A Spontaneous Trip to Scandinavia via LA
Scandinavia is a dream destination, and for years, I’ve longed to explore the fjords of Norway, archipelago of Stockholm, and quirky vibrancy of Copenhagen. When the Travel Pirates website sent me an email about an error flight fare to Stockholm from Los Angeles for $330 round trip, I quickly reached out to one of my best friends to see if he’d be keen on going. Tommy’s immediate, “Yes, let’s book it now!” shocked me, but I recovered rapidly and had our tickets booked within the hour My Aussie boyfriend, Llew, was due back from Australia two weeks before Tommy and I were supposed to fly out. When he woke up (they’re 19 hours ahead Down Under), I told him about the trip. The next day, he said, “Find me a deal that good and I’ll join you guys,” (except in more decidedly more Aussie lingo) so I did.
With just a month to plan, I began my spreadsheet in Google Docs. Initially, we thought to only go to Sweden and maybe to Norway for a couple of days, but after a bit of research and luck, we tacked on Denmark to the list as well.
Our trip was to be 9 days long and we wanted to make the most of every day. We scored flights between countries (Sweden>Denmark>Norway) for $115 per person and then booked an overnight train back from Norway to Sweden for $24 each. Exploring each city by foot cost us nothing and a 4-day car rental in Norway cost $125 total and allowed us to see the beauty of the fjord-flecked countryside. We had our hostels, cabins, and transportation all booked before we got on our first flight and for a total amount that was considerably less than just a round-trip plane ticket would have typically cost us. (With food, transportation, tour tickets, and lodging our trip cost approximately $1500 per person.)
Llew and I flew from Seattle to Los Angeles a day early, and he continued to Stockholm while I waited in LA for Tommy. After a gray winter in the Pacific Northwest, a day on the sun-drenched, Cali beaches with my Kindle in hand was just what I needed.
I explored Venice Beach where my hostel was located and biked down the strip to Santa Monica Pier for sunset. Being amongst happy, smiling people in the warm sunlight gave me a taste of what it’s like to live somewhere that doesn’t have a gray season and almost made me miss living in Florida.
The next morning, I sat around chatting with my hostel mates that I’d gone out with the night before as we enjoyed the make-your-own breakfast buffet in our cozy kitchen. Then, I met Tommy at the airport in time to board our direct flight to Stockholm. We flew with Scandinavian Airlines and the in-flight meals and movies were top notch.
Landing at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, we hopped on the next train to downtown. The first thing we saw as we took our seats on the empty train was a small screen that read, “Dad dies from stabbing in Swedish asylum home.” It’s not funny, but we couldn’t help but burst into hysterical giggles after a long, long flight. Little did we know then that the empty train was a foreshadowing of things to come during our time in Stockholm.