After spending a few days in Copenhagen we hopped on a train to Stockholm.  Copenhagen is right on the border between Denmark and Sweden which are separated by a seven mile wide straight.  Normally a large section of a bridge like this would need to be a tall suspension bridge or drawbridge to allow ships to pass.  Due to the nearby Copenhagen Airport among other concerns that wasn’t possible.  Instead the Danish side starts with an underwater tunnel that emerges partway across on tiny man made island and continues on a normal bridge.  It was pretty cool going down into a tunnel and coming out of it in the middle of the straight.  When we got to Stockholm we picked up metro passes.  The city is spread across 14 islands so it would have made walking everywhere more difficult.  Figuring out how the system of how to find the correct platform and train with mostly Swedish signage was difficult at first.  Once we figured it out though it became mostly second nature.  Many of the stations are elaborately decorated by artists in various themes.  One night we made a list of stations that sounded most interesting and took an underground tour of the city.  My favorites were some of the stations that had exposed bedrock throughout instead of finished walls.

We stayed in Sodermalm which is an island just south of the city center.  We quickly found a bakery around the corner from our place and ate SO many pastries over the next few days.  Cinnamon buns were invented in Sweden.  They’re much different than in America but we loved them.  They’re less fluffy and sweet and not covered in frosting.  Instead they’re topped with a modest amount of pearl sugar.  After having way too many I think I prefer them to ours.  In Sweden there’s a concept called fika.  It basically means to stop working or rushing about to have coffee or tea, often with cinnamon buns or other pastries.  It’s kind of like afternoon tea in England but maybe a bit more laid-back.  We made sure to partake in fika each afternoon we were there.

We spent our first morning walking around Sodermalm checking things out.  Not far from us was a caramel shop Tay had heard about called Parlans.  The whole place feels right out of the 40s down to the hairstyles of those working there.  They make all of their caramels by hand in a tiny kitchen attached to the shop with amazing attention to detail.  On our walk we came across one of the most photogenic streets I’ve ever seen.  Attractive neighborhood streets weren’t exactly hard to find but we couldn’t believe it when we stumbled onto the street.  Eventually we made our way north to the Vasa museum which ended up being a huge highlight of the trip.  The Vasa was a huge warship that sank on it’s maiden voyage into the harbor in 1628.  Its valuable bronze canon were soon salvaged from the floor of the harbor but the rest of the wreck was abandoned and lost to time.  It sat undetected until 1956 when it was rediscovered and eventually brought to the surface in mostly one piece.  Due to the nature of its sinking as well as the muddy, brackish water of the harbor the Vasa was still mostly intact.  Small areas that were missing have been prefabricated and replaced.  Neither of us are particularly into large, wooden ships, but we still thought the Vasa was fascinating.  Highly recommended if you’re ever in Stockholm.

Just north of our island was the tiny island of Gamla Stan.  We spent most of our second day there.  It was probably the most touristy area but also one of the coolest.  Gamla Stan was the old center of the city.  It’s home to some of the oldest buildings and squares in the city.  Walking around the island we were met with picture perfect, narrow, cobblestone streets at every turn.  The island is also home to the royal palace.  We toured through there and also made sure the catch the changing of the guard outside.  Afterward we had cinnamon buns and bowls of hot chocolate for fika in the oldest square in the city.  At some point we had to get Swedish meatballs so we had those for dinner.

Our third day was spent mostly exploring more of the city on foot before we had to catch a train to the airport.  Our trip to Scandinavia was very quick but a lot of fun.  We definitely plan to make it back sooner rather than later.  We’re going to Amsterdam and Bruges next month so I hope that either of those places will have a similar feel to them.  Thanks for looking!

–kyle