lördag, oktober 17, 2009

24 hours in Östersund

Just on the spur of the moment I managed to make a trip to "Republiken Jamtland" on my off day. At first I received an email that morning from SAS about the bargain deal they offered, then I called the hostel in Östersund and was told they had a free room for the night so I went straight to the airport after breakfast. Haven't been backpacking for years, it surprised me how uncomplicated the whole trip turned out to be. Perhaps I'm not very keen for planning in general, improvisation once again made my day.

The hostel was really cozy in a typical Nordic wood house. Plus, I was the only guest at my floor, so I felt quite at home. The hostel manager was a super nice Swedish lady who told me the local tales of Jämtland, including of course the monsters in the lake Storsjön. Later I took a promenade along the lake myself, not seeing anything unusual, though, only the lovely forests wrapped in a white mist. The atmosphere was really idyllic here.

If you visit Östersund one day, you shouldn't miss the moose farm at the outskirt of the city, which I only knew about after I left. Wish I could have stayed longer.

Jamtflaggan, the flag of Republic of Jamtland, by the side of the national flag of Kingdom of Norway, in Sweden!

onsdag, oktober 14, 2009

Amsterdam - Hamburg

Although my first-time ever visit to Amsterdam was brief, once I was there I almost instantly fell in love with the Dutch type - their laid-back, outgoing personalities most impressed me.

Without knowing beforehand anything about this city I had booked a hotel very close to Leidseplein. It turned out to be a good choice. The location was abuzz with vibrant nightlife. Pretty refreshing to pass through thongs of crowd down a street packed with different kinds of restaurants still remaining open at 1 am on a weekday.

Check out my online album:

When I reached Hamburg by train, it was exactly ten days before the German General Parliamentary Election. One curious find I encountered was this graffiti inscription that was seen left on a candidate ad for Guido Westerwelle, the leader of Free Democratic Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's new governing partner. Not sure if it's because the liberal-leaning of the pro-business Free Democrats caused consternation among some die-hard German nationalists. "Stop Islam", that's what it reads in public near Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.