Today was our third day in Stockholm and our second free day. From the moment I stepped off the train I knew this city would be amazing. Everything from the architecture to the canals to the people is beautiful and unique. This past weekend was filled with sightseeing and I know we each walked at least double the daily steps amount. Saturday was a free day and a group of us walked across one of the many bridges to the old town, which is on an island in the middle of a canal. Here you can see historical churches, the Parliament, the royal palace and tight, European-style cobblestone streets. We walked all around the island and visited the palace for the changing of the guard ceremony. We also were able to partake in multiple gelato runs this weekend as there’s seemingly an ice cream shop on every corner.
Sunday we went to a different island, again crossing from the mainland via a bridge, and visited the modern art museum. There we saw videos depicting art in sound, saw elaborate sculptures of mushrooms, and also viewed contemporary painted artwork. The museum was huge and had so many exhibits we couldn’t get to them all before our canal tour. The canal tour proved to be very useful for directions since most of the main paths in Stockholm follow the water. It lasted for approximately an hour and included commentary about buildings along the canal, including the first Absolut vodka processing plant. Dr. Birchfield treated us to a traditional Swedish dinner after the tour; most students ordered Swedish meatballs, a dish talked about in the States but almost never made.
Today was another free day and I was determined to use it to my advantage. A group of us walked back to the island hoe to the modern art museum and instead walked around in the Djurgarden, a large park that almost covers the island. It actually used to be hunting grounds for a house on the property but now belongs to the government and families live on the water in some of the old houses. We took a breathtaking walk around the water, getting views of geese, which were out in full force, and the surrounding countryside. The old homes were beautiful to look at and the boats docked were enormous. It was then that we decided to rent a boat and cruise around the river, getting views from another point of view. It was surprisingly easy to do this; we got lunch to go and rented a Go Boat, a popular tourist attraction in Stockholm, to use on the water. This was very different from the States, where you almost always need a boating license to drive anything on the water with an engine. We had an amazing time on the water; it was a sunny day with almost no current or waves. I already like Stockholm better than any city we’ve been to thus far on the program; it’s so vibrant and bustling, like a U.S. city, but has the historic architecture that makes you feel like you’re in a period drama.
Tomorrow we have a busy day of site visits; we go to the Swedish foreign ministry as well as the Parliament. I’m glad we’ve had a chance to be touristy in this city before we leave and that the weather has been (pretty) good to us so far. I’m looking forward to our last full day in Stockholm tomorrow and am already looking forward to leaving for Paris this upcoming weekend!