When traveling, my philosophy is “no expectations”. Stockholm was the least studied city on our Graduation Tour. Katta put it on the itinerary for the sole reason on learning a little Swedish. I went into the sweetest of Sweden’s cities with little planning on how we were going to spend the last 36 hours of our huge European adventure. Stockholm quickly filled the blank slates of our minds with color, kindness, and culture.
The historic district of Stockholm can be compared to the French Quarter of New Orleans. Bubbling with architecture, color, and life, Katta and I spent hours wondering around the cobblestoned streets. The pastel-painted building came to life on that spring day. We happened upon many beautiful sights. A children’s choir singing folksongs on the steps of the Nobel Museum. A changing of the guards ceremony, where skilled soldiers marched before dozens of clumsy tourists. And, my personal favorite, the charming Dala Horse Museum!
Of course, the horse girl stumbles upon a museum dedicated to her favorite creature in a foreign country! Filled with child-like joy, Katta indulged me while I eagerly read all about Dala horses. Since the Vikings, horses have been considered a treasured animal in Swedish culture. Each wooden-carved horse is decorated with different colors, flowers, and designs to bring a unique future into the owner’s life. For my Stockholm souvenir, I chose a red Dala horse with a traditional design, to bring creativity and productivity into my life.
Gröna Lund: The Thrills and Shrills
Throughout our Graduation Tour, Katta and I had so many laughs and highlights, but the afternoon we spent at Gröna Lund was one of the best days of my life. Founded in 1883, the amusement park is packed with antique and modern features and rides. We screamed and laughed our way through the park, just a short walk from Gamla Stan. Every twist and turn of the roller coasters offers up an incredible view of Stockholm’s skyline.
With a haunted house all year round and a concert venue, it is easy to understand why this park is loved by locals and tourists alike. Katta and I meet travelers from near and far seeking the thrills of Gröna Lund. One cute British guy was subjected to my awkward flirting while stuck in line for our first roller coaster of the day. I don’t know what made him scream more: the roller coaster or me!
Unlike the American amusement parks I’ve been too, Gröna Lund was surprisingly affordable. Both Katta and I were worried that the park’s amenities would be expensive, yet we were able to indulge with some yummy comfort food from the concessions and a few souvenirs. Something I never am able to do in typical amusement parks is buy a picture of me riding a roller coaster. But this time we could!! We thought we had bought a magnet with a picture of Katta and I hollering during the Vilda Musen ride. Unfortunately, due to poor translation skills, it is just a cute picture with zero magnetic abilities, but it was only $3 so no complaints here!
Maten: The Food
I had zero expectations on the cuisine when we arrived in Stockholm. Always down to taste new things, we stopped at random restaurants during our adventures through the city. The amount a diversity pleasantly shocked me. From English pubs and Italian pizza joints to cozy local cafes, Stockholm is stuffed with delicious dinning options.
Our first, and dare I say best, culinary adventure in Stockholm was during our time spent wandering around Gamla Stan. Each street is sprinkled with a variety of restaurants, yet our eyes settled on the charming österlånggatan 17. I remember my stomach growling as I read over the menu. Trying to choose between the delicious sounding entrees, Katta and I sipped on yummy cocktails and chatted up our waitress. She was an American girl from the Mid-West that had found her home in Stockholm. The food was beyond amazing: classic international items with a Swedish twist. Katta had this mouth-watering cheese burger, the patty made of solely Swedish cheese. Our meal was rich and flavorful without being heavy, which was a great plus as we went straight to Gröna Lund after lunch.
To my surprise, most of the seating for many restaurants is outside. I came to Stockholm thinking that everything would be inside due to the cold harsh weather that happens frequently. Our American waitress explained that enjoying the outdoors is very culturally important, and these places offer blankets free of charge to use while sitting outside. Katta and I spent our next meal cuddled under blankets, enjoying the slow sunset, and eating a hot meal in a Swedish-English fusion pub. Now I can say, I totally get it!
The people are charming. The food is exquisite. The architecture is clean and bright. I cannot wait to go back to Sweden, and explore deeper into the country and culture, and continue to expand my expectations.