After arriving in Sweden around 2pm we went straight to our hotel. Everything in Sweden is very expensive, much like Norway was. A lot of the hostels we looked at were pretty expensive and we found a great deal for the Hilton hotel, which made it the same price we would've paid for a hostel! We took the Arlanda Express train from the airport into Stockholm city center. It was went around 130mph, 100% electric powered, had outlets in every seat, and free wifi. It was the nicest, cleanest, fanciest city train! It got us to the city center in 20 minutes as opposed to an hour on the bus.
From the train station, our hotel was about a mile away. We decided to just walk because we would get to see a little bit of the city, go over the water, and pass by the parliament building. It was pretty warm out and even with our 20-pound backpacks, we were passing everyone on the sidewalks. We've gotten to be very fast walkers. Carrying 20 pounds around on my back every day made me realize how heavy 20 pounds really is!
Our hotel room was great and had a big bathroom with a huge tub!
After settling in we walked across the water into the old town area. The cobblestone roads and different colored buildings looked just like the postcards. We walked around the Royal Palace and decided we would go visit it the next day.
We continued to walk around the area for a few hours before finding some Swedish meatballs for dinner. They were great!
We ended night one in Stockholm with the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I've ever had at a place that made their own cones in the shop!! You could smell the cones from down the street. We took our cones and sat by the water, and made a little friend who also liked ice cream and Luke’s shoes.
We had a slow morning and slept in a hung out at a nearby coffee shop called Drop Coffee. It's supposedly ranked the third best coffee shop in the world. They used oat milk in their lattes and cappuccinos instead of regular milk. The coffee was fine but I'm not sure about third best in the world!
While we were there and had wifi access we checked into our flight the next day to Iceland. We were able to choose our seats and there were no prices listed on any of them, so we figured we could choose any seat free of charge instead of the front or emergency exit row seats being an extra charge. We selected row 5, which was only 2 seats across instead of 3. We weren't sure if that meant we were in first class or not... But we were pretty happy! The flight is 3 hours long, the longest flight we've had in a while.
We walked back to the old town area and went to visit the royal palace.
First we went to the treasury and saw the Crown Jewels. I wish I had some pictures to show but cameras and cell phones weren't allowed. We saw crowns, swords, and scepters dating all the way back to the 15 and 1600s! Each king and queen had their own crown, scepter, and orb specially made for them, along with a coronation cloak. One of the coronation cloaks was on display and was what I really wish I could've gotten a picture of. It was incredibly elaborate. It was purple velvet with gold crowns embroidered all over it, each one with different jewels. The border was white fur with black tufts evenly spaced along it.
Next we saw the Royal apartments. These were really cool to see since they are still used today and still house the king. They are used for all different kinds of gatherings from awards ceremonies to dinners to hosting guests.
After visiting the palace we went back to the main square of old town and got a Swedish hot dog. I'm not sure exactly what's so special about a Swedish hot dog as opposed to a regular one, but the bun was tiny.
When we were walking around old town we saw a guy on the street playing some gambling game where people walking by would guess what box a small ball was under.
We quickly realized that about 5 of the people around him were his friends and were in on whatever scam this was. The ball was very easy to find each time he moved it. He made it really obvious where it was so that tourists would bet because they knew exactly where the ball was. The friends that were in on the scam would intentionally pick the wrong box so that a tourist would then bet and pick up the right box. The man running the game would make tourists bet €50, then move the boxes around again so the tourist would pick up the wrong box. This made them want to play again to win their money back. But the payout was in Swedish Krona. The man had two stacks of money in his hand, one stack of money he got and one stack that he paid out from. Eventually everyone "won" and got their payout back. We watched for a while and think that he must've been paying out with counterfeit money. He was also very aggressive about taking money out of women's wallets and purses when they took them out and his buddies would get really close to everyone. The game also might've been a distraction for his friends to pick pocket everyone.
We passed by the same group of guys later in the day and it was all the same exact people standing around the circle "playing" and teaching the tourists how to play. A little old lady started yelling at them in Swedish and tried to tell the tourists it was scam. One of the guys grabbed her by her wrists and started yelling at her and shushing her. Three others completely blocked her out of the circle so she wouldn't ruin the scam for them. She got on her phone, presumably to call the police, and they immediately packed up the game and left. Three other men came out of the crowd and followed them. They were the lookouts, so this was about an 8-person operation! I think one of the lookouts recognized us from earlier and saw that we saw everything with the little old lady because once they packed up and moved to a new corner, he wouldn't stop staring at us.
Later when we got back to the hotel, we did a little Googling and even found this video of the same guys pulling the same scam in 2010!
We decided to go to the other side of old town and explore over there. It was a lot more commercial and busy. We saw about 10 H&M locations within about a square mile! We got dinner at a restaurant in that area and I got Swedish meatballs again with a cider. These meatballs were even better than the night before.
We ended the night with mint chocolate chip ice cream from the same place and a drink back at our hotel while watching the sunset. I took a hot bath at the hotel and went straight to bed. Off to the train airport at 5:30am for our 7am flight to Iceland!
We jumped back on the Arlanda Express to the airport. My friend Abby texted me literally right after we got on the train to the airport. She had been in Stockholm yesterday too and we could have seen each other! I was sad we barely missed each other but she gave me some recommendations for a place to eat and a bar in Reykjavik!
Turned out we did get first class seats on the plane when we picked our seats yesterday! We didn't get first class service but we got the big comfy seats with extra legroom and only two across! We had outlets in our seats and a big tablet in the seat back in front of us with all sorts of games, movies, and TV shows.