not be changed. We had to purchase a new ticket. Originally our return ticket was only 40 euros (for a 10 hours ferry trip without cabin), so it wasn't a great loss. The new ticket was 35 euros.

We packed our stuff into our car and we went to the reception to return the keys. The guy on the reception went back to check our cabin, that everything is fine and nothing is missing. After a while he came back and said that everything is okay and he gave back the deposit. We didn't exactly become friends but we could part in a kind of a agreement.

My girlfriend checked the address of the camping in Vaxholm from the GPS' address history and we headed there. The camping was open and they had a cabin available for the next two nights. Also the staff was friendly and the price range was normal for Swedish camping prices. In other words, it seemed to be a perfect place! :) It even had an own beautiful sea shore.

Our cabin in Vaxholm.

After paying and dealing with the formalities, we drove to our small wooden cabin and threw our stuff in. We planned to visit Stockholm right away. Because the unpleasant rush hour drive was still fresh in our memory, we wanted to go by bus to the city center. The camping receptionist didn't have the timetable , but she knew the number of the bus and advised us how to walk to the bus stop. It was only for a 20 minutes walk away. When we got to the bus stop, my girlfriend checked the timetable. She needed a bit of my help with the language. Because I grew up in Finland (and it's a bilingual country: Finnish & Swedish), I had to study Swedish for several years in school. My girlfriend instead, she went all the schools in Hungary, so she didn't study Swedish at all. (She studyied English.) On the written timetable in the bus stop, she could figure out some Swedish words from English, but she had no idea about a few things, so I translated those to her. Still we didn't got the logic of the timetable for sure, only that perhaps there might come a bus in 30 minutes. So we decided to wait. Actually, what else we could done? :) After a while an older lady came to the bus stop. She also checked the timetable and seemed that she learned something that we couldn't. I went over and asked her that is there a bus going to Stockholm anytime? She replied on a very good English that yes there is and she is waiting for that same bus too. It should be there in 20 minutes. Perfect! Later she asked us where are we coming from. After we explained her that we are Hungarians and we live in Finland and we are on road trip to Norway and back, but now we are on our way home, just having a stop over in Stockholm, we started to have a longer conversation and got knew each other. Especially when we learned that the lady was a retired lawyer, my girlfriend - how was in law school at that time - had a lot of things to talk about. Meanwhile our bus arrived. The lady was so nice that she stamped her 10 time single ticket also for us. We didn't have to pay for the bus at all. We continued our long talk also on the bus too, right until the bus station in Stockholm. Then we had to move along to a different direction, so we thanked her and said farewell.

In Stockholm

My girlfriend wanted to visit the Vasamuseet, so we headed there first. The Vasamuseet is a museum of a great Swedish ship, the Vasa, which sank in Stockholm harbor, in the 1600s on its maiden voyage, only about 20 minutes after the departure. There were some casualties, but most of the people on board survived. However, the ship remained in the bottom of the deep bay until 1953, when it was lifted. For some reason, the great wooden ship stayed intact. It was towed to ashore and built a museum around of it. Only the surface of the wood and some minor parts had to be restored. So now, you can see a 400 years old ship wholly intact, in its real size. I've seen it a couple of times, but my girlfriend had to wait (and she still has) for another, better time, because the queue before the entrance of the museum was hundreds of meters long. We went the check out the Skansen, an open-air museum where we could see and visit old Swedish and other Nordic buildings, houses surrounded by a great park. In the same place there was also a zoo with Nordic animals.


After hanging around in Skansen for a couple of hours, we took a walk in the old town of Stockholm, the Gamla Stan. We had lunch there. After the lunch we visited the National Museum of Sweden. It was interesting and very nice. After the museum we had a cup coffee, and with an ice-cream we walked back to the bus station and went back to Vaxholm to the camping.

Gamla Stan

In Gamla Stan

When we got home, we started to make dinner. There was a shared kitchen in the middle of the camping site. Meanwhile my girlfriend was making the dinner, I had to walk back to our cabin for a couple of times. Almost everytime a couple in our age was walking in the opposite direction with me. First we hailed politely, later we were just smiling to each other. After we had dinner and washed our dishes, we started to get back to our cabin. The couple was again passing us. I told to my girlfriend - in Hungarian - that this nice couple is always walking the opposite way, when I or we are walking to somewhere. Then later, when I was going for a shower, again, they were coming towards me, unbelievable! :) That time the girl stopped me and asked in English that are we tenting here also somewhere? I told them that no, we are renting that small cabin over there. The girl said that they have ran out of disposable forks and she asked, do we have some? They seemed to be a friendly couple, so I said that we have those and of course we can give some. Then we started to talk about where we were from and where they were from. The couple was from Germany and if I remember correctly, they were bicycling, sometimes traveling by train around Sweden. Later my girlfriend came out as well and we introduced our selves. We borrowed them the bag with the forks and we invited them into our cabin to spend the evening with us, after they had dinner. They accepted the invitation.

After a couple of hours, they returned the bag of forks and we squeezed in to our cabin. We tried to get as comfortable as possible in a two person's small wooden cottage. They brought a couple of beers. We also had some and bit of a Hungarian spirit called Unicum. So we shared what we all had. We both told our stories, like where we live, what do we do for living and what kind of a trip we're on. Just like us, they were a couple in their mid-twenties. It was nice to spend the evening with them. We even changed e-mail addresses. We also agreed that tomorrow we all could visit the center of Vaxholm town and it's fortress. Around midnight they decided to get back to their tent and we all wished good night. It was only 30 meters away from our place.

Next morning, after breakfast, we went over the German couple's, but their tent was closed and we got no response to our calls. Also their bikes were gone, so we guessed that either they already left to Vaxholm or they left somewhere else.

The town was almost ten kilometers away, so went there by car. It was a nice, small town. Our only problem was that we couldn't find free parking place in down town / main street. Suddenly my girlfriend saw the map of the town in a local bus stop, which was separated with paving stones from the main street. I pulled over in to the bus stop, what - according to my knowledge - is quite normal in several European countries. But of course, I may be wrong. My girlfriend hopped out and took a quick look on the map. When she sat back into the car, a local man in the bus stop started to wave with his hands and showed us the bus stop sign with his umbrella. Somehow I got the feeling that our luck for meeting nice, friendly people ended there. I was waving back to him that "I'm sorry" and I was about taking my leave, when he stepped in front of our car and showed again the sign. I was showing back to him that I'm trying to get lost from here but he is standing in our way. He was showing us to reverse, there is no way for me to drive forward. Then he walked over. I pulled down the window. First he was speaking Swedish to us for a while, but afterwards he switched to English:

-This is a bus stop. You are not allowed to drive through of it.
-I'm sorry, sir. We were just looking for the map.
-Being sorry is not the point. You can't drive through this bus stop, do you understand? If the police sees it, he will give you a fine of 5000 kronas. You are now in Sweden and you have to respect our rules. No driving through the bus stop!
-I understand that, but as you can see, I'm already here. There are paving stones on both sides, so I can't go anywhere from here.
-I can't do that. Reversing on a separated one way lane is also forbidden.
-That's not my problem. Why did you drive in here in the first place?
-Because I didn't realize that and we needed to check out that damn map on the walk side. We're really sorry, but what if I just drive through now, this time?
-No driving through the bus stop!

This conversation started to be quite pointless. Then I saw a bus coming in the mirror from the behind. It stopped behind me and because it couldn't access the bus stop, it started to wait. The guy also noticed the situation. I looked at him and asked:

-So, now what? Reverse?

He was thinking for second and then he replied:

-Oh well, whatta hell, go...

Jesus, what an asshole! Making a such big deal out of a minor issue, whether he was right or not.

But the situation continued still for a while: there was a roundabout right after the bus stop, and there was a Swedish tourist bus going through of it. Right after exiting the roundabout the bus stopped and reversed partly back into the roundabout, which is extremely forbidden... I had to stop inside of the roundabout and because of that, the other bus behind me couldn't exit from the bus stop. Shortly we were having a minor traffic jam because of the Swedish bus which by the way turned off its engines and started to let out about 30 completely drunk people, who were heading to a local restaurant nearby. The gentleman, the guardian of the bus stop code, was still hanging around on the walk side and observing the situation with interest. He was still quite close to our car. So I turned to him in the car and waved to him that whatta hell is this?? But he had no reaction to that whatsoever, of course. No reaction when it would have been really needed. I was still trying to exit the roundabout where the bus was parked. The only way I could pass it, was to go very slowly between the bus and the parked cars. Among the parked cars there was a Polish van, where the free space got really tight. Luckily the owner was just hanging around the van. He saw the situation and turned in the side mirror of the van. Then, when he saw that it's not gonna be enough, carefully he turned in my side mirror too. It was just about enough the get through. After the situation was over my girlfriend pulled down the window and turned back the side mirror.

Street view of Vaxholm.

We managed to find a parking place on small side street. We took a short ferry trip (without the car of course) to an island where the fortress of Vaxholm was. We hanged around there for some time and then came back with the ferry. After that we walked around the town.

The fortress of Vaxholm.


In the early evening hours we started to get back to the camping. When we were pretty close to the camping site, we saw the receptionist boy walking on the road, heading to the bus stop from where we went to Stockholm in the other day. We hailed each other. Then we arrived to the camping site. The gate was closed. We got out from the car and checked are we able to open it with our (cabin) keys. There was a code lock, so our only keys were useless. Then we looked each other with my girl friend and I said "The boy!". We quickly got back in the car and I started to drive back like Knight Rider, hoping that we can still reach the receptionist. Otherwise we should have leave the car outside of the camping, about 200 meters from our cabin and the worse part: we should have carry all of our stuff there the next day. We were leaving very early in morning, around 5:30 am. when the reception and also the gate would still be closed. We managed to reach to receptionist boy. When he saw us, he knew right away what did we want. So when we stopped next to him and pulled down the window, with a smile on his face, he told us the code right away. That was close! :)

When we got back to our cabin, we packed almost everything into our car. We made dinner and then went for a evening walk around the camping site and hanged out a bit on the camping's shore. We didn't see the German couple... ever again. Unfortunately. Later, after getting back to Finland, my girlfriend e-mailed with the German girl a couple of times.

The sea shore of the camping site.

The next morning we had to wake up before 5 am. because our ferry was leaving from Stockholm 7:30, so we had to be in the harbor at 6 am. We quickly made a cup of coffee and drove to Stockholm. I was a bit afraid of running into a traffic jam, but luckily there were no major problems.

After rolling up to the ferry, we occupied a table in a cafeteria which we held for several hours. Right after our occupation we headed for some breakfast. At the cashier an old, Finnish gentleman was queuing just before me. He bought some bakery stuff, two cups of coffee and a small (4cl) bottle of vodka. While paying for those, the gentleman poured the vodka to one of the coffees. The ship was just departing, so it was around 7:30 am. For me it was an odd situation, although I have lived almost all of my life in Finland. I still can't understand that how somebody can drink a vodka with coffee at 7 am.? :)

Sailing in the bay of Stockholm.

After we had breakfast, I counted my coins. I had about seven euros. I told to my girlfriend that I'm gonna throw them into a slot machine and play just a while. My girlfriend wasn't really happy about it, but I still went over to look for a machine. When I started to play, I lost four euros (from seven). Then suddenly I won 40 euros!! What, again?! :) Man, that was the price of our "lost" ferry ticket. I took out the money. The coins were falling out for so long and so loud that I started to feel uncomfortable, because so many people was looking at me. Then I put the coins into my pockets, but there wasn't enough space, so I had to hold them also in my hands. When I went back to my girlfriend, I dropped all the coins in my hand onto the table and said: "Regards from the slot machine..." My girlfriend was a bit surprised. :)

-...and there's more in my trouser's pockets. I think they're gonna fall down soon, so I just sit down like now!
-My god, how much do you have there?
-40 euros. Plus three or something which I didn't lost from the seven.
-That's our ferry ticket's price.
-You see? I told you... ;)

Having a short stop over on Åland.

After a couple of hours my girlfriend wanted to leave our table behind because she couldn't stand any longer the retiree's music & dance programme. They were nice and cheerful people. The music didn't disturb me that much, but she wanted to leave, so we left.

Sailing in the Finnish archipelago.

We arrived to Turku (Finland) around 8 pm. We rolled down from the ferry and drove home, to Helsinki which took just a couple of hours. At home we found all the Swedish kronas and Norwegian krones which I forgot home in the beginning of the trip. Both had the value around 200 euros. Actually my girlfriend found them... in the fridge. :)

-Whatta hell?! Honey, what the Swedish and Norwegian banknotes are doing in the fridge??
-Oh, I just put them there, because I though that it's around 400 euros and if there would be a break-in, maybe they wouldn't look for them in the fridge.

My girlfriend stared me for a minute. Just try to imagine her gaze. :D Then she closed the fridge and said: "Well, atleast they were not spoiled while we were away..."