Stockholm is a beautiful city with many contrasting personalities. It has achieved a wonderful balance between modernity and antiquity where many cities have not. The many islands and canals create a sense of unknown and, at times, mystery. In November, Stockholm has some pretty pleasant weather. There was no snow, only some rain and fog, but not enough to put a damper on my visit.
I only had three days here and I am not quite sure if it was enough. There are so many places to visit, so many restaurants and bars to check out. I will not talk again about the cost of Scandinavian countries, that was mentioned in my blog on Tromsø. I will instead mention some of the places I visited while in Stockholm and I hope to help you decide if you would ever want to check them out on your own.
One of the first things I did in Sweden, was visit the H&M flagship store. I am not a HUGE H&M fan, but I think that it should be visited in its country of origin. It was necessary to switch my wardrobe from late summer to winter, and when you are on a budget, H&M is the place to go. The choice of inventory is not any different than what I saw in other European countries, other than a couple extra styles and possibly lower prices. Point of the story is, H&M is reliable in times of need. While I am on the topic of original Swedish merchandise, I did not see one IKEA anywhere in my week in Sweden. The furniture is everywhere, but I am not quite sure where it comes from. Maybe it is a bigger phenomenon in North America than it is in Scandinavia…that is a mystery to be solved next time around.
A fellow couch surfer from Vienna named Martin happened to be in Sweden during the same time period and met me in Stockholm for a little bit of sightseeing. I invested in the 72-hour SL Travel Card (230 SEK) which gave me access to all the public transportation in the city plus a few ferry lines. We took a ferry over to Djurgården where you can find the Skansen Museum. This exhibit has been set up as a historic town demonstrating the homes of the time and trades and activities that would have gone on there. The Stockholm Zoo is also included in the museum and houses animals found in Scandinavia. You can even bring your own food and grill it on communal grills found in the centre of the island. It was a really enjoyable day, despite some rain. I also visited the Vasa Museum, which I must say is fantastic! From what I remember, the Vasa was a ship sponsored by the King of Sweden, but it was not built correctly so when it set sail on its maiden voyage it sank a couple kilometres off shore. I found this somewhat amusing to be honest. The ship was found and restored and now sits in the centre of the museum with all the other exhibits built around it. It is a definite must see if you happen to visit Stockholm, I promise you will not be disappointed.
I have to mention a super cool bar I went to in Gamla Stan, which is the old part of Stockholm. Gamla Stan is full of cobble stone roads and closely packed homes with lanterns and cafes all along its narrow streets; a truly mystical place. Now this bar, which is called Sjätte Tunnan, is an underground medieval bar that has candles for lighting and walls of stone. I wouldn’t suggest this place for the claustrophobic individuals out there. They even have medieval music and pints of mead. How much cooler can it get? The tables and benches are made of wood covered in animal skins and the bartenders are dressed in costumes. It is such a great place to experience. They have a beer selection from all over the world, and some microbrewery choices from local Swedish producers. Go drink and let loose!
Finally, one of my favourite experiences in Stockholm occurred at the City Hall on a foggy night. After taking a very long walk around the city, I came to City Hall which has a courtyard on the side facing the water. As I mentioned, it was very foggy, and I could barely see the water straight ahead of me once I reached the stone wall. There was darkness all around and I could not help but feel that something was there with me, it was a very creepy experience. In a city full of canals, much like Amsterdam, fog can be a powerful force of nature.
Stockholm is a beautiful city, everyone should visit it one day when they find the passion, the time, and the money. Everything functions properly, the people are polite, and you will have no problems getting around the city. There are great discounts for youth, students, and elderly individuals too, even more incentive to travel. Please go, you won’t regret it.
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