Scandinavia! Day 5 – Still Stockholm

We had another late morning today – we didn’t get moving until nearly 11. We took the subway into town and walked over to City Hall, or Stadshuset. There we got tickets for the tower tour and had about 25 minutes to kill. We wandered the grounds – it’s right on the water so there are some nice views. The most interesting view, however, was the Stormtrooper! I have a picture of him below.

The tower tour has two options for the first half – you can walk all the way up (about 365 steps) or you can take an elevator halfway and then walk the rest. Mom and Dad took the elevator; Andy and I walked. I had to stop and rest once, so I know I need to get in better shape. Up top the views are amazing. I took plenty of pictures, and so did Andy. Only one spot made my stomach flip, but I did grip the rail firmly the entire time. Heights, I do not love thee.

We had lunch in a cafe on the grounds of City Hall, then stepped outside to discover a marathon had started while we were inside! I had noticed a few people with race numbers, but I didn’t think too much of it until we saw floods of people going by. Apparently it is the ASICS Stockholm Marathon. One guy ran by in dressed as a beer bottle. Sadly, I did not get a picture.

We meandered our way through the city, passing through Riddarholmen, which houses the oldest building in Stockholm. It’s a church – we didn’t go in, but Andy and I circled the building. We ended up back in Gamla Stan to go to the Nobel Museum. We giddily looked up Selman Waksman and took a picture of Satoshi Ōmura’s mention in honor of Grandad. The main thing I took away from that museum is that there are a LOT of people more accomplished and more intelligent than I am. I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand half the words describing why various scientists won the award.

After a quick stop at a cafe for some ice cream, we headed back to the apartment. On the way we ran into some Australians who had been on the Vasa tour with us yesterday. We chatted with them and their Swedish friends for a while before we got on the subway again.

Dinner took us back to Gamla Stan, to Slingerbulten, a Scandinavian restuarant. We tried smoked reindeer for an appetizer (tasted just like any other smoked meat, and not at all like Rudolph’s tears). The rest of our meal was equally tasty. I’m loving the food, atmosphere, and, well, just everything about this city so far. I definitely recommend it, and it’ll be on my “Places to return to” list.

Now we’re back in the apartment, ready to pack up and head to Öland tomorrow.

Final thoughts on Stockholm:

  • Definitely get the 72 hour transit card. It more than paid for itself in transit rides. You can get it at the info desk in the airport.
  • Everything is expensive. Everything. Come prepared to spend, and spend big. Don’t be alarmed if your entree is $20 or more…at the cheaper restaurants.
  • Everyone is SUPER nice. They patiently tolerate me stumbling through my only Swedish (“thank you”) and will answer all your questions.
  • You won’t stick out if you aren’t blond. Yes, there are a lot of blonds, but there are plenty of us dark-haired folk, too.
  • Airbnb is totally the way to go. Made for a nice relaxing start to each day – no rush for breakfast. And the wifi is a big plus.
  • Early June is a perfect time to go. Pleasantly warm the entire time and only one mini storm.
  • Gamla Stan, Gamla Stan, Gamla Stan!

Tomorrow – heading south!

Stormtrooper here. The rest of the pictures here.

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Scandinavia! Day 4 – Stockholm

I slept REALLY well – thank you jet lag! Yes, I know I said you suck yesterday, but I’m grateful for the full night of sleep.

Best part of the morning – Weetabix! I love that cereal!

After a leisurely breakfast, we headed back into down to take the ferry to Djurgården, one of the islands. The ferry ride over was beautiful – today was a sunny day with highs in the upper 70s. I saw the most awesome rollercoaster on the ride over – picture on the picture page – but we weren’t there for the amusement park. We had better plans!

We started in Skansen, the open air museum/park, where we had lunch. What was our first real meal in Sweden? Meatballs, of course! They were tasty. Andy and I wondered what kind of meat we were eating, but of course the menu didn’t specify. After wandering Skansen, seeing old buildings, getting caught in a brief thunderstorm, and learning about the Sami people while we sheltered from the rain, we headed over to the Vasa Museum.

The museum is impressive. The have an entire salvaged ship inside – the Vasa. It is a marvel of great and awful craftsmanship at the same time. Over 700 statues and carvings, and two gun decks… and a poor design that meant she sank 20 minutes into her maiden voyage. Oops. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and funny and made me feel unaccomplished because he spoke English, French, and Dutch in addition to Swedish. And he was probably 10 years younger.

After the museum, we headed to what Mom thought was the highlight of the day: Abba The Museum. I have to admit, I loved it. I loved dancing to the songs, playing with the sound mixer, making a “music video,” and, y’know, learning about the band. They have an entire room of outfits. So much fun!

We headed back to Gamla Stan for dinner and sat outside at a restaurant in a little plaza-like area. The temperature had dropped so they turned on one set of heat lamps. Just as we were finishing, the other set came on and a cheer erupted from all the outside seats.

We have no idea what we’re doing tomorrow, but I’m sure it will be fun!

Check out the pictures!

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Scandinavia! Day 3 – Stockholm

First, apologies for the length of this post.

I was surprisingly awake when we arrived in Stockholm at 7:30 am, considering I couldn’t sleep on the plane. It was an oven! Anyway, we arrived, Dad changed some money and got our public transit cards, and we headed off in search of the car rental.

Much dragging of suitcases and asking for help later, we finally got on the bus to the car rental. We acquired our car and spent forever trying to figure out the best way to put luggage in the back without having it show. We finally decided we couldn’t and we’d have to take our chances on not being robbed.

I’d downloaded maps of Sweden before we left, so with the help of my iPad, Andy deftly navigated us to our first stop – Drottningholms slott, the royal residence. We then spent another few minutes trying to figure out how to get the car to lock. Mom even resorted to reading the manual, but it was in Swedish. It turns out you can’t lock it unless you’re standing at least 5-10 feet away. So weird.

Drottningholms slott was impressive – obviously, since it’s a palace – but I’m not sure how much we appreciated it. Between the jet lag and the several HUGE groups of noisy tourists, it wasn’t exactly the nicest tour. The gardens were beautiful, but we just didn’t have the energy to explore them. So instead, we piled back into the car and headed to our lodgings while we’re here – our first experience with Airbnb!

The apartment is small – mini kitchen, mini bathroom, one big bedroom and one living room with a convertible sofa-bed. But it’s light and nicely furnished and the owner left us lots of helpful notes. And it’s got wifi! Yay!

We all settled in to nap for a bit, although as is typical Dad got up before the rest of us and took a walk. He found the nearest transit station and pointed it out to the rest of us when we went out for groceries later. Swedish grocery stores – at least the one we went to – are pretty much just like those back home (unless you’re shopping at a mega-Kroger). I figured out which milk we wanted with my handy-dandy offline Swedish/English dictionary. Yay! We stopped and picked up strawberries on the way home. The only thing we couldn’t find was a box of tissues.

After another brief rest, we headed out again to dinner (Chinese, translated from Swedish with my app again), followed by a trip to Gamla Stan, the Old Town. It’s classic Europe, and I really enjoyed it. We wandered and took pictures and wandered some more, until we felt that it was close enough to a normal bedtime to head home. Jet lag sucks.

One picture here. A few more pictures here.