This past weekend has simply flown by. I still can’t believe that it was my last major trip away before I leave Prague for good, and that Christmas is just around the corner. Where has the time gone?!
Chris and I met up at the Stockholm airport early Friday afternoon, but by the time we got into the city it was already dusk! It quickly became dark, but we spend a bit of time walking around the Julmarknad (Christmas market) near our accommodation in the old town. Europe is definitely far more festive than Australia when it comes to Christmas – sorry guys! But I suppose rugging up, drinking cold wine and Christmas lights that you don’t have to wait up until 10pm to see helps with the overall feeling.
The old part of town was beautiful, set on a smaller island near the Royal Palace. We had a quick walk around in the morning before joining a free tour of the more modern part of the city. It was interesting to learn some more about the history of the city, including visiting the site of the robbery that coined ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. However, it was probably the coldest I have ever been in my life. How do people deal with this for months on end every year?
We also passed the main hall where the Nobel Prizes were presented last week. I’ll be honest, I had no idea they were actually given out in Sweden.
After a quick coffee pitstop to regain some feeling of warmth in our bodies we indulged in some delicious Swedish food for lunch. Stockholm is not exactly cheap, and when one is used to the ridiculous cheapness that is Prague, it feels even worse. But we ended up eating out most of the time anyway!
We spent the remaining daylight hours walking along the water to another small island that was predominately a park (and apparently a yacht storage area, as it seems like everyone in the city owns one). The city was absolutely beautiful, and made even more so by the glimpses of sunlight we were given.
It quickly became dark though. We spent most of the evening trying to stay indoors – be it at a restaurant or a bar – and spending a bit of time reflecting on this past semester. The end of it is coming about so quickly, and we will be hitting the ground running when we get back to Melbourne. Needless to say, we both have a lot to think about at the moment!
Sunday morning saw the sun pop out again, making the Swedish archipelago look absolutely stunning. I really do love the feel of Scandinavia – besides the cold – so I think it will be a place on my list to return to. Though perhaps in Summer!
We visited Vasamuseet, which was a museum constructed around an old ship that sunk minutes into its maiden voyage in the 1600s. Considering the ship wasn’t recovered from the sea floor until the 1960s, it was in amazing condition. The sheer size of the boat was ridiculous. The museum itself was really well put together, with information in both English and Swedish.
Chris and I spent far too long looking at this map.
This is what the ship is imagine to have looked like. 12 years of research into paint (who has these jobs?) has revealed what colour the ship would have been before it sunk beneath the ocean. A stark contrast to the dark wood we saw.
The remains of about 12 people were also found in the ship, and an exhibit was put together showing these paired with reconstructions of what these individuals may have looked like. It is amazing how much can be inferred from some teeth, a few coins and a scrap of cloth. Technology astounds me sometimes.
We spent our afternoon getting into the Christmas spirit yet again, shopping for daggy Christmas cardigans at what was probably the greatest store ever. Beyond Retro – a clothing store we probably would have looked in regardless – had a room dedicated entirely to Christmas themed cardigans, shirts, vests and jumpers. It was literal heaven for Chris and I after spending the past few weeks desperately scouring shops for the perfect cardigan of our Christmas dreams. All will be revealed when it gets closer to the day!
The evening was pretty laid back – we had to catch flights in the early hours of Monday morning – but that didn’t stop us from having another meal out, and indulging in some traditional glögg, a kind of mulled wine. It was hideously sweet, but delicious nonetheless.
This week is my last week of class before Christmas! Some of my classes end now, but a couple run in the first week or two of January. I am starting to get a bit more into the Christmas spirit, after having most of it torn out of me due to years of working in retail!