Technically, live from Malmö, but I’m just sitting in the station here for a couple of hours waiting on my bus to Copenhagen. I just got off the most wonderful train, with wide soft seats and plugs and wifi and cupholders…Sweden does everything well, it seems. With efficiency and style.
I spent my two days in Stockholm trying to puzzle out the layers of the city. It’s a modern bustling metropolis, a fairytale-like historic center, an archipelago of islands, a part of Sweden’s identity, but something separate as well. I started on Monday morning, way too early, after my night bus from Oslo. It was cold and foggy, and I didn’t want to be awake. But by the time I started on my free walking tour that morning, the sky had cleared, and I had consumed enough caffeine to feel alive again.
My walking tour was focused on the modern part of the city, and it was very good. We saw the department store where Greta Garbo was working when she was discovered in the 1920s, the bank where the famous four day robbery occurred (from which we get the term Stockholm Syndrome), and the Swedish Houses of Parliament. I was delighted to learn that Sweden has nearly achieved gender parity in their representatives. The dream is real!
After the tour, I headed out to IKEA, of course, eating swedish meatballs in the massive flagship store. After walking through all four floors, I was ready for “fika,” the traditional Swedish break for coffee and pastries (I had a cinnamon roll).
Then it was naptime for Molly, being worn out from the high quality sleep you get on a night bus. My lovely small hostel was located in the historic center of Stockholm, tucked away in the winding cobbled streets of Gamla Stan. The little island reminded me of nothing else so much as Venice, which was a lovely surprise.
Later that evening I walked around in the fading light, and was treated to an entirely different side of Sweden. I checked out the Royal Palace (unfortunately, I didn’t catch sight of those precious princesses), and the cathedral, before sitting down to an amazing salmon quiche. Really. Amazing is not an exaggeration.
The next day, I had a mission. I was going to Skansen, the world’s oldest open air museum, and “Sweden in miniature,” a large park full of historic building brought from all over Sweden to offer a glimpse into the different regions and the country’s past. And I got to take a ferry to get there, just like a real Viking. 🙂
I loved learning more about Scandinavia’s indigenous people, the Sami, who traditionally herd reindeer. Skansen had some of those too!
But the highlight was totally unplanned an unexpected. I got to witness, up close, four brown bears fighting, playing, and swimming in the Nordic animal area. Did you know that bears shake themselves off like dogs when they get out of the water? Or that they stand on their back legs and use their paws to swat at each other? Have you seen it happen? Whatever they’re doing at Skansen, they need to keep it up, because this was the best zoo experience I have ever had. The bears were totally unconcerned with their audience, totally occupied with their surroundings and each other. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
After seeing a bear fight, I have to admit that the rest of Skansen paled in comparison. I did love seeing all the historic buildings and talking to the well-informed employees (some of whom were in costume). If you only have a short time and want to cram in a ton of Swedish culture and history, you have to go to Skansen. And say hi to my friends, the bears.
I spent most of the day exploring Skansen (it’s massive) but I had time in the afternoon to check out Södermalm, the fashionable, edgy area to the south of the city. I got a coffee and found some amaxing secondhand and vintage stores. Totally recommend this area.
I finished off the evening by walking around Gamla Stan, enjoying it in the golden sunset. Lovely.
Up next, it’s off to Denmark. I’m making my base in Roskilde, although I’ll be spending most of my time in and around Copenhagen. And I’ll be making a day trip/pilgrimage to Odense to visit the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. So excited!