In the nearly 10 years that I’ve been writing this blog, I have been colossally terrible at writing about my travels (which is a shame, since I’ve traveled a lot.) I’m trying to get better, but honestly, no promises. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
With that said…the last leg of my New Year’s trip this year was life-changing, life-affirming, and so very worth writing about.
A bit of background on me: I was adopted as a baby. My birth mother’s family was Swedish and British; my birth father’s family was all Swedish. My birth parents met each other in Sweden, where my birth mother was studying abroad. I’ve known I’m of Swedish heritage since high school, but I’d never been there, and honestly, don’t know a ton about Sweden…though I’ve now started listening to the Sweden And… podcast to learn more.
A bit of background on the trip: we were flying home to NYC from Marrakech, and our options included either an overnight layover in Stockholm or in Amsterdam. Clearly, I hopped on the Stockholm option. Meg asked me why I’d never been to Sweden before when I’d so clearly wanted to…and I’m not sure I have a good reason, other than fear? But I’m glad something gave me a reason to go…
I wish everyone could have a friend who’s as good to travel with as Meg is. She’s super smart and organized, and very savvy since she’s well-traveled. Our flight got in around midnight on Saturday night, and we flew out around 5pm on Sunday. Meg suggested we stay at the airport’s hotel, to cut down on time getting into the city late after the flight and then back out to the airport to fly home. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Arlanda. After 10 days of the beautiful old riads in Morocco, we were beyond grateful for a more modern hotel with an excellent heater.
By the time we got down to breakfast it was 9am. We were planning on being back to the airport by 3:30, so we really only had 6.5 waking hours in Stockholm. After a quick breakfast at the airport hotel, it was off to Stockholm we went! The airport is about 25 miles away from downtown, so we took the Airport Express train, which takes you straight into downtown.
From there, we had an ambitious agenda planned:
This was a cute coffee chain we found on Instagram. Swedish people are OBSESSED with their coffee (me too!), and we loved this cozy little coffee shop. I don’t know if it’s a common Swedish thing (or that we were in a major city) or if I’m stretching here to figure out what’s nurture and what’s nature, but in our coffee experiences, we found non-dairy milks incredibly easy to find.
This palace was nothing short of amazing. It’s still completely functional, so it was super cool to see rooms that were still used for state dinners (see above!) or hosting visiting dignitaries.
We walked through Old Town Stockholm, and despite my inadvertently stopping to take this pic in front of a gazillion chain stores…this was a super charming area.
Meg is a beer person, and apparently this is a kind of big deal beer place—it was also including the NYT’s 36 Hours in Stockholm. They’re known for their stouts and sours…so we ordered one of each and shared them. The thing we kept remarking in both Stockholm and Barcelona: even though bars or restaurants were crowded, they were never so loud that you couldn’t hear, unlike here in NYC. If we didn’t have a flight to catch, and one more stop on our self-imposed itinerary, we could have sat here all afternoon.
I’d read that this restaurant was the real deal for Swedish food and a Swedish beer hall, so I wanted to stop here—and this was my favorite stop all day. I was dying to tell a real Swede that I had a Swedish background and it was my first time there—and our bartender responded by saying that she actually was surprised to hear me speaking English because she was convinced I was Swedish. MADE. MY. DAY.
As we made our way back to the airport on the train, I cried happy tears—so, so grateful that I’d had a taste of where I came from. I loved Stockholm, even from this tiny taste, and I plan on going back to see more…in warmer weather. I’ve never felt so at home anywhere else in the world, and it was such a heartwarming feeling. (Don’t worry Dad, I’m not moving there.)