By Taylor Squires
This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a quick four-day trip to Stockholm.
Despite doing copious amounts of Googling before my departure, I still had no idea what to expect.
I read online that Stockholm (also known as the “Venice of the north”) is built on 14 islands that are connected via a network of waterways and more than 50 bridges.
I also heard from different exchange students that it offers a pleasant mix of traditional and modern architecture.
As for my Swedish floor mates, they told me that when in Stockholm it is absolutely paramount to try a kebab, which is essentially the European version of a shawarma.
So with all of that in mind, I packed my bags, grabbed some friends from North America as well as Australia and headed off to the most populous city in Scandinavia.
When we arrived at central station early Friday morning, I immediately noticed a small but significant difference between the Swedes in my host city and the Swedes in Stockholm: everyone in Stockholm speaks English.
In fact, most of them find it strange that tourists aren’t aware of this.
To give you an example, when asking a local woman for directions to the main square, I approached her with my regular I’m-clearly-not-from-here speech and proceeded to ask if she spoke English.
She gave me a puzzled look and replied “Yes, of course. Everyone in Sweden speaks English.”
From what I have experienced so far, this is not something that you would typically hear from a Swede in my host city.
In smaller towns and communities, English is not as ubiquitous.
After making our way downtown, we were ready to evolve into the ultimate group of tourists.
Overall, the city of Stockholm has a lot to offer, especially if it is your first time visiting. There are many fine dining restaurants, a wealth of cultural history and of course, amazing shopping (my credit card can testify to this).
Looking back on all of the different sights and attractions, I have to say that my favourite experience was our visit to the Nordic C Hotel Ice Bar.
Stockholm’s Ice Bar is a drinking establishment that is associated with the famous Ice Hotel located in northern Sweden.
When you first arrive, you’re given a thick winter poncho with a hood that is lined with fur and a pair of gloves.
The entrance fee includes a drink, made from Absolut Vodka, which is produced near Åhus in southern Sweden.
What makes the bar so interesting is that everything is made of ice, even the cup that your drink is served in. It is definitely something you should experience at least one in your lifetime.
There is no doubt that Stockholm’s atmosphere is exceptionally unique. In addition to meeting all of my expectations, this trip allowed me to gain an even better perspective on Swedish life and culture.
I plan on returning a few more times before heading back home to Canada so I think it goes without saying that if you ever find yourself in Europe, make sure to add a stop in Stockholm.