Airfare:
NYC to Stockholm=$230.00
Nashville, TN to NYC=$180.00

(booked 5 months in advance*)

Lodging:
$0

I was alerted via Scott’s Cheap Flights about $200 RT flights to Paris in January 2018 but since I have been to Paris before, I decided to widen my search using Skyscanner.com to search flights to all European countries during that month and stumbled upon a great deal to Stockholm. Then, I decided to check one-way flights to split the week in another country. That’s when I messaged my friend in Germany, Johanna… See my next post about my trip to Berlin!


I arrived in Stockholm on Tuesday afternoon and immediately purchased a ticket for the Flygbussarna via their app. As soon as I clicked Purchase, I was boarding the bus heading south toward Maria’s. Maria was my Couch Surfing host in Stockholm and I could not have asked for more helpful, kind host! I originally contacted Maria in early August to inquire if she was available for several days in late January. We kept in touch over the following months and we confirmed 2 nights. Due to a flight delay, I would only stay 1 night. Maria was to meet me at the Jarva Krog bus stop but because I misunderstood the bus driver, I missed my stop! I got off at the next one and hailed a cab back to meet her down the street from her apartment.

Inside her student apartment, I was able to freshen up, change and check in with my family using the Marco Polo app. I briefly spoke with Maria about the public transit system and which activities and locales she recommended for the short time I was in town. The Bergshamra tunnel station was a short walk from her apartment and after loading the SL Travelcard Maria had lent me, I descended into the subway and took the Red Line south to Östermalmstorg.

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I stopped at Hirschenkeller, a local bar/restaurant, and enjoyed a local craft beer and tried a local dish of smashed potatoes with bacon and cranberries. I wasn’t thrilled with this recommendation, however. It was plainly smashed potatoes covered with 6 strips of thick bacon.

Along the way, I stopped to take pictures of the Adolf Fredrik Church on Holländargatan. This church was originally a wooden chapel dedicated to Saint Olof which was first built in 1674. It was rebuilt and opened in 1774.

 

Church of Adolf Fredrik

Next, I arrived at the Stockholm Public Library. This building is one of Stockholm’s most remarkable structures offering a 360 degree view of three complete cylindrical walkways through sections in multiple languages. As you can imagine, this is a visual orgasm for the average architecture lover and book worm!

I grabbed a coffee to-go from the stadsbibliotek coffee shop and walked about 10 minutes south towards Gamla Stan and T-Centralen station. Hidden in a deep corner of the ICEHOTEL STOCKHOLM, I was given a heavy hooded cape and entered the -7 degrees C (19 degrees F) frigid domain of the ICEBAR. The pre-booked entrance fee of 199 SEK (about $25.00) included 1 alcoholic beverage and you can stay for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, this is a tourist attraction so the price was unattractive and your alcoholic beverage was served in an ice glass the size of about 2 shots. Once I had thawed out, I walked around the corner to find a “real” bar and a cool atmosphere. I stumbled upon the Royal Viking Hotel’s 9th floor SkyBar.

The Skybar offers a stunning view of the Stockholm skyline and I enjoyed a Manhattan, which the bartender presented to me as if it were a finished masterpiece and then waited patiently for my approval. At a whopping 159 SEK (about $20), this drink certainly came at a cost.

A beautifully crafted Manhattan at the 9th floor Skybar

 

I promised Maria I would return before 9 p.m. because she would have to buzz me in downstairs and she had class the following day and she wouldn’t stay up much longer. When I returned and got settled in, we chatted about Trump, college loans and student debt, the German government and the languages she speaks and when she learned them.

The next morning, I woke early and heading to Gamla Stan, The Old Town, for breakfast and to explore the cobbled streets and shops. I briefly stopped in a cozy cafe for breakfast and coffee.

From here, I leisurely strolled the icy streets window shopping and looking for postcards and other souvenirs. While making my way to Stortorget, Stockholm’s oldest square, I saw only a few tourists and families exploring. January is not considered a touristy month in Stockholm. During Christmas time, Stortorget hosts an illustrious Christmas market that began in 1837 and is the oldest such market in Sweden. In the square, I stopped in Matcafe Misteln for a Swedish fika.

Fika has been described to me not as a thing, but as an everyday event.. in other words – a coffee break! I ordered black tea and a slice of princess cake, a traditional Swedish layered sponge cake topped with marzipan-all costing 137 SEK (about $17). Delicious!

Fika!

With no particular direction in mind, I left Stortorget and began walking again. I passed several statues and churches along the way. Before I knew it, I had almost walked the full length of Gamla Stan! Definitely not difficult to do in 30 minutes.

I crossed the street at the water’s edge and saw the ferry that Maria had suggested I take to get to the Vasa Museum. Since the SL Travelcard may be used for all public transportation (tunnel/subway, bus, ferry) in the city, I swiped the card and boarded the ferry to Djurgården.

The ferry ride lasted about 15 minutes including the stop on Skeppsholmen. On the right, we passed the high rising coast of northeastern Slussen. Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s seaside amusement park, loomed in the distance as we neared the coast of Djurgården.

Nordiska museet

The Vasa Museum was a short walk along the coast. I walked past ABBA The Museum, Vikingaliv-A True Adventure, Spritmuseum, Dyktankhuset and the Nordiska museet.

The Vasa Museum holds the 17th century warship, Vaasa, which sank near Slussen and some thirty passengers died. The Vaasa was salvaged in 1961.

After I had visited each exhibit, I realized that it was lunchtime so I stopped in the Vasa Museum restaurant. I asked for a recommendation and I was told that the beef cheeks with red wine sauce and potatoes was wonderful, so I ordered it. The consistency and flavor of this dish was quite overwhelming..

I left the Vasa Museum and walked back to the ferry. I boarded the train at the Slussen station and headed north to meet Maria and get my bag before taking the bus to the airport. To my surprise, Maria had gone to the store and bought frozen reindeer and elk meat for us to have before I left!!

She cooked each with onions, smashed potatoes and sauted mushrooms and parsley. In case you are wondering, the elk tasted somewhat like ground beef without the fat/oils and the reindeer was much more “gamey” and tough with less flavor. This kindness was the best meal and experience I had in Stockholm. I helped Maria clean up and we grabbed my suitcase and started towards the bus station. We took turns rolling and carrying my suitcase because of all the water and ice and the damn thing nearly weighed 30 lbs.

There were several things I didn’t see and do in Stockholm and Uppsala such as visit each Metro station which is considered the world’s longest art museum, walk the Millenium book series tour, go skiing and dog sledding, freeze to death in Lapland and eat at Cafe Pom and Flora and honestly, the list goes on and on.

My Stockholm tip: The rumors are true-Stockholm is expensive. Especially alcohol. All convenience stores and supermarkets cannot sell alcoholic that exceeds 3.5%. Therefore, you must go to a bar for your spirits. You may visit a Systembolaget, which sells wine, beer and liquor. BTW, the beer and wine is not chilled in these stores.They are few, have strange hours and are often considered “inconvenient.”

 

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