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Sailing Solo: Stockholm, Sweden!

An In-Depth Look


The thing about international teaching is that the spirit of traveling runs deep. Expect to find someone in your school traveling anytime there is a break. Even three-day weekends allow people to jet somewhere quickly before returning back to work. Next to the winter break, summer break is our largest amount of time off. Many people take this time to return back to their home countries. This year I decided that after returning back to the United States in December/January, I would not go back home this year. I know it seems like a big leap to take, but I knew that if I wanted visitors I would have to be in India, and there are SOOO many places on my travel list and I might as well use the time I have to start checking off experiences.


With the decision not to return to the United States made, I now had to decide what exactly I would do. When I envision summer, I feel the warm sun on my skin and I see water, trees, grass, and anything that has to do with nature. I taste and smell delicious foods like elephant ears, ice cream, and barbecue. I hear live music. Since I was a little girl my family could always be found sitting on the grass with our picnic supplies enjoying the sounds of music we loved and since I’ve gotten older, one thing I am definitely willing to spend my money on is a festival or concert to see my favorite artists live! Since I’ve been missing live music (I haven’t found R&B, Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop, and things of the like in India YET!) I figured that outside of hosting visitors in India, I would base my trips this summer around traveling to see artists I enjoy.


I have been trying to see Snoh Aalegra since May 2020. Of course the pandemic canceled those plans, but I saw that she was on a North American tour during the spring of 2022. I checked her website and saw that she would also be in Europe a few times this summer. Snoh got her start as an artist in Sweden so I thought seeing her in her hometown would be best. I found the flights, secured a hotel, and purchased my festival tickets. I was ready! I knew this would be a highlight of my summer.


Getting There:


I flew into Stockholm (ARN) after a short layover in Doha, Qatar. Qatar Airways can be a bit pricey, but the service is impeccable. I was able to get some sleep on the plane and I watched a few movies. The food service was a positive experience. I ate breakfast on the leg from Chennai to Doha, and brunch and a snack on the leg from Doha to Stockholm.


Arriving in Stockholm the first thing I noticed was that the airport reminded me of IKEA, very simple and clean designs. The passport check was a short walk from my gate. There were lines for EU residents and then all other passports. It was a small area so it was a little cramped, but the process took no longer than 30 minutes. I got my stamp and went out to find my luggage.


The Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) is about 23 miles outside of central Stockholm. To get to the city there is a very efficient train called the Arlanda Express. In researching I found that you can purchase tickets ahead of time to save you time and peace when you land. There is a ticket counter near the baggage claim and self-service kiosks on the platform to use if you don’t purchase tickets ahead of time. I followed the signs to the train and caught one very soon after arriving. It's a fast-speed train and the entire journey takes 18 minutes. The train was clean, quiet, and overall relaxing. When I purchased my train ticket I was able to add the round-trip pass to my Wallet on my iPhone for easy access. (Note: You use the same pass/QR Code for both trips if you purchase the round-trip ticket. It was $58.)


Where I Stayed:


Once I arrived at Stockholm Central Station, I had a short walk to the Sheraton Stockholm. I chose this hotel because it was centrally located. Besides the Snoh Aalegra concert, I wasn’t sure what else I was going to do during my time here. I wanted an accessible location for whatever came my way! I chose a hotel over an Airbnb for two reasons. First, safety. As a young Black, woman traveling alone, I wanted peace of mind. I know things can happen anywhere, but I think that the number of witnesses is increased when in a large hotel rather than a standalone apartment/house. Also, with the uncertainty of travel in the pandemic, hotels guarantee the best protection of my money.



The hotel was in a prime location. Check-in was easy. I reserved the Superior King Room with a Waterfront View. This room choice was a little pricier, but it was worth it for me. The view outside of my window brought me so much joy. There was also a bathtub. My house doesn’t have a bathtub, so I factor that in whenever I travel somewhere. The bed was super comfy! It was a king, but there were two separate comforters for each side of the bed. I just learned that this is a Scandinavian thing. Apparently, not having to share comforters has benefits when you are sharing a bed with someone else. There was also no top sheet. I love a top sheet, so this was not my favorite thing, but I brought my own throw so that I could have an extra layer when sleeping.


Day One: Arrival and Wandering Around


I arrived on a Wednesday around 2:30pm. I got to my hotel around 3:45pm. I scheduled a walking tour through Airbnb Experiences that I unfortunately missed since my flight arrived a little later than expected. I was able to contact the host. He tried his best to accommodate the occurrence by offering me the opportunity to join other tours he had that weekend, but the times didn’t align. Even though I wasn’t able to go on the tour, his customer service and reviews were great so I say try it out if possible!


Instead of taking the tour, I showered, got dressed and went out to do my own exploring. This was when I realized Stockholm is BEAUTIFUL! The city comprises 14 islands on the Baltic Sea. When I got outside my first impression was that the city was clean, and fresh. What I noticed on this day and throughout the trip is that the city is very walkable and people enjoyed being outside. There were so many people riding bikes, running, jogging, and just sitting outside enjoying the weather. During this walk, I walked along the water in central Stockholm and then I crossed the bridge to Gamla Stan (Old Town.) I did a little bit of shopping here. It was nice to find things that aren’t easily accessible where I live in India.



For dinner I returned to my hotel and ate at the bar. It was a Wednesday evening and even though it still felt early, many restaurants had closed by 9pm. I ordered a Caesar salad, burger, fries and a glass of wine. Overall the service and the food was pretty good. I would not suggest ordering the Caesar salad though. It’s just romaine lettuce with mayo. Not a fan…but this is what you get often when you’re not in the US or Italy.


That evening I returned to my room ready for bed. I made sure to close the curtains because I did not want the sun waking me up at 3:30 am! :)


Day Two: Exploring, Pictures, and the Festival!


I relaxed in the morning! Even though I woke up quite early, I didn’t get out of bed right away. I didn’t have anything scheduled until later in the day. I took the time to do some more research and plan out the rest of my trip. When I was finally ready, I headed out to get the day started. My first stop was breakfast. I visited Cafe Schweizer in Gamla Stan. I found them on Google, but I also remembered them from my walk the day before. It was a super cute restaurant with fresh squeezed orange juice. They put all the orange peels outside after squeezing them so it smells heavenly too. I ordered a ham sandwich, scrambled eggs, and orange juice. I definitely recommend this place, but this was where I solidified the idea that Stockholm is expensive! The eggs were $14… They were good, but they were just scrambled eggs. I was grateful for the experience though. I left there full and ready to take on the rest of the day.



From breakfast it was a short walk to the Nobel Prize Museum, also in Gamla Stan.

Tickets were not available in advance, but walking in and securing tickets was easy. They are $13. This museum was very informative. I didn’t know much about Nobel Prizes outside of the fact that winners are chosen in various categories each year and that Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1960s. The museum goes in depth about Alfred Nobel, the creator of the awards, nominations, the selection process, past winners, and the annual ceremony. My favorite part of this museum was the audio guide that was accessible on your personal device. The museum provided wifi for all visitors. It was very easy to walk through the tour stops. I forgot my headphones on this day, but I was able to turn the volume down and still listen.




From the museum I walked over to the Royal Palace for the changing of the guards. This was another (very) short walk in Gamla Stan. This was my first experience seeing the changing of the guards. It was a cool, free experience. The band was talented. It’s always mind-blowing to see so many people in-step with each other.



After the ceremony I walked toward the water for my scheduled photoshoot. I found the photographer on Airbnb Experiences as well. I got the idea of taking pictures in new cities from someone I follow on Instagram. It’s an easy way to get a tour, meet someone new in the city, and to capture memories in the most photographed areas. My photographer was super friendly. She helped to pose me and to let me know when my hair was out of place. It was windy so I appreciated that very much. She sent over edited pictures by that evening.





After the photoshoot it was time for Snoh! I was seeing Snoh at the Rosendal Garden Party.

This event took place on another island (Djurgården) but it was easily accessible by tram. I changed, purchased a three-day transportation pass at the Pressbyrån convenience store ($33) and headed on my way. I actually met another woman on the way to the festival and we hung out for the rest of the evening.


Before Snoh performed, there were two other acts. I’m not really sure who the first band was. I ate and walked around the grounds at this time. But the second was GAYLE. I know her most common song “adcdefu” and she sounded great live! There was probably a 30 minute lag time between GAYLE and Snoh Aalegra. She was slated to start at 7:30pm and by 7:33 she was on. I appreciated the timeliness. We were able to get right up in the front row. She looked great. She had great energy. She sounded AMAZING! She sang a mixture of songs off of FEELS, -Ugh, those feels again, and TEMPORARY HIGHS IN THE VIOLET SKIES. Overall I think $87 was worth it for the one-day festival ticket. It was clean, the sound was great, the weather was great, it was easily accessible by public transportation and the food and drinks were good!





Day Three: More Exploring and Swedish Baking!


I slept in a bit on Friday. I didn’t have anything scheduled until that evening. I found a cute brunch spot called Greasy Spoon. There are multiple locations around Stockholm. After eating at the Greasy Spoon I headed to Fotografiska, an art museum. I didn’t have as much time to view these exhibitions, but I enjoyed what I did see. There was an exhibit there titled The New Black Vanguard.

It showcased the work of Black photographers, and Black models at the intersection of art and fashion. These are my favorite exhibitions because for so long Black people were left out of these spaces, but here it was on full showcase for all to see. Black is beautiful!


My next activity was another Airbnb experience. This time I would be baking! Swedes have something called fika, a break or two in the day where they stop working and sit down with a sweet treat and coffee. Many times this treat is a cinnamon or cardamom bun. I learned how to make these with a really sweet family and one other solo traveler who also booked the experience. I am glad that I got to go out into the suburbs to participate in this experience. I got to learn from a local, but I also got to see more of what Stockholm looks like outside of the city center.





After I left from the baking experience, I changed and went to this live Jazz bar that I found. It was pretty crowded once I arrived so I ended up going to Geronimo’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant right next door. I could still hear some of the music, but this place had its own little vibe too.


Day Four: Museums, Museums, and Live Music!


Saturday morning I woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel. Then I headed back to the island Djurgården for more museums. First I went to the ABBA museum.

I did buy tickets in advance for this one and gratefully so. I purchased tickets for the first time slot (10-10:30am.) I had a lot of fun learning about this Swedish band that took the world by storm in the 1970s and 80s. I knew the popular songs Mama Mia and Dancing Queen but that’s about it. This museum also had audio guides that you could access on your phone. I remembered my headphones this time. This museum was also very interactive. I recommend it to anyone visiting Stockholm if you’re even remotely interested in music. By the time I exited the museum at around 12:30, the line to get in was very long. Go early and buy your tickets in advance.


Next, I went to the Vasa Museum. This museum houses a failed ship that was recovered and preserved 333 years after it sank in the Baltic Sea. It tells the story of the commission of the ship, to the sinking of the ship, all the way to the modern-day preservation efforts. It was VERY interesting. Though some parts of the ship have been replaced, most of it is the actual ship that sank in the 17th century. Again, it was very interesting and informative. I also recommend this museum. And if you go, definitely take a light coat/jacket. Due to the preservation substances, they keep it pretty cold inside.


I ate lunch at the museum as well. I ordered the traditional Swedish meal of meatballs, mashed potatoes, lingonberries, and a cucumber salad. I also ordered a hot chocolate to warm me up from the museum. The food was delicious.



After the museum, I walked back to the beginning of the island and rented a bike for an hour. I rode along the streets first and then along the coast of the island. It was absolutely beautiful. I saw swans, and other birds. I saw beautiful houses and boats docked and out on the water. I saw so many people out reading, biking, walking, and just chilling under the sun. It was a fairly easy bike ride. There were some hills but it was doable. I wanted to find a way around the entire island, but I had to end up cutting that journey short. I had to make dinner plans.





For dinner I met up with the woman I met at the festival a few days before. I found a nice Italian restaurant and we went there before heading to another concert she found and told me about. Un Poco was a cute restaurant in another part of the city. The food was great and so were the drinks. After dinner we walked to Hotel Berns. It’s a hotel and concert venue. We went to see Gary Clark Jr. I had never heard of him before earlier that day, but I am so glad she invited me to see him live. He was AMAZING! He’s a soul, Jazz, and Blues artist from Austin, Texas. The energy in that place was high. Everyone in his band was supremely talented.





After the concert we went to Melt, a speakeasy with a burlesque show. This place was also cute and the drinks were great. Because it was our first time they waived the entrance fee.


From what I could see, Stockholm was pretty lit on Saturday night. I walked past many places that I took note of for my next time visiting.


Day Five: Archipelago Tour, Meeting Others & Ethiopian Food!


I went to breakfast at the hotel again. Then I took the tram a few stops over to the docks. I planned an archipelago boat tour. I got my ticket in advance and ordered lunch as well. Since I ordered lunch I had my own private table inside for the ride. The ride was 3 hours long and lunch was served an hour in. Technically I could’ve sat outside for the first part, but it was cold and most of the best seats were already taken. I would suggest getting to the dock around 30 minutes before your departure time. When I arrived 15 minutes before departure there was already a long queue. Since I chose to stay inside this wasn’t an issue. The only thing with staying inside is that the speakers aren’t the best when everyone is talking. When you sit on the first floor you can hear the lady explaining the sights better. I was fine with just taking in the views, being warm, and eating.





Sleepiness hit me fast after the boat tour. I headed back to my hotel and I woke up about 2 hours later. I had a few places I still wanted to visit. First up was the Ice Bar.

I went at 5:30pm, but they were booked. They did have an opening at 6pm though. I reserved that spot. There I met a few Americans who were in town for business. They invited me for another drink after we left the Ice Bar. We went back to the place Stampen that I visited Friday. This time it wasn’t as crowded and I got a seat. The band was pretty good again. I left them after one drink because I wanted dinner. For dinner I headed to Gojo Hornstull. It is a local Ethiopian restaurant. There are many Ethiopians that live in Sweden and I wanted to try the food. It was delicious! This was also probably the least expensive meal I had while there.





Since it was my last full day in Sweden I took a bath and ended the night. It was VERY peaceful.


Day Six: Closing it Out!


It was now time to leave. If you are traveling internationally in 2022, getting to the airport at least 4 hours before your departure time is important. The airport was in complete chaos. I got home just fine, but I waited in SO many long lines.





Weather/Clothes:


Stockholm is located in northern Europe and Stockholm is located in the east of the country on the coast. In the winter it can get pretty cold. In the summer, the temperatures are mild to warm. To me, the weather was PERFECT while I was there! I watched the Weather app a week prior to arriving. The temperatures ranged from 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit. There was rain in the forecast. I packed for this. I usually think that 65-70 degrees F is chilly, but with the pure sunlight, the weather was honestly amazing.


Tips:

  • There are museum passes, you may want to check these out if you desire to visit many of the museums during your stay

  • Comfy shoes are a must! You will walk a lot and there is a lot of cobblestone.

  • Bring a small umbrella just in case. It did rain during my time there, but I heard that it usually rains more. I never got caught in it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Light jackets/layers! Most days I started with a jacket and scarf, and by the mid day I was only wearing my shirt. In the evening I wore the jacket again. It’s on the water so it can be chilly, but the sun was bright!

  • The sun rises at 3:30am and sets around 10pm in the summer. Use the blackout curtains for your sanity!

  • To find the conversion of SEK to USD, just move the decimal one place to the left. 10 SEK is about $1. (Ex. 229 SEK is about $22.90.)

  • I did not use cash at all while I was there. Most people use the tap feature on cards/phones. I am able to use all of my cards abroad without transaction fees. If you’re not, think about getting an international credit card for ease. I was able to use American Express at most places, but not all. Some places did require your credit card to have a pin number. Set that up with your bank ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about it once you're traveling.

  • The train system can be a bit confusing, but you can figure it out. Look at the different symbols to know whether you are taking a subway, tram, commuter rail, bus, etc. Pay attention to the color of the lines but also the “strand.” Google Maps is your friend.

    • Sidenote: There are also MANY levels. At one point I felt like I had traveled at least 6 floors underground. It was very cool, but also mind-blowing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Stockholm, Sweden. I have decided that I will definitely be back. Sweden has other cities I want to explore too, and in the winter I will be planning a trip to head north to see the Northern Lights. I am so grateful that I get to travel the world! I'm left in awe with every new destination I visit.


Have you ever been to Sweden? Have any other questions about my trip to Stockholm or solo travel in general? Let me know in the comments!


Love y'all!




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