Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back From Frozen Scandinavia!

Brrrrr, was it cold in Stockholm! The temperature actually wasn't all that different than here in Germany, but since Stockholm is made up of a series of small islands, being near all that water made it feel much much colder! Brr! But we bundled up in multiple layers {even long underwear!} & did a lot of exploring!

Our hotel, The Hotel J, was absolutely fantastic!  Decorated like a Nantucket yachting club, pretty much!  Our bathroom had a footed tub {love!} & even a heated floor, which was wonderful for our cold feet!  The staff was so nice & helpful, even made us sandwiches to take with us when we left bright & early Monday morning.  If we go back to Stockholm, I would definitely stay here again!

There is so much to write about our trip, but I will try to make it short & sweet!

Friday, we arrived in town around 2pm, I'd say.  We caught the bus to our hotel, which was an easy 10 minute trip from the city center.  We checked in {& I gushed about how much I liked it & how well I'd done again at picked a hotel for us!  I have skills!}, bundled up a bit, but not nearly enough, & headed back to the city for some exploring!  This was definitely the coldest night, & windy too!

We were pretty hungry, so we ended up eating at a BBQ place!  Strange, I know.  You'd think that Swedish Meatballs would have been our first choice!  But BBQ sounded so good & we hadn't had that in a while!  I got the ribs, & Don had lamb.  It was delicious!

After our day of traveling, we were a bit tired so we decided just to make one stop before going back to the hotel.  We went to the City Casino!  haha  {I have to tell you, we each bought what's called a Stockholm Card, which gives you access to all city transportation as well as over 80 museums & hot spots in town!  Well worth it.}  We aren't gamblers whatsoever, but seeing the casino seemed like a fun idea!  It's Swedish law to register anyone who enters a casino in the country, so they took our picture & everything!  And after all that, the casino wasn't all that cool... Oh well!!

Saturday, we enjoyed the delicious breakfast that the hotel offers {eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee, muffins & rolls, cheese...everything!} & headed out for more exploring!  This day, we did a LOT of walking.  We went to The Vasa Museum, which houses "the only remaining, intact 17th century ship in the world."  It was quite a sight to behold!

We then went to Skansen, which is a location where over 150 buildings have been brought in from all over Sweden.  It's pretty neat to see!  They also have animals there from brown bears & moose to minks!  It was a lot of fun!

We then headed to Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm.  The Royal Palace is here, along with many neat little shops & restaurants.  We were hungry, so we stopped into what looked like a cozy little restaurant with a young crowd.  Chai for me, coffee for Don, & we shared a piece of lasagna.  All for about $20!  Man!  Anyway, we started to notice that there were many...same sex couples there.  Hmm!  Come to find out the next day as we walked past it again that there was a rainbow flag hanging above the sign outside!  Whoops!  It was pretty funny!!

We also rode the Stockholm Skyview at the Ericsson Globe, which was quite the experience!  And Don, being the sweetheart that he is, took me to the City Library.  I'm such a nerd, but I love libraries!  Plus, last week or so I Googled "prettiest libraries in the world" & this wonderful listing came up.  And the Stockholm City Library was listed!  So we had to go!  {Also, The Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin is listed, & I've been there already!  Two down!!}  It was very modern compared to other libraries I've been to here in Europe, but very pretty & quite impressive architecturally!

We did get our Swedish Meatballs on Sunday, in Gamla Stan, & my goodness were they delicious!  Mmm Mmm Mmm!  We went to a bakery & cafe that day also & tried a "typical Swedish pastry" called semla.  I had seen them pictured in the newspaper & displayed in almost every bakery window that we passed.  We had to try it, & I told Don that it was one of our missions for Sunday.  It was good!!

Also, in our typical fashion, we stopped at an Irish Pub.  {We've now been to them in 5 countries!  They've never been anything but delicious, welcoming, & fun!}  A Guinness for Don, a Bulmers Cider for me, & an order of chips.  As our luck would have it, Ireland was playing a rugby match against France that night, so the pub was crowded, full of energetic & friendly Irishmen & woman.  I'm now convinced beyond a matter of doubt that one cannot enter a good Irish Pub without having a smile sweep across their face.  What a cheery lovely place to be!

All in all, our cold Swedish weekend was absolutely fantastic!  We did our usual "winging it" & as always, it turned out very well!  We saw the top spots in town, & even rode the ferry!  It was a relaxing weekend for us both, & we loved having the time together without any distractions.

We decided that it would be a lot of fun to go back to Stockholm in the summer when the sun shines longer & the days are warm :)  I wonder how different the city would feel then?  Boats on the water, flowers in the windows, outdoor seating at the cafes...

But we have too many new countries to visit for that now!