As much as any place we visited on this trip, I could live in Stockholm. It’s a wonderful place. We were given the opportunity to quickly visit Stockholm on our way back from Venice. The flights from Venice to New York often had layovers in Stockholm. Flying from Venice to New York on Tuesday, with a layover in Stockholm, was rather expensive. Flying from Venice to New York on Thursday was also expensive. However, the flight from Venice to Stockholm on Tuesday was cheap, while the flight from Stockholm to New York was cheap. So instead of completing the travel on the same day, I decided to book the Venice – Stockholm leg for Tuesday, then complete the journey to New York on Thursday. That meant we got 36 hours in glorious Stockholm.
My father was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1949. I have always been fascinated by this part of my family heritage (although his family is actually much more Latvian than Swedish), but I had only been to Sweden once before, and only the southern part. This time spent in Stockholm was so inspirational and comfortable that I’m already counting down the days until I can visit again. Sweden is definitely a place I could get used to.
We stayed in a hotel on a boat, the Mälardrottningen. The hotel was reasonably priced and was close to the old town (or Gamla Stan), so we decided to book it. This ended up being a good idea. While the room was small and it took a couple days for me to shake the feeling that I was on a boat every time I closed my eyes, the hotel was comfortable and the breakfast, included in the price, was fantastic. The buffet offered a full array of traditional Swedish dishes and was a welcome way to start our day.
If you have ever been to Stockholm in summer, your immediate memories likely consist of clear, crisp air and cool water. While summer in Stockholm can be quite warm, when compared with the humidity of southern Europe, the Stockholm summer is pure refreshment. Walking through the city along its many islands and breathing in the fresh air makes you feel alive. The city is clean and accessible, with plenty of beautiful trees and cool, blue water. Meander through the winding streets of Gamla Stan and drink it all in, as Stockholm is a treat for all.
The Stockholm archipelago consists of 24,000 islands; the city proper stretches over 14 of them
The streets of Gamla Stan
Riddarholmen Church, on Riddarholmen Island
Fantastic little fishing shop in Gamla Stan
Stortorget, the main square of Gamla Stan
Skorkyrkan, Gothic cathedral in Gamla Stan
Thou shalt not selfie in Storkyrkan
More Gamla Stan
A charming intersection
I love the design of these buildings
I’d love to settle in for dinner at the table on that boat
A Volvo…how cliche…
One thing that Sweden is not, is cheap. We decided to enjoy some standard Swedish fare without the exorbitant prices by stopping at a supermarket. There, we were able to pick up some fixings for a delicious cream cheese and lox sandwich. (Granted, this may be more Jewish fare than, say, Swedish…but the Swedes still enjoy their lox – usually in the form of gravlax, in which the salmon is cured in salt, sugar, and dill.) We added some onions and capers to the mix, and we had a delicious (and large) sandwich for a pretty small cost. Not bad for an impromptu Swedish picnic.
We spent the afternoon at Skansen, which is billed as an outdoor museum of Swedish history. At the risk of experiencing an afternoon of kitsch, we heeded the positive reviews and walked to the museum.
Skansen opened in 1891 as a way to show how people live in various parts of Sweden. Founder Artur Hazelius had over 150 homes from around the country shipped, piece by piece, to Skansen and rebuilt. Small villages have been brought in and rebuilt to depict life at various times and locations in Sweden’s history. The historical aspect is well done, as reproductions of homes and lifestyles give you an insight into the way that Swedish people have worked and lived for centuries.
I especially enjoyed the kolonilotters, or small allotment sheds. These small homes were rented out, with a small plot of land, to grow food for the family of the person who was renting it.
Thankfully, Skansen is an adult’s playground, as we got to sample some local Stockholm beer.
The exhibit on the Sami people was quite interesting. The Sami are the indigenous natives of Scandinavia. Despite being treated as second-class citizens in Scandinavia for hundreds of years, they gained some rights during the 20th century. I had very little knowledge of this group, so it was enlightening to learn about them. This is a traditional Sami raised storehouse (on stilts to prevent animals from getting into the storehouse).
So that sums up our first day in Sweden. We did, however, enjoy a fantastic Swedish dinner, which we will share with you next time!