Stockholm Away from Home- Sweden 16/48

Stockholm is perfect for a weekend visit. It’s not so big that you are unable to see much of it, but at the same time it boasts charming adventure across every bridge.

Spread across 14 islands, Sweden’s capital and Scandinavia’s largest city is known as the Venice of the North. Aquatic views are nearly impossible to avoid from any area. The only downside of all the water is the chilling winds that blow unimpeded over them.

The best way to warm up is the traditional coffee break, Fika. Grab a friend, a coffee, and one of the many Swedish pastries and relax in one of Stockholm’s many fiks (cafes). Probably the most famous Swedish culinary export is the Smörgåsbord, the buffet-style of serving. It’s pretty common nowadays, but it was so revolutionary when it was introduced to the world in 1939 that it is called a “Swedish table” in multiple languages.

The city boasts many museums for every interest type. As a history fan, I checked out the Museum of Medieval Stockholm and the Royal Palace. The first is great for people who like their history interactive. The second is for people who like their history a little more pretentious.

Pictured here is the French-born queen Desiree Clary, who wished she was queen of literally anywhere else so hard that she didn’t even bother going there for over 10 years after her marriage. The picture on the right is of her in Sweden, but it had to be faked because she wasn’t there.

Sweden’s best feature is its colors. I went in fall, which only magnified the rainbow. Even in the dismal, shortening daylight, wandering the streets offered contrasting views of oranges and verdigris. If nothing else, wander the quiet streets of this northern jewel. But bring a sweater.

 

Iceland: An Adventure of Extremes

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Every adventurer, both armchair and real, dreams of exploring the island wilderness of Iceland: a country formed by volcanoes and hardened by near-Arctic winds. There’s nothing like paying for gravel insurance, getting the keys, being forbidden to ford rivers and setting out on your self-made Viking adventure. But travelers be warned: Iceland is a harsh, unforgiving landscape with rough roads, harrowingly steep climbs, and manual transmissions. While the casual tourist can certainly see and enjoy the best of the island, only the most intrepid get to experience the hard-earned thrill of freedom on Iceland’s open roads.

Gullfoss Number

Iceland is heart-breakingly gorgeous. Looking back through my pictures I feel a sharp tug, a yearning to return. Everyone who Iceland touches and tortures with her icy fingers leaves something behind with them. And thinking of that forgone lover brings pain and longing. I spent eight unwashed days and nights in a small car on the side of roads of various levels of paving. Wrapped in a wool blanket I tried to get as much sleep as possible during the three hour not-quite-night and awoke with aching bones to cruel but beautiful sunrises. Could I have just bitten the bullet and paid for a hotel? Sure. But that wasn’t the adventure Iceland had in mind for me and I wouldn’t have gotten to experience this:

Glacier

Or this:

Thingvellir

Sunshine is a rare treat on Iceland. Usually the world is clouded in a haunting mist. A fickle beauty like Iceland never keeps it weather the same for long meaning rainbows are not an uncommon sight.

Iceland is a land of extremes. From the hot geothermal pools of Geysir and Namafjall…

…to the literally glacial lakes of Jokulsarlon and Fjallsarlon.

Jokulsarlon

 

Even Iceland’s fauna range wildly. Húsavik on Skjálfandi Bay is the best place on Iceland to hop on a whale ship and catch a frigid glimpse of the gentle giants.

Humpback whale at Husavik

Icelandic horseDon’t forget its famous domestic horses, a particular breed adapted to the harsh near-arctic country. At many places along the Ring Road you can stop and greet these hardy and friendly beasts.Icelandic Horses

 

 

 

 

The entire country is filled with the calls of various seabirds. None more famous than the hilariously cute puffin. Unfortunately, their season in Iceland is short, only in the summer for roosting before they head south for the colder months. Sea bird at Latrabjorg

But the real masters of the island are the sheep. They roam their pastures and the cliffs with impunity. While exploring along the road, be careful, you’re in their territory.

Sheep field

You can never really know what to expect on the fickle beauty of Iceland. Every few minutes along its roads you will be greeted by magical vistas, nearly to the point of ruining every other destinations. But through your memory and camera you can take a little part of Iceland’s adventure with you in exchange for a little bit of yourself. There simply isn’t enough space here to describe it. Go find it yourself!