Sweden...again (feat. Norway)

Earlier this month, I spent a couple of weeks bopping around Sweden and Norway. Specifically, I spent time in Stockholm and Oslo.

But why Sweden?

It's no lie that I have an affinity toward Sweden - its culture, food, and girls. But beyond all that, I also have good friends who live there. Over the years, I've been able to meet so many Scandinavians through my work with the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. Popkollo was one of the first organizations in the world to run rock camps, similar to the rock camp that the Carolina Youth Action Project runs (a program I've been volunteering with for several years now). 

Before this trip, I had been to Sweden once before. You can read all about it on an old blog post of mine from 3 years ago. At that time, it was winter, it was dark, it was cold, and it was snowy. Despite all of these things, it sure was beautiful.

Still, I was excited to experience Sweden in a different light - perhaps daylight, since there's usually only about 5 hours of it during the winter months. In all seriousness though, I was pretty stoked to be in Sweden during the summertime.

When I arrived in Stockholm, it was a warmer than usual summer day. Here I was thinking I had escaped the intense Charleston heat. The familiar warmth (sweat inducing heat) greeted me after 24 hours of straight traveling. After getting through customs, I took a 45 minute bus ride from the airport to the Central Station where a friend met me and guided me to my accommodations for the duration of my stay in Stockholm. I was fortunate enough to stay with Casey, a dear friend of mine and fellow board member with the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. The apartment tenants also included Jens, her partner, their roommate Mark, and their two adorable cats - Orlando and Katniss (pictures will be included later in this post).

Stockholm was just as charming as I remembered. Many of the buildings look the same. I joked with Casey my entire stay that everything in Stockholm looks the same. It does but not exactly. But so many buildings do share the same warm color palette. Think mustard yellow, burnt orange, and grapefruit. One of my favorite parts about Stockholm is that you can basically walk to most places and you are almost always near the water. How dreamy, right? For being the largest city in Sweden, it doesn't feel overwhelming at all.

Some of the highlights from Sweden included spending all the time with my friends, visiting a Popkollo camp running in Botkyrka and unexpectedly being part of a workshop, visiting Popkollo headquarters twice, marching in the pride parade, visiting museums, eating all of the amazing foods (like cloudberry jam and Swedish pancakes, meatballs, toast with butter and cheese almost every morning, Jens' taco lasagna, and all of the gummy candies my stomach could handle), going to a crayfish party, meeting new people, and so much more!

But that's not all! Not only did I spend time in Sweden, but I also went to Oslo, Norway to visit a few of my rock camp friends who live there. 

Sofie and her partner Ragnhild were gracious enough to host me in Oslo for a few days. The journey between Stockholm and Oslo takes about 6 hours by train. Most of you don't know this, but traveling by train is my favorite. I'm terrified of flying, so train travel is definitely a less scary alternative. Having that much time on the train meant I could catch up on letter and postcard writing, reading, and journaling.

As soon as I arrived in Oslo, Sofie and Ragnhild met me at central station and immediately took me to a ferry where we met up with two other friends and caught a boat ride to an island. They surprised me with a sailing trip around the harbor is Oslo! We all acted as the crew of the ship and with our collective knowledge we successful raised a sail. Sure, the wind wasn't being very cooperative and we mostly spun around in circles out on the water, but we tried! And it was still a lovely day. Thank goodness for boat motors right?

Oslo reminds me a lot of Seattle, Washington or Portland, Maine. It's a seaside town with a lot of boats. The city itself feels extremely small (especially compared to Stockholm) and is very walkable.

The boat ride was definitely a highlight of the trip. But so was making dumplings with Sofie and Ragnhild. Actually, I ate dumplings twice while I was in Oslo so I'd consider that a win for sure. Anyway, enough about the dumplings. I also got to play pool and experience one of Oslo's finest dive bars.

But my trip didn't end with Oslo.

I returned to Stockholm for what I thought would be 3 last days in Sweden before returning to the US. But my 3 extra days turned into 6 extra days when my flight was cancelled due to technical issues. I'm still not sure what that means, but I'm not mad that my vacation had a little extension.

This trip definitely deepened my love and appreciation not only for my friends, but also for Scandinavia as a whole. Thank you to everyone who helped make this trip what it was. I will dream about cloudberry jam and Swedish breakfast until I return.

Below, enjoy some photographs from my trip.