The subway system made me do it. I saw a picture on Instagram of one of the subway stations and I knew I had to find myself in Stockholm. So when I landed in Stockholm with only 6 hours to explore the city I made sure that the first place I went to was the subway (that and the fact that I was avoiding being outside for as long as possible as it was it was -3°.)
With my 75 min ticket in hand, I set of on an adventure to discover the art in Stockholm's subway.
As I made my way to the blue line, I kept looking around, thinking it would be right in my face, but it was only when I reached the platform when I saw it. The first piece of art.
With high hopes for the next stop, I jumped on the blue line going to Kungsträdgården where I was slightly disappointed but what I saw. But I didn't let that deter me. I crossed over and took the train all the way to Solna Centrum and stepping off the train and onto the platform I was immediately transported to a different world.
Back on the train again but this time heading to Rådhuset which is very similar to Solna Centrum, but a lot less dramatic.
After taking a quick glance at my watch, I realised I was running out of time, but I had to go and see this last stop. It was after all what inspired me to buy my ticket. I give you Stadion, what big girls dreams are made off.
After Stadion, my feet were itching for some exploration. I headed over to Gamla Stan and quickly got lost on the cobbled streets. My gypsy heart was in love but my blue trainers were struggling to keep up. The temptation to make me slip was great. I think it was payback for taking them to a cold country. As I was carefully walking along the colourful streets, making sure I didn't fall from the snow, I heard shouts that sounded like it was a protest. Of course they were chanting in Swedish so I didn't understand a word of it. But I wanted to see what was going on. I turned to walk towards them, then saw snowballs being thrown. I knew at once that this wasn't a peaceful protest and turned back but the minute I did, I heard a loud bang. Everyone stopped what they were doing but the chanting continued. I then heard another bang a few minutes later. At that point, I didn't want to be in the area anymore in case things escalated. As much as I wanted to explore more in the streets, I didn't think it was safe anymore so I took a detour and went to find something to eat.
I had lunch at the Flying Elk, a Gastropub just outside Gamla Stan's subway stop. I didn't have typical Swedish food but I did have the most amazing burger and truffle fries I have ever had in my life 😋 (the Riesling was decent).
With a well stated tummy,my exploration had to continue though other parts of my body didn't agree with me. My feet were frozen, I was constantly worried about slipping and being laughed at (getting hurt was at the back of my mind) and my fingers seemed to tell each other that they were cold even though they were in warm gloves but I pressed on and carried on exploring. I found the gates to Riddarhuest open and to me that was an invite to explore the grounds and I felt like I was being naughty but it looked so magical in the snow. Police presence, because of the protest was now pretty high and they were blocking certain roads so I couldn't continue exploring Gamla Stan as I wanted to.
You must be wondering what they were protesting about. First I heard that it was a racism clash. The racist against the anti-racist - the police were caught in the middle - but a quick search on the news revealed the true story. They were hailing Trump in the biggest Neo-Nazi protest ever. I must say, the moment I heard "racist" I thought to myself it's time to get out of dodge.
But I had a small problem. I still had sometime on my hands and I wanted to keep exploring. I walked over the bridge to the main town centre and I was disappointed. There isn't much character there, especially after coming from Gamla Stan. It looks and feels like any other city centre you would go to. There wasn't anything that screamed out at me. I decided that it was time to go home.
I started making my way to Central Station, to catch the Arlanda Express train back to the airport but the sunset caught my eye. The sky was being painted a beautiful orange colour and that made me want to explore that part of the town. From the bridge, I had a beautiful view of this part of the city. The houses were still covered by snow (the snowfall was the most the city had had in 111 years) and so the scene before me was magical. I'm sorry the photos don't show it that well.
I must admit, that felt like a God moment. If I'm honest as I was making my way back to the station, I was deflated and I was starting to not like travelling. But then I realised it was because I was afraid of the protest, especially after witnessing some of the protestors being taken down by police, and remembering why they were protesting and the weather didn't help. That sunset was a God send as it encouraged me and helped me remember that not all trips are going to be rosy, but to remember the reason why I travel in the first place.
Seeing the magical Central station was a perfect way to end my trip to Stockholm. Christmas decorations have been put up, but I think it was the snow that made it feel like a scene out of a Christmas movie. Almost made me want to sit outside and just savour the moment.
Have you been to a place where there has been a protest or unrest ? How did you keep motivated ?
Till next time x