We had high hopes for the better part of a week in Stockholm. We landed on a Tuesday and our flight out was not until Sunday morning. On the first day, we were so jet-lagged from travelling Memphis-La Guardia-JFK-Stockholm that we accepted finding the hotel and getting a meal as a win. Day 2 started out great, with a visit to the Vasa Museum and planning a short ferry ride that turned into an early end to our day. Day 3 was also amazing, featuring the Royal Palace and a walking tour of Old Town that was informative and fun – we had a great guide. Things began to derail a bit as Anna’s leg injury seemed to spread and we missed a day to the doctor’s office. Then a rookie mistake had us booking a hotel near the airport 90 minutes from town. We caught the bus early thinking that we would explore the town of Skavsta before our flight the next day. Well, the airport is evidently all there is in Skavsta. We ate dinner in the hotel lobby (the only restaurant besides the counter in the airport) and were consoled by the fact that this was only week 1 of 32 on the trip. Thank goodness for that! We resolved to make each upcoming week count. Stockholm was, even with the failed plans, really awesome. Even through the changes to our plans we stayed in high spirits and enjoyed it very much.
Impressions of Stockholm:
- Everyone speaks English. From the hotel staff, to the nice man who sold us a SIM card, to the girl behind the counter at Burger King – everyone switched to English flawlessly.
- Burger King is everywhere. In the US McDonalds may have won the burger wars, but evidently not so in Scandinavia. And inside, all signs, menus, etc. are in English.
- What is Swedish food anyway? Most all we saw were burgers, pizza, and Belgian waffles. Anna and Karen did find some potato and leek soup at the Vasa Museum.
- Tall, beautiful, blonde people are everywhere, but… Sweden (at least Stockholm) was a very multi-cultural city. All shapes and shades were represented well.
- All shapes and shades of automobiles are not represented well. I swear, 95 out of 100 vehicles was a station wagon. Old, new, European, American or Japanese, if it’s not a delivery van, it’s someone’s wagon.
- The subway (T-bana) was very nice. Like, super nice. Pristine. It made me want to take my shoes off while I was on the train.
- Building painters have the right idea. No bland cityscapes here. Everything building and home is tastefully painted.
- Sidewalks are everywhere. There are no excuses to avoid hoofing it or using public transportation (did I mention how clean it was?).
- Pay toilets. If you gotta go, you had better have a few krona in your pocket.
- Religion seems to have died with Edith Hamilton. Norse gods got the final section in Hamilton’s Mythology, and they were apparently also the last ones that the Swedish bought into. The Church was mentioned several times in our tours (mostly related to wars and marriages), but per our guide, only around 3% of Stockholm residents practice any faith.
- The Swedes have a very self-deprecating sense of humor toward themselves and their history. In 1810 the king had no heir, so the nobility went outside the country and found one. He was French, so they changed his name from Jean-Baptiste to something a little more Swedish, Charles XIV John. He never bothered to learn to speak Swedish. They came over in the winter, so of course 2 weeks later the new queen went back to France because it was too cold. Her son, the future king, came back for the first time when he was fully an adult to see the country he would rule. What do those markings mean? Where did this place get its name? Why 3 crowns over the State Building? No one knows. The palace burned in 1697. Guess where the national library was with all of the historical records? Every time a question was asked, a similar answer was received.
We really enjoyed our time here, and it is definitely worth a return to see more of the country. We might even want to visit the other guys, Denmark, who have warred with Sweden more than any other two nations in history (36 times). -ALaff
Click pics to zoom