/ europe

A day in Stockholm

Why Stockholm? If you didn't know already, Sweden (and all the Nordic countries) ranks in the top 25 countries of the world with very high human development. I've read a lot about Nordic countries in general - their economy, their culture and have been very impressed, so I wanted to go and experience that for myself.

We landed in Stockholm right at the beginning of Midsummer festival (an annual cultural festival) - and that was both good and bad. Good, because we got to experience some Swedish traditions that we wouldn't have seen otherwise and Bad, because all shops were closed, so we didn't get to explore the famous Swedish designs as much as we wanted.

Anyway, we only had one day to see everything we wanted - so here's Stockholm in 24 hours.

First stop, City Hall - home of the Nobel Prize. As we entered, it was apparent that the architecture of the place was very unique. There's a reddish brown brick wall with statues on it, and a green colored dome shaped thing at the top of the corners. It sort of blended modern and classical architecture, in my opinion.

After you cross the brick building, you enter into a narrow hall-way.

At one end of the hallway on the wall were depictions of the Nobel history, of course.

The view from City Hall was great as well. Stockholm is an archipelago of tiny islands - all interconnected, so you're always on an island (which feels very nice!)

Some more gardens and statues inside the City Hall -

There were also this weird statue of a man tied up by a snake (not sure of it's cultural significance, but did seem unique!). Notice the lion heads at the sides.

More pics of the reddish brown brick wall, with leaves as we were leaving the place.

We needed to cross a bridge (to enter another island!) to get into the train station for our train for the next stop, and here's the view from the bridge.

Yes, I wanted to get on a boat immediately as well, but our next stop was actually Vasa Museet which was amazing too.

Vasa is actually the biggest ship I ever saw (in fact, it's the only 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged), and it's impossible to capture it completely (length wise, or breadth wise) using my iPhone camera. Of course, I did try.

There's a ton of information about the circumstances - how it was built, what was the purpose, why it sank, how it sank, after-effects - and of course how it was salvaged.

Apart from that, you can actually go to every level of the huge ship, and explore how they lived - what they wore, what they ate, what crimes were committed, how they were punished - that was truly amazing. The fact that they could preserve all of that, and showcase it today - is really cool.

We spent a few hours here, absorbing a lot of detail, and then had lunch at the museum - and ran to our next stop - which was the archipelago tour. We were finally getting onto a boat, and the sun was out too!

Our tour was a 3 hour boat ride along the archipelago starting at Nybroplan, and there was a guide who mentioned all the interesting and cultural significant places along the route to us. The archipelago is so unique in itself - never have I seen a city built on islands like this.

As we started, we got a view of the islands from a-far, which was quite beautiful.

That's me in front of a landmark, which I don't remember :/

As we passed through multiple summer homes, neighborhoods and landmarks along the way - we realized there's a ton of things to see and do in Stockholm. Ideally, we should be spending at least a couple of weeks to explore Stockholm - and I'm sure even that wouldn't be enough. We soon reached the Vaxholm fortress, which housed a museum as well.

The mid-point of the boat tour was the stop at Vaxholm, also called capital of the archipelago. The town/city was certainly very idyllic to look at - but sadly, we didn't have the time to get down and explore it.

There was a restaurant on the boat (of course), that we wanted to try - so we went in and ordered some dessert. The food was good, and I also saw a map of the tour - so that was nice.

Soon enough the boat ride ended, and if you really want to have a quick overview of the city in a few hours - then this is certainly the best way to do it. It was time for our next stop of the day, which was a trip to Skansen.

Skansen is the world's first open-air museum, and this was where I truly felt that Swedes were incredible. You can't explore Skansen in a few hours, even a single day wouldn't be enough. It's absolutely huge, and it showcases Swedish lifestyle through different era's. For example, you can explore a carpenter's house from early 1920's - see what tools he used, what he created, where he stored his stuff, and how he sold it. Quoting from Skansen wiki:

After extensive travelling, Hazelius bought around 150 houses from all over the country and had them shipped piece by piece to the museum, where they were rebuilt to provide a unique picture of traditional Sweden.

The fact that someone could think about building something like this itself was awesome. Here's a pic of me in Skansen with a telephone booth.

As we walked through Skansen, we saw some scenic viewpoints along with traditional Swedish houses.

Of course, it was green all over the museum too, very pretty.

The best thing about Skansen though, was the traditional Swedish dance we got to see (solely because of the Midsummer festival). It was so nice to see so many people come up and dance to the live music being played. This was really a very beautiful moment.

Berns Asiatiska was our last stop for the day. As we were stumbling along, completely tired and exhausted, we passed by this restaurant - and we thought let's just get some drinks. Little did we know, that we were stepping into a Michelin Guide restaurant. Of course they told us we needed to have a reservation for dinner - and we obviously didn't. But then, we went up to the head waiter, and told him that we really wanted to eat there, and that this was our last day in Stockholm. He listened to us, and told us it would take some time, but he would get a table. Truth be told, it didn't take that long either (I've waited longer for brunch in San Francisco) - and we got a nice table. The food was Asian fusion, and it was the best asian food I've ever had. Sorry for lack of pictures (our phones died) but every dish here was delicious. I think I liked the Veggie Tempura Sushi the most of all. Must visit, cannot recommend enough.

Talking about food, I remember we went to Glada Stinsen the previous day, just because it was right next to the train station. Of course there weren't any vegetarian options on the menu, so I asked the waiter - and he said they would make something off the menu for me. When the dish arrived, I did not expect it to be so delicious. It was rich, creamy and buttery - it had potatoes and some fried veggies - and it was certainly beyond my expectations. Definitely recommend this place too.

Last words on Stockholm - one day isn't enough to do it all - but if you only get a day - you'll still walk away being very impressed by the Swedes.