Sunday, January 1, 2012

The land of sauna, fika and Ikea

First off:
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! 
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and may 2012 bring nothing but the best! 

Secondly: SWEDEN was wonderful. I was there for 5 days, visiting my friend S and celebrating the holidays with her family. (S and I met during our exchange semester to Paris earlier this year and I had already visited her this summer. Her family generously extended the invitation to spend Christmas with them after learning that I wouldn't be going back to Canada.)

Hello, again. View on Gamla stan (the Old City) in daylight.

Stockholm in winter remains as wonderful and interesting as ever. I completely fell in love with the city when I first visited it in July (pictures on my FB here), and I continue to find the place fascinating and enjoyable.The weather this year was incredibly mild (easily +4C on most days) and the infamous Nordic darkness didn't bother me nearly as much as I had feared. Sure, there's about 4 hours of daylight and the sun sets around 2:30pm, but compared to the ever-grey Oxford where the sun sets at's really not that bad. The darkness didn't make for a lot of pictures, though. (That, and the fact that I kept forgetting my camera, erm.)

View on Gamla stan and the South harbor in the evening (ie. 5pm).

Overall it was a very quiet and relaxing trip, with both S and I battling colds and residual post-semester fatigue. We spent a lot of time at her parents' house up in the suburb of Akersberga, meeting her extended family and going to the sauna. We also went into Stockholm a few times to hang out with S's friends, some of whom I have met last time and actually remembered me! We also went shopping (hellooooo H&M), saw the Nick Brandt exhibition at the Photography Museum and walked around Gamla stan, taking in the holiday decorations and breathing the fresh Nordic sea air. Aaah.

In the streets of Gamla stan.

S's parents' house in the countryside. You can see how close it is to the lake!

One of my favourite things about Stockholm is its food. Wholesome, delicious and entirely underrated. Also, they have this wonderful thing called fika, which is basically coffee or tea with some cakes or sandwiches to nibble on. It sounds straightforward, but it's a veritable institution in Sweden and: a) their coffee is amazing (Scandinavians are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world), and b) their breads and cakes are fantastic. Aaaah, fikaaaa.

Traditional Swedish Christmas food. There's A LOT of herring involved!

Fika at the Photography Museum: orange juice, latte and cinnamon buns!

We also went back to Hermans, which is a WONDERFUL
vegetarian buffet whose food I dream about weekly.

Other notable events from this trip include: me going to the wrong terminal at Heathrow; my continuing love/hate relationship with S's family cat, Zlatan; slipping on the wooden deck of the sauna after a dip in the icy-cold lake (and getting worried looks from old, naked Swedish ladies); and finally starting to learn the Swedish language the day before I left. Ah, Sverige. I miss you already. 


  1. What are those yellow egg-shaped things? They look weird, but also delicious.

  2. You mean next to the egg smothered in mayo? Why, potatoes of course!