I think we’ve established by now that I have not been the most fantastic at blogging immediately during my time in Norway. It has been a different experience because rather than simply traveling, I have been working and leading an everyday life and I have not yet mastered to include stories on a regular basis. But thanks to an awesome world of air miles, I recently had quite an excursion around select parts of Europe over our school’s winter holiday. I tried to keep notes along the way so I could share a few stories.
Here it is…Vinterferie: First Stop… Stockholm.
Stockholm has been on my list of things I should do while living in Norway, but it was almost looking like I wouldn’t make it in the time I have left here. Also, after not totally loving Gothenburg last spring, I was unsure about whether I wanted to spend valuable funds on another stop in Sweden. However, by the grace of the higher powers that rule the world of air miles, I stumbled upon an option to stop in Stockholm on my way to Budapest. It planted the idea and well, I just can’t pass up a free stop over. And so this is where my journey begins.
I arrived in Stockholm and settled quickly into the hostel so I could enjoy the rest of the day. I started a little after 4 so it was already getting dark and was exceptionally cold and snowy and windy. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me on the first day of my adventure, so I wandered around the slightly ominous back alleys of Old Town (actually one of the best preserved medieval towns) for the evening.
I always find it a bit funny getting advice in new places. I stopped into the tourist office to ask for some recommendations about eating in Old Town since this is where I was headed. I was told “mmmm you might find something but it will be overpriced and not that great.” And yet I crossed the bridge and walked into a wonderland of shops and restaurants. Not to mention I conveniently entered the street that had the highly recommended vegetarian restaurant I had read about and a vegan cafe. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be looking much further for dinner, and was slightly relieved based on the vague and generally unhelpful advice I had received earlier. I forgot to add that after telling me that I would probably not find something suitable to eat here, there was no real advice on where to eat instead. Thank goodness for reading up on Trip Advisor as back up! Even though it was a Friday night in a city, it is still Scandinavia and many of the shops were closing down between 5 and 6. I really didn’t need souvenirs or pashminas, so instead I found all the chocolate shops and welcomed their warmth while resisting their temptations between freezing my fingers off taking photos. Since I had checked it would be open a little later than other shops I wandered my way back to the vegan cafe and warmed up with a lovely chai. It was easy to pass the time as it was quiet and the man who worked the shop was quite chatty. He had recently moved from the UK and we were sharing travel stories and comparing my time in Norway versus his new experiences in Sweden. The shop owner joined us as it got closer to closing time. The stop made for lovely company, people watching, and the cozy feeling of warm tea in a small shop in the midst of the old medieval streets. I had also heard about how great the veggie restaurant was, yet again, so I decided that is where I would find dinner. I tried to squeeze out one more hour of wandering through the streets a different way than I had gone previously, before the numbing cold took over and I had to call it a night. Fully frozen, I headed back to Hermitage ( the veggie restaurant) to check out the grub. It was a buffet style which I am not always into, but it was DELICIOUS. I really could only eat one plate because everything was so filling but for 110 kr, I didn’t feel like I hadn’t gotten my monies worth. Overall, I think it was a good find knowing the prices of most things in this region are high. And if this was the expensive area, then I was ok with that.
Unfortunately, my bed was quite uncomfortable, but the internet was good, so I had a chance to skype home before day one exhaustion set in and I totally crashed out. The next morning I got up early and was about to head out to the museums when I heard back from my friend Elisabeth who lives in Stockholm. So i postponed my wandering and we had a wonderful visit over yummy yummy coffee. The start of my latte/cappuccino problem for the next 10 days. Man lattes in europe are so darn delicious. It was really nice to see her since it has been a while since she was in Stavanger and I am glad we caught each other before i headed to the other side of town. After our visit, I continued my wandering in the direction of the museums. It was fun to take in the city on a saturday morning with families out and ice skating in the park. It was fairly clear out so that was an improvement too from the night before.
I had heard great things about the museums and would definitely tell everyone to go as well. I only had so much time though because, of course, they are not open late. So I narrowed it down to the Vasa museum (in the pictures with the big giant Viking ship) and the Skansen Museum (also pictured mostly as animals). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the outdoor museum as well. Of course it was freezing, but I had way too much fun in the zoo and all the Nordic Animals looked so at home in the snow. As you will see I was minorly obsessed with the reindeer. Too many of those Jan Brett books growing up I guess.
Anyways, long story short, if you’re in Stockholm do a couple of museums. They are also very kid friendly and they even have a children’s fairytale museum. This museum also randomly had delicious lactose/gluten-free food options and was delicious!! I don’t know about other people from North America, but eating at a museum was always kind of yucky and over priced at it was always made a point to go for lunch somewhere else. Or on occasion, it would be way too fancy for some afternoon at the museum grub. This might not even be true, but it is the mentality I sort of had before Norway. Here it is very popular to go to the concert house or museum to eat without even going to the exhibit or show. It’s just because it is a good restaurant. Well same in Sweden it seems. I half wanted to go into the children’s museum, maybe less so when I saw all the kids inside, but instead was able to just walk in and have a delicious late lunch. If you have food allergies and want to try some traditional Swedish meatballs or pancakes, Junibacken is your place!
I took the ferry back to old town so I could see the view from the water and this was much cheaper than any tourist boat. I don’t think Stockholm is the place to pay for a tour. Many of the attractions are grouped closely together and definitely manageable on foot or with a bit of public transportation. It would be lovely place in summer (as everywhere in northern Europe it seems like) but I actually loved it in the snow. I wouldn’t want to come on a rainy weekend if I had a choice. I liked seeing the medieval buildings glittered in white, the copious amounts of places to scoot in and warm up. Overall a fresh and welcome take on another Scandinavian stop. I thought it was going to be more of a place I was happy to say I went but not worry about going back but i think it would be a ton of fun to visit again. I would see more of the museums, maybe take classes, walk around, enjoy the food and coffee etc. Also coming from Norway it is decent in price for a weekend. I know it is expensive compared to lots of places, but I didn’t feel so bad enjoying what Stockholm had to offer when looking at the prices.
Overall, Stockholm gets my stamp of approval 😉 Here are the photos…warning: you might want to get a warm cup of tea and a blanket – it looks cold haha.