We started this year with a wish list of places we would love to visit in 2017. Travel has always been hugely important to me but it has been much harder to manage with a young family. One of the joys of our children getting older is that I feel we can branch out and explore the world a little bit more. We have learned to embrace road trips and we are certainly willing to drive quite long distances for the sake of an adventure. We try to avoid flying because it really racks up the cost and it is such a hassle. Stockholm was however high on the list this year and I am delighted to say that we managed to go for October half term. It was just too far to drive in the space of one week so we flew in the end.
If I am honest I would have to say that we chose Stockholm because of our love of Astrid Lindgren books including Pippi Longstocking and Karlson on the Roof and because we are partial to cinnamon buns. That's reason enough... right? I haven't been to a new country in about 10 years, so this felt like a big deal for me. My husband had never been to Sweden before either and we didn't really know a huge amount about Stockholm. I have been to Denmark before and my husband's family lived in Norway for a while and we both kind of felt that we would love Scandinavia. There is something about life there that sort of appeals to us both.
Stockholm did not disappoint. We loved it... a lot!
They were a few steps ahead of England with the autumnal feels. I had worried that it would be dark, grey and drizzly at that time of year. I almost postponed the trip until we could manage it during the summer months. That would have been a mistake because it was so stunningly beautiful.
It was cold though. Luckily we had been shopping for appropriate winter wear.
I also had second thoughts about visiting Skansen, which is an outdoor museum with reenactments of old Swedish life and a collection of animals that are indigenous to Sweden. It was raining a little the day we went but it was still brilliant. We even had Swedish meatballs for lunch.
The wolves were a highlight for us. We all love them, especially Rexy, who has a bit of an obsession.
Another absolutely must see for us was Junibaken, which is a museum of Swedish children's literature. We spent lots of time in Pippi's house.
Bear even sat on Pippi's bed...
.. and we got to hang out in her kitchen.
There were lots more wonderful things to see there too. I think that we will have to delve even further into the world of Swedish children's literature.
The Vasa Museum is next door to Junibaken. We might not have bothered with it because I'm not hugely interested in old ships, but it was raining that day so it was much easier than travelling somewhere else. We enjoyed it in the end and were glad that we went. The ship's history is a pretty mind-blowing story actually.
Of course I was very excited to visit Fotografiska, the photography museum. Apart from the amazing photography on exhibition there, it was an exceptionally cool space.
We had wondered if they would embrace Halloween in Sweden. We are big Halloween fans and would have felt sad not to have a good run up to it.
Again, we were not disappointed.
So many delicious buns.
We went out of our way to find Gunter's hotdog stall. It was well worth the effort. I will be dreaming of those hot dogs for the rest of my life... seriously.
I will always be more drawn to cities because they have so much personality and are brimming with interesting stuff to see and experience. They are so vibrant and fun to photograph.
Sweden is shockingly expensive for us though and to keep costs down we stayed in a young hostel (despite two of us not being so young anymore!) We had a room with bathroom to ourselves but we did sleep in bunk beds. I missed having a TV because it would have been cool to have watched the local channels and listened to more of the language. I would definitely have preferred a nice hotel, but it really wasn't so bad. It was clean and comfortable and everyone was very friendly. It was also nice to remember what it felt like to be young enough to stay in youth hostels.
The big highlight for the kids was the Spelmuseum, which we did on the last day. This was kind of similar to the old arcade games exhibition that we went to in New York last year, but it had some new stuff as well. We spent a happy couple of hours there.
So, Stockholm gets a huge thumbs up from us. We also went to see a local ice hockey game, but we weren't allowed to take any photos. That is a shame because it was one of highlights.
I would have loved to have spent some more time exploring Sweden but we ran out of money and the kids had to get back to school. We hope to return one day.