The Land of Ikea and Meatballs

Scandinavia is just how my uneducated naive mind imagined it. It’s clean, colourful, fancy, the people are mostly tall, blonde, tanned and good looking. The houses look like Ikea catalogues and everything is monochrome. Food is expensive, coffee is even more expensive, actually everything is expensive. There aren’t too many tourists wondering the streets like the rest of Europe in the summer, and the locals are still excited to meet Australians. In case it isn’t obvious, I love Scandinavia, and Sweden was no exception.

Stockholm has been dubbed the unofficial capital of Scandinavia. The land of Ikea and meatballs, it’s a beautiful historical yet trendy city. It’s very ‘Scandinavian’ and similar to Copenhagen, but on a larger scale. I didn’t really understand the small town feel Copenhagen had until I left and started traveling around again.

The Old Town is a beautiful part of the city, hilly and windy you could easily get lost wondering its colourful streets daydreaming. A quick walk over the bridge and you find yourself in Södermalm. Formally the working class area of Sweden, it’s now known as the Hipster area of Sweden, and was voted the ‘coolest’ neighbourhood in Europe in 2014 by Vogue. There is a beautiful lookout over the water and into Old Town, just a short walk to the West of the island. It’s full of coffee shops and clothing stores, cobble streets and old buildings. It’s hard to refrain from spending money, but it’s defiantly worth a walk around.

– view from look out

– old town

If you want to stay away from the shops and people, head to the island Djurgârden for more of a nature experience. It’s green and a large park, with the famous Vasa Museum featuring a huge 17th century ship. Shameful to say we didn’t enter the museum, as the price is 130SEK (around AUS$22), and every museum cost builds up. There is also an ABBA museum, which we also skipped purely because I hate ABBA. It is also home to an amusement park Gröna Lund, which was closed while we were there, a harbour and lots of museums. We didn’t have much time on the island so just did a small walk, and I got to witness Tyral falling and sliding down a muddy hill. Fantastic experience.

Tyral’s overstayed visa was beginning to become a problem for us. I get nervous when authorities approach me when I haven’t done anything wrong, so with the issue of an overstayed (well it’s a grey area) visa hanging over our heads, crossing a boarder was a whole new experience. I get sweaty, my hands go clammy and I look 100% guilty even through I have done nothing wrong. The day before we arrived in Stockholm there was a rampage of at least 40-50 men with balaclavas running through central station, beating up refugees and anyone who didn’t look Scandinavian. This we didn’t found out until we had arrived, but we could tell from the feel of Sweden something was happening. There where police everywhere doing random checks, high security at the boarders and a feel of panic in the air. Mixed with the amped up boarder control of the amount of refugees entering into Sweden, it didn’t feel like the most relaxed place I had imagined it to be. The security walked around doing random checks on anyone who looked foreign, and with our two over sized, eye sore backpacks we stood out like a sore thumb. Tyral’s anxiety over his visa defiantly increased being here, feeling like we were going to be targeted for a ‘random’ visa check, and didn’t feel like it would be a good time or place to get caught out. In saying this we had no troubles with it, and jumped on the ferry to our next destinations with no worries.

Our time in Sweden was short, but enough for me to say it’s worth a visit. As you can see we didn’t have much time to take in many of the sights, the only museum we visited was the coin museum because it was the only free one (unless you’re really, really into coins I wouldn’t say it’s top of the things to do in Stockholm), it was raining and we were both freezing from our lack of proper winter clothing. We spent most of our time planning where to head next and shopping for better winter wear (we hopped from shop to shop trying on jackets only to convince ourselves that we didn’t need to spend the money only to walk back outside and freeze). 

It was defiantly worth the stop over on our way from Denmark and to the North of Scandinavia, to Finland.

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