Our arrival in Sweden wasn’t without drama…Norwegian Air sent Elle’s bag to Denmark, instead of Stockholm. It was bound to happen after so many flights but frustrating nonetheless. Tracking down the bag made for some frantic phone calls and unexpected shopping, and also provided another insight into Norwegian customer service, or lack thereof. After a lot of pain we got the bag back, made use of our very expensive travel insurance and got on with enjoying the Swedish capital.
Stockholm is beautiful, particularly at this time of year when the trees turn all shades of yellow and orange. We spent what was left of our first day (after the bag fiasco) wandering the city and admiring its islands, architecture and colours. The old city (Gamla Stan) is particularly nice, sitting on its own island, complete with cobblestone streets and multicoloured buildings. Everything was extremely clean, efficient and bicycle friendly, just as you’d expect.
We headed to the Vasa museum on our second day—an entire museum dedicated to an impressive 17th century warship that never sailed more than a kilometre. In their pursuit for beauty, the ship’s builders made it too top heavy and it sunk in the Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628. The ship was found and brought back to the surface in 1961 and now lies in the Vasa museum, and it is pretty amazing, sculptures and decorations everywhere.
We used our last full day in Stockholm to visit the ultimate Swedish icon…IKEA. We boarded the free bus, along with several pensioners after a cheap lunch, and made our way to the world’s biggest store. It was big, and a gave us a bargain priced lunch of meatballs and cheese cake, which was a welcome relief from the sandwiches our tight budget has left us eating. We had enough time for a quick lap of the store before we headed back to the city centre for more wandering.
Next it was onto the high speed train to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city and home to Volvo. We made a beeline to a free public sauna (complete with ice cold pool) on the Gothenburg harbour with Adam’s Australian friend Lashi. It was a fantastic bit of infrastructure and gave us an authentic experience, including being both boiled and frozen alongside 20 locals (although Elle wimped out on the cold pool).
We couldn’t resist the call of the moose and penguins in the famous public park near our Airbnb so we went for a walk to meet them and admired the children’s play equipment jealously. We also made a quick stop at the natural history museum, which consisted of every animal you can think of shot, stuffed and displayed like something from the 1900s. There was even a stuffed blue whale! That night Adam’s Swedish gliding friends kindly gave us a tour of their swanky gliding club and took us to their cute little home for real (not IKEA) Swedish meatballs, apple pie and all kinds ofcandy. Delicious.
Next day, we jumped on a ferry to visit the southern Gothenburg archipelago. We disembarked at a little island called Vrango where there are no cars but plenty of colourful houses and undisturbed coastline. The weather held off just long enough for us to lap the island and get back on the ferry. Back in Gothenburg city, we had just enough time left for lunch with Lashi and another quick wander in the rain before it was time to head off to Berlin.