Stockholm, Sweden – land of a beautiful social welfare system and a poor claim to the moose as their own. Arriving in Arlanda Airport is too convenient; right out of the gates is a large information booth with as many maps and guidebooks as ABBA hits. “Do you speak English?” I asked the tall blond about the way to Stockholm – he chuckled, because deep down in his socialist heart, he and everyone else in Sweden knew that they all spoke English better than me. Dag nugget Sweden, you win! The train costs double than the bus, both should be paid fore in advance in Swedish Kronos currency. Both ways leave often and take you directly to downtown Stockholm C station where I recommend you begin with a nap and a slice of brown bread.
I should cut in here, cuz this ain’t no usual Travel Yourself. As a guest blogger, I am going to ramble, point out some links, tunes and try not be too pretentious or, word of the day, patronizing. I am a long time friend and fan of travel filmie Cailin O’Neil and she wanted a few thoughts to share. She also walks very slowly.
From Stockholm C you can take the subway, tram, city-bike, or be massaged on your way to Gamla Stan. Don’t be lazy, start walking and get lost around the city’s 14 islands. There are a few hostels in Old Town of Gamla Stan island, I passed out for my afternoon nap here at Best Hostel. Before you can check in though, at noon right next door is the changing of the guard at the Palace where you, and every other tourist will get to see a guard take leave. I can imagine this happens at every Swedish McDonalds when the drive thru clerk takes a smoke break. The Gamla Stan island is…how shall I say…cute and touristy. It has got the goods for all your last minute souvenirs, post cards, over priced coffee and good place to start if you have just arrived. In front of the hostel are the Nobel Museum and a cozy courtyard to sit, plan the day, and learn Swedish.
How to make friends
Well not exactly, just random points to bring up in convo to bring some heat.
- What’s happening with your immigration policy these days?
- What do you think of Norway? Best friends?
- Does Sweden have indigenous people?
Nowadays people google Cool stuff in Sweden and Fun things Stockholm and Top 10 must see Stockholm – so I might as well just write that now to help TravelYourself’s emerging blogosphere hype.
I remember I got really mad as a kid (or possibly adult) when I discovered the Viking settlements in Canada were recreations. How about the real thing? Sweden got lucky, or seriously messed up depending on your take. Back in the 16th Century, the king ordered a massive war ship to be built in the hub of Stockholm. Turns out it was a bit top heavy, and on its maiden voyage it royally sank. Ba-dum-pisssh. Ok. Everyone forgot about it, then some guy 40 years ago discovered it using a fishing line. They raised it up, and because the Baltic Sea does not have any wood worms (wood worms?) – the ship stayed completely in tact. They raised it, and put pretty rad looking Ikea-esk building over it for all to see. Try using one of the get on get off ferries around the harbour or you can walk there hugging the coast from Gamla Stan in 20 minutes. Good for the history buffs. Not good for people who hate old boats.
Right next to Vasa museam on the same island is the Skansen, world first open air museum. It shows all the old Swedish housing styles, mostly over the past 300 years. It also includes a small zoo, which houses Bjorn the bear, raindeer, and mooses (plural of moose = meese?) There were some descent views, but mostly it was a low-key walk, although it does host performances at select dates. Do it without the crowds during the weekday. Do not touch Bjorn inappropriately. He is sensitive.
Alcohol is a bit tricky to find at your convenience– at least it’s the cheapest in Europe. No. That was a bold faced lie. Anti-cheap. If you have never tried it before, I would look out for some local Aquavit liquor to sample before heading on the scene. In terms of where to go– I would recommend Sweden’s hipster central SoFo (South Folkungatan) on Södermalm island. As it usually happens around the world, hipster areas slowly become gentrified – and so is the case with Sofo. There are quality spots – but if you are looking for something small take a look for the hidden local spot Berlin.
Feeling like posing as a hip swede in SoFo? With a tight pair of pants, you can do anything. Here are some Svenska tunes that do not sound like Robyn:
- Lykke Li
- Jens Lekman
- Anna Ternheim
Established over the past 70 years, the institute is the hub of Scandinavian Anthroposophy. Don’t know what that is? Neither did I. To say it is a super organic farm does not give it enough credit. It is more of an eco-village, college, performance house and entrepreneurial centre all inspired from Rudolph Steiner’s philosophy, the same man who created the Waldorf schools. It is well off the beaten path, a couple hours away with train and bus will get you to Jarna. Use the SL website to get you from Stockholm to Stensta bus stop in YtterJarna. I recommend calling the institute and asking if anything can be booked or upcoming events. Certainly a good experience for those interested in intentional sustainable communities.
See you on the road,
walking faster than Cailin,
Nico Koenig is completing his Masters in Adult Education and Community Development at the University of Toronto, inspired from people and communities along his journey.
**All photos taken by Nico Koenig
Editor’s Note: Yes I walk slow because I like to stop and smell the roses and not rush through life from point A to point B ;)