I would live in Stockholm in a hot second if I were to move abroad. Like other Scandinavian countries, the cities are clean, there is free education, and there is socialized medicine. The few Swedes I met were incredibly funny and obviously happy. I often wonder how much less stressful life would be without worrying about saving for health emergencies, retirement, and children’s college funds. The active lifestyle of Scandinavian countries, with mostly cycling and walking as a means of transportation, lends to healthier bodies even in old age. It is shocking to see seventy year olds biking around town because it is such an anomaly in the United States. It is refreshing to see this slower pace of life with a shift in focus to more work-life balance. It is no surprise that these countries tend to rank highest on happiness scales across the world. Besides all of these benefits, Sweden recycles 99% of waste and has a prominent green party in politics. Witnessing an entire country prioritize environmental sustainability and truly act on it is incredible.
While in Stockholm, we strolled around the old town known as Gamla Stan. The old town is home to the royal palace which boasts over 1400 rooms. It is no longer the royal residence but is still a beautiful site to behold.
We also drove around the city, getting a feel for the various neighborhoods and islands. Stockholm is an archipelago with many different islands all connected by bridges. On one such island is the City Hall seen below.
We visited the Nobel Museum in Gamla Stan, as well. The museum honors Alfred Nobel himself, the inventor of dynamite whose legacy is the Nobel Prize. The museum highlights various Nobel Prize winners in the six different categories: literature, economics, medicine, physics, chemistry, and peace. All of the prizes except the peace prize are awarded in Stockholm each year. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo.
The quintessential postcard view of Stockholm is the public square called Stortorget. The brilliant colored structures and the old medieval well draw countless tourists each year. The square is home to the Christmas markets each December.
A local favorite is the 15 cm high statue of the Iron Boy. The original name of the sculpture is “Little Boy Looking at the Moon.” The locals dress up the statue according to season and rubbing his small head is said to bring good luck.
While in Stockholm, we went out to the Ice Bar with some friends. The entire bar including seating, tables, and glasses are made out of ice. The bar is chilled to an astonishing -5 degrees Celsius and patrons are provided with parkas and gloves for their experience. Afterwards, we found a gay bar called the Secret Garden. Stockholm is known as a very LGBTQ friendly city, so we decided we had to assess “the scene.”
Stockholm was the perfect ending to a glorious two week Baltic Sea cruise. I am so grateful for the chance to experience the various Scandinavian countries, mystical Russia, quaint Estonia, and historic Berlin. This had been on Whit and I’s bucket list for years and this adventure was as riveting and astounding as we had hoped.