At first impression, Stockholm is clean, almost unnaturally clean. I am never more than fifty meters away from a public trash can. That means if I grab a snack on the go and need to find a place to dispose the wrapper, it’s going to be easy. Compounding the cleanliness, I arrive after a rain and everything seems to sparkle. The paint on the buildings all seems to be retouched yesterday, and this is made more impressive by diversity of pastel paints.
During my time in Stockholm, while based at Skanstulls Vandrarhem Hostel in the Sodermalm district, I try to make it around to many of the city’s highlights. I enjoy walking along the narrow, crowded alleys of Gamla Stan, the old part of Stockholm. The city has been lucky in dodging at-home fighting during most of Sweden’s wars; therefore, its old charm persists. A couple kilometers from Gamla Stan, I venture to the Skansen Open-Air Museum, which contains houses and buildings as they look in other parts of the country and in other times. My camera loved photographing these picturesque buildings. Also in the city, I time it correctly to witness a changing of the guards at Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), and one evening I venture to the SkyView Globe, which is essentially a gondola ride to the top of a globe shaped stadium on the edge of the city. The only limiting factor of the view from the top is the curvature of the earth; otherwise, I may have been able to see forever. If I was forced however to choose one site in Stockholm, it may have been the Vasamuseet. The Vasamuseet contains a fully reconstructed 17th century 64-gun warship that sank within minutes of its first voyage in 1628 during the Thirty Years Way. Learning the story of this ship and its resurrection captured my attention more than any other single site in Stockholm.
Finally, to get a little farther outside the city one afternoon, I venture to Drottningholm Palace, the private residences of the Swedish Royal Family and I lose myself in the far-reaching surrounding gardens. The day is sunny, the water fountains all running, and people lounging around the gardens soaking up the warmth, something that cannot always be taken for granted in Sweden.
Sweden is a beautiful city that during my stay gets light around 4am and dark around 10:30 or 11pm. The cleanliness of the city is almost overwhelming, but understandable after learning their taxes are some of the highest in the world. I believe Sweden currently is only second to Denmark in the high taxes category. And finally, if the city, its architecture, and its diverse landscape isn’t beautiful enough, most of its citizens embody the classic Hollywood attractiveness that magazines, movies and advertisements have come to love.