Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stockholm, Sweden

Actual date of this event: 12-14 July

To be honest, I don't even know where to begin in this blog post. Do I write about what we did? Do I write about what we saw? Do I write about the things we learned? No idea! So I will just write... bear with me please :)
I could say I love it and show you millions of pictures, but none of it will portray the awesomeness that is Stockholm. When I ask Luke if there is oil business in a certain city that we are visiting, you know it's a good one! Unfortunately, there is no chance in us moving to this beautiful place for oil :( But we did discuss how when we are older, we hope to have a summer vacation home in Stockholm... so amazing! (By the way: anybody got a thesaurus because I need to learn new words for amazing, awesome, super, great, etc)
Let's get on with it... Here are some things we learned:
1.) About the Swedes - Super friendly! Love to speak English... In fact, pretty much everyone spoke English very well. Even the street vendors spoke English!
2.) Water - The tap water is deeeelicious! No point in buying bottled water because this stuff was better. No joke.
3.) Views - I can't even begin to explain the views around the city. When in Gamla Stan (Old Town), looking down and through all of the streets, all you can see is water, cliffs, and colorful buildings in the distance. Just amazing!
4.) Secluded - For most people, this is a negative, but while in the city, you really feel like you are in another world. Yeah, it's similar to Europe in general, but so much better!
5.) Colorful - Buildings are so colorful! They are also very tall, like 4-7 levels high, so you don't know what else is around you when you are walking down a street. Then all of a sudden a very unique sight pops up out of nowhere!
6.) Hilly - Most of the city isn't too too hilly (or maybe I am just used to it) but some parts are like climbing a mountain. That's okay though because the views at the top of that mountain are beautiful!
7.) Islands - Stockholm is made up of tiny little islands everywhere (called an archipelago). Given the amount of time we had, we only made it onto a few of them. It's really cool because water surrounds you whether it is the canals, lakes, or the sea. 
8.) Canal Tour - We did the Under The Bridges canal tour which was pretty expensive but it was 2 hours long, and we got to enjoy the views from the water - we both agreed it was worth the cost. It really helped reassure us that we want to live there someday :)

above: People practice rocking climbing here. We passed by a couple practicing.
9.) Group trip - Luke and I really really wish we could have enjoyed this trip with other people. If you plan to visit, I highly highly recommend you gather some of your best buds to join you! How fun would it be to wander and get lost in these narrows alleys and be obnoxious Americans!?!?

10.) Outdoor Seating - Most of the cafes, restaurants, and bars have outdoor seating. When the weather is nice, sitting on a patio with a drink is the perfect thing to do!

11.) Sun bathing - Another strange one, but the weather was PERFECT for laying out and getting in the water. All of the locals were soaking up as much sun as possible by laying out their towels on the rocks along the water with their friends. If Luke and I had known the weather was going to be the way it was, our agenda and wardrobe would have been completely different! On the other hand, apparently the water freezes up in the winter and everyone walks out onto the ice. Fun!
Luke was the creep taking pictures of half-naked people on the rocks. Haha :-)
1.) 'SPANSIVE! This is to be expected as Stockholm is part of Scandinavia. Street food for dinner... $42. Street hot dogs, two of them... $11. One large pizza... $38. Uh huh 'SPANSIVE!
2.) Darkness - Part of our awesome visit included sun galore, temperatures in the high 70's, early sunrise (3:45am) and late sunset (10pm). You can bet though in the winter, it is even worse (8:45am sunrise and 2:45pm sunset). This is why we want a SUMMER home, not a winter home :)

Here are a few other things about the city of Stockholm that we enjoyed. Just a warning, some of the pictures were taken at different times of the day since we wandered by some of them quite a few times. 

Luke and I took the Arlanda Express from the airport which was 280SEK for two people one way (~$42). We also bought a 72 hour pass to allow us on the tunnelbana (metro) as much as we wanted. The T stations were very unique. Some of them were underground and some were not. They were kinda like caves with some having artwork. They were very spacious... if only London's tube stations were as spacious!

Parliament is located on its own little island. You can walk through a courtyard in the middle. Located in Gamla Stan, it is a good introduction to the Old Town and what to expect.

The Royal Palace is located right next to Parliament in Gamla Stan. I had difficult time seeing the different between the palace and parliament because they almost blend together. We saw the changing of the guards one day (see video below). And another day we witnessed a marching band followed by some guards that paraded around the streets to the Palace.

City Hall is located in Kungsholmen located across the water from Parliament. Because we visited on a Saturday, we saw quite a few brides who were either about to get married or had just gotten married. What a beautiful backdrop for a wedding! Cool fact: City Hall is where the Nobel Prize is presented every year.

Stortorget is the oldest public square in Stockholm. When you see a picture of Stockholm, it is usually of this square due to its colorful buildings. Surprisingly, the square wasn't super packed and there weren't any street performers or music or anything. It was kinda strange. The Nobel Museum is located in this square as well.

The Vasa Museum is Stockholm's top attraction on Trip Advisor. The museum is located in Ostermalm on Djugarden. The Vasa was Sweden's "most powerful" war ship. Why the quotations? Because it was built to be the most powerful ship but after 20 minutes of sailing, it sunk in the Baltic Sea before even reaching war with Poland. So why is it famous? It sunk in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961 after almost 340 years at the bottom of the sea. It was close to one piece when it was brought up from the water. The detail on the exterior was just amazing!

 below: This is what the ship looked like in the 1600's. So colorful!!
There are quite a few churches around Stockholm. We have been in so many churches throughout our travels that we don't have a huge desire to seek them out like we used to. Since we wander around most of the time, we stumble upon them by accident. In order from top to bottom: Riddarholmen - Located in Galma Stan, it is used only for burial and commemorative purposes these days. German Church - Located in Gamla Stan, this protestant church givens the 11am Sunday service in German. The Church of Saint Clare - Located is Normmalm, this Protestant church has the tallest steeple in all of Stockholm.

We had heard about the food vendor that sold "cheap" and good Swedish food. We thought we would check it out. Well, the cheap food came out to around $42 and did not fill us up. We both got a wrap filled with herring, salad, mashed potatoes and a few other tiny things. It was "interesting". Let's just say that after a few bites, I decided I did not like it but I kept eating it because it was spansive! Luke also got a toasty topped with herring and sauce. I didn't try any but later in the evening he told me that it was better than the wrap and didn't tell me because he didn't want me to eat it all. Thanks loving hubby!

I read about the Monteliusvägen Path on WikiTravel and it was one of my favorite things we did in Stockholm. It is a bit of a hike uphill, but it is soooooo worth it especially at sunset. Luke and I missed sunset by just a few minutes, but not a big deal. We had a few beers, sat on a bench and just enjoyed looking at the city from above. The first picture below is from 10:45pm, and the two pictures of us were from around 10:15pm. The path is about a half mile long, so we walked along it and back. A must-do when in Stockholm!!

I really hope we can go back again someday. I feel the city could definitely be done with a few young kiddos... or older kiddos. It is also the type of city that you don't really need to plan for. Obviously a map is helpful, but there are free maps located on the streets and you can get one with the canal tour brochures. I highly highly suggest making this a must-see city at some point in your life!

Luke and I learned on our canal tour that moms and dads get over a year of paid maternity/paternity leave. For seriously. Can you believe that????? Oh wait, that's why stuff is so expensive.


  1. I think all of Scandinavia gets the year long paid maternity/paternity leave - thats how it was in Norway too. Its pretty awesome!

    1. It's 12 months paid maternity leave in the U.K

    2. Wow! Had no idea! A few months ago, a native to Britain called Americans slaves because they get very few paid time off. Thanks for keeping me informed folks! These are some of the reasons why I love living abroad!!


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