28 November, 2013

Stockholm: 17 to 22 October, 2013

My only relatives who live in Europe are my cousin Karol and her family, who live in Stockholm. I hadn't seen them for around 5 years, so I was determined to see them.

Ate Karol, her husband Pele, and the younger of her two sons, Uriel, live in Sundbyberg (her older son Michael is currently studying at Parson's in NYC).  Sundbyberg is a municipality in Stockholm county, just north of downtown Stockholm city. It is a part of the Stockholm urban area, so it is still served by the Stockholm city metro (or T-bana).

The home of Ate Karol is very lovely, and it was so nice to be in a home of a relative in a foreign continent.

Ooooh, I have pictures of her backyard:

The whole family is obsessed with tennis (apparently, this was already the case when Ate Karol and Pele met--they connected because they both liked to play the sport). Ate Karol has a tennis instructor, Pele has tennis matches from time to time, and Uriel has tennis training every weekday. During the week that I was there, the Stockholm Open was ongoing. So, naturally, we went!! :P

Ate Karol and Auntie Carolyn, who also loves tennis

That's Dimitrov in the striped shirt--he would go on to win the Stockholm Open singles the following week

The ladies and Kenny De Schepper, a Belgian tennis payer who lost that night...awkward

I was in Sweden for 6 days, so I was able to spend some quality time with my family. Uriel likes to do woodwork, so he taught me how he does his magic :P

I was attempting to make a Dala horse, the traditional wooden Swedish statuette
On Sunday the whole family went mass downtown, and afterwards I became a proper tourist, taking pictures of everything in sight. :P

Behind us is the Royal Palace

My nephew Uriel

One of the biggest attractions in Stockholm is The Vasa Museum, which was created for the purpose of showcasing the only fully intact 17th century ship ever to be salvaged.

The story of how Vasa sank is pretty funny. It sank just 20 minutes into its maiden voyage. The ship was not constructed proportionately--the underwater part of the ship was too small, the rest of the ship was too tall. Plus, the ship was carrying twice as much cannons as previous warships. The guide at the museum said the one who was mainly at fault was the king of Sweden himself, because he was the one who wanted to have two cannon decks (one was the normal number) and he approved the dimensions of the ship. But, he couldn't be punished, beucase...duh...he was the king!!

We had a very Swedish lunch at the museum--I had Swedish meatballs with lingonberry, and for dessert, some Swedish pancakes! Yummy!!!!


There is a pretty big age gap between me and Ate Karol, so she isn't really the authority in the Stockholm nightlife, plus Michael is in New York, so she had a son of one of her friends to take me out--Oscar. It was Sunday night when we went out, so there wasn't really anything to do but drink at a bar. We had great conversations about his country and about life in general :P

The most exciting thing that happened to me in Sweden would be when my "date" with Oscar ended, he didn't know Ate Karol thought he was going to drop me off at the house. So I was trying to have Ate Karol pick me up at the station. The thing was, it was midnight, and Ate Karol was not replying to my texts to pick me up. Oscar was still with me halfway through the train ride, but his stop was before mine. Just before he got off, he remembered I didn't have his number in case of an emergency--he got off the train and I took a picture of his number through the window. Phew! Thank God my phone didn't fail me that time.

So I got to the station, Ate Karol was not picking up her phone. I texted Oscar, but he wasn't replying either. I was so ready to sleep at the station. I didn't have Ate Karol's address so I didn't know my way back. Then 30 minutes later Oscar replied, and he was able to arrange for Pele to pick me up. Phew!!

By the way, here's how the metro stations there look like:

On my last full day in Stockholm, I decided to explore the city in my own. I learned my lesson from the previous night and noted down Ate Karol's exact address and how to get home. :P

I went to Gamla Stan, which means "Old Town." It's a little island in the center of Stockholm, and this is where the Royal Palace can be found.

Changing of the guards, behind the Royal Palace

Dala horsies! (That's how my woodwork was supposed to look like)

Hmmm...who could've taken that picture if I was on my own?

Well...I met a family of Filipino tourists when I was wandering in Gamla Stan, and they invited me to tag along with them :P

I had to go back home to catch Uriel's tennis match, but before that I had to taste these weird looking hotdog thingies that caught my eye on the way to the T-bana

It's huge!!

October was actually a really good time to visit Sweden because of the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, and it wasn't thaaaaat cold yet (2-7 degrees celsius, 35-44 degrees fahrenheit). Everything around me was just picture perfect!

But more than anything, it was so nice to spend time with relatives who are usually a thousand miles away.

P.S. Of course, I hoarded at H&M :P

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