Stockholm

Stockholm was the first stop on my long journey to the States. I’m going on exchange in Louisiana and when I discovered that it was cheaper to fly from Stockholm than Copenhagen or Hamburg, I jumped at the opportunity to realise my dream of properly visiting another Scandinavian country. Don’t worry Oslo, I’m coming for you too.

I’m on a quest to become the Ultimate Scandinavian. I used to be quite good at understanding both Norwegian and Swedish (Danish isn’t a problem because of the whole me being Danish thing), but once I stopped practicing, the skill began to fade. I recently decided to make an actual effort to keep mutual intelligibility alive, so I’m listening to Swedish and Norwegian podcasts and watching more Nordic Noir.

Point is, it was amazing to have the chance to speak Swedish to actual Swedish people (rather than myself and Duolingo). Starting to speak it with the Stockhomie I’ve always spoken English with was weird, but you have to start somewhere and the sooner you start the uncomfortable stage, the sooner it’s over. Having a local tell you that your accent is good is pretty awesome (tack så mycket, Caroline).

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5am view of Gamla Stan? Yes please

Exploring

I had a pretty simple plan:

  1. Check my bags into luggage storage.
  2. Take the bus into the city centre.
  3. Visit Vasamuseet in Djurgården
  4. Meet up for coffee with a friend
  5. Walk around Gamla Stan
  6. Find somewhere to eat
  7. Visit Fotografiska in Södermalm
  8. Meet up for drinks with a friend
    • I had two friends lined up and figured I’d meet up with the first of the two to message me. I’m unpredictable like that.
  9. Crash for a few hours at my hostel.
  10. Take the bus back to the airport.

It was such a simple plan and I only made it to #2 without messing up. In total, I completed managed to get through 7 of the 10 planned “steps” but I screwed myself over by being overly confident with regards to my navigational skills (which I know from experience to be non-existent so I have no idea what I was thinking).

I made it into the city centre thirty minutes before I thought I would, so of course I thought “Woo the sun is out, I’ll just walk to Vasa instead of taking the metro!” So I walked half an hour north east in the direction of Östermalm when I was supposed to walk half an hour south east. Should I have taken out my phone with perfectly functional EU data? Probably. Do I regret messing up? Not even a little bit.

I ended up seeing things I had no intention of seeing, such as Humlegården (which was a nice mini-escape from the city, even though I actually enjoyed the city vibe) and Bibliotekstan. I couldn’t afford to buy anything, but it was nice to see all the same. One day I’ll come back. Maybe treat myself to a piece of gum.

I did do some sightseeing, but I didn’t take that many photos because I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my time in the city with my friends. I forget to take photos when I’m busy having a conversation. I’m hoping to go back into the city when I make my way back from the US in January, but that’s still pretty far off. Point is, there’ll hopefully be a Stockholm 2.0 post with actual useful information.

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Tourist-less Gamla Stan is almost worth being awake at 5am for

Food and Drink

Espresso House

Coffee coffee coffee. It took a bit longer to find Caroline than I’d thought it would, because T-Centralen is a lot bigger than I imagined it. But we found each other and had some delicious coffee. I know nothing about what coffee is theoretically supposed to taste like, but my tastebuds were very happy with my mocha.

Café Tabac

Instead of leaving and trying to salvage my sightseeing plans, I decided to spend more time with Caroline. Partly because she’s a fantastic person and a joy to be around. Partly because the realisation that I would soon have to travel to the other side of the world where I would know nobody suddenly hit me. So thank you so much for spending so many hours with me, Caroline. See you in 2017.

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Food glorious food

Medusa

I left Caroline at one of the metro stations and went straight to the next friend, soon-to-be friend group. Shout out to Andrew and the rest of the Tartan Squad for letting me intrude). Medusa was pretty close to Café Tabac, so I didn’t get mugged or murdered on the way. I’m obviously pretty happy with that but honestly if anyone tries to mug me, the joke is on them because I have no money. Medusa was alright. Reasonable prices and a far cry from the worst place I’ve ever been to.

We went for drinks two other places as well, but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were called. Not because I was drunk out of my mind, mostly because I was too busy doling out sarcastic comments and generally having a good time with the Tartan Squad. None of them drugged me and/or abandoned me in Södermalm, so as far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty solid fellas. 10/10 would recommend.

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#notapint

Accommodation

Castanea Old Town Hostel

Let me just say straight away that this was not my hostel. I had a room booked at Dockside, which was also in Gamla Stan, but I never showed my face there. In all honesty, I could have saved myself a bit of money by not booking a hostel at all, because I pretty much stumbled straight from drinks to the bus station.

It was 4am and I had to choose between going off alone to find my hostel and crashing with Andrew and my three new-found friends (two of whom sang for a solid 40 minutes at the hostel before they fell asleep) in a hostel they’d already checked into. I should just start travelling without booking a place to stay.

All four of them were asleep by the time I left (and if any of you read this, I want you to know that all of you snore), but I smiled the entire way to the bus station, happy that I didn’t have to spend my last hours on European soil alone, in a hostel room where I’d probably wake up the other eight people.

So in short, I had a fantastic time in Stockholm and I think I got to do a fair bit even though I didn’t go to Vasa or Fotografiska. In hindsight, I actually think it was more important for me to have a good send-off than to be a complete tourist, so it all worked out pretty well. Another round of thanks to all of you.

– Cat

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