Having a ball (of the Swedish meat variety)

Hallå! That’s Swedish for “hello” because Mom and I met up in Stockholm, Sweden to begin our adventure through Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. King’s College London gave me a ludicrously long spring break (I think they looked at the US’s week-long break and decided, “let’s one-up them!”). I capitalized on the opportunity by meticulously planning a trip that would take Mom and I through Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

Our adventure began with a bang: Mom’s flight from Los Angeles was delayed, which gave me the pleasure of waiting at a deserted airport in Stockholm by myself for four hours. Whee. The only non-candy food available was a suspicious-looking sandwich from a vending machine. I eventually relented and bought one.

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It actually wasn’t that bad; however, I was ravenous when I consumed it, so I do not think my judgment should be trusted.

When Mom’s flight finally arrived, we rejoiced at our reunion and headed off to make the most of the remaining daylight.  We quickly discovered that water denominates the landscape in Stockholm. In order to get to Gamla Stan, the city’s Old Town, we had to cross three bridges before ending up on a quaint island filled with narrow streets lined with alluring cafes.

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Walking across the bridge to Gamla Stan

 

Lugging one’s suitcases through the city does wonders for building one’s appetite, so we found a nice restaurant that served the most quintessential Swedish cuisine: Swedish meatballs with cranberry sauce!

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Sorry IKEA, your meatballs do not compare

With satiated tummies and content smiles, we ambled on back to our B&B. Of all the hotels I booked for this trip, I was most proud of the one in Sweden. Why?

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Here’s why!

We stayed on a boat! The Red Boat Mälaren thoroughly charmed us with its whimsical interior.

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I went to Sweden to end up with the most American-looking bed ever. They must have known I was coming.

 

On our second day in Sweden, we decided to travel like the locals: by ferry, of course. First, we failed miserably at getting on the ferry. Second, after getting on the right boat, in a miraculous feat of erroneousness, we managed to get off at the wrong stop. In my defense, the name of the islands sounded very similar.

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See that island in the background? That’s where we should have gotten off. Oops.

We eventually made it to our intended destination: the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum surpassed our expectations. It houses the only fully intact 17th-century ship that has ever been salvaged: the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank during her maiden voyage in 1628.

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The Vasa is utterly massive: she is approximately 6 stories tall

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Swedish ship-makers built the Vasa for the Polish king and loaded her with so many guns and blocks of gold that as soon as she set sail, she tipped over and sunk in the Stockholm harbor. The wreck was salvaged in 1961 after spending 333 years under the sea.

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Ornate carvings cover every inch of the Vasa

 

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Model of what the Vasa originally looked like
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My pirate moment!

As you know, my yearning to soak up the culture of a nation includes more than just museums. Before arriving in a country, I research the most traditional foods it proffers and resolutely endeavor to try them. In the case of Sweden, the primary dessert I had to acquire was a Kanelbullar, a classic Swedish cinnamon bun.

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I highly recommend Kanelbullars for your tastebuds, but not for your diet.

After our tasty indulgence, we set off for The Nobel Museum, a museum devoted to Nobel laureates and Alfred Nobel, one of the most famous Swedes and the founder of the Nobel Prize.

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The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics. The prize ceremonies take place annually in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the peace prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway (our next destination).

After spending a few hours reading about the life-altering ideas of brilliant men and women, I was feeling rather pitiful in comparison. In an effort to drown my “what am I doing with my life? I should be making monumental discoveries like these people!” sentiments, I ate some princess cake.

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A princess cake (“prinsesstårta” in Swedish) is a traditional Swedish layer cake or torte consisting of alternating layers of airy sponge cake, pastry cream, and a thick-domed layer of whipped cream. This is topped by marzipan, giving the cake a smooth rounded top.

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Not as good as the Kanelbullars, but it did make me feel better.

Our last stop in Stockholm beckoned, promising us a royal good time. On our way to the Royal Palace, I nearly ran into a group of parading soldiers.

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Sorry, officer

We waltzed into the Royal Palace and headed right for the place where we felt like we naturally belonged: The Royal Apartments. Kidding.

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How’s that for mood lighting?
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Look at those floors
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The grand dining and entertaining hall
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I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall if all walls looked like that
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When can I move in?

An afternoon running around in the Royal Palace was a marvelous way to close out our time in Stockholm. Mom and I mutually agreed that the most spectacular site in Sweden was the unique Vasa Museum. As we walked across yet another bridge, I said my last farewell to Sweden.

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Thanks for a lovely time, Sweden. We had a (meat) ball!

~Janelle

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