The second stop on our Scandinavian tour was the stunning Swedish capital, situated on 14 islands of the archipelago on the Baltic Sea. We arrived mid-April, the weather was (mostly) fantastic, and you could see the locals were excited to emerge from their winter slumber and greet their impending summer with gusto. It was definitely in between seasons, in that most archipelago tours hadn’t quite begun, but winter fun had just ended. No matter for us, we definitely enjoyed wandering the beautiful streets and exploring what Stockholm had to offer.
We spent a good deal of time in Gamla Stan, the city’s old town (more on that in a later post), and otherwise we just pretty much flew where the wind took us! The incredible harbour views were seriously awe-inspiring. I really like how Stockholm’s buildings are built right up to the edge of the islands, hugging the hillsides and shores, almost like these great clusters of gorgeousness. The harbour, full of beautiful boats of all colours and sizes, was simply stunning. I could not get enough of these views! And I may have taken many. many. photos.
The food culture was really huge, just like we found all over Scandinavia. In particular, we grew quite fond of the Swedish concept of Fika, basically the idea of an afternoon coffee break but with much significance placed on the social aspect. Fika can consist of simply taking a coffee with friends, or it can involve food, from a simple but delicious cardamom bulle to a more extravagant cake with fruit, custard, or cream. Yum! I’m hungry just writing about it. Bulle are sweet buns like a cinnamon bun, either just cinnamon or with cardamom, but way less sugary and without icing. They were definitely my favourite Scandinavian treat. I like cinnamon buns but often find them way too sweet, so this was the ideal snack for me, whether for breakfast or fika. I am going to make it my goal to perfect my recipe when we get home!
Our one museum visit in Stockholm was to the Vasa Museet. We had already planned on visiting this incredible shipwreck, and were even more excited to learn that our Airbnb host was actually a curator at the Vasa, so that made it even more cool to see after meeting her. The Vasa warship capsized in the Stockholm harbour in 1628, just 1500 metres after setting sail! For 333 years it sat on the sea bed, and was finally raised and painstakingly restored to it’s current state. An incredible combination of factors worked to preserve the ship in such great condition, including pollution from sewage and oil in the harbour which all but eliminated the ocean organisms that typically feed on wood.
It was incredibly fascinating to learn about the restoration of the ship and to see the intricately carved details, especially on the stern. There is a smaller model of the ship, portrayed as it would have looked before in all it’s glory. The vivid and bright colours used were thought to portray the richness and power of the country, as well as the King’s ambitions. Pretty crazy! My photos aren’t the best of this museum, of course the lighting is kept very dim to help preserve the ship, so it really didn’t lend itself well to photos. However, I think you can sort of get the gist, and see how special this place really was. The kids even ranked it as one of their very favourite museums of our trip — and they are hard to please — not big fans of museums, our kiddos!
We really had a great time in Stockholm, spending four pretty relaxed days really focused on wandering and just enjoying our surroundings. There were loads of amazing shops, of course, and I oohed and aahed over all the gorgeous design and tried to avoid buying every pretty thing I saw. We had fun meeting up with an old friend of mine from high school, who is living in Stockholm for a few years with his family. We also had fika with a new friend, for whom Derek did a commissioned artwork a couple years ago. It was fun to be able to hang with some locals and get more of a sense of real life in beautiful Stockholm. I’ll leave you with a handful of photos, and come back soon with a couple more Swedish posts later this week!