Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trip to Stockholm (65 days to go...)

25 days have gone real fast since my last post. In this time, I've submitted a group report on Idea Evaulation and Feasibility, done one exam, gone to Stockholm for 3 nights, submitted a group report on half-time academic and progress report for the engineering project, completed the basic functionality of a piece of VHDL that will run on hardware, hosted a Polish couple from CouchSurfing who were staying in Lund at my place for 3 nights, participated in the EBEC Gothenburg competition and cycled around east Gothenburg! That's a lot of things to have done so far, and I'm happy about it. There's a lot more to come as well. UNITECH report will be submitted tonight and I'm still on the search for an internship, now widening my search so it incorporates Scandinavia - just to name a few. I'll keep you updated on that front.

So I decided to take the plunge and go to Stockholm the next day after my exam on Thursday with Danish, a friend of mine from my engineering course. Although it was a tight schedule, we managed to visit numerous places and learn a lot in the process. On Friday, we first visited the City Hall (Stadshuset) on a guided tour. Got to learn a lot about politics and how its conducted in Sweden. Next, we visited the Nobel Museum (Nobelmusset), again on a guided tour. This time we learned about Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish!) and the history of the Nobel prize as well as prominent figures such as Marie Curie (aka Marie Skłodowska) who was a famous Polish physicist and chemist. Marie was also the first women to win the Nobel prize and to win it more than once. By this time, the attractions/museums were closing, so I said that we should go and visit the central Stockholm Library (Stockholm Stadbibliosteket). You wonder why? Well, there was a good friend of mine who visited this place during Christmas, and the picture she took looked like a Hollywood setup. I had to see this for myself and so we both went there. It's really amazing with the circular architecture, it just feels different from a normal library. You have to go and see it for yourself.

On Saturday, we got a chance to see across Stockholm by going on SkyView - on top of the Globe arena. On here we could see in many directions right across the city in the northern direction as the location of the Globe was in the south. The next stop was the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet). This is a museum which contains the world's only surviving 17th century ship with over 95% original parts. We participated in a guided tour and got to know many aspects about the ship as well as having a chance to study the exhibitions to learn more. After lunch, we visited The Royal Palace (Kungliga slottet) located in Gamla Stan. This is where the King conducts his day to day business. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures as they have to protect the items within from UV as they are from the 18th century. We got to see and learn a lot from the guided tour, which is much more better than seeing it on your own as its then just looking at old items and pictures. The final stop before dinner was the Museum of Science and Technology (Tekniska museet). There were many exhibitions here and we took lots of photos. The key ones to see were the 100 most important innovations of all time as selected by the Swedish people and the Inventions of Women.

Before we knew it, it was Sunday. The first thing we did was to go to the Kaknäs Tower (Kaknästornet) which is the hub of all TV and radio transmission in Sweden. You wonder, why would we go here? There is nothing technical to see here, but the key is that it is a 155-metre tower which gives a fantastic view of Stockholm and the city's surroundings. It's the ideal spot for absorbing Stockholm from such a height, much better than SkyView. The next stop was Drottningholm Palace (Drottningholms slott) which is far out in the west. This is where the Royal family reside. Unfortunately, we missed the bus stop and so we missed the guided tour, but we still got to see a magnificent building with lots of history. Again, no pictures are allowed here for the same reason. The final museum stop was the Observatory Museum (Observatoriemuseet) which Danish wanted to see. Did you know that the temperature measurement, Celsius was a Swedish invention? Named after Anders Celsius. Here we got to see the telescope that is used by researchers as well as amateur astronomers who like to gaze at the stars and planets in space. Now most things had closed, so we decided to visit our competitor KTH, The Royal University of Stockholm (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan). They have a newer electronic engineering building than ours at Chalmers. We most likely walked all over campus that even the students there would not do (note to self - to walk over all of Chalmers before leaving). We then went to Stockholm University, equivalent of our Gothenburg University for a quick look, and that place was a huge campus (not scattered around the city as much as GU) so we did not bother. We then spent the last couple of hours walking around the city in the evening. The city looks so different at night than in the day.

We departed from Stockholm on Monday morning in order to get back in time for the first lecture of quarter 4. Fortunately, we did not experience any delays in our train journey, which is mentioned quite regularly by Swedes. On both journeys, we arrived at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule. We took the fast train (3 hours) on the way to Stockholm and the InterCity train on the way back (4 hours). We stayed at Lodge32, a relatively cheap hostel with a good environment. I got to know a girl named Iris from Hong Kong who was studying in Tampere, Finland on exchange. Apparently she had seen me during the day on Friday at both the City Hall and the Nobel Museum, and I failed to spot her. We talked for hours on Friday night and this made the stay feel ever more special and worthwhile. Overall, for the train journey, hostel for 3 nights (excluding food) and the Stockholm Card (which includes transport and access to over 80 attractions & museums in Stockholm) it was just over 2000 kr which is approximately £200. This is a reasonable price, considering that we were visiting a city in a fairly expensive country. Would I go again if I had the chance? Definitely! Its such a nice and busy city, quite different from Gothenburg. You can feel that its the financial district with a lot of history, similar to London.

P.S. As pointed out by Danish, we had the opportunity to go to Stockholm Mosque to pray whenever it was prayer time. This was great as it meant we could fit our sightseeing around the prayer time, and we got to see the Muslim population of Stockholm that could fit into the mosque on Friday prayer (Jumaa prayer). Even though not all of them had very good English, they did the best to communicate with us and helped us out if we had any questions.

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