Do not go to Stockholm the weekend before Christmas. It is so freaking crowded it will make you want to do something that is illegal. Mia and I went yesterday, by bus. It was about a one-hour jaunt from Uppsala, and I spent the entirety of the ride sound asleep, drooling on my new North Face puffy coat. It's the warmest coat I've ever owned. It looks ridiculous.
The city is big, it's sprawling, it has lots of water, and it's beautiful. The buildings are gorgeous, they're old, and they are not tall. It's very refreshing to be in a major city where the tallest building is the TV tower. I don't know why, but it's just neat not to have any skyscrapers around. It really feels like Europe. Which is a terrible description, I realize that. But seriously, just picture in your head what a historic European city should look like, and that's what it looks like. So it's a good description I guess.
We made our way from the bus station to Skansen, a Disney-esque recreation of the country of Sweden as a whole, albeit a small scale version. It was authentic in that all of the old houses and buildings were real, transported from various places throughout Sweden. And it was pretty touristy, but then again, I am a tourist. The most fun was walking around the the various little stands set up to sell Swedish stuff and sampling moose sausage. Moose is freaking tasty.
Walking back along the waterfront towards the center of the city, we paused along a small bridge and got some cool photos of old-town with several historic sailing ships docked along the wharf. It was freezing. There were lots of dogs on leashes, and more often than not they had socks on. The dogs I mean. Yes, it's ridiculous, but it was pretty cold. I learned a new Swedish phrase when a little girl in a stroller, after just exiting a restaurant onto the street cried "Jag fryser Papa! (I'm freezing Daddy!)." It was funny.
Up until then I was enjoying the brisk weather and the nice scenery. But the crowds descended upon us once we got back into center city. It was absolutely ridiculous in the shopping area of town. It was shoulder to shoulder people, and there were goats. In the true Christmas spirit, several people were leading around goats trying to get people to donate money to a charity that would send these goats to their deaths to benefit starving people in a country less fortunate than Sweden. I petted one of the goats.
We made our way to Old Town, where it was less crowded and more old. You walk across a bridge and suddenly the streets become cobbled and narrow, and you're greeted by a huge castle. I love that they have castles here. I wonder if there are dragons?
We stopped walking (finally), and sat at a cafe where i devoured a mozzarella and tomato sandwich. I got to meet Mia's aunt (her mom's sister), and was delighted to learn that Mia is going to be beautiful when she's 40, because she looks exactly like her aunt (who is 40, and beautiful). I think I'll keep her (Mia, not the aunt).
Last night I got to experience my first Swedish party. I donned the aforementioned suave suit that I purchased from H&M before leaving home, and we biked over to Mia's school around 11pm, only after guzzling about two bottles of wine and some snapps (Swedish liquor...tastes like jet fuel). I was drunk enough that I danced. I don't know what got into me, but I was being a total douchebag and trying to act cool and dancing like Dave Matthews dances, which looked sort of like I was pigeon-toed and had to pee really bad. Everyone was dressed "to the nines" as they say (what the hell does that mean anyway?), and a good time was seemingly had by all.
The one thing that I kept thinking about at the party was that it was like a high school dance where they served alcohol. Now I know that probably makes it sound like it was really gay and that they played 'November Rain' and 'Stairway to Heaven' a lot. It wasn't really like that, it's just the first thing I thought of when I walked in. I guess it was more like that scene in 'Euro Trip' when they're in that dance club tripping on Absinthe, but without the Absinthe and without the tripping. Just a lot of drunken dancing by people who dance much better than me.