This last weekend, I went to Stockholm, in Sweden, leaving on Friday and returning early Sunday morning.
Now, I went to Stockholm just because it’s in Scandinavia, and I wanted to go somewhere in Scandinavia before the semester ended. I bought the tickets back in September, but didn’t do any research whatsoever before going, and so had no idea what to expect. I was prepared to be disappointed.
It turns out, though, that Stockholm is simply a stunning city visually. The mood of the city was set by its beautiful blondes in somber black clothing walking amidst multi-colored ancient apartment buildings as if the two went naturally together. This fit perfectly with the weather, which was chilly but not cold, and very slightly overcast). There was also natural beauty; walking along the harbor was amazing, and some of the islands (like Kastellholmen) were a mix of rocky and grassy parkland and quaint-looking 18th-/19th-century “castles” and churches.
So it was a lot of fun to just walk around the city, and I did that a decent amount. This is one of my favorite things to do in new cities, after all; when I was alone in Cologne for eight hours over ten-day I just wandered around aimlessly for at least two or three of them. I think Stockholm is one of the best cities I’ve been in for simply wandering around for aesthetic pleasure.
But my other favorite thing to do is to go into random churches, and at this, Stockholm failed. There were very few churches – well, fewer than in, say, Rome or Munich – and those that there were, were Lutheran. Going into Lutheran churches does not particularly interest me.
This was, of course, expected. I knew Scandinavia was mostly agnostic, and nominally Lutheran not Catholic. But it was still disappointing, in a sense; I could not help but imagine how awesome Stockholm would have been if it had had this going for it as well. If Stockholm had been Catholic, I think it might have been my favorite city in Europe so far.
But that is just wishful thinking. Obviously Stockholm is not going to turn Catholic any time soon. That leaves me seeing Stockholm, and thus all of Scandinavia, in a wishful light; it was amazing, but it could have been more, so much more.