Throwback: Uppsala castle

Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

I was browsing some photos and found that a year ago it was quite fine weather, and clearly spring was on its way. This year March has felt like November - rain, snow, grey. But now, let's go back one year to enjoy the sunshine!

There was still too much sand on the roads to go out cycling, but a fine day required spending time outdoors. I decided it would be a great opportunity to venture out, and see a bit more than just the same streets of Stockholm. Uppsala is an easy place to visit, as the train service is very frequent and quite affordable. I think I paid around €15 for return trip on weekend. No pre-booking is needed and you can buy tickets from vending machines at both stations. I bought singles as there wasn't a difference in price, and you would have to choose which train to take back already when buying. There was no day return option unfortunately.

Uppsala is mostly known as an old ruling place, because it has some Viking remains and of course the university is famous too. I touched on all these points during my quick trip, it was bit shallow but nevertheless fun and welcomed change. The trip started on a positive note, as when I went to the tourism office to get the city map, I realised Peter-no-tail is from Uppsala. He is a tailless cartoon cat that has adventures around town in books and animations, a character that was very familiar to kids when I was growing up. I don't remember much, apart from liking the stories.

Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

It is arguable what in Uppsala is the most famous side, but it is undeniable that the castle has the most prominent physical presence. The castle has changed a lot over the centuries, which might make it even more fascinating. It is no longer in the old, traditional castle layout, but it has some venue spaces, offices, county governor residence, and museums. The castle is important in the Swedish history, as it used to be the seat of the King and has been the venue for many pivotal events like Queen Kristina's abdication, announcement of the war that became Thirty Year's War, and Sture Murders. It also burned badly in 1702, after which the castle was turned to county government's seat. Nowadays the castle can be visited, it has an art museum that has free entry, and a nice cafe. Adjacent to the castle there is also a garden, which is probably quite nice when it get warmer and greener.

The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.

The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.

What have I been up to?

University, of course, that along with job applications is the standard answer for anything right now. However, these past few weeks have also offered me something else that I have been missing: both holiday and free time (it is not given a 'holiday' will not include coursework), and some new places.

The week before Easter I packed my red suitcase and headed to Helsinki, again from my favourite airport Bromma near Stockholm city centre. (Which reminds me that I should return to airport reviews - I have material for so many more!) The flight was very early, and having to check in luggage meant leaving just after 5.30. I made my way home, unpacked and repacked the suitcase to catch the overnight flight to Delhi. Flight went ok, I managed to sleep a little between dinner and breakfast. The fingerprint check for the electronic visa is always an exercise, I don't get the machines or they don't get me :D The connection was pretty smooth, and we refuelled with overpriced airport Starbucks, but the breakfast options were quite limited.

Next flight to Bangalore as again quite fine, I think we were delayed, but I read and slept so it went fine. It keeps amazing me that Delhi-Bangalore is 2.5 hrs, just a bit shorter than from Helsinki to London. India is huge. Bangalore traffic is still bad. I didn't check how long it took for us to cover the 40km journey, but probably it was around two hours. I had an accidental nap to compensate for the two short nights which made the drive much nicer. During travels I am a chronic napper though - as soon as we had had lunch, I went to take another nap, and slept for couple more hours.

Vanha laukku on nähnyt maailmaa ainakin tarrojen perusteella!

Vanha laukku on nähnyt maailmaa ainakin tarrojen perusteella!

Bangalore overall was nice, quite relaxed, and a mix of things that were new to me (cake, tea shop, some restaurants), and returning to old favourites (clothing shopping, food at home and out). Even though we did not have too much to do, it was still hard to relax. I realised I am not used to the noise levels, and street sounds are quite high at night too. Additionally, it was very hot during the days (30-35), so air-conditioning and fan were needed. They of course add to the sounds as well, so there is background noise even when you are sleeping.

The newest aspect of the trip was Delhi where we stopped on our way back for the last day. We went around some sightseeing things, and it was interesting to see a third major Indian city and how different it was again to the others, Bangalore and Mumbai. Flight back felt again forever long, even though it is only around an hour longer than the other way. I watched a movie, which for me is always a nice bonus on long-haul flights. I get to see films that I would like to go and see in theatre but then I just don't get round to it.

We came back on Easter Monday, it was stand arrival due to construction work. I had sandals and it had snowed 15 cm... I managed to stay dry thankfully. The time difference is not much, only 2.5 hours, but somehow it was very weird to be back. Both of the experiences, home and India, were real and true, but on that Monday they felt like a world apart. I am so happy I planned to stay home for few days before returning to Stockholm. That enabled some more easy-going days, and an opportunity to take care of the less pleasant side of travelling that involves unpacking and laundry. On top of that, my suitcase was damaged on the way to Delhi from Helsinki, so I had to deal with that as well. It is very unfortunate the suitcase was damaged as it was only three years old, and otherwise would have been good for many more trips. Luckily there was a renovation sale in the luggage shop that I went to, and I did not have to spend much money on getting a new one. It is still Samsonite, just like my two previous ones, and the same extra light suitcase material as the red one. 

My flight back to Stockholm was during the day, I think by the time I booked it I thought I am done with too early mornings. 6.50 is not an ideal time to take off. Having an ongoing university project meant that I was not done for the travelling when I reached my Stockholm home. It was quite the opposite. I had some 1.5 hrs to unpack, and repack for an overnight trip to Malmö where we had a workshop with a client. I took the train, which took in total little over five hours with the delays. Thankfully the internet was quite good, and I also had time to grab a small meze plate and tea from the station before departure.

Friday was spent in workshop and travelling back to Stockholm, and I got to repeat my post-travel routines by doing laundry on Saturday morning. It has been nice to be back, despite the laundry :)

Lux Helsinki

The annual Helsinki outdoor light show Lux Helsinki actually took place towards the end of the holiday, but I decided I will write about holiday in whatever order I feel like. 

I have always visited Lux Helsinki when possible, and each year it has been bigger and more popular than before. This year the popularity was further increased due to relatively warm weather after few days of freezing temperatures. During the first days the temperature was -20C degrees, but by weekend it was only few minus degrees. Additionally, it feels like the "lights on" time has decreased, packing the visitors to fewer hours, but I am not sure though. Over the nine years the event has changed a lot: now there are both videos and sound when compared to first years. Another change is the tighter focus in the city centre area. Maybe around five years ago the route was all the way from the Cathedral to the Olympic Stadium, but this year it was mostly circling the Cathedral. I suppose this also has an impact as the larger crowds don't spears so much. 

The huge popularity, which is also becoming international, is of course very great thing, but long gone are the days when you could enjoy the installations with just few fellow observers without the crowds :D

Below are some (shaken) photos of this year's offering! The Cathedral is usually very nice, but this year it was a bit of a disappointment. Instead my favourite was a video about a bear and a lynx in a fores. It was by Marimekko and displayed on the wall of the Bank of Finland. I even took some video of it, but I am not technically advanced enough to post it here today. I will sort out posting videos some other time.

Back for a month

I came back from travels yesterday, and today will be exactly a month to go until my next trip begins. In between I have two modules to cover, so the tight schedule will continue. I have somewhat recovered from travelling, but not so much that I would have checked what the new modules are. I can do that later today or even tomorrow. All lectures and seminars automatically appear in my calendar, which is very convenient. 

The modules take three weeks, and the last week is dedicated to other university related programme. CEMS is a collaboration degree between around thirty business schools, and I am enrolled in that too. It is another degree on top of your standard masters degree. Annually all graduates gather in one participant school to celebrate the graduation, and this year it will be hosted by SSE. Even though I won't be graduating yet, I will take part in the event organisation. The programme runs from Wednesday to Sunday, and the main event, the graduation itself, will be held at Globen on the first Saturday of December. I have volunteered for almost every day, and I am awaiting for more information on schedule.

After the CEMS weekend we have a day off, a short introduction to the next period, and then we are off for Christmas! It is not pure holiday though, as we have four hand-ins during the break. Luckily they can be done remotely, so everyone can decide if they wish to stay in Stockholm or go somewhere else. My travel plan for the break is Stockholm-Helsinki-India-Helsinki-London-Stockholm, so it will be quite a lot of travelling again :D

On the road again

I'm in the middle of four weeks, four countries tour. I returned from surprisingly sunny UK couple days ago to the grey and grim Stockholm, and fly over to Finland for few days next week. On Saturday I will board the ferry to Riga with my class, and we will spend two weeks there working on client cases and living somewhere in Riga old town (any Riga tips are most welcome). 

The challenge will be to keep healthy while travelling, lot of bus and planes does not do good for the body! There will also be four languages and three currencies, and I already felt bit confused yesterday when I was doing groceries :D Riga will be completely different as well, since I will not understand anything once we get there. It has been a long time since I have been in a country where I have zero capability in understanding the local language. I think the last time was my friend's wedding in Lithuania three years ago, and even there I was always around someone who was fluent. It will be an interesting trip for sure!