My Dad's favorite Muppet character has always been the Swedish Chef. While we did not see the Swedish Chef in Stockholm, we did see a lot of tourists- many of them who were older. This one is for you Pop's- with the hope that someday you make it to the homeland!
Don’t you just love it when magical things happen? When random coincidences seem to come true? We’ve only been gone from the states for about a week and a half and everything has been falling into place in our favor! We landed in Stockholm at 7 am on June 27 and received a message from our friend Bri who just happened to be in Stockholm, who just happened to be staying with her awesome aunt, and just happened to be happy to invite us to dinner. Rule #1 of budget traveling: NEVER turn down a free meal!
After checking into the Marriott Courtyard in Stockholm, where we stayed 2 nights for free using points, Bri and Marie (these two awesome Wisconsin-ers were vacationing together) picked us up from the hotel and we headed to Bri’s aunts house.
I need to take a minute and brag on Bri and Marie. The girls were in town celebrating midsommer- which is the same holiday that the Fins celebrate (read our previous posts on Finland). Both countries seem to think that they individually are the ‘only ones’ who celebrate midsommer, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Bri has some famous family relations and she and Marie attended this party of 30 people or so, and the new Robocop and Will Smith just happened to be guests (Robocop is somehow almost related to Bri, I think. Or something like that, and he brought Will Smith). WHAT?! Pretty cool.
Anyway, Jeff and I were a few days late to meet the Fresh Prince (of Bel Air), but we had delicious reindeer stew for supper and then went for a walk. Keep in mind we are still in the middle of Stockholm, but after walking 2 minutes from her aunt’s house we came upon a small male deer and later saw some Scandinavian hares. These things are like bunnies on crack. The type of crack that makes your body grow 3 times its normal size.
Bri’s Aunt told us, ‘I’ve never met so many fun and socially functional engineers!’ We also harnessed our inner children and played on the playground. Wayyyyy cooler than any other playgrounds we have been to! (Jeff's note: 'we aren't frequenting playgrounds on this trip, I think Cara means since childhood'...)
We also had a nice walk past Mr. Nobel’s laboratory. Nobel did a lot of experiments and eventually developed dynamite. Supposedly, later in life his brother died but the newspaper accidentally printed an obituary for him, instead of his dead brother, and it was negative enough that he felt that he needed to do something to change his negative perception in society. Hence, the Nobel prizes.
Bri and Marie flew out the next day, but Jeff and I had one more day to explore the city. The subway system in Stockholm is extremely easy to use once you get your bearings, so we took it to the city center. There we went on a free walking tour. We have become huge fans of these ‘free’ walking tours, because then we can just tip the guide at the end whatever we feel the tour was worth! The Stockholm tour was much better than the Reykjavik tour, and we learned many things about Sweden. Ikea is currently the main export from the country, H&M (the clothing store) is a huge Swedish success, they give out all the Nobel prizes except for the peace prize in Stockholm (peace prize is given in Olso, much to the Swedes dissent), the origin of ‘Stockholm syndrome’ came from a very f’ed up bank robbery, and Queen Christina from the early 17th century had gender identity issues until 1965 when her body was exhumed and proved she was born a woman. Needless to say, we got quite a bit of information during our 2 hour tour!
Right after the tour we ran across the street to the royal palace to see the changing of the guard. The changing of the guard happens at noon every day. Complete with a band parading around town, leading everyone to the palace grounds for the ceremony. We couldn’t get very close to see much, but thanks to this age of technology we were able to snap some photos above the crowd’s heads. The Swedish royal guard was dressed formal and they marched pretty much in a straight line- but they were nowhere as strict as other military events we have seen. For example, in the middle of this serious ceremony, the band starts playing ABBA. It was my favorite memory of Sweden.
Next, we needed to find food. My brother Phil had been in Stockholm the previous year and suggested a place called Saluhall for authentic Swedish meatballs. Game on! Unfortunately, the old market building was completely under construction, but across the street vendors had set up shop. Jeff ordered steak, which ended up being thinly sliced pork, and I ordered meatballs. Both were fantastic!
After we ate we returned to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. While in Sweden we encountered our first significant mishap. We’ll call it a ‘transportation learning experience.’ When Jeff was booking plane tickets from Sweden to Poland a few weeks ago, he found tickets at a good price and purchased them. However, we didn’t realize until we got into town that we were flying out of a different Swedish airport that was almost 2 hours away at 8:30 am. Much to my credit (patting myself on the back for this one), I didn’t get upset about it at all and I don’t think I was a complete purple minion at 3:30am when we left the hotel. It stays light almost all day this time of year in Stockholm and it’s a little easier to wake up at 3 am if the sun is already shinning.
We took a taxi to the bus station, hopped on a packed bus to the airport in the middle of nowhere, and a few hours later we arrived safely in Warsaw!
Modes of transportation used: Plane, bus, subway, taxi
Total amount spent in Sweden (including flight): $273.29 USD
Avg.: $86.45 USD per day- we spent 2 days in Stockholm
Ps. You will be seeing more of Bri and Marie (and her husband Chip!) in future a blog post this summer- get excited!