Stockholm is really gorgeous, y'all. It's hard to go wrong when the city is built on several different islands that make up its cute little neighborhoods, the architecture is all affluent old-European, and the weather is still enough to make a Californian go, "oooo, pretty day." But still: gorgeous city.
Getting here from Copenhagen, I couldn't take a direct train because it was the last night of a four day weekend, so apparently all of the Swedes were going home and took the train places. So I had to go a bit longer way, and then I awesomely missed my train in Götenborg for Stockholm - by like SECONDS! I was there at 13:12, but they had closed the doors, and I had to watch them pull away! The Swedes may be a little TOO efficient, if you ask me. The next train was full, too, but I managed to talk and beg my way on, so I got to Stockholm only 20 minutes later than planned. It's the first time I've been anything but 10 minutes early for a train, and oooo did I pay.
In Stockholm, I've been hanging out with Alix, who I met at my hostel in Bangkok. She is here to scope out Oslo before moving there in a couple of months, so we are traveling together for a bit. She got to Stockholm a couple of days before me and is trying to learn the language, too, so she is officially in charge of the map for a couple of days. So nice not to be!
On Sunday night, we wandered the neighborhoods - old town Gamla Stan, trendy Södermalm, all the areas to get to each one. It was still a holiday, and a Sunday, so the streets seemed pretty quiet, but it made for a picturesque visit to the Parliament houses, the Royal Palace (which is not as pretty as the Parliament), the museums, the opera house - everything is housed in pretty, pretty buildings, as we saw when we went up the big city elevator at dusk (so, about 10pm) to look out over the water.
Yesterday we went to Djurgården, which is totally one of the prettiest islands, to go to an open air museum called Skansen. It's supposed to be 'Sweden in Miniature,' but really it's Colonial Williamsburg for Scandinavia. Hilariously, right as you walk in, there is a mini diorama of Skansen, and we half expected to look at it really closely and see another, littler diorama there of an even smaller Sweden. It's a rabbit hole of minis, this place. But there is also a lot of olde tymey Swedish stuff, which was pretty cool, and the best zoo ever. The animals were weirdly happy in all of ther huge habitats, and when you would come over to see them, most would come running over to meet you. The elk, the otter, the sheep came a-running over to the fences to get come attention. Swedish animals, clearly, love to be loved.
Last night, we bought picnic stuffs at the supermarket and went to Skeppesholmen (another posh, museum-y island), found a grassy spot, and watched the long, slow sunset from a hill overlooking the water while we talked about travel adventures and all the places we still have to go.
Same as in Copenhagen, the English fluency here is astounding, and so convenient, but the city also feels quite different. I first noticed that there were nowhere near as many bikes, but then I began to notice the lack of people. Stockholm is pretty spread out, and has about half the population of Copenhagen, so it always feels quiet, like there just aren't people about for some reason. It's an interesting feeling, to be in a major metropolis that also feels like a ghosttown. It will be interesting to feel what Oslo is like - it's 50% smaller again, population-wise, but I think the urban area is smaller as well, with a more defined city center, so it may feel more city-like again. Find out tomorrow.
On a more dull, administrative note, sorry about the lack of photos up to verify the pretty. Internet in Scandinavia is not cheap, but hostels have had free internet, which is a huge boon. But they are not equipped to handle uploads, and there are always people waiting, so pictures are going to have to wait. Honestly, at this point, I will probably just upload when I get home and I have beautiful internet, all the time I want, on my own perfect computer. It seems like a long time, but I get home in two weeks, so the pics aren't too far behind.