June 26, 2015

Stockholm, Sweden - Part I

It's been nearly a month since my mom and I departed to explore around Scandinavia.
Out first destination?
Stockholm, Sweden. 
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect..
Beautiful blonde people of viking descent? Lisbeth Salander? Ikea on every corner?
All I know is that Stockholm exceeded my expectations,
and I couldn't help but fall in love with this beautiful city. 

We stayed at the Sheraton Stockholm hotel
which was a standard business hotel, but it was situated in the perfect location - 
right between the entrance to the Old Town (Gamla Stan), and the rest of the city center. 
As expected, our first day was kind of a wash.. 
the older I get, the harder it is to bounce back from an 11 hour flight and hit the town running. 
So we settled for a leisurely stroll around our hotel to scope out the surroundings. 
First impression?
I have to admit, the climate kind of threw me off.
We were in Stockholm during the first week of June, 
and the weather felt more like... winter, by San Diego standards at least. 
Windy and drizzly throughout most of the day,
which seemed to last for-ev-er, 
considering that the sun rose around 4 am, and set no earlier than 11 pm. 
Midsummer is celebrated for a reason here, 
since at least half of the year is spent in darkness,
and it's truly a perfect time to be a tourist in this part of the world. 

Another impression? 
The food is so delicious! 
Of course I had to try out the traditional Swedish meatballs as one of my first meals,
accompanied by an assortment of delicious side salads that are included for free during lunchtime at Agaton
Oh and the bread! Oh my the bread. 
You must try Swedish rye bread,
because it's really not bread, but rather thinly sliced carrot cake. Drool.

On our second day in Stockholm, we woke up to a rather gloomy morning,
so we decided to hideout inside Fotografiska
Stockholm's museum of photography.
Again, I wasn't sure what to expect... a history of film development? 50 generations of the Canon camera?
I was pleasantly surprised at the lighthearted, and sometimes comedic aspect of the exhibitions offered. 
Also, there is a restaurant upstairs that offers stunning views of Stockholm,
and in my mind, is the perfect representation of Swedish style. 
Luckily the weather cleared up in the early afternoon, 
and we were able to join the Stockholm free walking tour,
which took us all around the Old Town for about 2.5 hours. 
I've mentioned my love for walking tours in some of my previous travel posts,
and this one was no exception. 
I feel like it's a great way to learn about the city that you're visiting and meet some new people!
One of the "must-do" attractions in Stockholm is the Ice Bar
A total tourist trap, I admit, 
but nevertheless, something that I've been waiting to check off my bucket list.
It's a little funny to me that this place is so popular,
considering that drinking in Sweden is not.. alcohol is NOT cheap or easily to come by in this country,
something to take note off and mitigate at the duty free if you're heading over there any time soon. 
Anyway, the Ice Bar was pretty awesome, and I'm really glad we went. 
The purchase of a ticket includes entry into the bar, along with rental of a cozy parka (seriously necessary)
and a signature Absolut cocktail made by a Swedish hunk. 
Okay.. that last part may not be included depending on who's working.. we just happened to get lucky. 
I know this is photo overkill,
and what's crazy is that I still have more to share. 
I'll be posting the second installment in a few days. 
Thanks for reading! I've missed you guys.