Ellie’s throat was sore and her ears plugged when she went to bed last night. We let her sleep in to get some rest. We don’t have any rest days until after we leave St. Petersburg. George and I slipped away while she slept and had a sunny breakfast on the buffet veranda. It felt so nice to wake up with coffee in the warm sun.
Ellie roused and we decided to forego another taxi adventure, and took the Hop On and Never Get To Your Destination Bus. The Stockholm Hop On bus really is a waste of money. It would be far quicker to walk. Traffic is heavy and it took us 90 minutes to reach Old Town. Mohammed the taxi driver had got us there in ten minutes. I can’t count Mr. Eeyore, taxi driver number two, because that poor man has some issues that will take more than a GPS to fix. Have to admit that every taxi we saw, we spontaneously called out “Good Taxi” or “Bad Taxi!”
We were in search of souvenirs and good photos of the city. Ellie has a natural eye for taking great pictures. My photos pale in comparison. After about four stores, George was done and wanted to sit and have a bite to eat. We ended up in a 13th century cellar under a food stand. We decided to just have something small and eat a full meal later. We ordered a small waffle, a bagel with salmon on it and two ice teas. Cost? $48. And the waffle was tough. This was just a dinky little food stand! The topper was it cost one Euro to use the toilet! If it wasn’t enough to pay $48 for a snack, then have to pay a Euro to use the toilet? We often pay, but it is never more than half a Euro. We decided to eat when we got back to the boat before our entire budget was spent on snack food. We discovered later that we weren’t the only people with the same notion.
After waiting for Ellie and I to do a some souvenir shopping, George was ready to call it a day. There weren’t places for husbands to wait. They ended up in groups, leaning against buildings. George took the Hop On and Make it to the Ship by Tomorrow bus and went back to the ship.
There were a lot of men not looking particularly happy. One old gent had a t-shirt emblazoned with:
“I’m not grumpy. I’m surrounded by People That Are Too Happy.” In the heat, I think there were more grumpy people than happy. Store clerks kept glumly kept repeating “No Air Conditioning in Sweden” and “It has been like this for three months!” Even with the thick 13th century walls of the Old Town, it was still hot and muggy.
We walked on, shopped on, and waited a good 40 minutes for the stupid Hop On and Hope We Get to The Ship Before it Sails Bus. A short 90 minutes later, we made the three mile journey to the ship. We could have easily walked it more quickly. After our wild taxi rides, I was reluctant to strike out walking with only a Hop On map, and could not believe the bus that was guaranteed to arrive every ten minutes wasn’t going to appear right around the corner. There was a huge crowd of worried cruisers waiting with us. The driver got cranky and said not everyone was going to fit, but there were more buses just ten minutes behind him. Yeah, right. This bus took 40 minutes and we are running out of time. We all shoved on and defied him to put somebody off. He wasn’t happy – but neither were we.
Back at the ship, everyone next shoved their way to the free food at the buffet. Ellie went off with her friends and George went back to bed. I strolled the ship and watched the ship slowly leave the harbor. We had arrived during the night and didn’t understand the magnitude of the islands in the archipelago. We sailed by hundreds and hundreds of islands. Many with homes – how do these people afford the gorgeous homes out on remote islands and afford to go out for dinner?
I checked on Google and nearly all families are two income. Rentals are almost impossible to find, 3-5 year waiting list. Best option is to buy – but you only purchase the right to live somewhere, not the property itself! Most people try to find a sublet circumstance and move every 6-12 months until your name comes up on the real rental list. Different, huh?
Pooped from the heat, we hit bed early to be ready for Estonia tomorrow. I’m hearing exciting things about Tallinn, and can’t wait to see it. Best news is the temperatures are supposed to be cooler. Oh my, to wear a sweater…..!