Stockholm, Sweden (Svierge).
Despite its close borders with Norway, the Swedish are very different!
They still smoke just as much, which is a lot! And they love their lolly (candy) shops just as much. They’re everywhere. Even in supermarkets. Other than that, the Swedes are very different!
Everything is closed on Monday! Many of the museums and shops are closed, and will reopen rather late on Tuesday. Opening some time from 10am-12pm.
They live for Fika – it’s basically smoko but must be accompanied by (black, filtered) coffee and pastry (so much pastry)! Everyone has it together. It’s a very socialist country and the doctors and cleaners are paid similar wages, and treat each other with equal respect. They have Fika together daily (except on Mondays when no one bloody works 😜).
Dogs are everywhere! They’re allowed in public places, on public transport (there are some trains with little dog spaces next to the seats) and in many restaurants etc. Swedish dogs can get their own passport and personal number (like a social security number).
The Swedes love their food, especially carbs! All meals are served with bread (like 5 slices of it), some form of potato and corn! Literally every meal. Things that don’t need bread, nor potato, nor corn, are still served with all 3. I don’t know why.
Personal space is a big thing here and the Swedes won’t make eye contact in the street. Definitely do NOT smile at anyone in the street. They look at you like you’re weird and terrifying! People will generally stand on the train instead of sitting in any of the 3 empty seats in your 4 seat area.
People don’t say bless you when you sneeze (even couples dining together in a restaurant don’t say it to each other), and they don’t say sorry/ excuse me if they bump into you in the street. Apparently peak hour at the train stations is also pandemonium with people running and pushing each other out of the way (without saying sorry). Needless to say I’ve avoided peak hour.
When dining, that whole don’t make eye contact, don’t bother anyone, respect a persons space rule still applies so if you want something from the waiter you need to wave them down. They won’t check on you on their own. Once they arrive their service is quite good, but don’t expect them to hover like they do in Aus.
Sia and the Veronica’s from 18 months ago or more, the song “missing you” by P.Diddy and Faith Evans, and Adele across her whole career seem to be on repeat in most restaurants.
Alcohol is crazy expensive and is priced according to percentage of alcohol- so spirits and liqueurs are crazy pricey while beer and wine are cheaper. Food is too although Norway was a little more expensive. A standard 2 course meal in an average restaurant (not 5 star dining) for one person will cost you about $60-$70, and if you add any drinks you can prop up the price by about $25 per drink.
Beggars are everywhere. Mostly migrants. They have signs and business cards the size of a postcard and walk the trains handing out their cards with photos of the children they can’t feed and written Swedish asking for help etc as they can’t speak Swedish. There are more beggars here than I’ve ever seen – think Sydney central station but all through the town and trains. It is sad.
Disabled (wheelchair) access is hit and miss. A lot of the stairs just have a ramp part built over the top of them. They’re steep and narrow. Many places I visited were via stairs only. I guess Aus is doing ok on that front after all!
The buildings are old and elegant. Many are lavished with gold, or statues. I was greeted at the airport by the lovely Rob who helped me get to the hotel and enjoyed a dinner date with me! I visited Gamla Stan (old town) and ate in the oldest cellar in Stockholm. I visited a number of museums – a coin museum, the Nordic museum, the Nobel museum, the museum of medieval Stockholm, and the Royal Palaces’ armoury, treasury and apartments. I also slept a lot in a comfortable bed, since this is one of only two short hotel stops in the middle of hostel stays! It took two days to do that and I was bloody exhausted after each day.
This morning I am chilling out before my late check out and flight to London. I join my Topdeck tour first thing tomorrow morning and our first stop is Paris!
Let the adventures continue!