Stockholm, Sweden. January 2012.
Stockholm, I am forever indebted to you.
As the first destination I ever visited with close to zero preparation, Stockholm opened up my eyes to how liberating and intoxicating a place can feel when you arrive with no expectations.
It was mid-January, and I had landed in London for my semester abroad about a week prior. Two of my flatmates were Americans who coincidentally also went to Penn State, and that night, after a few glasses of cheap vodka drinks in our living room, we started talking about places we wanted to travel to while in Europe. The conversation inevitably ended with a few more drinks and frenzied flight searches on the RyanAir and EasyJet websites.
We didn’t know where we wanted to go, but we wanted to go soon and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Somehow, we deduced that the cheapest flight out of any London airport that next weekend was to Stockholm, and because we were ~young and reckless~ we booked the flight.
Eight days later we were on our way to Sweden. In the middle of January.
I think I’ll let the photos do most of the talking here. I have SO MANY photos from this trip — every time we turned our heads there was another colorful string of buildings on Gamla Stan or quaint alleyway or dazzling street of white lights. Like in Prague, we arrived with no plan, which is probably a large reason why we loved it so much; everything was a mind-blowing surprise and we saw it all with eyes of awe. We strolled and ate and froze and marveled over the fact that the sun didn’t come up until 9am and starting going down around 2pm.
We somehow stumbled into the cutest, tiniest, coziest little restaurant in all of Stockholm. Probably in all of Sweden. Maybe even in the entire world. Our polite blonde waitress led us down the stairs into the cellar, which seemed more like an underground tunnel, with brick walls that curved up and glided seamlessly into the ceiling. She told us about how the cellar was “haunted” by ghosts, and then proceeded to offer recommendations for our meals. Nick & I decided to split two plates so we could both try it all. We indulged in reindeer meat and Swedish meatballs. Because of course we did. We were in Sweden.
The Ice Bar was SO MUCH FUN and definitely worth the price — especially because we got lucky and were joined by a rowdy group of 35-year-old Swedish men!Nick in the Nobel Museum – a place paying tribute to all Nobel prize winners across the world. We found the building by accident and to this day it might be the coolest museum I’ve ever been to. This wasn’t the first time it snowed on our 3 day trip to Stockholm (the first time it snowed we were so excited that we started making snow angels in the middle of the street…), but it was the last. We were making our way to the airport, and something about leaving and the snowy quiet of the day thrilled us.
Stockholm is one of the places I visited while studying abroad that has really stuck with me. While we walked around aimlessly one day, I hypothesized that “Stockholm is everything I want in a man” while Nick & Catherine listened with interested/dubious ears.
(AKA: welcoming, cozy, friendly, fun, surprising, secure, evolving…)
I felt at home and comfortable immediately – which might have had something to do with various Swedes mistaking me for a native and speaking to me in Swedish (which obviously flattered me). Though it’s a cold, dark place in the winter, the food was warm, the people were warmer, and the summers are apparently sunny and heavenly – something I’d definitely love to experience for myself.
Have you ever experienced the snowy winter of Stockholm?