Stockholm in 3 Days. With 2 Kids.

We had 3 full days in Stockholm and since we are traveling with kids that means you can’t just plow through the sights and run yourself ragged.  Well, we usually run ourselves ragged – but it doesn’t take much for this crew.  Typically, the best we can do is 2 big things a day- something in the morning and something in the afternoon with a lunch break in between and a dinner break at the end and back to home base to wind down.

I don’t stick a strict schedule but have a general sense of the big things we all want to do. Then I look at the weather and try to correlate the weather with the outings.  Based on the forecast, it looked like we had one sunny and nice day and the others were cloudy/rainy.  I saved the 2 outdoor sights for those days and plotted the indoor sights for the other 2 days.

Day 1 – Saturday – a gloomy day but we managed to dodge much of the rain

City Hall – This was not to be.  We attempted to go Saturday and Monday but it was closed both days.  Disappointing, but given the closures were due to the terrorist attack, it was quite understandable. –Mom

Nobel Museum – We spent quite a bit of time here and enjoyed a scavenger hunt type activity for the kids as well as some hands-on experiments as part of the aptly named “Experiments” exhibit. –Mom

The Nobel Museum was super fun. There are clips about Nobel Peace Prize winners and the give you a quiz and you have to hunt for the answers and the prize is a chocolate coin. – Nate

I loved the Nobel Museum, and we got to learn stuff we never knew about the Nobel prizes. We got to go on a scavenger for different things about the peace prize and the prize was a chocolate coin that looks like the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since this was our first full day in Sweden, jet lag and lousy in-flight sleeping meant this was a short day.  We headed back to our apartment and just grabbed some pizza take out at a local spot recommended by our Airbnb hosts.

Day 2 – Sunday – The sunniest day which meant we did as much outside as possible

Skansen – It was Nate’s dream come true! Our Uber to the Skansen was a Tesla. Another enjoyable thing at the Skansen was a story-in English- about witches and butter luck. There was a cute pottery shop as well as a glassworks place and a bakery. — Catherine

Millesgarden – This was the one spot on my must-see list.  I’m so glad we had a sunny day for enjoying it.  There weren’t many tourists.  It was a bit tricky to get to on public transportation so we took an Uber.  One element making this very kid-friendly was the outdoor space and lack of crowds meant the kids had a bit more freedom to run around. Plus the sculptures were so visually dramatic the kids couldn’t help but be intrigued. –Mom

Day 3 – Monday –  Another rainy day but with indoor museums planned, we made the most of it.

Vasa Museum- a giant ship made from the salvaged half-viking ship the Vasa and made into a museum. My favorite part of this museum was Sail A Ship, where we compassed, put the sails up, and un anchored the ship in order to sail it. Now that was fun! –Catherine

Nordic Museum– At the Nordic Museum, there was a Time detectives game where we had to figure out who stole the Golden Marzipan Statue. As Nate and I plowed through the evidence, witnesses, and suspects we reached the end for a prize of… a pin? Yup. –Catherine

The Children’s Playhouse is a room within the Nordic Museum set up like a little agricultural town in the “olden days” – complete with a horse drawn carriage to drive, a river to cross, a general store, and a kitchen.  The kids could have played here for hours more than they did.  Well worth the extra 20 SEK for admission.  There was also a replica of a 1940’s apartment – another hit with the kids.  I wish I had better pictures to share but the kids were on the move and it was fairly dark. –Mom

Tour of Subway Art – In the process of researching our trip, I learned that Stockholm has some pretty amazing subway stations.  The kids were getting a little tired, at this point in our day which meant I had to make this tour a quickie.  I looked up the stations with the most distinct art and off we went.  Our tour put the DC’s Metro to shame but that’s not too difficult.  The linked article does a great job giving some historical background on the subway art and is worth a read before exploring.  There are free walking tours of the subway art but our timing was a little off, unfortunately. –Mom

Ericsson Globe – Hello everybody! Nate here! Now as you know I love buildings, they are my whole life even!

Now a little fact – The Ericsson Globe is the tallest spherical structure in the world!!  So what happens is you watch a short clip and and you take a pod up and down the side of the building. personally I would recommend it and I would also give it a 5-star rating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon Arrival

As the plane pulled to the gate, we gathered our things and got ready to disembark.  I turned on my phone to text my mother that we had arrived safely in Stockholm.  As I waited to connect to service, the alerts started popping up.  There had been an attack in the city center of Stockholm.  So as not to alarm the kids before we had more facts, I handed my phone to J without saying anything.  We knew this would have an impact on getting to our apartment but there wasn’t much information available as the situation was still unfolding.

We proceeded to immigration, excited as always for a fresh stamp in our passports.  While waiting in line, J and I tried to get the latest news and see what had happened but there wasn’t much in the news as the attack had happened just 2 hours earlier. The immigration officer asked a number of pointed questions about our travels – it’s hard to say if she asked more questions given the events or if she’s always that inquisitive.  But we had never been questioned quite so extensively.  The officer handed us our passports, and informed us there had been an event in the city and we would want to inquire at the information desk as to transportation options into the city.

As we expected, all trains were shut down.  So much for the tickets I’d purchased in advance for the express train.  We were advised to sit tight for a bit, get some food and reassess the situation.  At this point, we had to tell the kids what was going on.  We took them to the side, and explained what had happened.  Our best option was to get some dinner at the airport and maybe transportation would be more available at that time.

Thankfully, the Arlanda Airport has a shopping/dining area attached to the airport with numerous options.  We settled in for dinner – meatballs and mashed potatoes of course – and tried to get more information about the attack.

Once dinner was over, it was pretty clear the subway and trains weren’t going to reopen any time soon. It appeared at that time that the suspect had not yet been apprehended.  Our only choice was to take a taxi for what would undoubtedly be a long ride given the increased traffic we were likely to face as all public transportation was still closed.

At this point, the taxi lines were much shorter than what we had seen earlier which was a relief.  Perhaps our decision to wait it out was a good one.  We all piled into the car and we were off.  It wasn’t long before we hit traffic, at which point, the kids and I promptly nodded off.  When I woke up, the taxi driver was explaining that he had two options to get us to our apartment – either go around the city or through the city.  He chose going through the city as the traffic was heavy on the highway.  Unfortunately, the streets were closed and we had to turn around and take the highway.  The remainder of our trip was uneventful but long.  We were relieved when we pulled up to the apartment – 90+ minutes after leaving the airport.

J and I hadn’t yet read much on the attack as our primary concern was dealing with the transportation issues and keeping our very tired kids from losing it.  We tucked the kids into bed, soothing what concerns they had about sleeping in a new space – what was that noise, are there enough pillows, it’s too dark, it’s too bright, where’s my stuffed animal – you know the drill.

As we explored the city yesterday, we noticed heavy police presence but otherwise, people were out and about as you would expect in any city.  We did take the kids aside and emphasize that if either one of us tells them to do something or not do something, they must listen to us.  They are not to first ask why or push it until we do that ridiculous 1-2-3 counting we still have to do.  They seemed to get it.

We tend not to be very alarmist in these situations.  J is a law enforcement officer and we know there are risks in our everyday life.  We are no more concerned or worried than when we planned this trip several months ago.

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The Swedish flag flying at half staff over the City Hall.

Preparing for Sweden

The Wandering Twins’ Perspective

Yay! We are going on another European Trip! But this time we’re going north to Scandinavia. To be pacific, Sweden. We go in just a few weeks! We have snack bags full of delicious treats for our trip. Lara bars, Cliff Bars, and Tic Tacs etc galore.

Hi! Nate here and I would like to tell you my perspective of preparing for Sweden. We got a TON of books so we will like, never be bored and there are SUPER yummy snacks and I am trying to get mom and dad to go to Malmo to see the tallest building in Scandinavia, the Twisting Torso, powered by geothermal energy. Super awesome, right?


The Parents’ Perspective

We leave for Sweden in just a few weeks!  With less than a month to go, this is when my wheels start to spin. I’m noticing a trend as we prepare for this trip – about a month out, I tend to start buying lots of clothes.  I’m not much of a shopper so my wardrobe is not exactly robust.  Faced with having to pack several days worth of casual clothes, I realize that I have 2 pairs of pants that fit (fit being the operative word these days) and I should probably get another pair or two.  I also realize that all of my casual shirts are stained or have tiny holes in them. Oh, and the kids need new shoes, of course, because they’re kids and all they do is grow out of shoes or destroy the ones that do fit by playing in the mud. But at least I can earn lots of miles through credit card or airline shopping portals since I refuse to physically go shopping.

I’m also hard at work gathering provisions for the oh-so-crucial snack bags that keep us nourished no matter the travel circumstances.  Okay, so it’s really about keeping my kids quiet, who am I kidding?  With a healthy bit of junk, it’s definitely not all about nourishment.

I’ll be honest, I do not have a reputation for being organized when it comes to packing. The past few conversations I’ve had with my mother, she’s mentioned packing cubes each time.  I just don’t get them.  I cannot figure out why putting your stuff in a cube is better than cutting out the middle man and putting it straight in the suitcase.  With that being said, it would surprise my family to know that I usually create packing lists.

Packing listWe have just 2 1/2 weeks to go for our trip to Sweden and I’ve already started the packing list. Getting the list started, along with acquiring provisions for the snack bags, puts a little spring in my step and makes me feel like the trip is right around the corner.

Growing up, we went to the beach every summer for two weeks and rented a house. Every year, a few weeks before our vacation, my mom would put boxes in the dining room.  With each trip to the grocery store, she would add provisions to the boxes for our trip.  As the weeks went on, we’d watch the boxes fill up and get excited knowing our vacation was around the corner. Obviously, we can’t bring groceries with us to Sweden, but the packing list and snack bag provisions have the same effect.

As for other trip preparations, no one around here is on board for my suggestion to head over to Ikea for a Swedish meal. I think it’s a brilliant idea and they’re nothing but a bunch of grumps.

We might also be working on our Canadian accents since we’re not sure what kind of reception Americans will get.  I shudder to think some one would assume we’re happy with our current political “situation.”

*And yes, I do know that Catherine used the wrong word in her section, but I can’t bring myself to tell her. I think the mix up is too cute.