Comparatively speaking, I went to bed early on New Years Eve, but still managed to sleep until about 9:00 a.m. We were going on a walking tour of Riga at noon, so I decided it would be best to get up and get a hot shower before everyone else would arise in their foggy, hungover stages.
After I showered I wandered into the KOK (kitchen) to see what the breakfast options were that were provided by the hostel we were staying at, Friendly Franks. The options were not that appealing, toast with butter or jam and cereal with milk that had been left out to warm, in addition to coffee or tea.
Instead of settling on this, I walked to a nearby coffee place that I knew was not far from our hostel. At Costa Coffee I ordered a chai latte, and I must say, this could be competition for one of my favorite coffee drinks. It is made with chai spices, espresso, and steamed milk. (I also like to add a little bit of honey and cinnamon on top.)
When I arrived back at the hostel most of the people were starting to wake up, although it was obvious no one really wanted to. As soon as heads started to come upright they were almost immediately slung over into a pair of waiting palms, evidence of last night’s partying. Not me though. The only type of hangover I was suffering was not alcohol induced at all, but a lousy cold. At least I had a legitimate reason to feel bad that day.
I heard our tour guide say to the other that she was surprised at home many people showed up for the walking tour. It wasn’t like I noticed anyone in particular missing, although I am sure there were a few.
Riga is a beautiful little town with a lot of history and legends behind it. Similarly to most of the other European towns I have had the pleasure of visiting, there is an “old town” and a “newer town.” Our walk led us mostly through the old town, with tiny, winding streets made from bricks and tall, compact buildings all unique in every possible way. The tour lasted about two hours, but partway through we stopped at a bar for some shots of a classic Riga beverage. I’d say less than half of the people there actually drank their shot, which to me looked like oil, so whoever’s idea it was to provide free shots the day after News Years Eve did not think that through so carefully.
I stopped for another coffee before heading back to the hostel to finish packing up because by this time we only had one hour left before we needed to walk to the ferry terminal for our trip back to Sweden.
The walk to the ferry terminal took a good fifteen or twenty minutes, but it was along the river so we had a pleasant walk. Once on the ferry, Iwan, Joe and I put our luggage in our cabin and then Iwan and I went exploring with Joe milked his hangover. The ship we were on was called the Romantika, and was a bit smaller than the first one, though still adequate for the ride.
Since I had skipped both breakfast and lunch (essentially), I got dinner at one of the restaurants on the ship. It cost a whopping thirty somethin euros, which I thought was a little spendy, even though that was my only true meal for the day.
The entertainment for the night was so inappropriate because it had a Christmas/grinch theme. People here are so into celebrating Christmas long after it is over, in fact, today I was in a store and heard Christmas music still playing! Not okay.
I didn’t really stay up to watch the entertainment, and instead opted to going back to my cabin and reading some of the articles in my magazine. Yes, the magazine I bought a week-ish ago and still have not finished. The way the boat was swaying did not sit well with my already weak immune system, and although I did not get sea-sick, I did not feel like conquering the world either.
When we arrived back in Stockholm, to which I now consider Sweden my home away from home, we needed to go to the train station immediately to check on my luggage. You see, I noticed on the receipt for the luggage lockers that it said if the lockers were not opened within seven days that they would be opened. Of course my mind immediately thought that the doors would swing open and all the homeless people would attack my suitcase like savages, flinging my bras and panties like slings, and fighting for my uncharged laptop but fully charged phone. When we finally arrived at the train station though, the lockers were still locked and all things were rightfully in their place. I did end up paying for both of the lockers and then relocking them for one more day (which is why my bank account probably got so low, mom).
Iwan, Joe and I took the tunnelbana (metro) over to Gamla Stan which is the old town district of Stockholm, and also the location of our hostel, Old Town Lodge. We decided to take the metro because our bus tickets were still good as they can be used as many times in one hour.
The old town section of Stockholm is really a fun one. There is limited car accessibility because the streets are winding, small, and made from large stones. After relaxing for a short while we ventured out to explore more of the old town, seeing as how I have such limited time to experience Stockholm. All the more reason to come back and visit though.
After walking through the old town for some time, and me getting another coffee fix, we walked over to the National Museum. As it turns out, this museum is closing for renevations beginning February 2013 and ending some time in 2017, so it was good timing that we were able to come when we did. Once again, the museum was host to many famous names, such as Rembrandt, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Monet, Rodin, among others. I even saw a work of art that was included in an art book I had for a class last semester. My professor would have been so proud.
From here we continued to walk around, and slowly made our way back to the downtown area. I didn’t realize we were so close to the downtown area, but then again, most things in cities like these are close. I headed off to Zara while the guys went elsewhere, and we met back up again an hour later. If you are curious, I only bought a pair of boots, but they are very stylish and Swedish looking. Actually, instead of anyone saying “stylish” they should just say “Swedish” because the two are practically synonymous with eachother.
I bought some fresh fruit and a book to read tomorrow for the way home, which is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The rest of the night has been pretty low key, everyone is tired and I am also still sick with this annoying cold.
Tomorrow I am planning on getting up early to walk to the train station and fetch my bags, before repacking them all, and taking the express train to Arlanda. My first flight leaves at 1:30 p.m., but I would like to be there at least three hours ahead of time to make sure everything goes okay. One thing Sweden hasn’t changed about me is my OCD.
From Sweden to Iceland, from Iceland to the United States, and then it will be home sweet home sometime Friday afternoon.
Cheers to the last night in Europe, and a culmination of four long, interesting, telling, adventurous, climactic, distinct, amusing, and unexpected occurences.
But truthfully, I am actually excited to get back to my routine way of life.
And good coffee.