It’s true, I did.
Not last weekend but the weekend before, I went to Stockholm alone. I was supposed to go one weekend before leaving Copenhagen because I have a Eurail pass, but one of my friends lost her Eurail pass and the other trip I was trying to plan just wasn’t coming together. So, I decided to go.
It was Thursday night and I had a ton of stuff due on Monday that I wasn’t looking forward to doing. Instead of doing work I was obviously procrastinating and that meant checking the weather in Stockholm – it was snowing! That made me so excited, as it hadn’t started snowing in Copenhagen, so I began to consult one of my best friends on if I should go or not.
I went back and forth but finally decided to go by myself. I booked a nice little hotel a bit north of the center of the city and decided to hop on an 8AM train the next morning.
I was so excited I could barely sleep that night! Ever since meeting a bunch of young girls from various places in Granada, Spain that had been traveling by alone (some for almost a year!), I had been intrigued by the concept. Could I do it? Would I get lonely? How would I eat dinner? I guess I’d find out in Stockholm.
The train ride through Sweden was one of the most beautiful I have ever been on. It had been snowing for maybe a day or two so the whole countryside was just covered in snow. As soon as we got to the snowy part I could not stop smiling. As a California girl, I rarely see snow. I’ve been to Tahoe many times, but it’s always in the middle of the winter and I’ve hardly ever experienced fresh snow. I was like a little kid in a candy store.
I arrived in Stockholm at around 2 PM and had to make my way to my hotel. I would like to thank the universe for iPhones right now because even though I don’t have 3G that little thing still knows where I am on the Maps app and I thank it for that. I trudged through the fresh snow, stopping to take a picture of just about anything covered in it. They even had a farmer’s market in the snow!
After checking into my perfect hotel and relaxing for a bit, I set out for a walk. I wanted to get a little shopping done, but I just found myself getting lost in the Winter Wonderland that they call Stockholm and wandering around the water until I couldn’t go any further/my feet were about to go numb. Then, of course, I got some coffee and a pastry.
I ended the night with a movie and take out, as I wasn’t quite ready to handle eating dinner on my own quite yet…
The next day I decided to explore Old Town, so I woke up at a reasonable hour and checked out of my hotel. I hadn’t done too much research the night before (hey, it was an impromptu trip!), so I wasn’t sure what to see, but I was still amazed by the Old Town of Stockholm. It was so quaint and you could just get lost in the little cobblestone streets. I stumbled upon the Royal Palace guards doing some sort of weird thing, a lovely Christmas market and of course a delicious lunch.
Funny story about lunch – I knew I wanted Swedish meatballs. I mean, come on, I’ve only ever had the Ikea ones so I had to get the real thing when I was actually there. I wandered around Old Town comparing prices and trying to find the best place to go. I had my eye on a cute little cafe, but it seemed too crowded and I was intimidated. So, I saw a touristy spot up the street and they had pretty cheap meatballs! I walked back and forth between the two until I decided on the touristy one. I then realized that they only had meatballs on the Kids’ Menu…hmm…oh well, I went in anyways and sat down alone. The restaurant had white and red checkered table clothes and everyone was looking at me as I sat down at my table for one. I was immediately turned off. The waitress handed me a menu and I looked over it only to find overpriced pizzas and reindeer dishes….Nej tak (no thanks in Danish). What should I do??? This is not what I wanted my last meal in Stockholm to be. I had to have Swedish meatballs, but what do I do? I think I stared at the menu for 15 minutes contemplating if I should just order the cheapest pizza or bolt out the door. But I was sitting by the wall! What would I say to these Swedish people? I hated the awkwardness of it all. Finally, when my waitress was out of site, I grabbed my coat and camera and bolted out the door. I just knew I wasn’t going to be happy eating there. It was an inner struggle of if I wanted to go through a few awkward seconds or be mad at myself for eating at a stupid faux Italian restaurant for the rest of my life. I wandered on down to the cute little cafe and had a delicious meal of Swedish meatballs, potatoes and a latte… they even gave me a free Swedish pastry because they forgot about my order… Oh well. I was happy and full.
It was barely a 24 hour trip, but it was wonderful. Traveling by myself was an amazing experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. No, I didn’t experience the Stockholm nightlife or even pay to see any of the sights, but I saw Stockholm on my own terms. I didn’t have to wait for anyone else to wake up or agree on where we were going to go that day, I just went. I will say that it was a bit lonely, but I was totally fine wandering around by myself and reading a book on my iPhone at lunch. It was almost reassuring knowing that I can travel alone. I think that my study abroad experience has taught me a lot about independence and that I can’t rely on other people for my happiness, and I think that sometimes you just need to do things by yourself. You don’t always need a buddy to make the experience. Sure, it might help, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time by yourself.
Traveling alone is something that everyone should do. It was funny, though… when I got back and people asked me about my trip this is usually how it went…
Them: Hey! How was Stockholm?
Me: Oh, it was great! It’s so beautiful…kind of like a bigger, more city-like version of Copenhagen. And covered in snow.
Them: Nice. Who did you go with?
Them: Woah…good for you.
Good for me? Thanks? I never really knew how to respond. It was almost like people were admitting that they would NEVER travel somewhere completely by themselves and I was doing something so amazing by traveling alone. Whatever, I had fun and it’s a trip that I will never forget.
Now it’s time for a week of Mom… and my last week in Copenhagen. *starts crying uncontrollably.