A trip up north to the Scandinavian was in my to do list since the last one year. One of my best man, and closest comrade Mahesh Raju had plans to study in this nation and from then on I just read a little bit about this country, Sweden. It fascinated me for sure. It took me to the land of Nobel prizes.Scandinavian nations are cold but really surreal. The cold makes you bleak, but makes you aware too. From the sheer dedication and research that they have shown over the years, you know you have to visit here once, to experience the magic, The Viking History has its own charm too. And most of all, situated right in the northern hemisphere the city of Stockholm was a must visit. What a better opportunity to do it with my loved one and best man together. Stockholm is also very windy and breezy. It is chilly too. The cruises will make you roam into the wild waves of the sea and have that feeling of sailing over the waves. Youngsters can make one city go on a crazy ride. Mahesh aka Mahi and me did just that. Kris was a silent, yet fun soul. He sees and loves to observe. It was his first time in Europe and naturally everything surprised him like the little Alice in Wonderland. We three always had such fun together in Vadodara, but this was next level totally. How we rolled around with laughter, how the booze hit us, how the cold made us run for the nearest warm center, how the beer took our mind off things, the way we sang and danced on the cruise, those autumn leaves of all colours, those childlike moments of mirth and laughter, remembering our yesteryears, and Kris just getting surprised and amazed by each and everything he saw.
So Stockholm is the cultural and political capital of Sweden . There are so many things to do here. The crowd is mostly cosmopolitan and I truly love the metro trains and system here. Very systematic and helpful. The only problem is that you have to know Swedish, at least the basics, because the hoarding, placards, information and advertisements, everything is in Swedish. You will find people who speak English and then even German, but sign language and Spanish too becomes your help here. Many people have moved to Sweden from Croatia and they enjoy their life over here. Students find it an amazing party place and a haven to chill out. The pubs are brilliant. Night life gets a thumbs up from my side. The old city carries its culture and most importantly has preserved it. I visited the Royal Palace, had a lovely cruise over the Baltic sea, the autumn was discovered, the cold was endured and visited some of the world class institutes in Stockholm. The campus is open and welcoming for all the universities. Also explored the old street town of Gamblastan. My favourite part, whatever fun I had in Stockholm was on the cruise and this old town. Shopping here was a trip down the memory lane. The currency in Sweden is Krones which equals to 8 Indian Rupees and 1 Euro equals to 8 Krones. Not bad at all. The Swedish people are really proud of their sovereign nation. There was this ghost church which had ghosts around it, may be rumour or belief, we did visit the church but did not meet any ghosts. On the way back the Parliament House and the building of Grand Royal Hotel made me stare. Such minute architecture it was!.. The Grand Royal is one of the costliest hotels in Stockholm situated along the Baltic Sea, naturally reserved for film stars and politicians.
Being lovers Kris and Me found a little statue of a virgin really close to our heart. Near the palace there is a very special place, close to the heart of the city, which holds great importance for the people of Stockholm. It is said that if you pray and touch her feet, a child will be born to you, if you really wish for it. May be three or four years down the lane I would love to have one pretty girl, and we prayed for it. Felt serene and relaxed. Kris was busy photographing everything, and of course me too, that is his hobby now. Receiving attention from two guys , crazy right!.. Mahi was a darling on the trip, he took us to all the special and crazy places of Stockholm. Then on the cruise we had a chilling session of alcohol and dance, on the top of the ship, it was just the waves, us three, and Bollywood music, the wind was not letting us stand without support, yet we danced to our hearts content on the cruise, troubling Kris. Mahi and Me love to trouble Kris. I really missed my little baby Neelam on this cruise. How ecstatic and exciting it would have been. We visited an Archipelago of islands through this cruise and I was astonished to see the different kinds of ships people can own and built in this nation. Fishing is a free activity here and the Baltic sea freezes in winter, therefore whatever time the water is warm, in the city or at the island, you will see people fishing for the best catch.
There were certain instances where I felt special and knew that visiting Stockholm was the best decision that I had taken with Kris and Mahi for company. On one of the Archipelago islands at Waxholm, Kris and me balanced on the ship edges and had the most perfect kiss ever, cold breeze, the little ship, maiden moonlight and silence. A striking feature worth mentioning while coming back from the islands were the Christmas decorations in Stockholm that started way in advance. The streets were lit and decorated with lanterns and stars. As we headed back home Silence engulfed us again. There was not even a soul to be seen in those dark streets. It did not feel like a horror movie, but the silence is disturbing, no vehicles, no soul, no noise of anything.
Tips on a amazing Stockholm experience based on my the experience I had :
Don’t be pushy! Stockholm is a city with distant seeming people, generally staying away from each other (even in a super crowded bus or tram).
Don’t dress for hot weather or forget to put warm clothes in the suitcase! Stockholm is a city with long and cold winters that seem eternal.
Do not go to Stockholm if you have not enough energy. Stockholm is also the city that invites you to live the moment, to live your life to the fullest, without inhibitions, without regrets.
Do not disturb the cyclists or walk into their way! If you walk on the trail for cyclists and you disturb them … that is very rude. Bicycle trails are for cyclists. And only for cyclists.
Do not let the silence disturb you. There is very little noise in Stockholm.
Be ready to travel a lot. The Arlanda airport, the places of tourist interest, the museums and everything else is faraway from each other.
You get really amazing coffee in Sweden, do not ask for de caffeines, just enjoy the coffee, it is not sweet, but energises you, it was our saviour.
Swedish Beer, must try!!
Be simple and polite and your day will look better, by the way, Stockholm is also expensive!…
Until the next travel story with Paris.. watch out this space for more! 🙂
Rucha Sudhir Khot
Photo Credits – Mahi and Kris