So the title of this blog is a little misleading; my passport doesn’t actually get stamped when I travel inside of the Schengen area (which is an unfortunate fact that I didn’t realize before), which includes 26 European countries, most of which are in the EU. But, Sweden is officially the third country I have traveled to (Czech Republic and Belgium are the first two, and I don’t count my layover in the Netherlands), which is very exciting!
We decided to go to Sweden on a whim, when five of us discovered we were all free one weekend and looked up the cheapest tickets out of Prague; Stockholm won! I didn’t do any research before going, which is very unlike me, so everything there was unexpected. Once we landed in Stockholm Arlanda Airport we took a bus to the suburbs of Stockholm, which is where our Airbnb was. My first impression of Stockholm was that is basically looks like a very, very tidy Minnesota. My second impression (which lasted the entire trip) was that this would have to be the most expensive country I could travel to, because just buying food, let alone getting into museums and other sights, would eat up my budget for the weekend! And my third impression is that everything, from the mattresses and furniture in the Airbnb to the mugs and plates in the coffee shops, is from Ikea.
The Airbnb we stayed in was a little cottage in some woods on the outskirts of Stockholm. When we walked around to try and find some coffee the next morning, we discovered that we were next to Ulriksdal Palace Park, which was beautiful. After some false starts, we finally found our way to a train station a mile and a half away and got into Stockholm.
We spent Saturday exploring what we could of the city despite the cold, dreary weather. It mostly included going from one museum or coffee shop or restaurant to another, and stopping to see the sights that were along the way. This really took a toll on the budget; a “cheap” meal was around $12, and if we had gone to any sort of sit-down restaurant it would have been at least $20 each. Even the granola bar that I bought was $6! We went to the Nobel Museum, which thanks to our student discount was semi-affordable, and stumbled upon a Nobel prize winner giving a talk; definitely a highlight of the trip! Sunday was much better weather, so we were able to explore some parks and walk along the waterfront, and see a less touristy part of the city.
Overall, Stockholm is absolutely beautiful. There is an interesting mix between modern architecture and old, fairy tale like buildings. The city is split between 14 different islands; Old Town is on one of the center islands and was really fun to see, but very touristy. My favorite part was exploring the islands of Södermalm, which was described to me as the “Brooklyn of Stockholm” by the Swedish man I sat next to on the plane ride there, and Djurgården. Stockholm is definitely a place that I need to go back to when I: one, have more time; two, have more money; and three, can explore more of the countryside and villages, which (from the little I saw) were charming and beautiful.
I don’t have any trips that are concretely planned until late November, but in the meantime, talks of going to Amsterdam, Paris, Budapest, and Vienna are all in the works, as well as exploring more of the Czech Republic than just Prague. Luckily, I don’t think there’s a bad place to go… 🙂