We got to our cottage in the dark cold and left early the next morning in the cold dark. Already in Sweden, we decided that it was worth it to take a four-hour high-speed train north to Stockholm; because, the chance of us coming back to anytime soon was slim. Drinking coffee at the Malmö train station, Ashton and I looked at each other and said, “What are we, nuts? Who are we going to Stockholm four hours away?!… Nah! It’s worth it.” And it was. It was the best way to see all of beautiful Sweden: the snowy countryside, evergreens, flat south giving way to rolling hills, all complete with falling snow.
We got to Stockholm around 1:30 PM, meaning we had one hour til sunset. Following our noses to the historic Gamla Stan center, one of the seventeen islands that make up the city, we made our way to the Christmas market. Every building has a charming characteristic: Brightly colored, narrow streets and alleys, elaborate rooflines, and the old-fashioned attention to detail.
The weather was cold and we were glad we bundled up, but it was not deathly cold like you would think for a place where the sun can set at 2:30. As a result, I saw almost more fur coats than I have collectively seen in my life; we fit in very well, me in my great-grandmother’s worn mink and Ashton in her wool. The Swedish Christmas market was small, charming, and no match for any German Christmas market. At Ashton’s recommendation, we bought ourselves some glögg for Christmas Day. I tried to ask the nice young guy selling it what the difference between glögg and Glühwein is, and although his English was nearly perfect, he had no idea. After some research, the only real difference I can see is that glögg is sold as a base of fruit juice where you add the spices and raisins at home, and Glühwein is sold as an alcoholic beverage. Since Christmas markets are a much larger tradition in Germany, that is usually where you get Glühwein, already prepared.
While wandering around, we came across the changing of the guards at the palace and, although it doesn’t usually happen in the winter months, we were lucky enough to see the military band accompany the change of guard.
In our travels, we have been thinking about what makes a place important to visit. Is it just the historical significance? Are there basic ways to generalize whether or not a city or place is worth visiting? Or is it purely personal opinion? We both agree that, if you go to Stockholm in the wintertime, go when the Christmas decorations and lights are up. In addition, the architecture is beautiful, everyone speaks great English, there are many delicious and nicely decorated cafés, and there are museums (but we skipped them this time.) We had a great time wandering around and the four hours were surprisingly plenty.