Ah. Sweden. For those that don’t know, I am descended from strong Swedish stock. Sure, I have some other nationalities rolling through my veins but due primarily to my very Swedish last name, I have always associated my heritage mostly as Swedish. So from the first minute our train passed the Swedish border it started to feel like home.
Kara and I were admittedly kind of excited to leave behind the cold and hungry times we had in Norway. The forecast was looking up and we were excited to explore a new city. Stockholm. Oh Stockholm. First off, it is beautiful. I love the water and so a city made up of many little islands is particularly exciting for me.
Street view of Stockholm
If you go to Stockholm, I guarantee you will spend a lot of time in the city’s old town: Gamla Stan. You want to see why?
The old town area feels like a step back in history. It is clean and charming and full of beautiful buildings and interesting street corners.
In this picture you can see how colorful the buildings are:
We loved Gamla Stan. It is it’s own little island located in the center of the city. You can walk to it from several bridges connecting the other islands making up Stockholm. Aside from all the picturesque views, Gamla Stan also houses the royal palace. We tried to tour the palace but when we were there the main area was closed to visitors so we just watched the changing of the guards instead. (You can see our little homemade video here.)
A few things you can gather from this video: 1. My blood sugar must have been very low considering the violent shaking of my hands. 2. We are very patriotic. and 3. My hair. I know–it is wild and I look like a orphan living in the time of Annie. I just wanted you to know that I know that you know. Okay, moving on.
Kara and I stayed in hostels while in Scandinavia. I only mention this because while in Stockholm we heard about a boat hostel. So we thought, we are here one night, why not give it a go?
Kara proudly posed outside of our tiny home for the night. Our room was on the bottom floor of the boat and gave us a tiny view out to the street.
It was a nice novelty to sleep on the ocean in a room smaller than my closet but in the end I really preferred this view:
Gamla Stan at dusk.
We did do more than hang out around old town. Although would you blame us if we didn’t? One of the things we did was eat. Oh, we ate in Sweden. Kara was determined the whole trip to eat a hot dog from a street vendor and finally we found our first one in Stockholm. It is safe to say that Chorizo dog was the single most blissful hot dog I have ever tasted in my life. We had two more the next day.
We went to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is this really enormous ship that sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the ship was recovered from the ocean. Due to the unique quality of the water in the area, the ship survived without too much deterioration.
I would for sure recommend going to see this ship if you go to Stockholm. What I thought was most interesting was the detail of all the carvings on the ship. It is amazing how much artistry went into a military ship of the time.
The other interesting fact is that when the ship sailed, it would have been painted in crazy colorful hues. Seriously, our guide told us that every inch would have been painted. Here are some examples:
Can you imagine? Anyway, interesting stuff.
One of the complications of our visit was that the ferries and many boats were on strike. We managed to find one boat that was running and thus went on the only trip we could. We visited one of the islands in the archipelago.
Us on the boat.
We spent 2 hours on Fjaderholmarna which is a very small island that houses a few shops, artist’s workshops, and some places to eat food–but no hot dog stands, we looked. It is a very short walk around the island but it is a beautiful one.
I never quite got comfortable on this island due to the wild birds that made it clear they didn’t like me once I started taking pictures of them. I don’t like wild birds very much. Kara was much braver than I:
No way would I ever get close to that hole in the tree. Super creepy.
Our last few hours in Stockholm were spent looking for a souvenir. Now, I am not a big cheesy touristy souvenir person. But I had in my head that I wanted a great jacket that said Sweden on it (or something). You know, because I am SO Swedish. We went into pretty much every shop we could find but sadly, I could find nothing that I could bring myself to purchase. There is really no point to me telling you this except to warn you that the souvenir situation is dire. Stockholm can’t be perfect I guess…but it is pretty close.
Next time: A morning spent in our ancestor’s hometown.