Me: I am in Stockholm now. My friend: Oh, Minecraft’s headquarters are there.
I was in my cruise ship cabin updating my close friend on my European Holiday in late 2013. After working hard in my first year as a Victorian, my parents decided to give me a special treat — a Northern European getaway. I was beaming upon hearing the great news. I value travel because it gives me the chance to rewind and explore the world. As Northern Europe is very scenic, I could not wait to take some nice shots with my phone. Finally, the day arrived and we boarded a plane to Helsinki. After spending the day there, we took a cruise ship (my first time taking one) to Stockholm.
Whenever we hear “Stockholm”, teenagers would probably mention Minecraft, the computer game popular among students in their pre-teens (I’m sure that there are still Minecrafters in VJ). Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, a Scandinavian country synonymous among us. Without it, we wouldn’t be buying furniture from IKEA or eating meatballs from Fika. When I was there, Avicii’s (a native of Stockholm) hit “Wake Me Up” was topping the Billboard Charts (“LEVELS” is still my favourite Avicii song though). Other talented artists from Sweden include singer Tove Lo, 70s pop group ABBA and one of the pioneers of EDM, the Swedish House Mafia.
Stockholm is also home to the Friends Arena, a new multi-purpose stadium opened in 2012. Local hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the first goal there against England in a 4-2 victory.
As the ship was sailing towards the harbour, I was greeted with a picturesque view of the sun creeping up behind the fjord, starting its short stint in the sky for the day. I began using my Sony Xperia V phone to snap some delightful pictures such as my cover photo (it’s a really underrated phone as it lags and has a short battery life but it produces great photos). Next, my parents and I got off the terminal and hailed a cab to get to our hotel. The room was great (I had my own TV and bed).
Next, we went city-sightseeing. Armed with a map, my father took my mother and I to different places. The streets were lined-up with leafless trees. Parts of Stockholm closer to the sea might remind you of the Marina area or Clarke Quay, except that Stockholm is much colder. Ducks and seagulls were either frolicking in the pristine water that sparkled as if there were a myriad of diamonds or flying in the sky filled with fluffy white clouds.
Food was not easy to find here. I had to settle for a cheese sandwich in a cafeteria and boy — like everything else in Scandinavia, it was rather expensive, more than 10 SGD. I later found out that in those countries, the cost of living is way higher as compared to Singapore, partly due higher incomes. The toilets in malls were paid as well.
One of the attractions I went to was the Vasa Museum. It houses the Vasa, one of the biggest warships of its time. It sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 after sailing for only about 1,300 metres, one of the shortest maiden voyages in history. All but 30 of the guest and crew survived. The cause of the wreck were that the upper works of the hull are too tall and heavily built for the relatively small amount of hull below the waterline. This might have made the ship fast, but it put the centre of gravity too far above the water, so even a light breeze could heel the ship alarmingly — which was the case on the day it sank.
While walking back to the bus stop to return to our hotel, I was treated to a magnificent sight which was certainly the highlight of my time in Scandinavia. At around 3 in the afternoon, where the Sun would mercilessly attack you back in Singapore, the Sun was setting. The sky was painted with a purplish hue — a sight I could only dream of. That was one of the most beautiful skies that I have ever seen. It was great to have my phone with me at that moment to capture the beautiful sight.
We waited for the City Sightseeing bus to arrive, but to no avail. Temperatures were dropping, and worry was on our minds. Fortunately, an elderly woman was able to give us directions back to the city centre. What struck me was how helpful and polite she was, even though she did not know us and we were tourists. This was something I noticed among the citizens in Scandinavian countries. I felt a bit ashamed that Singaporeans generally lack such qualities. Apart from the majestic scenery, this was the main takeaway from my trip.
To end our day, we went to a Muslim eatery and bought kebabs. The spices fill your mouth and the beef was so succulent eating it was heavenly. Muslim eateries exist due to the immigration of Muslims from countries such as Lebanon and Iran. This makes Stockholm an ideal destination for those who prefer Halal food to fuel their Swedish experience. However, I feel that given the chance, I would like to try out local seafood delicacies so as to broaden my knowledge on Swedish cuisine.
All in all, my day in Stockholm was a memorable one. Just like any other traveller, I was able to go through new experiences which enabled me to acquire new knowledge. Some may think that it’s better to stay at home or go out with your friends rewind as much less money is needed. However, I feel that if you have the resources, you should step out and open your eyes to the world and see and experience for yourself what it is like out there beyond your usual premises. Travelling also gives you an open mind so that you can expect the unexpected. In that way, you are able to widen your horizon and make your trip a meaningful one.
Danish Uzair, 17S44