Sweden

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(Our view from the ferry as we sailed into Stockholm)

Välkommen, the first sign I saw upon arriving in Stockholm, Sweden. We arrived by boat traveling from Helsinki to Stockholm on an overnight ferry called the Silja Line, which we later found out was the “booze cruise”. On board we had dinner buffet style, but the food wasn’t as good as it had been in Helsinki. We also had the opportunity to see “Grease” live on the ship, by a group of young people who came from all over Europe, except for the one American in the group, he played Danny Zuko.

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There was so much to see, eat and do in Stockholm. We didn’t stay in the center of Stockholm for our accommodations, so the day we arrived we actually toured Gamla Stan and the Vasa Museum before going to the hotel, which was an experience in itself, but that story can be told at a later time. The Royal Palace was the first place I wanted to explore. I already knew much about the Swedish royal family, as all three siblings had either recently married or had children. Although the royals don’t “rule” the country, they play an important role in the countries history, plus millions of tourist flock to the country yearly to see the royals in all their pomp and circumstance. Gamla Stan is not only filled with royal pageantry and history, there is also a beautiful church and courtyard, that held my interest for hours.

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There were endless amounts of souvenir shops, art galleries and restaurants located in Old Town (Gamla Stan). Outside of Gamla Stan, there were some interesting places to visit as well, including the Vasa maritime museum and IKEA (just kidding). I really wanted to get to IKEA but, the concierge at the hotel told me I would have to take two trains and bus to get there so I responded with a “never mind”! Back in the center of Stockholm we did have dinner on the Rygerfjord which is a floating hotel/restaurant. We had traditional Swedish meatballs, pickled herring and caviar. The space was a bit cramped, but most things in Europe are (just a side note).

Sweden was a completely different cultural experience than what we experienced in Finland, I was fascinated by the historical aspects of Gamla Stan.  I couldn’t leave Sweden without having afternoon tea, so I made my way to Chaikhana, a nice little tea house with some delicious sandwiches and scones.  The tea was amazing, especially with the scones and jam.  I would certainly recommend this tea room to anyone visiting Gamla Stan.  Walking around Gamla Stan, eating and drinking, believe me I did a lot of both, it was inevitable, that I would have to use the restroom. The key to a great bathroom experience in Europe, (loose change).  It’s best to have at least two euro’s on you in order to access the bathrooms.

I fell in love with Gamla Stan for it’s old world charm, the royal palace, the armory and the old Lutheran church. But what I really enjoyed was sitting and people watching. As I relaxed and ate traditional Swedish treats, like those below, I realized how blessed I was to have this experience. If your interested in visiting Stockholm, check out my tips below.

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Best Time to Arrive: May, June, July, August and September.

Recommendations:

Where to stay: Old Town (Vacation Rentals) and Rygerfjord Hotel

Where to eat: Chaikhana Tea House and Grillska Huset

Where to shop: Herr Judit and IKEA Kungens Kurva

Where to visit: Nobel Museum, Swedish Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral

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(Traditional Swedish folk dancers)