Britt and I had been putting off a trip to Scandinavia for some time. Everyone has always spoken so highly of the Nordics and I even have a cousin in Copenhagen. So why hadn’t we been yet? Good question. I think the reasons we kept deciding to travel to other places instead, were the same reasons we were so blown away by Sweden. As an American, you think of France and Italy, Spain and Germany when you think of history, or beautiful scenery or amazing food. So foolishly we kept putting it off.
One Wednesday night, Britt and I were sitting on the couch, when she looked over at me and said, “do you want to go to Stockholm??”. I responded, “sure,sounds good….”, pre-occupied by watching Modern Family. 30 seconds later she exclaims, “ok, we fly out Friday night!”… meaning literally 2 days later.
One of my favorite things about travel are the random adventures you come across while doing so. We landed at the Stockholm airport and fired up our phones to see if we could get an Uber. Well… little did we know the airport we flew into was like 1.5 hours from Stockholm, so after a bit of a panic, we ended up with $10 bus tickets and we were on our way.
We finally arrived at our hotel around 1am. Immediately, we were taken back by how big Stockholm was and how vibrant the nightlife was. There were young people EVERYWHERE and they were all looking for a good time. There seemed to be a nightclub or cocktail bar on every corner. We took a pass on the nightlife after a long day of travel and instead got some rest. We had a big day ahead planned, based on what I had googled during our bus ride.
We trekked out into the city on Saturday morning and the first thing we wanted to see was the Vasa museum. The Vasa is a 1620’s Swedish warship which capsized and sank shortly after it’s launch. Intact it sank to the bottom of the harbor and because of Sweden’s Icey waters was nearly perfectly preserved for 500 years. It was discovered again shortly after WW2 and was raised back to the surface and completely put back together. Its 90% original which is unheard of for shipwrecks from that era(learned that in the tour). We spent some time checking out the artifacts and snapping some pictures. I was really amazed at the size of the ship. It dwarfed the USS constitution which was a site I saw regularly in Boston.
Sweden is well known for the quality of it’s seafood and specifically it’s shellfish. So for lunch Britt and I went to an incredible food market and sat down for lunch in the middle of it. We had Oysters, Langoustines (mini lobsters) salmon and hake. Everything was just incredible. I have a new found love for Langoustines.
We strolled through the city for another hour or so and took some great pictures a long the way. We wanted to check out the ‘old town’ of Stockholm before dinner so we took a walk through there. In my opinion this is not Stockholm’s strong point. There were some decent looking buildings and it was old, per the name. But if that’s what you want, go somewhere else. Sweden is cool because it’s not defined itself by what it’s supposed to be or look like. The art, the way people dress and the food is all influenced by Swedish culture, but not handcuffed by it. So sure, check out the old-town. But don’t plan your trip around it.
We had heard about the museum fotographik and realized it was a short walk from the old town. So we made the trek. What an amazing museum. It has rotating exhibits from excellent photographers around the world. While we were there, it was pictures of people who have done something to advance society or the world, and their story. From women fighting for suffrage in the middle-east to Children who have stood up against bullying, these were amazing stories.
I had no idea that Stockholm had such a culinary movement. It’s called ‘New Nordic’ and it’s a homage to the traditional Swedish styles of food, but with the chef creating and playing around with ideas that they want to. I was able to get a last second table at a restaurant called Ekstedt. This is one of the best meals we have ever had. There is no electricity allowed in the kitchen, so they used local ingredients, prepared in a very modern way, using very old school methods. Our favorite dish was a smoked reindeer heart taco. Britt made a bold move and ordered a juice pairing with her meal. What a payoff! They created their own juices from all sorts of crazy ingredients to pair with each course. It honestly blew the wine pairing I chose out of the water. The food was all about seafood, smoked local meats, and fresh berries and vegetables.
After dinner we considered one of the local nightclubs, we even went inside….for about 20 seconds. Realizing we were tired after a long day of sightseeing and being about 8 years older than anyone else, we took a pass and went back to the hotel. We sat around and reminisced one of our favorite single days of travel ever.
Sunday we had a much more low key day. We went out for a nice brunch and had some more seafood. We hung around some local places, had some good coffee and relaxed.
I left Sweden with a whole new idea as to what Scandinavia is all about. Sweden is very clean, the people are very nice. They take themselves seriously in a good way, and they aren’t afraid to try new things. It’s not the cheapest place, but its not unreasonable. You can tell there is a more recent influx in diversity, from Africa and from the Middle East, that I think will also add to the culture.