AND I THOUGHT 5 DEGREES WAS COLD // Stockholm, Sweden

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?!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESChris 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.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe 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?

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe 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.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter 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!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe 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.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt 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!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSunday 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!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe 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.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESChris and I spent far too long looking at this map.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis 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.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe 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!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe 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!

– Reanna.

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OVERSEAS DAY TRIPS // Malmo, Sweden

It never ceases to amaze me how diverse Europe is, it’s size in comparison to Australia. I have travelled to more countries than I ever have in my whole life in the past three months alone! I visited Chris in Copenhagen this past weekend, and when Chris had to head into uni for class on Friday, he suggested I catch a train over to Malmo, Sweden. Just some casual country hopping for you Friday afternoon.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTo get to Malmo from Copenhagen, one merely has to jump on a train that goes along a seven kilometre long bridge over the ocean separating them. It was pretty cool, and reminded me that I hadn’t even seen the ocean for ages, with the Czech Republic being a landlocked country and all! It was an absolutely freezing day, and as you can see the sun was not in sight.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter some lunch I walked around the old centre of the city, and went into the Form/Design Centre to check out a free exhibit. Everything was unfortunately in Swedish, but it was interesting none the less.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI was desperate to not spend my day walking around in the cold, so I decided to check out the Malmo Castle. The castle – which looks quite bleak in comparison to some of the castles I have seen in Europe – also houses a museum.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere was quite an interesting range of exhibits to look at, ranging from photos of frogs, the history of various conflicts between Denmark and Sweden, life in Malmo in 1914, to children’s toys. I found the exhibit on children’s toys particularly interesting, as it fell towards my interests in psychology.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne could also walk around some of the older rooms of the castle that had been stylised as they would have been back in the day. Most of the furniture was still original from the 1600-1700s.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis bed looked particularly warm and cosy.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI braved going back out in the cold to walk over to Malmo’s iconic Turning Torso – the tower you can see below. It was situated in a pretty cool residential looking area. It felt somewhat strange for me to be near so much modern infrastructure, as it is nothing like the old feel of Prague.

And yes, it is dark even though I was here at 3:30pm.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESUpon returning back to Denmark, Chris and I indulged in traditional Danish Christmas beer and made some Danish food for dinner. I have no idea what it was called, but the main dish was similar to shepherds pie, and the salad had Danish blue cheese in it. Delicious all round.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESChristmas beer and decorations popping up all over Europe are starting to get me excited for the coming months. It is the first day of December here today, so i might try hunt down a little Christmas tree! Hope you are all getting geared up for a hot summer holiday in Australia!

– Reanna.