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Thank You for the Music. A Story of Stockholm, Sweden.

When I say Stockholm, I really mean StockHOME.  I can't explain it, but our trip to Sweden over Easter Break made me feel like I was home again.  There was just something about the vibe of the city that clicked with me.  I can see taking my sister here in the spring-time for a trip when the cherry blossoms bloom and the canals aren't iced over. It's a safe-feeling city with so much to experience.

Jenny, Faviola, Zach, and I were the fantastic four who decided to tackle this adventure.  Our flight to Stockholm left early Friday morning so we decided to stay in a hostel Thursday night in Prague.  As per usual, we had a few difficulties getting to Prague on time.  Our train had to stop on the tracks for about an hour and a half because someone had jumped in front of the tracks two trains ahead of us.  Another group of Nebraskans were on the train right in front of us and they were snap chatting us details as they were getting them.  We didn't pull into the station until about midnight and we still had to get to our hostel.  Long tram story short, we checked into the hostel at 1:00 am just to checkout at 4:30 am.  We were really only there for a quick early morning nap.  Since it was such quick stay, we stayed in a 12 person room because it was really cheap.  We bursted in the door at 1:00 am, trying to be as quiet as possible, but when we had crumpling McDonald's bags and rolling suitcases, there was only so much we could control. If somehow this blog has made it back to any of the residents of that room, I apologize for who we were as people that night.  Our alarms went off too soon, but we had to keep our eyes on the prize and get up.  Again, we were about as quiet as a small explosion.  I don't know how we managed it, but we all dropped our converters on the floor and each one sent shock waves through the floor.  When we finally all moved out, Zach,with the quick wit, said that the first two converters falling is understandable, but was the third just because someone felt left out and wanted to try it too? I was the third. Trust me, it was not on purpose.

Our flight was great and we landed in Stockholm at a good time on Friday. The city was ours to explore! We bought Stockholm City passes before we came and that was one of the best ideas we had.  It made transportation a breeze. We stayed at Generator Hostel and it was amazing. The fantastic four was't feeling too fantastic after four hours of sleep, so we elected to take a quick nap before grabbing some food and our first tour.

We found a spot for some great fish and chips and what turned out to be my favorite beer of the trip, Abro. We kept walking and I kept falling in love. Stockholm is made up of 14 main islands with bridges connecting most of them.  We ventured through narrow streets getting lost. As dusk approached however, we had to find our way to our tour meeting point.  Most walking tours take place in the day-time, but this was no regular tour.  Upon Jenny's recommendation and many hours of convincing Faviola, we signed up to take the *dun dun dunnnn* Stockholm Ghost Walk.  The tour highlighted the city's "dark" side of history.  We followed our guide hanging onto every story he told about executions, wars, diseases, and spirits that Stockholm has encountered.  I'm not sure I believed all of it, but it was a fun and entertaining night that gave us a good glimpse of the city and the four of us noted all we wanted to see.

We had to stop for a "fika" to warm up after the ghost walk. Fikas are Swedish culture and it means "to have coffee" or just take a break and have a snack! This is an idea I can get on board with.  The British have afternoon tea and the Swedish have fikas. It can be used as a noun or a verb.  Jenny and I can't wait to have fikas when we come back to Kearney!



Our next morning in Stockholm we set off for a district called Skansen with a lot of attractions. The fantastic four's first priority was to go the the open air museum there.  Why, you ask? There was one reason and one reason only for our motive to go to this glorified zoo: they had moose.  If you need to know anything about Faviola it is that she loves moose- but has never seen one in person before.  Today was her day. We explored the rest of the huge facility and saw  a lot of fun things.  I liked the huge painted horse. (I would like to add that this took some serious athleticism to jump on and off of).


We also took in some great views of Stockholm.

To commemorate and honor Faviola seeing her first moose, Jenny and I gave in and bought matching moose animals so we could all remember the fun day at Skansen Open Air Museum. (I named mine Abro). 

Easter Sunday was eventful and a unique experience.  We all felt a little lost not being with our families, but we adopted this group as our own family.  Mass was packed and the church looked like it was built in two separate pieces because one half was very old and traditional while the other was more modern looking.  

After church, we were distracted by a haze of green smoke that was blanketing the streets.  We looked around and everyone was in a green scarf and other fan gear.  We were all perplexed at what was happening.  We learned it was the season home-opener for the Stockholm soccer team.  These people were going nuts.  It was so much fun to see the green smoke bombs go off and road flares being thrown around.  Wait, did I say fun? I must have misspelled scary.  Not to scare my mom (again) but we were caught in a parade of drunk and disorderly soccer fans with fire.  To be honest, it was really exciting and a new experience for sure.  
My ship came in the next day when we took a trip to the ABBA Museum.  Before flying to Sweden, we had a movie night in our room to watch Mama Mia and to make sure everyone brushed up on their ABBA lyrics.  The museum was very well done and so interactive.  Everything from singing with the band to being the 5th member of ABBA.  There were trivia games (I had the high score of the Fab 4 *brushed off shoulders*) and soundboards to remix songs.  I loved seeing the outfits and records.  They had multiple TVs playing live concerts and behind the scenes stories at various venues.  Reading the biographies of the members was also really interesting.  As I looked around, I noticed we were bringing down the average age in the museum, but I didn't care.  ABBA is timeless and I am very thankful for the music! 





Our time in Stockholm had run out and it was time to head back "home" to Olomouc.  After long weekends it's funny how even in a few days I was homesick for my home away from home.  We had high hopes our luck with trains would be better on the way back... and that was our first mistake. So, a Metallica concert, a field hockey team, and 4 study abroad students board a train.  No, that's not a start to a bad joke, that was the actual demographic of that train car.  I have seen some interesting people in my life, but that train was an epicenter for strange people-watching.  Other than the company, the timing went well and we arrived in Olomouc around 2:00 am as expected.  However, the unexpected part was that there wouldn't be any taxis waiting at the train station.  Long logistical story short, the train station is as far east in Olomouc as you can get and our dorms are as far west as we go.  Not walking distance anytime, let alone in the middle of the night.  We started walking to the only other place we had ever seen taxis.  Club Belmundo. Yes, we had officially hit rock bottom. It was still quite the jaunt, but we found a taxi there to take us the rest of the way home.  

I would like to thank ABBA for the music and Stockholm for the experiences.   

pk 

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