It’s excruciating to wait for your summer vacation while you start to see every one of your colleagues starting theirs and it starts to get really quiet in the office. So here I am still planning mine and just flipping through my archives from the past for some inspiration. And then I remembered, I never did a feature yet on Stockholm, my last year’s summer destination (although I quite wrote a short description of it here in my year-end post)!
I was with my aunt during my tour of the city. She has been living in Sweden for almost 10 years already so I basically was just on her leash the whole time, which is pretty cool because I did not worry so much where to go. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get lost when I travel and have that brief adrenaline spike and subsequently, the pleasure of finding your way back but well, it’s good to break from that once in a while and actually just sit back and relax. But yes, my aunt pretty much knew where to go so it was all easy-breezy. After all, Scandinavia always has this chill, peaceful vibe like they’re so advanced and organized, they pretty much figured it all out.
I wouldn’t go through the chronology because well, everything was kind of planned in the most touristic way possible so I will just flash in my favorite, top 3 highlights of the trip.
- Gamla Stan
You could miss everything else in Sweden including meatballs but never should you ever miss the historic center. Gamla Stan is that intact cobblestoned neighborhood that essentially reminds you that you are in Europe. Streets outlined with ancient buildings with vintage, hanging storefront signs and street lamps nailed on the walls, make this charming old town an escape from the overwhelming modernity that is elsewhere Stockholm. There is of course the Royal Palace but you all know the fancy things you can find there, so as one of the masses, we settle with the more accessible street corners buzzing with commerce and those quaint narrow alleys. It’s also an island in itself, one of the many actually in the Stockholm archipelago which means you will never get lost. You see water on all sides. So “alley up” and discover those Scandinavian corners!
- Vasa Museum
Stockholm, being by the sea, has obviously seafaring history but also, it is an inevitable cruise stopover which means hordes of tourists are unloaded there throughout the year. Which means, they have to pack it with entertainment. Which also means, museums and parks of all kinds are everywhere. If you are the type of traveler who is just tired of winding through shelves of porcelain and silverware, most of them may not really appeal to you, but this one, the Vasa Museum is the bomb. A wooden gargantuan 17th-century warship sank into the ocean and they excavated it still almost intact and faithfully assembled for display in this museum. The intricate, carved embellishments are still discernible in almost pristine state and just the immensity of it is extremely mind-blowing. It was definitely worth the queue.
This park is one of a kind because it is an open-air museum. There’s a farm, concert venues, mini-zoo (with native animals, no imported and sick giraffes) all on a hill with breathtaking views of Stockholm. The theme is probably Swedish provincial life in the middle ages so you see timber stables, mills, and town houses of weavers, craftsmen, silversmiths, etc. having demonstrations of their livelihood during the era. Swedish locales dressed in period costumes do the task, some of them you can actually bother and interact with but some are just so true to character they pretend you don’t exist. Which is cool with me but yes, in contrast with normal museums at least the exhibits are alive. Talk about traveling back in time. Apparently, I just checked online, the park has been around for more than a century!
Bonus: ABBA Museum
You can pretty much skip this one but I just had to do it! Sweden and its pop music quirks will never be the same without ABBA and the Eurovision so we just had to pass by. You know what to expect in this museum. ABBA and Eurovision paraphernalia. Studios, costumes, memorabilia and a hall filled with their countless albums with some interactive exhibits like karaoke stages. You can even record a song in one of the sound booths. If you’re a fan, or maybe if you just have plenty of spare time, it’s a no biggie destination but it’s fun and colorful and eccentric so you could drop by. And who doesn’t love ABBA?