Friday, February 17, 2012

Stockholm, Sweden

Hej Again, ETD Readers :) 

After our short stay in Goteborg, we took the train from to Stockholm early in the morning. Stockholm was the same as Goteborg, and Oslo – cold and full of snow :)

We stayed at the Interhostel in a 14 bed mixed dorm – the largest dorm room I think we’re staying in during the whole Europe trip. Surprisingly it was ok, they had separate lockers and bed lights with double power points. 

After checking in we decided to explore the city. We walked from our hostel, down one of the main shopping streets Drottninggatan, and through to the Old Town called Gamla Stan. It was full of small icy cobbled streets (slippery ice) with loads of souvenir shops, boutique restaurants and cafes. 

Gamla Stan - Old Town

Gaffa - The Ginger Viking!

We kept walking south and found a canal that had frozen over – there were even a few inches of snow covering the ice. So what did we do? We decided to walk on it! I was a bit scared it would collapse, but there were loads of footprints already on the snow, so it looked alright. We survived! We kept walking towards the Photography Museum, but then decided not to go inside; we just roamed around the gift shop, warmed up and headed out into the cold.

Gaffa standing on the frozen canal
After our massive walk back to the hostel, we got ready for dinner. We found a buffet Asian restaurant called Pongs. It didn’t smell, but had delicious sushi, Thai and Chinese dumplings. YUM! Gaffa and I always say, ‘no more buffets’, but we always seem to get sucked into them. It’s been over 8 months since we left Australia and we obviously miss the food at home – especially sushi trains, my parent’s cooking and Yum Cha. 2 plates of sushi later (salmon, prawns, inari, California rolls, avocado rolls), and I was starting to get a little full. I had to power on and try the Thai and dumplings though! There were typical Chinese dumplings that you get at Yum Cha: prawn dumplings, dim sims, beef balls, xio long bao, etc. Gaffa got very excited about all you can eat Char Siu Bow (bbq pork buns) which he misses the most. There were also fried wontons, spring rolls, chicken… The Thai dishes had chilli ratings on the name tags, so I stayed away from most of the Thai salads. The only one I tried had 2 chillis and it was enough for me. Gaffa tried all 4 salads at once, which were 2-3 chillis hot! POW! The hot Thai dishes were typical currys, stir fries, pad thai, etc. They also had a Tom Yum Soup. 

Gaffa's dessert collection

And then finally dessert! Chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and shot classes of chocolate mouse and a panacotta with a sweet berry sauce. Gaffa certainly got his money’s worth! The buffet was 228SEK over the weekend (unlucky for us, as it’s cheaper during the week). There’s surprisingly a large community of Thai and Asians in Stockholm. Who would’ve thought that they’d migrate all the way here – for the cold weather?!

all wrapped up warm
On Day 2 of our Stockholm visit we met up with a friend that we use to work with. (The company that we worked for was originally a Swedish company). Our friend had transferred to the Sydney office for 2 years a few years ago. She and another colleague took us on a tour around Stockholm city, for lunch and then back to her house for dinner. Gaffa will definitely do a post about that, separately!

On Day 3, we weren’t sure what we wanted to do. We were originally going to go skiing/snow boarding, but it looked more expensive and not within our budget, and I didn’t want to hurt myself again! We woke up in the morning and there had been a group of 5 Belgian uni students also staying in our dorm room, who had been getting on well with us, and Gaffa spoke with them a lot about Brussels (do’s and don’ts). One of the girls excitedly told Gaffa that they were going to see an Ice Hockey game that day at noon. Gaffa’s eyes lit up and he got all the info out of them about it. So that was what we were doing on our last day in Sweden

YAY tickets to our first Ice Hockey game

We walked all the way to the Globe, it took us over an hour. All tickets were 100SEK, approx 10 GBP, for the Russia vs. Czech game. We were so excited to be seeing our first ice hockey game ever! It as so fun to watch, fast pace and just an great experience. I was surpised that there were no boundary lines, well the outside wall of the ice hockey rink was the boundary if the ice hockey court. They could rebound the puck off the walls, and you could easily get smashed into the walls if you were too busy concentrating on the puck or another player….We were rooting for the Czech team – we decided to follow the Czech’s based on our upcoming trip there. Guess who won?! Czech 4-0!! YAY!! We were sitting with all the Russian supporters, and the atmosphere was friendly between both sets of fans which was nice to see and be involved in.  Good start, first ice hockey match resulting in a victory at an international game too!

The Russian goal keeper who let 4 in!
We walked back to the hostel and bought my t-shirt. I had already decided that I wanted a Viking on my Sweden t-shirt, so again I found a kid-sized tshirt for 79SEK with a Viking on it. We had dinner from the supermarket that night. Swedish meatballs, pasta sauce and free pasta from a previous hostel. Including some chocolate snacks, the price was 70 SEK. 

Sweden is stereotypically marketed as an expensive country. But after going there ourselves, we’ve decided it’s comparable to Sydney, but cheaper than it’s Norwegian neighbours substantially. Some people say that Sydney is expensive, but Stockholm is similar. So for us, it wasn’t a big deal. Norway was more expensive than Sweden.

Standing on a frozen water!
The city was beautiful and I would definitely visit again. The fashion in Scandinavia is really nice as well.  Gaffa was generating ideas for us both changing our wardobes when we get back to Sydney! If only I had more $$ and a couple more large suitcases or shipping containers…. Finally, the people all over Scandinavia are generally happy (they walk down the street with a smile of their faces), taller and of course a large portion of them are blonde (and pretty, according to Gaffa)!!

Here is some video we took of the hockey match. The puck goes so fast around the ice rink that it's hard to follow the game sometimes. But it's an excitingly fast game to watch of 3 rounds of 20 minutes... I found that weird. I was expecting halves or quarters, but alas it's thirds. Enjoy! 

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