On the Move: Our Journey from Oldenburg to Turku

So Finland. There are various ways to get from Germany to the country of thousand lakes. First, of course, is flying. For someone who does research on renewable energy and blogs about sustainable travel by rail not really an option. At a much more leisurely pace you travel on the Travemünde–Helsinki ferry. However, a 29-hour overseas journey may not be super-exciting, especially when most of it is done during nighttime.

Therefore, we decided to take the following route: Travel to Stockholm by train, stay there for the night and then board the daytime ferry via the Åland Islands and through the Turku Archipelago. The latter is considered as one of the most stunning boat trips you can do in Europe.

Map Oldenburg Hamburg Copenhagen Stockholm Turku

Our Route: Oldenburg to Turku via Copenhagen and Stockholm

Oldenburg to Copenhagen

People use to say Oldenburg is a rainy city. It’s a cliche, especially in this hot summer. As if one last piece of evidence was needed, our beloved hometown sent us off with a blazing sun even at half past six in the morning.

The days and weeks before were tough. We had to give up two flats, clear the places at our former working group, and finally attribute all stuff into three categories: (1) take it to Finland, (2) store it six months and take it to Sweden and (3) leave it in Germany for two and a half years. That’s probably the reason why we reached Hamburg more asleep than awake.

After a coffee break, we boarded the Eurocity to Copenhagen. There are two noticable facts related to this train. First is that it stops at the other place in Germany called Oldenburg (as from the real Oldenburg, we consider it as fake). This always leads to funny situations during ticket control.

Second is that the entire train goes on a ferry to cross the Fehmarn Belt between Germany and Denmark. After the 45-minute passage, wodden houses and cross flags along the railway track gave a first touch of Scandinavia.

Oldenburg Germany ICE train

Leaving Oldenburg on a beautiful day

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof main station

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, the Danish train is already waiting

Train on the Puttgarden–Rødby ferry

Between Puttgarden and Rødby, the train goes on a ferry

Ferry Prinsesse Benedikte

On board the ferry “Prinsesse Benedikte”

Copenhagen main station

Stopover in Copenhagen

Copenhagen to Stockholm

We reached Copenhagen on time. Because this is not the usual case, our timetable had a two-hour buffer there. We spent it hanging around at the station and making contact with Danish prices (two cappuccinos and two pieces of pastry: 17,50 Euro).

We then boarded the X2000, Sweden’s version of the ICE. The first one was bound to Lund, where Doro spent an Erasmus semester a couple of years ago. The second train onwards to Stockholm didn’t have its best day. Not only it’s been 40 minutes late and most of the toilets were out of order, but also the air-condition surrendered to the heat. These trains are obvioulsy made to withstand -30 degrees Celsius, but not +30.

Luckily, there was one place in the train with decent temperatures: the bistro coach. So we had a good excuse to go there from time to time to eat something or grab a cooled Lättöl.

X2000 train Lund

For the next leg, we used the Swedish X2000 train

X2000 train interior

Interior of the X2000 – Swedish design at its best

Landscape Sweden

Landscape somewhere between Lund and Stockholm

X2000 train bistro coach

To cool down, we went in the bistro coach

Sleepover in Södermalm

Due to contruction work at Stockholm Central, our train ended already at the Södra station in Södermalm. For us this was good news. The station lies in walking distance to the Stadsgården ferry terminal, as well as the Scandic hotel we’d booked for the night.

Nevertheless, because it was getting late and because of our luggage – each of us carried two backpacks and a suitcase – we climbed into a taxi. A bad idea, as we soon realized. The walking distance suddenly transformed in an erratic city trip, for which the driver wanted more than 300 Swedish Krona. It was the first time we were ever cheated by a taxi driver.

Stockholm södra station

Arriving at Stockholm’s Södra station

Scandic Sjöfartshotellet Stockholm

Our hotel room gave us a taste for the next day

Stockholm to Turku

To be fair to the Stockholm taxi drivers: The next morning we experienced the exact opposite. The very polite and kind man, who even spoke German to us, brought us timely and at a reasonable price to the ferry terminal. There the Viking Grace was already waiting for us.

In the flagship of Viking Line we had booked a two-bed cabin. With private bathroom and direct view of the sea. You think that’s decadent? Wait for the price! It was 31 Euro per person. Or in other words: exactly the same amount, an undesired sightseeing tour through Sweden’s capital cost you when you arrive late in the evening, with heavy luggage and look like stupid tourists…

Viking Grace Stockholm

The Viking Grace

Viking Grace cabin

Our quite comfy and incredibly cheap cabin

We left Stockholm through the famous Skärgården, thousands of small island scattered into the sea. The viewing platform on deck 12 turned out to be the best place to enjoy the scenery. Again we were lucky with the weather. The sea was calm and the sky cloudless for the entire ride.

If you are from the Nordic countries, there are basically two things to do on this ship: drinking and sunbathing. The beer sold well even at nine o’clock in the morning. Some passengers did the cruise, which means they took the direct ferry back, just to enjoy the “entertainment” on board.

Apart from a short nap, we used our cabin only as a storage for our luggage. Instead, we stood most of the time with our mouths open on the railing. Why? Look at the pictures, we think they speak for themselves!

Viking Grace view Stockholm

Leaving the city center of Stockholm

Viking Grace view Stockholm Archipelago

From the rear part of the ship you have the best view

Viking Line Cinderella

Much traffic on that part of the Baltic Sea!

Norsepower Rotor Sail

Our ferry had some sort of renewable energy

Åland Islands Mariehamn

Intermediate stop at the Åland Islands

Viking Grace Turku Archipelago

A last view back before we reached our destination

Viking Grace Turku Archipelago

Arriving to the outskirts of Turku

Arriving at our new home

After a half-day journey that flew by, the time had come: we dived into the Turku Archipelago! Our new home showed itself from its best side. Sparkling sea, beaches and people having dinner in front of their cottages. They were so close, we could have spit on their heads.

Thanks to the perfect organisation of our host, we could pick up the keys for our apartment the same evening. The quite modern flat turned out to be pretty close to the city center, as well as to our future working place Åbo Akademi University, directly next to the Turku Cathedral.

After a first improvised dinner – including Karelian pasties, a traditional food from the eastern part of Finland – we had time for a quick walk into town. Although it was already after 11 o’clock in the evening, there was still enough light to take pictures with the mobile phone.

With these impressions we would like to finish this post. More to come in the next weeks. Stay tuned!

Turku Ferry Terminal

Turku’s ferry terminal in front of the castle

Turku Aurajoki River

Turku lies on the banks of the Aurajoki River

Turku Åbo Akademi

Åbo Akademi University lies directly next to the cathedral

Turku Cathedral

And here it is, Turku’s most famous landmark

1 Comment

  1. Cathedral looks like the one in Flensburg …

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