Life is pretty sweet in Sweden!
As part of my recent European cruise, I was treated to a day in Sweden. Our ship docked in Nynäshamn, 45 minutes south of Stockholm, due to high winds and low tides. Fortunately, this provided our tour guide with extra time to tell us about the history of this country.
Here are some Swedish facts:
- Known as “Venice of the North,” Sweden is comprised of 15 islands.
- The name comes from the conjunction of two Swedish words: ‘stock’ (timber) and ‘holm’ (island).
- 1 million people live in the city center of Stockholm and 9.2 million in the country in total.
- The country is broken into thirds: 1/3rd water, 1/3rd parks and green areas, and 1/3rd city blocks.
- The currency is SEK, Swedish Krona. Painted wooden horses, the symbol of Sweden, have been used as currency as well.
- If you like nightlife, this is the place for you. Clubs close at 6AM and the first permanent ice bar was established in Stockholm.
- Sweden is the same size as California.
- Founded in 1656, the Bank of Sweden is the world’s longest established bank.
- Sweden has the longest life expectancy of any country in Europe.
- Stockholm’s subway is the world’s longest art gallery.
The drive into Stockholm also afforded many photo opportunities.
The first stop was the famed Vasa Museum, the most visited museum in Scandinavia.
Here you can see the Vasa, a 226-foot-long warship that sank in the Baltic Sea only 20 minutes into her maiden voyage in 1628.
If you do not remember the Vasa for its hilariously tragic story, you will remember her for her amazing preservation. Here are replica images.
Because of the brackish water of the Baltic Sea, the ship is well-preserved and was only brought to land recently in 1961.
The Vasa is worth checking out as it is something you won’t see anywhere else in the world!
From the Vasa Museum we went to Gamla Stan, or Old Town.
This is the place to be in Stockholm. Visit the Royal Palace, which once housed the King of Sweden. It is one of the largest palaces in Europe and houses over 600 rooms and several museums. Again, our eyes feasted on beautiful Baroque-style rooms filled with gold leafing.
I then had the opportunity to try some Swedish meatballs. They were quite tasty and the ones served at Ikea in the U.S. are surprisingly authentic.
I then went off to explore on my own.
I, of course, went to get a cinnamon roll to continue my Cinnamon Roll Challenge from country to country!
Cinnamon roll in hand, I walked up and down the streets window-shopping. I found inexpensive leather and many moose or horse themed goods. I walked up and down the busy streets, exploring the roads less traveled as I came across them.
I was most pleased to find a small courtyard that housed this fountain. It is amazing what treasures you can find just through wandering.
I also saw the changing of the guards outside of the Royal Palace. Coming from a Democratic nation, this is always a very European sight to behold.
My tour group then went on to City Hall. Unfortunately we arrived about 10 minutes past our appointment time and were not allowed in. As we were with another tour group, there were about 50 very disappointed and upset patrons. As we had already purchased our tour tickets and were not offered a refund, many of us left Sweden with a bad taste in our mouths. I can respect timelines, but I personally felt that this was extremely strict and not what I would have expected of the Swedes. Perhaps a better compromise would have been to have our tour group skip a room or two in City Hall to make up the 10 minutes. Well, que sera, sera.
We did have a chance to walk around the courtyard and enjoy the view.
A little disappointed, we went to our final stop in Stockholm: Fjällgatan, which offers great city views.
Overall I enjoyed Stockholm. It was a beautiful day in June and the weather could not have been better. The streets were clean – in fact, Sweden is the cleanest country in the world! – and the people watching in Gamla Stan was great. In general, the shop owners and employees where reserved, which really inhibits a city’s ascension to the top of my list. The strictness at City Hall only solidified my mediocre-friendliness rating. I personally would rather travel back to Belgium or Denmark over Sweden, but I could definitely see myself coming back with a friend to have a vodka at the world’s oldest ice bar.