I'm back in Stockholm with the Viking for another magical Swedish Christmas! This year we have just a couple days in the city before we fly north to Luleå, then drive up to the far, far north to Haparanda. We got on a plane about twenty hours ago in sunny LA, and for the first time in my life, I got upgraded on a flight. It was probably because the plane was half empty, but whatever--we had free booze, way more leg room than necessary and it was GLORIOUS.
This time the Viking booked us a cozy room at the Hotel Diplomat, right on the water. I opened the window and this view is undeniably Europe.
We slept on and off on the 11 hour flight, and have forced ourselves to stay awake by wandering. Right next door to our hotel is the gorgeous Royal Dramatic Theatre.
We had to stop and see the big lit up reindeer and moose around the skating rink. America needs more moose and reindeer.
Then we headed to my favorite part of the city, the Gamla Stan, or old town section of Stockholm. I've only ever seen it at Christmastime, but the golden buildings and narrow cobblestone streets are lit with white lights, every window in the city has white star lights and/or electric candles called adventsljusstakens (these have seven lights representing each day of the week), and all the shop windows have whimsical little scenes of elves.
One even had these two drunken crawfish playing (cheating at?) cards.
We stopped at the Gamla Stan Christmas Market, set up in the center of old town, following the scent of vanilla toasted almonds. We sipped hot glögg and even snagged a killer piece of jewelry from one of the artist stalls.
We wrapped up with a quick drink at the Bishop's Arms, a favorite British pub. We aimed to stay up til 7 pm and did it. I'm going to fall asleep and hope not to wake up at 3 am, starving.
Tomorrow we get to see the family and enjoy the city in a non-zombie way. I can't wait!