We thought it would be silly to be in Sweden and only explore Malmö so for the last leg of our adventure before we started student teaching again, we decided to check out the largest city in Sweden, Stockholm. We got in on a flight late Thursday night, loaded up on some pasta at a local Italian restaurant, and got some much-needed rest. Chandler, KayLeigh, and I all love to have a plan but we decided that we would start the next morning with a large cappuccino and just see where the day took us. We only had one goal in Stockholm and that was to find matching Sweden hats. We found them in the first souvenir shop we went into and splurged immediately even though we probably could have found them for cheaper elsewhere. Nothing screams locals like obnoxious, brightly colored hats, so we fit right in…!
After purchasing the hats and stopping into a couple more souvenir shops, we explored Gamla Stan or Old Town. This part of town contains some of the oldest buildings in Stockholm and is a hub of fascinating culture and interesting architecture. We went to the Royal Palace just in time for their changing of the guard ceremony. Although it was entirely in Swedish, the ceremony was a unique bit of Stockholm that we were glad to see. We kept hoping to see the royal family but found out that this palace is not their official place of residence and they actually reside in a larger palace, Drottningholm Palace, just outside of Stockholm.
Soon after the ceremony we were greeted with something we had been waiting for ever since arriving in Sweden three weeks ago…SNOW!! Large flakes were swirling around us and before we knew it the snow started to accumulate on the ground. It wasn’t a ton but it was the perfect winter wonderland we had been hoping for. The snow, of course, brought with it a drop in temperature and we wished we had put on a few more layers before leaving the hotel that morning.
Some more wandering and exploring the bustling streets of Stockholm led us to our dinner destination, which was traditional Swedish cuisine with a twist. We sat down at a popular Swedish meatball place called Meatballs for the People. We couldn’t be in Sweden and not try Swedish meatballs, right? Although Meatballs for the People had a variety of meatball offerings, we opted for the traditional ones. Since the only Swedish meatballs I have ever had are the ones you get as free samples walking into IKEA, these were pretty great. They were accompanied with some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever had. The warm meal hit the spot after a cold day wandering about.
Saturday began with a tour of Stockholm’s City Hall. We originally went on the tour because we wanted to go into the clock tower to see the town from above (you know this squad is always chasing the birds-eye views). Of course we didn’t read the fine print on the website and it wasn’t until after the tour was completely over that they told us the tower was closed for the winter season (cue the tragic music). Even without the tower, the tour of city hall was really cool. We saw the Blue Hall, where the Noble Peace Prize Banquet is held every year. We learned the in’s and out’s of the activities the Nobel laureates participate in on the night the coveted award is given out. Dinner is served in the Blue Hall, which you can tell by the pictures isn’t really blue, and then head to the gold room for dancing. It should be pretty clear which room the gold room is and YES it is all 100% real gold. The wall with the goddess on it is interesting because to her left you can see emblems of the West with symbols from places like the United States and Paris. To her right you can see things like the Turkish flag and elephants representing the East. The architect did this to say that Sweden was the keeper of the peace between the two parts of the world. We also learned that about 60 weddings happen each day in City Hall. Most of the ceremonies happen in one minute but if you’re feeling extra fancy you can splurge for the 3-minute option (how romantic!). So even though the tower was a bust, all of the information we learned about the purpose of the rooms in city hall was worth the trip anyways.
We had found an ice skating rink earlier in the day and thought it would be fun to come back later in the night when the lights were on overhead. I love ice-skating and we arrived as soon as the Zamboni had run so it was perfect…freezing, but perfect. We skated around the ice for about an hour before deciding our toes couldn’t take it anymore (a.k.a. we really couldn’t feel our toes at all anymore) and called it a night. In my book, ice-skating was the perfect ending to our 10 day journey. Sometimes it is good not to have a plan and just let a place reveal itself to you.
I’m excited to be back with my class at MIS this week to finish up my incredible experience abroad. I have already learned so much and I am itching to get back home and apply all of the newfound knowledge to my teaching experience in Texas. I may also be ready for some warmer weather and my own kitchen again too but I guess those are just added bonuses. :)