I arrived in Stockholm on a Friday morning with high hopes, a long to do list and immediate disappointment. The area around Central Station was far from attractive, the sky has opened up and the ground was bizarrely sticky. I hustled to my hostel, checked in and settled in for an uneventful afternoon.
One exciting thing about my hostel here was that it had a kitchen. I had been longing to cook my own meals and that’s something I hadn’t had a chance to do since Australia. I made a trip to the grocery store to get essentials for the next few days. I also quickly discovered a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors I had never seen before. This was not going to end well 🙂
Back at my hostel I ran into Sagar, one of the folks I met in Copenhagen, so we sat around chatting about what to do in town. I also forced some of my Ben and Jerry’s on him since there was no freezer at the hostel. I was three quarters of the way through a pint and already beyond miserable. He proposed an outing for the next day: kayaking some of Stockholm’s less crowded islands. It didn’t take much convincing and after a bit of research and a phone call we had a plan for the next day.
Saturday morning we headed to Vaxholm via bus and then walked to the water where a kayak rental shop was located. Sagar had asked if I was okay with a tandem kayak, to which I questioned his level of patience. We agreed it would be okay by both of us and hopped in our two person kayak with paddles and maps in our hands.
Over the next 6 hours we explored islands and lakes, got lost a few times, dodged multiple passenger and vehicle ferries, stopped in town for lunch, discussed how our arms would be like Popeye’s in no time at all and swapped travel stories. By the end I thought my arms would never work again, but luckily a hearty PB&J dinner fixed things right away. I was so happy we escaped the city to go spend more time with nature… I had missed the peace that comes with being in the middle of nowhere.
After we stopped for a snack we had a little audience while we launched from the beach. I joked with the children on the dock that we were going to flip over… then hoped that I was really just joking.
Seeing that my first two days in Stockholm included seeing none of the city, I started day three with a free walking tour. The beginning of the tour did not impress me… it was in a touristy area, with ugly buildings and trash everywhere. I was starting to grow concerned about why people said they liked Stockholm. Luckily as the tour progressed, we made our way closer to Old Town and got to see all of the beautiful architecture.
During the tour I met two lovely ladies, Victoria and Amanda, and we hit it off immediately. After the tour was over we headed to grab lunch and people watch at a little cafe. Next up was Fotografiska, the photography museum that had great reviews. We wandered the exhibits and loved every minute of it. After that I explored the city more, did a little shopping and then cleaned up to meet the girls again for dinner. The plan was an epic meatball dinner, but we found out the restaurant was closed for holiday. After scoping out a few other options we decided to have burgers, beer and fries for dinner and it did not disappoint.
The following few days were fairly low key… morning runs around town, avocado toast for breakfast every day, checking out various free museums, visiting an epic library, wandering by the waterfront, meeting the girls for coffee and market explorations, hoards of people watching while eating chocolate cake, seeing the changing of the guards, walking everywhere, consuming more Ben & Jerry’s, trying Swedish meatballs, reading with a beer in my hand and taking it easy!
I’m glad Stockholm surprised me after my initial shock of the city. I had more than enough time to explore, to kick back and be lazy and to spend a full day outside of town. While it wasn’t one of my favorite European destinations so far, I would gladly spend more time getting to know this lovely area. Cheers!