Stockholm - Not at All What We Expected
If I’m honest, I have to say that Stockholm was not the best. Visiting on Easter weekend was the most likely reason for this disappointment since schools were out and the locals were all out-of-town for the holiday. Walking down the cobbled streets of this ghost town, we smiled at everyone we passed but they wouldn’t make eye contact. So weird! We made a game out of trying to win smiles or laughs from people. No matter how generously you score it, we wouldn’t have earned many points. On the two occasions where we saw people laughing or having fun, we whipped our heads around so quickly we nearly got whiplash. “They’re laughing, THEY’RE ACTUALLY LAUGHING!” we exclaimed in voices that were drenched with hysterical surprise. If only we’d been quick enough to snap a photo of these rare Stockholm occurrences.
The city is not without its charms, though. With narrow, winding alleys and idyllic architecture, it’s quite a quintessential European city. We used postcards in the windows of tourist shops to figure out where the best skyline photos were taken and then set off to find these lofty overlooks. Along the way, we found this statue that looks like Jabba the Hutt and Mermaid Leia.
At night, we tried using logic to find cool places to hang out. Logic failed us. We followed big groups of people to try to see where they were headed, but they seemed content to wander aimlessly. Even the search for food was a bit difficult and we went into six “restaurants” before finding one that was serving food at 8 PM.
On Easter morning, we took a hop-on hop-off style boat tour through the archipelago. Cruising from island to island, we discovered the Vasa Museum which is home to an enormous, fully restored ship from the 1700s. Tommy and I learned significantly less than Llew did in this museum since we only read 50% of the hundreds of plaques while Llew went for the 100% completion goal. Fun times?
After our tour was over, we found a bite to eat at a traditional Swedish cafe. Swedish meatballs served with a savory gravy and new potatoes, yes, please. (Important note, the meatballs in Sweden are better than the ones at Ikea. But at nearly 3x the price, I reckon they ought to be.) For dessert, we had a couple of Chokladbolls (Chocolate Balls), which consist of oats rolled in cocoa powder and topped with chocolate, coconut, nuts, and pretty much any tasty thing you can dream up. So good, and gluten free if you’re a glutard like me.
One evening of wandering about trying to find a cool place to chill had been enough for all of us, so we returned to our hostel to play card games in the lounge area. We invited a lone French girl to join in and a few others sat nearby, chatting with us while we played. From the bystanders we learned of a nearby pub that sounded promising, so after a few more hands, we walked over for dinner and drinks.
A tiny place, it was packed full of friendlier locals than we’d met thus far. Three high-school-aged girls who were having drinks (so weird to be somewhere that the drinking age is so young) explained to us that it is “social suicide to make eye contact while walking down the streets in Stockholm.” This made it abundantly clear why we’d felt like such social lepers as we tried to win people over the southern way, with smiles and direct eye-contact. As it were, that was our last night, so the following morning we were keen to fly away somewhere more open to our Aussie-American charms.
Have you been to Stockholm? If so, what was your experience like? Were the locals bubbly and kind and the streets full of life? I’m more than happy to give it a second chance on a non-holiday weekend if you give it a rave review.