“Whiff of freshness” the first thought came to my mind when I landed in Stockholm.We moved to Stockholm 6 months back and it all felt worthy to leave a well settled job and home behind to embrace and witness the beauty of Europe.
During my initial days in Stockholm, I was excited and skeptical at the same time. Before moving to Stockholm I had done some research about the place and people. I have come across a lots of comments that Swedish people are a bit cold and not much frank, but to my surprise I have a contradictory experience altogether. Based on my little interactions with Swedes (mostly for directions or asking for some help in translations at the tram stations) I found them very friendly and ready to help. Swedish people are less judgmental about others and free spirited,which I liked the most.
As they say, Swedes are among the most beautiful people in the world and Stockholm Land’s beauty doesn’t fail to impress you either. This water land is full of greenery and has tons of parks. This city has prestige of hosting Nobel Prize since 1901. The city travels in style and local transport is one of the best transport system. The subway system is said to be world’s longest art exhibit. Most of the subway stations are decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, and engravings. Who will mind waiting for train in such artistic place?
Having said that the transport is very efficient, the city life doesn’t seem like super-fast and rushing all the time. Despite of being capital city and most densely populated, the life here feels like relaxed and content.
When I landed in Stockholm, it was end of summer and winter was about to begin. But for couple of days I enjoyed pleasing long sunny days. Evening walk at the side of small lake behind my apartment was as refreshing as visiting the famous kungsträdgården or djurgården parks.
Get down at central station to see many of the Stockholm attractions and most popular hangout spot like Kungsträdgården, Royal Swedish opera, Saint James church, Matchstick palace, shopping street “Hamngatan” with full of departmental stores and branded shops. The park and nearby area is my much loved spot during any sunny day.
Being in Europe, I was looking for that European old world charm and the Old city “ Gamla Stan” is full of it . The place is abundance of old architectural constructions, narrow stone lanes, lots of local shops with Swedish delicacies and specialties. The place is ideal to enjoy the Fika time (Evening coffee break) and a lazy evening stroll along with window shopping ( you can also buy souvenirs and lots of local stuff) . Come out of the old city charm and you will see water body to it’s side, such a refreshing feeling ….
One of the must visit places during summer is the Queen palace (Drottningholm Palace) which is located near a water body and has spectacular garden and surroundings. I wasn’t much impressed by the artifacts preserved in the palace but the exterior makes it worth visiting again and again.
Be it any season, wanna fill the chills …. Visit Ice Bar by Ice Hotel… Visiting Ice Bar is part of any travelers to do list if traveling to northern countries. Though the Ice Bar in Stockholm is much smaller but the experience is worthy as gold.
Once we covered major spots in this new city, to satisfy the nomad mind we went on one day cruise tour. There are plenty of cruise tours available and it would have been a wrongdoing to stay in Europe and not cruising.
After few days, again nomad mind peeped up . This time we visited a small town ‘Nynäshamn’ just for fun, and brought back some permanently itched memories. Not aware of what to look for in the town, we asked a shopkeeper near the station about scenic spots and he guided us towards a picturesque lake. What a lake-side view! It was the best soothing place I visited in Stockholm.
Along with this dreamy lake, Nynäshamn offers a lively town center, beautiful countryside and a sea horizon that can be seen from the mainland. We spent the whole afternoon gazing at the sea and listening to the music of deck side cafes and enjoying snacks on a cold sunny day. What else one can ask from a perfect day, such a peaceful and relaxing afternoon.
Such unexpected satisfactions makes us more eager to explore the places for it’s treasures.
Celebrations in winter
Winters here are long and harsh. The only hope for me to survive the ‘winter blues ‘ was piles and piles of snow fall .But to my disappointment, there is just a glimpse of snow fall now and then. Most of the days are dull, gray and rainy. There is hint of sunshine during this gloomy weather and few options to surpass the dullness – visit snow mountains for skiing, enjoy the Ice Skating in kungsträdgården ( If you are non-skater like me , it’s a pleasing site to watch others from a side bench with cup of hot coffee) . Ice hockey is big in Stockholm, it’s a kind of experience to join the crowd in stadium for a live Ice hockey match.
Come November and celebration time starts for Xmas and New Year. There is lot to do before and after Christmas. There are many Christmas markets set up in city , few of the famous markets are – Christmas market in main square of the old town, Christmas market in Skansen , Sigtuna’s Christmas market. you can find a variety of handicraft items , decoration pieces, sweets , gift items and special delicacies .
The one tops on my list is Sigtuna’s market. Sigtuna is small town in Stockholm County and the place hosts one of the traditional Christmas market on four Sundays before Xmas Eve. The market lit up with Christmas lights and offers traditional Swedish food and delicacies.
Some of the Christmas special delicacies like chocolate balls , pistachio balls, homemade candies, Swedish hot mulled wine ( glogg) makes the market wandering more fulfilling. One more Christmas special drink is Julmust , it is a popular soft drink available specifically during Christmas time.
Stockholm streets and several places lit up with decorations from November end till mid Jan.
The days get shorter during winters and these striking decorations definitely a sailing point during the dull and dark days and keeps the mood uplifted for the festive season. Some of my must see decorations include the main square decoration , cone decoration on street, seven moose decoration and NK departmental store’s window decorations.
New Year eve is a magical night and Stockholm is no exception. People enjoy New Year eve outdoor with lots of sparkling firework despite the freezing temperature.
Now I am desperately waiting for Longer and brighter days. All geared up to welcome summer and utilize it to the fullest. Eager to witness some more delightful happenings.
Besides many good things, living in Stockholm has it’s own challenges –
The first and biggest hurdle I faced was the language barrier. Normally all the conversations start with Swedish, be it in shop, hospital appointments, grocery store. It was a bit awkward at the beginning to request to talk in English but now I am pretty used to it. I have started learning Swedish but I am too naive to have conversations in Swedish.
The language barrier leads to a scarcity in English speaking jobs up to a major extent. I used to work in IT industry before moving to Stockholm and jobs for that particular stream are almost nil here.The chances become even lean as most companies prefers a work force with English and Swedish language skills.
Stockholm real estate market it very stringent and finding a rental apartment is a challenging task. Sometimes it takes month or more to find a place to rent.
If you are visiting Stockholm for first time then one should book the transport pass in advance at the shop/ station.
Stockholm is an expensive place, it took me a while to adjust with the expenses – be it rental, eating out, shopping. Everything comes with a higher price tag.
Every place has it’s own even and odds, and I am looking forward to see what else this city has to offer !!