29.10.15

Stockholm, Sweden!

Last Spring (wow has it really been that long!?) we went on a family trip to Stockholm and Florence. You can read all about how we pull off European adventures on our tight budget here. We chose that itinerary as a sneaky way to add a destination at no extra cost. So our technical trip was from Montreal to Florence, Italy, but with a stop over (AN ELEVEN DAY STOP OVER) in Stockholm, Sweden. So we got to add a flight to Sweden en route to Italy, but delayed our "connecting flight" to Florence by 11 days. One of many tricks my hubs has up his sleeve to make traveling affordable for us. Check out his blog for more details.

Forget the original destination of Italy, those 11 days in Stockholm made the trip. I loved Sweden more than I can even say. I was on a high the ENTIRE TIME. I crushed hard on Stockholm and could honestly move there tomorrow. I could go on and on, but first, some pictures.


Our whole time in Stockholm was fairly chilly and grey - something I've learned is the norm for their climate year round. If you can believe it, this didn't affect the trip at all! That's how welcoming and lovely this city was! Our first day we hit up a nearby park to fight jet lag. Monuments, beautiful gardens, and modern and daring play structures.  Like Montreal, my first love, but on steroids.


Sweden has a Monarchy, which if you know me at all, had me seriously geeking out. I loved the juxtaposition of old meets new that was prevalent everywhere we turned in Stockholm. A historic royal family, but a progressive democratic government. Ultra-modern architecture with old world European castles. Just, yes.


Another thing that made us crush hard on Stockholm was the water! Cities with water are so rare in North America but in Scandinavia they're ubiquitous. Stockholm never ever needed a filter.


Early on we learned how incredible family-friendly Sweden is. Every public service you can fathom (transportation, museums, education, attractions) is free until the age of 18. We went to Skansen within our first few days. It's this pioneer village slash zoo slash museum of Sweden's history. It was such a highlight! Everything was so interactive and educational. You could touch and see and explore everything! A few days later I read that the Swedish Royal Family were at Skansen for the national holiday and I was like whyyyyyyyyyy did I miss that!?


This was the trip that convinced me to go out of my way to take family photos. It's never easy or a good time, am I right? But I'm always so happy looking back on the five of us, even if it's not a perfect picture. This picture makes me smile because Chloe is now too big/tall for her carrier, but there she is snuggled in my chest. Documenting time that flies.


On the National holiday every public attraction to all ages was free. There were parades with the Royals, horses and guards everywhere, and despite the rain, everyone was out and enjoying the festivities. Here's the kids at the Royal Chapel, where just a couple days afterwards Price Philip of the Royal family got married! We totally picked the best 11 days in Sweden's history to be in Stockholm!


Crime in Sweden is remarkably low. Some theorize that it's due to the lack of diversity. It's a homogeneous nation with most people looking the same (blonde hair, tall, light features) and low immigration rates, and as such it's suggested that people have more empathy for their fellow man. Theft is lower because stealing from a stranger would be like stealing from yourself. fascinating right? If only we could cultivate this world wide, with diversity included! But definitely an added perk when everywhere you go you have to park you unlocked stroller and bags in public - but no one locked their stroller or gave it a second thought!


Of course, the best part about family trips is the time together. With no work or school or activities, and no one in the entire country that we knew except each other, we had oodles of it. We'd sometimes pair off and I'd take one or two kids somewhere and Brad would do something different with the other one or two.


The museums were free for kids and simply amazing. So interactive! We hit up the Vasa Museum (Oli still regularly asks "remember that big boat that sunk to the bottom of the sea and then people brought it back up?), The Swedish History Museum (which was free for everyone, and we are now obsessed with VIKINGS!), the Swedish Museum of Natural History (more vikings and dinos!)


Definitely a favourite part for the whole family was the playgrounds. They were like little villages for children! So sprawling, and with so many different activities. Like in Copenhagen, the playgrounds in Stockholm are off the charts. The slides are steeper, the ladders are higher, and generally they're more "risky", aka more fun! There are actually people who staff each major playground, keeping it safe, clean, and organized. They pay 25% tax in Sweden, but look at the amazing benefits for the citizens!


We took public transit out of the city to visit some castles, but they weren't as beautiful as the castle in Stockholm proper. But it was nice to run free on the grounds!


We love staying in Air BNB apartments when we travel mainly to save money, but also to get a feel for local life in a given city. We got to know the neighbourhood we stayed in (Östermalm, near Radmansgatan metro station) so well that the kids could direct us around! And look how beautiful everything was! Seriously, the public spaced in Stockholm were the cleanest and most beautiful I've ever seen.


The few pictures above and this one below were taken at the City Hall. It was so gorgeous! We had a picnic lunch out almost every day so we could be outside constantly, without eating out. Food was expensive in Stockholm so we only ate out on a couple of times and both times it was take out at night, once the kiddies were asleep!


If I didn't love Montreal so much, I could move to Stockholm tomorrow! It was so progressive, kid-friendly, historic, clean, safe, beautiful. Everyone we met spoke English (not the case in lots of Europe, but true for most Scandinavian countries) which made exploring really easy, and after 11 days we felt like we really got to know (and love!) the city.


If it weren't for the lack of daylight in the winter (as little as four hours of sunlight!) and cold temperatures, I think the world would be immigrating to Sweden. A bunch of times I was mistaken for a Swede and every time I was sad to say I wasn't native. Sweden, we loved you!

3 comments:

  1. I was gonna say, you could totally pass for a Swede, Em! This makes me SOOO excited for our trip to Finland in June! AH! (We are extra blessed to be staying with family so our accomodations are free)! You guys should take your next family trip around the same time... ;)

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    1. Oh I'd LOVE to go to finland! Maybe some day! This summer we're doing a small road trip out East with the kids but are saving up our airmiles for the summer after when we're hoping to go to Vienna and another city that we haven't decided on yet!

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  2. I feel a lot more people need to read this, very good info! .
    best hotels Stockholm

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