Where I grew up in California, winters aren’t very cold. It gets a maximum low of about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s only snowed in my area twice my whole life. This Christmas was my first Christmas away from my family, and since I had the opportunity to celebrate a “White Christmas” I decided to go on a group trip to Scandinavia. I visited Helsinki Finland, Saint Petersburg Russia, Tallinn Estonia and Stockholm Sweden by cruise ship and it was by far my favorite trip since being in Germany. I explain the cities I’ve visited below.
Helsinki, Finland – December 23, 2017
The first official stop of my journey was in Helsinki, Finland. The city was a good introduction to the region, with some old churches and a nice downtown area. It reminded me a lot of Seattle in that the market in Helsinki is very similar to Pikes Market and the harbors of both cities have a Ferris wheel. Overall recommend for day trips but nothing more.
Saint Petersburg, Russia – December 24, 2017
Our next stop was Saint Petersburg, and it really impressed me. I came in with no expectations for the city, and was pleasantly surprised of the city’s sights and layout. From the Russian style on many buildings to a copy cat Saint Basil’s Cathedral it was such a treat to be there. It was very cold though, the winds were really strong and it was snowing hard at some points. But in the end it was all fun and something I will never forget.
Tallinn, Estonia – December 25, 2017
Tallinn was also a surprise for me as well. I haven’t heard of the city before I went on this trip, and I feel like because of that it really gave me a good impression. The city is surrounded by a wall and is on a hill overlooking the Baltic Sea. Tallinn itself reminded me of Tübingen because of the layout of the old city. It has a small town feel but it’s defiantly a big city, the most livable place out of all the cities I’ve visited. If you ever go to Scandinavia make sure to stop by here!
Stockholm, Sweden – December 26, 2017
On our last day of the trip we were in Stockholm, Sweden. Before coming to Sweden I had no idea what to expect, but at the end I was blown away by the beauty of the city. The city sits on the shores of the Baltic Sea, with many islands constituting the city itself. Walking through the old city of Stockholm was breathtaking, as you go through it you pass by old buildings and churches in narrow streets. Outside of the old town area you reach the harbor, with the breathtaking views of the buildings surrounding Stockholm. I wish I had more time there, and I might plan to return before going home. Stockholm by far is my favorite city I have visited in Europe so far.
In conclusion, what was at first me being sad about not going home for Christmas turned into the best Christmas I’ve had in my life. I am very thankful that I was able to do this once in a lifetime trip and meet some awesome people from all over the world. Just another day in the life of a college student studying abroad I suppose!