Stockholm, round three

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On my trip back from Gothenburg, I decided to spend a night in Stockholm because I did not know if I would have a chance to visit again. I checked into my hostel about 6 in the evening. Then, I walked around Östermalm, one of Stockholm’s ritziest neighborhoods. I had a lot of fun windowshopping at the uspscale stores surrounding the Stureplan square. Most of them were already closed, but I didn’t really mind. I wasn’t going to pop in and buy a pair of Prada heels anyway!

I ended my time in Östermalm with chips, guacamole, and a margarita. None of it matched up to what I could get in Texas, but it helped with my cravings for the real thing. Afterwards, I caught most of the Eurovision finals in my hostel.

I started the next day with brunch in a trendy part of town called Södermalm. Then I took the metro to Kungsträdgården Station to see some of the station artwork.

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From Kungsträdgården, I could walk to the Royal Palace. I had visited the armory before with my family, but this time I was able to visit the royal treasury and royal apartments. Before touring the inside of the castle, however, I got to see the changing of the guards! This was a nice surprise because I thought it happened earlier in the day.

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After visiting the palace, I went to Monteliusvägen where I enjoyed the beautiful view of the city you can see at the beginning of this post. I then relaxed with wine, cheese, and a book before catching my train home to Uppsala. I made sure to get home early in the evening so I could call my mom for Mother’s Day. I’m so glad I got to experience more of Stockholm before I have to leave!

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Gothenburg

I took a trip to Gothenburg over the Ascension Day break. Because I only have a few more weeks in the country, I wanted to visit another Swedish city before finals. Situated on the country’s west coast, Gothenburg is Sweden’s second biggest city and is a regional hub of art and culture. I had a wonderful time on my visit!

I arrived in the city on Tuesday afternoon. The first thing I did was explore Haga, a neighborhood famous for its 19th-century wooden buildings. With all its shops and cafés, Haga is a popula tourist spot but was very quiet when I visited as pictured below.

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My first night in Gothenburg wasn’t too eventful because I was tired from the train travel. I caught the first Eurovision semifinal and went to bed.

On Wednesday, I spent most of my day on the Gothenburg Archipelago. I took a ferry to the islands of the southern archipelago that cannot be reached by car.  First, I visited Styrsö, likely the largest of the southern islands. Styrsö boasts many swimming spots and nature trails. I explored the island on one of these trails, but the water was slightly too cold for swimming. I still had fun wading around and sunbathing. A lot of families were visiting the island that day, but I had broad areas all to myself once I was far enough along the nature trail!

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In the evening, I explored Gothenburg’s nightlife along a street called Andra Långgatan. I caught most of a metal band’s set in one bar, which was a lot of fun! After poking around in a couple more bars, I went back to my hostel for the night.

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I started Thursday at one of the city’s many parks. I bought an ice cream cone and looked at plants from all over the world! It was a beautiful sunny day, so a lot of other people were there enjoying the weather. After seeing the whole park, I went on a sightseeing boat tour through the city’s canals. I learned a lot about Gothenburg’s role in Swedish history.

The tour let off at Kungsportsplatsen, the starting point for the Avenyn. The Avenyn is a small entertainment district centered around a street called Kungsportsavenyn. I headed to the Gothenburg Museum of Art at the other end of the Avenyn. I saw a lot of Nordic art and learned about the art movements that called Gothenburg home such as the Gothenburg Colorists. I also got to see degree projects by art students from the University of Gothenburg at a gallery adjoining the main art museum.

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I had dinner at a seafood place just off the Avenyn. Due to its coastal location, Gothenburg is famous for its fresh seafood. After dinner, I went to the hostel to catch the second Eurovision semifinal.

On Friday, I visited another art musem, the Röda Sten Konsthall. This museum was housed in an old industrial building and also featured works from Gothenburg art students, this time from the photography program.

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After fika at the Röda Sten café, I went back to Andra Långgatan. There, I saw a performance from a musical duo at a record store and coffee shop. The performance was a lot of fun and the artists were very talented.

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I got dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant after the performance and returned to the hostel to rest up for a travel day. I am writing this post on the train from Gothenburg to Stockholm, where I will spend a night before returning to Uppsala. I had a lot of fun in Gothenburg and am glad I am experiencing more of what Sweden has to offer before going home!

Valborg

IMG_4490Yesterday was a very exciting day to be in Uppsala: Valborg! Also known as sista April (the last day of April), Valborg celebrates the coming of spring. Every Swede I’ve met told me I was lucky to be in town for Valborg, so I was eager to experience it for myself! Although Valborg is on April 30th, the festivities take place for a few days before and even the day after. I had a much quieter Valborg weekend than most Uppsala students, but I did meet up with my friend on Sunday to enjoy the nice spring weather in the park. I wanted to make sure my weekend was restful because I knew I would have to wake up early on Valborg itself. I was out the door before 8 AM, practically a miracle by my standards!

Typical Valborg fare includes champagne and strawberries, and I honored this with a strawberry-topped custard and some sparkling wine as I started my day. It is totally normal to drink throughout the day on Valborg and most Uppsalians even participate in champagne breakfasts! I then scouted out a spot near the Fyris River for the day’s first order of business: the raft festival. Every year, the engineering students design elaborate rafts and ride them down the river that cuts through town. Watching the rafts was a lot of fun! I got to see them up close with my friend the day before.

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After watching the rafts for a couple hours, I decided to track down some lunch. This was not easy because of how many people were participating in Valborg! The whole town took on a sort of carnival atmosphere that was fun to observe as I wandered around. After lunch, I sat in the shade of a tree by the library and listened to a pep band performance before the mösspåtagning, or Donning of the Caps. Swedish students get a student cap upon graduating secondary school. They look like white sailor hats and have different insignia based on where the student attended school.  At the Donning of the Caps, thousands of Swedes waved their student caps in the air. It was a very impressive sight, but what impressed me the most was how long people hold onto their student caps. I noticed several older Swedes with well-worn caps participating in this tradition. Afterwards, I stuck around to hear the men’s choir perform a couple of songs.

Although I had a lot of fun at Valborg, I did not participate in all the festivities. If you want to learn more about the  holiday, feel free to consult these links. I am so glad I got to experience this unique Swedish tradition!