Stockholm is a beautiful city. Most of the rest of the country has this kind of idea (not entirely unfounded) that Stockholmers are uptight, slightly narcissistic and somewhat rude, and they are often referred to as “nollåttor” (zero-eights, from the landline phone number prefix used to reach Stockholm; 08), and yes, there are a lot of that kind of people, but there are also a lot of amazing people, including my mother and brother and my old school friend, Emma.
But first we need to get on the plane and go there. And boy was that an experience. It was an exercise in keeping calm in stressful situations (but we were totally stressed), because yes, once again we were in danger of not catching our flight!
First of all, we came home late from the Studio Tour, and we had to leave very early the next morning. We grabbed chicken burgers on our way home and after eating, immediately started packing our stuff. Then we double checked our taxi order for the next morning and went to bed at one. Two hours later we had to get up again to catch said taxi to get to the airport at around half past four, where we had our breakfast at a lovely little sandwich place where I had a bacon and egg roll and Kylie and her mum had yoghurt.
After breakfast, we walked around the airport shops a bit. Checked out a toy store and some souvenir stuff but didn’t buy anything. Then we noticed that it was late and of course we had to get to the gate. So we rushed and, with Kylie’s mum in tow behind us,half walked, half ran toward the gate because they were doing a final call for our flight! We still had to wait some time though because the queue was pretty long.
The flight was nice though. I witnessed my first high altitude sunrise, which was spectacular! All the reds and oranges, with the cover of white cloud beneath us. I’d have loved to get good photos of it but it was hard through the dirty window.
Kylie and I watched an episode of Criminal Minds on her iPad. It’s one of her favourite shows, but I don’t really follow it. I’ve watched occasional episodes, but I’ll probably have to watch it from the start once we live together if I want to keep up with her.
The landing wasn’t as smooth as when I touched down in London, but it wasn’t rough either, but as this was only my second time flying, I don’t have many points of reference. The rest of the experience at the Stockholm airport was pretty uneventful too. We got through passport control, collected our bags and went on our way.
Stockholm: Day One
First stop: the hotel. We got there without too many complications. None actually. We arrived at the front desk, got our keycards and dumped our stuff in our room.
With a few hours to go before we were going to see my mum, we decided to go explore the city. Or specifically, the old town. Kylie especially wanted to visit the Christmas markets at Stortorget, the big square. Getting there though, proved easier said than done. Of course I was a terrible guide, even with the help of Google Maps, and we got lost trying to find both the square and other iconic sights like a small statue and a narrow alley. We even ended up on the completely opposite side of the island the old town is situated on, but it was very beautiful by the water, so there’s that. By the time we got back to the station, it was just in time to catch the subway to my mum’s apartment.
When we arrived we were all very tired, but it was very nice to see her again. And her fat white cat, Bruce, and new black kitten, Zeldon.
We had a nice dinner of potatoes and meatballs, during the making of which I had fallen asleep on the sofa, and afterwards we were presented with these nice saffron things with gingerbread topping.
After this, things become kind of a blur. We sat down in the living room and shared the photobook we had made from our first visit, then we all sort of took turns to fall asleep on the sofa. I don’t remember the conversation but I do know Kylie’s mum took photos of ordinary objects next to Bruce (the cat) to illustrate how fat he is.
When it came time to leave, and we got to the subway station, there were some complications. Apparently the fire alarm had been set off and police and firefighters were outside. Interestingly enough, we could still see regular people walking in and out from the station. Not many, but a few times. We stayed outside though, not wanting to take any risk. We waited for probably 40 minutes, but the alarm turned out to be fake anyway, or at least, by the time the alarm stopped ringing, the police and firefighters left and we got to go inside, the station looked completely fine. Nothing scorched and no strange smells.
We waited a few minutes for a train (they leave every 5-10 minutes) and got back to the hotel, where we almost didn’t get in. The lady at the front desk told us that we’d need to use the keypad after hours, but the number wouldn’t work. We found out on our last day that we’d been trying to put in the wrong number! Luckily, a group of other people arrived and they let us in.
Stockholm: Day Two
The next day, we went to the Abba museum, and when I say we, I mean Kylie and I only followed her mum to the museum. We took the tram there from Kungsträdgården (the King’s garden) station, which was fun. We also got to see a really old tram. Wish they still had those in use everywhere. It was a beautiful thing.
When we got to the museum, we helped Kylie’s mum get her ticket, and then left when she’d gone into the exhibition hall to explore the city and went back to the hotel to film a vlog.
Afterwards, we met up with her at Kungsträdgården where they had a Christmas market. They sold all of the traditional Swedish Christmas goods, like gingerbread, glögg (mulled wine) and roasted almonds. It was nice. They also had ice skating, but as we didn’t have skates, we couldn’t get on the ice.
After the market, we went to explore the rest of Stockholm! Kylie had a whole list of places she wanted to go to, and I did my best to help get us there. We started at the old town, where we managed to find the narrowest alleyway. And at less than a meter wide, it truly deserves that title. We also found the big square we had looked for the day before. Unfortunately we made it there just as the markets closed, and we never got a photo of the brick building Kylie liked, just liked we didn’t last time, but you can’t always have good luck, can you?
After the old town we went to Sergel’s Square, right at the center of modern Stockholm, to look at Christmas lights, which were, in Kylie’s opinion the best in the city.
Now tired and wanting to sit down more than walk around, we went to ride the subway and experience the subway art, which is a very unique feature of the Stockholm subway system. Every station is it’s own little artwork, with different themes. Hallonbergen (translates to Raspberry Mountain. Children’s drawing themes), Näckrosen (The Pond Lily), Thorhildsplan (Thorhild’s Square. Mosaic pixel art) Fridhemsplan (Peace Home’s Square. Ships and stuff) Solna Centrum (Environmental message) and T-Centralen (The T-Central. Art varies depending on floor). I think my favourite station was the one with mosaic pixel art. That’s really creative!
Finally back at the hotel, I was itching to show Kylie another part of Swedish life. The hotel had a sauna, and I was determined that we try it out. So even though it was late and we were tired from our day, the two of us went upstairs to the sauna room. I’m sad to say Kylie was not a fan at all. I can’t tell why. She was of the opinion that it was worse than sweating in the warm Australian summer. I tried to explain that it’s different but she disagreed. Oh well. I’m gonna have to sauna by myself in the future I guess. I’m a little disappointed but what can you do. Not like I can force her to do it.
Stockholm: Day Three
The next day we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the houses outside our hotel window. Our room was a couple floors above the surrounding buildings and I tried getting some nice photos out the window.
The agenda for the day: more city exploration! Kylie’s mum had a guided walking tour of the South part of town and all three of us had a walking tour of the old town. But those weren’t until the evening, so we had plenty of time walking around on our own till then.
We started, as expected, in the old town. It’s a beautiful part of the city. It’s not a big area on the map compared to the rest of Stockholm, but it’s packed with sights to see, and cosy shops, cafés, restaurants and old buildings that have a long and important role in shaping the history of the town. Everything in the old town has a unique history, and I’ll get deeper into that later.
We started at the main Street, which is full of little shops, a lot of which are souvenir shops. We found three of them in the same street corner, all of which sold a lot of the same stuff, and the fact that they haven’t driven each other out of business speaks a lot to how many tourists there are in this area of Stockholm.
Just around the corner from there, you find the palace courtyard, where you can watch the daily changing of the guards. This time wasn’t as spectacular as other times I’ve seen it. And they called it the changing of the sentries, so maybe it was a different kind of changing, but nevertheless, it’s always fun to experience.
After this, Kylie’s mum had to go to her guided tour of the south of Stockholm, while Kylie and I explored Östermalms Saluhall. It was quite the place, full of luxury food with ridiculous prices attached to them. They had all kinda of things, from marzipan figures and chocolate delights, to whole chickens, with everything still on them, which grossed Kylie out quite a bit, and I admit I was a little too.
Now it was starting to get pretty dark, and it was time to head to head to Sergel’s Square to meet with the tour guide for the old town tour. It was fun, and the guide was engaging us participants. We were a pretty large group, and she did a good job of making everyone feel included. From Sergel’s Square, which is the center of the modern Stockholm, we walked to the Old Town, which is, obviously, the center of the old part of Stockholm. She guided us through the history of Stockholm, pointing out key places and events. It was all very interesting. Of course I cant remember all the places we went, but they include the palace, the statue of St. George and the Dragon, the Big Square, the smallest statue, the narrowest alleyway we had already visited, and many others. Granted, Kylie and I had visited a lot of these last time when we did the Stockholm Ghost Tour, but it was fun to revisit them nonetheless, on a tour with a less morbid theme.
Next, and the final thing on our schedule for the day was a visit to my old school friend, Emma. She’s living in Stockholm with her boyfriend in a really cosy little apartment with interesting quirky things, like an upside down Christmas tree. They treated us to a couple of hours of nice conversation and raggmunkar (sort of like pancakes with potato in them, served with bacon and lingonberry jam) for dinner. It was very nice to catch up with her, as I don’t see her that often anymore.
Stockholm: Day Three
The last day in Stockholm we didn’t do much. We had a train to catch going to my dad’s in Skänninge, leaving at 12:40. So we spent the morning repacking our suitcases and doing last minute washing before catching that train, where we filmed a vlog and wrote a blog post which can be found here and here!