This past weekend, me and seven other students traveled to Stockholm. There are several ways to get there but we decided on flying because it was the cheapest option. That is definitely something I will not get used to while I’m living in Europe. Regardless, early Friday morning ( I’m talking 1:30 am) we took two taxis to the Jyväskylä travel station and hopped on our bus at 2am.
Our three and a half hour bus ride took us right to the Helsinki airport and we boarded our flight and landed in Stockholm at 7am. Low on sleep and in a new city, we had an entire day to explore.
The first day we walked around the city and just took in what it had to offer. Stockholm is beautiful and was my first experience in a true European city. The buildings were old and the sidewalks were cobblestone. We had the chance to watch the changing of the guards ceremony at the Royal Palace of Sweden’s royal family, then headed back to our hostel for a much needed nap, and found a cozy, local place for some traditional Swedish food later in the evening for dinner.
The second day, we got up and headed to a portion of the Old Town where a tour began at 10 am. There are free tours daily of Old Town Sweden and also the city of Sweden and we took advantage! After the tour we did some more exploring and headed back to the hostel for another quick nap. Then we went to eat dinner at a CHEAP local Mexican restaurant called La Neta. You walk down steep steps from the street into this little restaurant where I ordered two quesadillas for 25 SEK (Swedish Krona) each. That’s a 5 euro meal. Aside from what comes on your quesadilla, there is a topping bar where you put additional sauces, toppings, and deliciousness to complete you meal. It was great! Afterwards we walked to a local bar and listened to some live blues music. It was so much fun! We got there early (thanks TripAdvisor) and lucky for us. By the time the band showed and started playing there were tons of people smashed into this small bar. If you moved at all you would bump into at least three people, but that added to the local flare and the fun of the live music. It was a great day in Stockholm.
The last full day we took tours of the Royal Palace and also got to see the Royal Treasury which is all of the crowns, capes, swords, and other royal things that belong to the King, Queen, and the princes and princesses that are born into the family. We also took a tour of the Swedish parliament building. This was so interesting to see and hear about how legislation works in Sweden and be able to compare it to the United States and even just in Missouri. After the day of touring, we split up and ate dinners we wanted for our last night. Me and three other girls went to eat one last Swedish meal. I had Swedish meatballs this time, they were delicious! Our hostel was home for the night and we played games and chatted. We also made a late night walk to a Seven Eleven (they were EVERYWHERE in Stockholm) in our pajamas for some snacks. The next morning me and two other girls were heading home so we enjoyed our last night in.
Us three girls leaving Stockholm the next morning woke up, turned in our linens at the front desk, and sat in the community area of the hostel for some complimentary coffee before we left. There was a small TV in the room and I noticed it was playing My Name is Earl. It made me think of my dorky dad 🙂
I was so happy to spend some time in a new city exploring the sites and the culture but this made me miss home just the smallest bit. It also made me realize how badly I wanted to share my experiences with the people I love back home. So, as I sat in this cramped, slightly grimy community area sipping coffee out of a mug hundreds of people had used with all of my belongings on my back and my coat in my lap, I watched My Name is Earl with Swedish subtitles and I smiled. This is what I have wanted for so long. To be a weary traveler out and about exploring places I have never seen before, sharing sinks with strangers, and walking more than I ever have in my entire life. I have officially completed my first trip here in Europe! Stockholm was a great start. I got to see sunlight and blue skies, streets clear of snow, and a wonderful city. In late February I will be taking a week long trip to Lapland, mid-March I will be scooting over to Paris for a weekend to visit a friend, and at the end of March for my spring break, I will be in Spain. I plan on visiting Russia at some point as well as Estonia. Lots of adventure left!
I have officially been living in Finland for a month. Time flies.