Week in Review: Week 6
This week we ended our travels in Norway, and said hello to Sweden. This was the last part of our Scandinavian adventures before heading south to Eastern Europe. We drove through the western coast of Sweden on our way from Denmark to Norway, which had us excited to visit Stockholm and see some other sites.
After a few weeks in small towns and cities in Norway, we were looking forward to exploring some of the bigger cities in Scandinavia. This week we visited both Oslo and Stockholm, and we were surprised how different they were. Both cities are unique and have their own special charm, which had both of us a little split while looking back on this last week.
Highlight of the week
Sharleen: Our family day in Stockholm. My parents had planned a Baltic Sea cruise right around the same time we were planning our trip to Europe. With both schedules, it worked out that we would be in Stockholm on the same day, and could spend the afternoon together. It was such a day great, and so nice to spend some time with people we knew but in a completely different country! We spent the afternoon at the Royal Palace, out for lunch, grabbing a few beers, and shopping for souvenirs. It was the perfect afternoon, and it was awesome to catch up and spend time with them. A few times it would dawn on us how crazy it was that we were spending a few hours together in Stockholm – it seemed so random! It was a day we were both looking forward to, especially my mom and I. It went by really fast, too fast. We don’t have any other visiting plans, but it makes me excited to see who we may connect with over the next few months. It’s always nice to spend time with family, especially when we are so far from home. It made me realize how much I miss all our family and friends.
Darrell: The Vasa Museum. I literally had no idea what this place was all about. It was recommended to us by a friend’s relative, and this was rated as the #1 thing to do in Stockholm, so we figured why not! We knew there was a boat or something there, maybe it was a museum for the Swedish navy or something or other…. As it turns out, it is a museum dedicated to one vessel from the 17th century. This boat sunk in the Stockholm harbour, about 1.5km into its maiden voyage. Then 333 years later it was recovered, restored, and placed in the museum. It was both super cool and very interesting. The exhibit had so much information on the ship, but also details on the continued effort to restore and preserve a previously waterlogged boat, so there was a bunch of stuff to see. There were different exhibits throughout the museum including; recreations of the painted ornaments/sculptures that adorned the boat; a small fully painted scale version of the boat; original sails and rope from the boat; and skeletons and personal effects of some of the people that had died when the boat sank. As a child I always loved anything that had castles, pirates, or knights. This museum pretty summed all of this up into one interesting and entertaining place!
Least favourite part of the week
Sharleen: Darrell’s Telsa obsession. When we first got to Norway, one thing we noticed immediately were all of the Tesla’s! It was actually crazy, 1 of every 15 cars seemed to be a Tesla. It was so weird that we had to look up why there are so many in Norway, and it turns out, Norway has the highest number of Teslas per capita in the world! The main reason for this is that there are a lot of perks: free parking, driving in bus lanes, free tolls, free charging stations, tax breaks and incentives, and free registration. In fact, the Norwegian government is offering so many incentives to purchase electric cars that in some cases they end up being significantly cheaper than gas or diesel vehicles. This is in part due to the government’s goal to end the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2025. So why is this my least favourite part? Because every single time Darrell sees one, he has the need to point it out. After over two weeks in Norway it was driving me crazy! Thankfully there are almost no Teslas in Sweden.
Darrell: Construction in Stockholm. When we first made our way to the centre of Stockholm, we were so impressed. For some reason I didn’t expect Stockholm to be so visually stunning! The buildings, waterways, mix of old and new architecture, all of it was insanely impressive. However, there is a bunch of construction. In particular, the Slussenområdet, which connects Gamla Stan and Södermalm, and is a major tourist area. This is a massive project, and the reconstruction of the lock and roadway won’t be complete until 2025. Unfortunately, all of the cranes, trailers, equipment, and detours really take away form the beautiful city. Construction seems to be something we have faced in every place we visit, but in Stockholm it was really unfortunate because there is so much going on in this area that takes away from such amazing views of the cityscape.
Favourite city/town/village visited
Sharleen: Oslo. Our time in Oslo was short. I remember booking Airbnb’s and not really knowing anything about Oslo, so we opted to only spend 2 nights in Oslo and add more time to our stay in Stockholm. Something I would have changed in hindsight, as it would have been nice to have at least two full days here. I had a great time exploring this city. I really loved touristy sites we saw: the Nobel Peace Museum, the Viking Ship Museum, and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. We bought a city pass, which seemed reasonably priced at $65 CAD, and spent the day exploring. The city was so interesting, the people were friendly, it wasn’t crowded, some of the buildings were beautiful with a mix of modern and old, and there were great coffee shops – really the perfect recipe for my ideal city.
Darrell: Stockholm. Despite the distracting construction, Stockholm has been a really cool place. Again, we got here with little to no idea what it was going to be like. I was thinking back, and the only previous knowledge that I had of this city was from watching either a Spengler Cup or maybe World Hockey Championships. Unlike a city like Berlin, where I have learnt about and studied its history, Stockholm was completed new to me. I was pleasantly surprised with the history and beautiful architecture throughout the city. The small streets and cool alleyways definitely lend to the charm of Sweden’s capital. Overall our time in here was full of great museums, delicious food, and fun times! It was fun to learn about a country's history in its capital and I could definitely see us coming back to visit again!
Sharleen: Meatballs. When I think Swedish food, meatballs is one of the first things that comes to mind for me. We had seen them on menus a few times in eastern Norway, but in my head it was something I wanted to save for when we arrived in Sweden. After a quick Google search we found Meatballs for the People in Södermalm, (an island in Stockholm), and the reviews raved about there meatballs. They have so many different types of meatballs – everything from beef, pork, moose, reindeer, etc. However, we visited over lunch and there is a smaller menu with only three choices, so we opted for the beef and wild boar so we could share. They were so delicious! My favourite was the wild boar, it had a gaminess and tasty herbs, and came with a butter nut sauce that made every bite so good. The other dish was their classic, with beef meatballs, mashed potatoes, and a cucumber salad. It was also very tasty! We enjoyed the meal so much that we came back the next day with my parents and had more. This time, we were able to try reindeer and moose meatballs, and they were very delicious as well.
Darrell: Shrimp Sandwich. I had an open-faced shrimp sandwiched, which was amazing! Shrimp (or prawn) sandwiches are called räksmörgås in Sweden, and are considered a traditional Swedish dish. I saw it described as a Swedish version of a chilli dog or taco, something that should be eaten in simple surroundings with the best possible ingredients. This could not have been more applicable to our situation. Sharleen had looked up a small town along our route where we could stop to grab lunch, and we made our way to a café. It was closed either for renovations or for the summer, but they had opened a location by the water so we walked down to the lake and had lunch at this little café on a boat. The sandwich was simple and delicious. Fresh veggies, tasty bread, and a bunch of shrimp, not much else needed!!
The end of this week marks the end of our time in Scandinavia, as we are now on our way to Poland. We didn’t know much about Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, but our travels here these last few weeks have definitely given us such an appreciation for these beautiful countries. We look forward to coming back and exploring more in years to come.