I finally visited the original city I wanted to study abroad in, Stockholm. I almost did not end up going the past weekend. Originally, I figured it’s a good weekend to go before my series of traveling kicks off. However, I was holding back on buying tickets because the weather predictions for the weekend in Stockholm was all rain. After a few days, the weather forecast changed and it showed that it would be sunny instead. Having a short chat with my host mom, I was convinced to commit to visiting Stockholm this weekend. She told me that the weather is only going to go downhill from here and there is no guarantee that the weather would be better in the near future; Scandinavia is known for their harsh winters. Despite the increase in price for booking on the Tuesday before my flight which was on Friday, the investment was worthwhile. Since it was roughly $30 USD more expensive than if I were to book the flights in advance, I figure I would save money in accommodations by searching for a host through Couchsurfing. I have only used Couchsurfing once when I decided to go on my solo trip to Taipei.
Booking an early morning flight on Friday also meant that I had to leave my house at 6AM to head to the airport. I didn’t end up sleeping for more than 2 or 3 hours with my last minute packing and quick attractions research. At the Stockholm airport, I struggled a little with purchasing a shuttle bus ticket to get to the city center because the kiosks would not accept my American credit card that doesn’t have the chip and pin installed. While waiting at the counter for assistance, I decided to buy a 24hr Stockholm card. The card included free entrances to over 80+ museums and transportation. I do later regret making this purchase a little because this 24hr limit got me the whole i-must-make-the-most-out-of-it mentality within the 24hrs of activation.
My original host lived in a beautiful neighborhood painted in nice pastel colored architecture. Whether it’s because of the sunny weather or that the architecture is truly that amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed the neighborhood. Already a see a difference between the Stockholm and Copenhagen architecture. By late afternoon, I headed out with my host to explore the city. We walked from his apartment to the Parliament, Old Town, and then to some of the museums. I activated my Stockholm card through my visit to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is considered a must-see in Stockholm to see the recovered voyage ship from the 1600s. This massive fleet is surely more impressive to see than the skeleton displayed in Copenhagen’s national museum. To be honest, I can do without see the ship because it was a ‘quick walk around and I’m done’ type of visit. I then visited the open air museum, Skansen. By the time I got there, many of the attractions in the park were closed. I saw some animals and buildings from the outside. There was a nice view of the sky during sunset in the museum. After that, I took the tram back to the city center and decided to meet up with other Couchsurfers.
After a frustrating two hour wait, I finally found the other CS-ers. It took so long due to limited communicative mediums as we were only able to communicate via CS messages in free wifi zones. Although Sweden is known to have one of the most advanced online networks, free wifi zones were very limited. Originally, I suggested to visit the Ice Bar. How cool would it be to sit in a bar where everything including the cups are made of ice? Unfortunately, the cover fee was pricier than what the other CS-ers would like to pay. We had a nice walk around the city despite not ending up at a nice bar to hang out. We parted shortly after a rest stop in a McDonald’s. Due to some circumstances with my original host, I ended up staying over at one of the CS-ers I hung out with instead.
The next day, I met up with another CS-er to join a free walking tour of the city. There was more talking than walking than what I would have enjoyed since I’d rather visit a few more sights. It’s a struggle to find traditional Swedish cuisine because it’s mainly the homemade meals that makes it Swedish. I ended up getting Mexican food for lunch after the tour. After the tour, we decided to visit the Millesgården Museum which was a bit north of Stockholm. It took less time to commute to and actually find the museum than expected. We went straight to the outside garden. Again enhanced with the beautiful sunny sky, the arrangement of the statues and the view of the sea made the garden look very picturesque. At the garden, we met up with other CS-ers. After spending several hours admiring and taking photos of the garden we decided to explore Old Town again. Old Town was a nice historic area with colorful old designs and narrow alleys. Without much of a plan in mind, we stayed in a bar a bit before deciding to make dinner at one of the CS-er’s flat.
More CS-ers joined later that night. I love meeting other CS-ers because they’re usually people with such open minds, interesting stories, and different perspectives to share. None of us in the flat that night were from the same country or ethnicity. We were a diverse bunch consisting of a Swede, Brit, Singaporean, Latvian, Portuguese, Indonesian, and the American me. The great night ended with a surprise volcanic eruption. I will not further expand on the meaning of that in this blog, teehee.
I was quite sad when Sunday rolled along since I only have until the afternoon to explore the city. People have asked me why I wanted to visited Stockholm because there really aren’t many attractions here. I thought about it for a bit and realized that was true. I mean there are some museums and other sights, but they weren’t things that I MUST see. I was happy to visit the first H&M although I wish I could’ve seen IKEA, but that was just too far away. It’s the atmosphere and the people that I’ve met that made this such an incredible weekend. It’s my stubbornness of wanting to study here, but cannot that makes the city all the more glorified. I’m sure after reading this post, you would not understand why I am in love with the city. It’s something you must be there to really feel it and you have to be me with the mindset that I had. I just spent my last hours souvenir shopping and having a casual lunch with a CS-er.
Before leaving, I had an urge to make myself a promise to visit the city again before my semester ends. I didn’t let that idea live in my mind for too long because I was afraid that I will actually book another flight back. It’s not exactly the city, but the weather, the people, the whole package that made it so wonderful. I know I’d be fairly disappointed for a round 2 when I can be spending that additional weekend elsewhere.