Visiting Stockholm

Visiting Stockholm

If you’re planning a trip to Stockholm, you’re in for a treat. Unlike many European cities, Stockholm wasn’t completely leveled during WWII, making it one of the most well preserved medieval cities in existence.

I recommend visiting Stockholm in July / August, so that you can enjoy sightseeing with sunlight, warmth and blue skies. I have also heard December can be a great time to visit for Christmas Markets.

Before you go to Stockholm, you should known a few things:

  • Sweden’s currency isn’t the Euro, it’s the Swedish Kroner (SEK or Kr); In August 2018, the conversion rate was approximately 11 SEK : 1 USD. We were seeing closer to 9 SEK : 1 USD on our Chase credit card.
  • Stockholm isn’t cash-based, like Berlin. We were able to charge all purchases to our credit cards, except tipping our guides on our free walking tour, but they accepted Euros and USD.
  • Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, and it’s often quoted as the second most expensive city in Europe next to Norway!
    • It won’t be easy to find a non-fastfood lunch for <$10 per person.
      • Our average lunch price was $14 per person, and our average dinner price was $35 per person (this included a starter, main and 1/2 a glass of wine).
    • It also won’t be easy to find an alcoholic beverage for <$10 per person.

Best Things to Do in Stockholm

  • .If you have read my other posts you know that I love free walking tours. On your first day in Stockholm, I highly recommend doing at least one of the 2 hour free walking tours with Free Tour Stockholmimg_5934.jpg There are multiple companies that operate tours. We really enjoyed this company, which has the three crowns as its logo. They offer tours of the Old City (known as Gamla Stan), of the New City, and on certain days of the South Island.Be sure to check out the linked website for the schedule on the day you plan to participate! The schedule can change, as can the meeting point. To the right is a picture of two guides at a meeting point. They will be holding signs with their logo.
    • The tour is FREE, but be sure to tip your tour guide. Our guides accepted euros and USD.
    • In one day we did the 10 AM New City tour and the 1 PM Old City tour.
  • Head over to the Green Island (Djurgarden) and visit the ABBA Museum and the Vasa Museum.
    • The ABBA Museum is fantastically interactive, and begins with an impressive guitar room filled with guitars from famous rockstars like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Alex Lifeson. If you have an ABBA-hater in your group make sure they know the guitar room alone is worth it!
      • General admission to the ABBA Museum = 250 SEK

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  • The Vasa Museum is home to the most well preserved royal warships in existence; 98% of the Vasa is original! Unfortunately, in 1628 the Vasa warship sank on the day of its maiden voyage. After 15 minutes and ~1250 meters, gusty winds caused the ship to capsize, and it laid on the floor of the Baltic Sea for more than 300 years. Fortunately, the Baltic Sea is brackish (meaning it is low in salinity), so it isn’t home to worms that feast on wood and often consume sunken ships in their entirety. Great thing the Vasa sank in the Baltics, or we wouldn’t be able to see her today!
    • Be sure to wear warm clothes to this museum, which is kept cold at all times of year to preserve the wood on the hull.
    • When you enter the museum, head straight to the Auditoriums which feature 20 minute length films (all with English subtitles) on the history of the Vasa. When you’re finished with the video, head over to the bow of the boat, where every 30 minutes you can join a 25 minute guided tour in English!

Best Restaurants in Stockholm

  • If you go to Stockholm you have to try Meatballs for the People located in the South Island. I recommend going for lunch. We made reservations, but didn’t need them in the end. They also have vegetarian options! IMG_6009 (2).JPG
  • Alksade Traditioner is another great lunch spot on the South Island. They serve a variety of waffles (savory and sweet) and traditional Swedish dishes. I went for the veggie waffle sandwich, pictured to the right. Yum! They also have an amazing sweets – milkshakes, cookies, and individual fruit crumbles.
  • Tradition is a classy restaurant in the Old City, where you can find traditional Swedish dishes. We enjoyed our lovely dinner there – I ordered the smoked salmon and Scott had the brisket.
  • If you’re in the mood for Italian, Un Poco, was one of our favorite meals of our entire summer. We loved it so much we went back! The pumpkin ravioli is utterly divine (see picture below).
  • Saluhall is a Swedish food hall that’s great fun to walk around!
  • If you’re in the mood for gelato head to Stikki Nikki. There are multiple locations throughout Stockholm, and their gelato is organic. They even have vegan options!

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Transportation to ARN

A central theme of this post is that Sweden isn’t the cheapest city to visit. When it comes to transportation that theme still holds.

  • From Stockholm city center, a taxi-sharing app like Uber will run you ~$100.
  • I highly recommend taking the Flygbussarna, which runs multiple times an hour from the bus station in the city center to the airport.
    • We purchased tickets at the bus station for ~$13 one way per person, but if you get them online, with the link above, you can save a few dollars.

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Visiting Tallinn

Visiting Tallinn

Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is the northernmost Baltic state, and is home to a lovely old town and a majestic waterfront path that runs east of the city. In this post, I describe top restaurants & bars and things to do in Tallinn.

“e-Estonia” is ahead of its time when it comes to Internet connectivity. The country has one of the highest Internet penetration rates – as high as 75%, and they have been voting on line for more than a decade!

Before visiting, check out this great site to learn a few fast facts about Estonia. I had no idea Estonia is to thank for space food, Skype, and more!

Continue reading “Visiting Tallinn”

Visiting Ireland: Dublin, Howth, Cliffs of Moher & Galway

Visiting Ireland: Dublin, Howth, Cliffs of Moher & Galway

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, accessing Europe from the U.S. by way of Dublin is a simple way to reduce the cost of airfare… and taking a couple of days to tour Dublin and its surroundings can be a great way to start or end any Eurotrip. If you have more than a day or two, you should consider heading out west or up north to explore more of the lusciously green country!

In this post, I discuss transportation options to and from the airport, my favorite restaurants and to dos, and I provide a sample three-day itinerary.

Continue reading “Visiting Ireland: Dublin, Howth, Cliffs of Moher & Galway”

The Importance of a Routine

I have found the most important element of maintaining equilibrium is establishing some sort of routine.  By this, I don’t mean depriving your life of any spontaneity. I simply mean, ensuring you have certain elements in your life that you prioritize (exercise, eating vegetables, etc.). This can be challenging with long-term travel, but for me it is necessary for feeling healthy both mentally and physically.

The routine that works best for me, is eating breakfast in and working out before kicking off the day. Staying in Airbnbs, or places with kitchen access, makes this easier. Usually on our first day in a new location we go to the grocery store or check out a local market. Scott picks up fresh fruit, muesli and Greek yogurt, and I pick up milk, eggs, avocados, and whatever cracker or thin toast I can find for my avocado toast.

There’s a saying in nutrition that one should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. If you’ve tried it, you know that living any sort of social life or travel life can make this difficult. One often finds themselves out to dinner with friends, or ending a day of >15k steps at a pub with a hearty meal. However, I have found that I feel orders of magnitude better on the mornings following days living according to this noble mantra.

 

A European Summer

A European Summer

On June 21st, I departed to Europe on a one-way Delta award ticket from Boston to Dublin. I plan to post more about frequent flyer miles and credit cards in the future, but will mention now that it’s fairly common to find awards tickets to Europe in the summer for 30k miles (economy), 40k miles (economy plus / Delta Comfort), and 60k+ mile (business / first class). Points are a great way to cover travel, assuming you always pay your credit cards off!

I always try to fly to Europe via Dublin (DUB) or Amsterdam (AMS), booking one way flights with points. There’s an agreement between the U.S. and Ireland promoting tourism, so if you fly back to The States via DUB, you actually clear customs in DUB, meaning when you land in the US it will be as if you landed from a domestic flight (like SFO –> BOS). It’s great! On this trip, we fly home from AMS, on one way 30k mile economy tickets.

Some have asked how we picked the locations along our route, and honestly there wasn’t any grand plan. We had weeks here and there where we had plans to meet friends or family in certain locations — like Provence for group cycling trip, and Berlin to see our friend Larissa — and we filled in the rest.

We took a variety of transportation methods methods between major locations (planes, trains, buses, and boats), and always tried to use public transportation (buses, metros, trams, rental bikes) during our stays. Here is a map of our route!

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We also tried to book more economical lodging (Airbnbs, private rooms in hostels, friend’s pull out sofas). Our goal for the year is to have an average nightly lodging cost of <$60/night for two people, because that is roughly what we paid for our studio apartment in D.C..

Europe will likely be the most expensive leg of our gap year, with our average room costing closer to ~$100/night (for two people). You might be thinking – you stayed with friends and in hostels and still ended up spending ~$100/night? Are you crazy? Well, we had one week of complete splurging (Italian cooking school in Tuscany, which I will tell you all about) and several weeks of traveling with family and friends, so we weren’t in the super cheap places we might have stayed if it was just the two of us. More to come!

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

In May 2018, my boyfriend and I packed our bags in D.C. and set off on a year of travel and reflection. I call it “gap year”, but if I am being completely honest, I haven’t stopped working entirely. I established a technical consulting practice and work part-time on the side to help fund excursions!

I have four simple goals for my gap year:

  1. Exercise often
  2. Have fun
  3. Don’t run out of money
  4. Cut down on single use plastics

The first three are self explanatory, but I’d like to elaborate on the fourth. Did you know that last year, Americans used ~50 billion water bottles? Unfortunately, only 23% were recycled. We could all do better when it comes to producing less waste, and I figured I’d do my part in starting now!  

I pledged to not use single use plastic water bottles, which means carrying around a water bottle. As much as I’d like to deny it, I have never been the best at keeping up with things. This water bottle lasted about a month before it was left somewhere. I still have my second water bottle though!

I look forward to sharing itineraries, favorite travel spots, and travel hacks in the coming months!

Stay tuned, and if there is something you’d like to hear about in particular please reach out!