As we draw to a close

As we draw to a close
Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

Today is our last full day in Stockholm, our last full day in Stockholm, and, after about 46 days, the last full day of the holiday. (If you don’t count 24 hours flying home) We tried to cram a lot in – Stockholm is a large and fascinating city, with much more to see than we had time in which to see it.

When in Sweden, how could we possibly miss visiting the world’s largest IKEA? We found the free bus (something cheap in Sweden, it does exist!) and headed about 20 minutes out of town, until there she was, her welcoming hues of Blue and Yellow saying “Hej!” to one and all. Yep it’s pronounced ‘Hey!’, and hearing every shopkeeper give a cheery ‘Hey’ as you pay for your goods, is every bit as friendly as it sounds. Apparently Sweden is not renowned for its outpourings of friendliness, particularly toward tourists, but so far pretty much everyone has been great.

The IKEA shop was huge – but it was surrounded by equally large shops in a massive park of ‘big box’ style stores, and a big shopping mall as well. The IKEA itself packed a few surprises. For starters, on this side of world, you go in and turn left, rather than right. Then the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen in an IKEA. Prepare yourself, I hope you’re sitting down… there isn’t The One Path You Must Walk to get through the store. I know. Shocking. Unimaginable. But true. There are times when you have a choice … most disorienting, but we managed. Most of the stock we’d seen before but there were a number of new things that hopefully will make their way to Tempe soon. We also noticed than in all but one of the beds, each double bed is made up with two single quilts… it’s the same in our apartment. I don’t know if it’s an IKEA thing or a Swedish thing, but tier way, it’s a really good idea.

The store also had a Cafe on each of its three circular levels – plus each level had a kind of sunken mezzanine in the middle, so it was almost like 6 or 7 floors of IKEA goodness. As always with the luggage being what it is, we only bought one small item, a souvenir.

Speaking of which, I’ll take a moment to digress, and help set some expectations… going away or 6 weeks, in both warm and cole climates, requires a fair bit of packing … so unfortunately nobody is getting much at all in the way of souvenirs, and if so, they’re really little. So brace yourselves (especially my nieces!) and allow me to apologise in advance, for any gifts we bring back with us will be pretty meagre, so please don’t get your hopes up, but we did our best.

After IKEA we popped in to the mall across the road, and then it was time to take the free bus (I’ll say yay again because Free really seems to be a special thing in Sweden!) back in to Stockholm, and jumped on the good old Hop On Hop Off bus again, to go to Skansen.

Skansen is the first open-air museum in the world, apparently A bit like Old Sydney Town was, but spanning multiple eras in history, showing examples of buildings of various times, and how it was the live and work. It was a real shame that we were quite pressed for time, as it was a huge place which much to explore, and would have been really interesting to learn more about Swedish life from hundreds or even thousands of years ago. So we just stuck to the zoo part of Skansen, checked out the Reindeer, Bison, Lynx, and such exotic creatures such as goats and cows.

Before we knew it, it was already time to exit and wait for the bus, which took us back into the centre of Stockholm, where we had a bit of a wander around while we could, before going back to the apartment, and then out for ‘the last supper’. We actually found a whole new shopping street running parallel to what we thought was the min one here in Gamla Stan, but there’s a whole ‘nother street, chock full of restaurants and shops and so forth. We found something we hadn’t seen anywhere else in Stockholm, a Thai restaurant, so that was dinner. I think it used to be the cellar where we wait in this ancient building, a big underground space with an arched brick building, that is probably many hundreds of years old. Just waking around on the way to dinner there was building nonchalantly stating ‘1472’ above its (rather short) front door. (And no it wasn’t the street number!)

That’s about it for our far-too-short stay in Stockholm. I’m sure we could have spent at least a week here – a very present surprised for destination that just ended up being chosen on whim, as it enabled us to get much cheaper flights home compared to leaving from Heathrow. Definitely a place that exceeded expectations, and not just because I had so little idea of what to expect. It’s certainly on the list for a return visit one day,

Tomorrow morning, we leave here and start our journey home. The less said of that the better, it’s too depressing to think about at the moment!