I have officially survived my first trip back on European soil since coming home from Germany at the end of 2020. This trip was a long time coming for me. I had no idea I would be going to Sweden for my first trip back to Europe, but I knew I needed to get myself back to that side of the world. The entire trip was a very fast, whirlwind of decisions, and overall I would say it was a success.
I have a coworker/friend named Derek who I know is up for most any adventure. These days it can be difficult to find someone who is: a.) up for the adventure, and b.) can afford the adventure, so I knew I couldn’t be picky if I wanted to travel with another human. I walked into our break room at work one day in late July and said to him: “do you want to go to Ireland?” He said yes, and we mulled over that for a bit before he said to me later: “what about Sweden, I have family we could stay with?”
Slap my knee and call me Sally, a brand new country to conquer and a free place to stay?! Sign me up.
I’d be lying if I said this was an easy decision. I wondered if Derek and I would be compatible travel partners, and I wondered if staying with his family would hinder my experience without having the freedom to come and go as I please, but I went into this trip with the mindset that it was strictly to rip off the bandaid of traveling so that I could potentially feel comfortable going alone again.
By the first week of August we booked our flights (which were only $650, unheard of), and by the end of August we had booked two Air B&B’s for some extra exploring down south as well as a rental car. I spent nearly an entire month wondering if I should go, and Duncan continually pushed me out the door knowing how much I needed to get out of America.
He and Derek are also friends, as well as roommates, so there was no weirdness about me traveling with another guy.
Dereks family turned out to be the most wonderful, welcoming, kind people who I hope to stay in touch with for life. More on that in later posts.
Our first three days in Sweden were dedicated to visiting Stockholm. Dereks aunt and uncle live just on the outskirts of the city, making it easy to take a train into the heart of Stockholm. I had forgotten how much I adore public transportation in Europe, the efficiency of the trains and subway systems are something I will forever long for where I live. We spent a “quick” five hours exploring our first day, just to get a lay of the land, as well as to honor the jet lag and get home before dark.
We wandered the streets of Gamla Stan (shown throughout this post), which is the overly touristy, but wildly beautiful old town. The cobblestone streets and tiny alleyways filled my soul more than I can describe. And the bikes, ohhh the bikes. Everywhere I looked I saw bikes and bikers and bike lanes. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss biking in Europe.
Just in time for lunch we managed to find one of the destinations I wanted to see called Östermalms Saluhall – an old market hall built in 1888.
Food sensitivities do not exist while traveling, so I made sure to try a few of the items that screamed “this is Swedish“, but I made sure to keep it to just one or two a day so that I didn’t completely crash. The splurge of this day was a piece of brown bread with shrimp on an egg, smoked salmon, and shrimp mixed into a sauce.
I have no idea what all was on this sauce wise, but it was delicious.
We spent the remainder of the day wandering and seeing as much of the old town as possible, with a bit of the larger area of the city as well. The following day we would arrive earlier and stay later to explore more of the bigger parts of the city. Day one highlights were seeing a black cat, seeing the colorful buildings in Gamla Stan, walking by the waters, and seeing an Ikea. When in Rome…
Jet lag hit me hard that night, yet I still managed to walk 8.5 miles around the city. We had a lovely wind down with Dereks family, and prepared ourselves for the following morning. There are few things I enjoy more than getting “lost” wandering a new city. Up next: Stockholm days two and three.
Q: Have you traveled internationally since COVID restrictions have lifted? The entire travel process, albeit long, was a breeze. I did not want to travel via airplane until ALL the restrictions were lifted.
16 thoughts on “Stockholm, Sweden – Pt. 1”
Grace @ Cultural Life
I’m glad to hear you had a great time on your travels. Stockholm looks absolutely beautiful! I love the photo of the colourful buildings. Something about those sort of tall, narrow buildings makes them look instantly recognisable as being in a Scandinavian country. I wonder how / why that style of architecture developed.
Yes, I have travelled internationally since restrictions were lifted. Well, all restrictions except mask-wearing on the plane and indoors in shops and restaurants. In May this year, I went to Corfu with my boyfriend and it was a wonderful experience. Lots of happy memories 🙂
I agree about the classic Scandinavian look, although a few areas also reminded me of Copenhagen. I suppose that’s close enough to Sweden to count too.
I have never been to Corfu, I’m glad you two had a good time with happy memories!
I loved Stockholm. And, yes, it reminds me of Copenhagen in a lot of ways. Living in a touristy area makes me a bit less self conscious about being in one when I travel. I’ve only been on a plane nice since the pandemic and I caught Covid. Ugh. So I’m still a little gum shy about going abroad. Your post conjured up a lot of good memories.
I don’t typically like busy areas, but I’m a sucker for a popular street out in a city. The hustle and bustle adds to the charm.
Fingers crossed I didn’t catch Covid on my flight home, the guy next to me was hacking almost the entire time. 🙄 Would be my third time wrestling the beast.
Crossing fingers and knocking wood for you. My case was a non-event but I’d hate to get it at the start of a trip abroad
Thistles and Kiwis
I love Stockholm…and also have family there. You should go and explore Sodermalm and of course all the museums.
I did make it to Södermalm, thanks to a friend I was able to meet up with!
That is great to have friends to travel with! 😃 I was so excited when my bestie hazarded to me, “would… You ever want to travel across Europe?” And I was like, “that is only one of my biggest dreams? Wanna go together??” We have no plans or dates yet, but I hope some day we do. 😊
Ohh I hope you do too! And even better when it’s with a bestie. Derek and I are not super close friends, but we managed ok! Sometimes it’s nice to not go alone, but the trips I’ve taken with CLOSE friends have been life changing. Seriously.
This was only day one??? I’m SO excited to hear about the rest of your adventure!! ♡ The buildings alone are really charming (I have a major weakness for European architecture…), and I love the look and sound of the market hall. I’ve been to a few places that seem similar in the US (although not nearly as large or with the same character!), and those were so fun.
Can’t wait to hear more about your trip – and your lovely hosts too!!
You’re my number one fan, I love you for it. The architecture in Europe just makes my heart swooooon.
Ahh the memories lol. I stayed in a hostel in Stockholm for two nights and went on a walking tour. I met a really nice German girl at the hostel but unfortunately she had other plans and we couldn’t hang out 😦
I think I paid around $500/550 for my ticket at the time, three years ago lol!
I didn’t do any walking tours which I’m kinda of bummed about, but I did get to see a friend who walked me around the city in areas I would not have seen!
I couldn’t believe how cheap the tickets were, it must be something about Sweden. I looked yesterday at going to Ireland again next October and it’s $1000. LOL
We have not traveled outside the states. It had been exploring the country. Bet it was a blast. Was the fish fresh? But, I hope someday soon.
The fish tasted so good! It was from Norway. I dream about the fish.
You bet. Many more safe and fun adventures to you both.