After leaving the arctic and the northern lights, we look for a little holiday cheer in Stockholm. Stockholm is an amazing place to visit for the holidays! We also hear that Santa Claus is hiding out in Stockholm and we set out to find him and see the city. ;-) Merry Christmas!
After leaving Split Croatia, our main focus was Tromso and the northern lights. We had very rough weather and didn't know if we could see it during our week visit. We share what happened in the video blog.
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The Nordic countries are renown for some of the most balanced governance - better wealth distribution, investment in higher education, more environmentally focused, open and free press, little government corruption, and thriving economies. So, what do you expect when you land in the largest city of the Nordic countries? The bar is set high.
There are certainly classic architecture, amazing monuments, and grand parks. Stockholm has an abundance of museums and theaters. Everywhere you turn is a school. The public libraries and other public spaces are filled with kids “studying”. Then you have the world shaping Swedish brands (IKEA, Spotify, Skype, H&M, Electrolux, AstraZeneca, Volvo) that help drive a healthy Swedish economy. Of course, you have the classic people-centric European city planning (communal plazas and pedestrian and cycling pathways) designed to connect people. So, the city lives up to expectation!
Although with every major metropolitan, there is always an unsavory underside; however, in our brief visit, we were a bit surprised to not really find it. It was a little unexpected.
Here are some unexpected things about the city:
We really didn’t explore enough of Stockholm to truly understand it, but from what we saw as a tourist, Stockholm might be the perfect city. It at least makes us want to come back to see and discover more of Stockholm and Sweden. It’s amazing!
After Tromso, Stockholm was a little friendlier to the pocket book, which was nice, but don't expect a bargain.
Grocery Beer Price Index: 15.90 SEK for 33cl Bordsol Nils Oscar ($1.92)
When we downsized and got ready to move across the world to get ready to set sail, we never figured that we would ever need winter clothes again, but with the boat not ready, we found an opportunity to wander to places we’ve not been and do something we been wanting to do.
So, before we are in perpetual summer, we want to experience a proper snowy winter. There’s only one place for that. The arctic circle!
My only reference to a place like that was this show called Northern Exposure. I never really watched it, but I caught enough episodes to get a sense of what it was like to live in a small town near or in the arctic. For me, Tromsø has the quirky personality and out-of-this-world seasons of (fictitious) Cicely Alaska meld with Viking modern aesthetic and culture. Personally, that is attractive enough to come see this place of polar nights (sun never rises) and midnight sun (sun never sets)!
However, we are here to see the northern lights or aurora borealis! Tromsø is one of the places in the world where you can pretty much see the northern lights all the time, if the sky is clear and dark. With it in the arctic circle, you can look up and see the aurora circle all around you above. It’s pretty amazing! We were definitely not disappointed.
Within the city, there are several really great tours to help you see the northern lights or you can head out on your own with a rental car (you should have experience driving on ice). We personally like meeting new people and driving didn’t seem that appealing. To chase the lights, it was a no brainer to go with guides who knew the best places and were in constant contact with other guides on the best places at the moment. For us, it made all the difference on a day where it was very cloudy and the aurora was weak. They were amazing!!! We would recommend these guys.
Tromsø is setup for tourism and there is a lot of options for outdoor adventures. Unfortunately for us, either the weather was bad or the adventure wasn’t available on the day we were free. So, it can be unpredictable, but even on the down days, Tromsø can be spectacular (see more below)!
Here’s our thoughts on Tromsø:
Seeing the aurora is an amazing experience! Something worth doing. Of course, there are many places where you can see the northern lights, but we can definitely recommend Tromsø.
If you want to see what it was like, check back in a couple of weeks. We will have a video that shares some of the things we experienced.
P.S. If your are looking at the Grocery Beer Price Index (GBPI) in the blog, Tromsø definitely set a new high.
Grocery Beer Price Index: 29.50 NOK for 500ml Mack Pilsner ($3.58)