Walking Stockholm. With Gifts and Christmas Snow.

She smiled and greeted me when I stepped into the British Airways lounge area close to my departure gate at Chicago O’Hare airport. I greeted her and handed over my two remaining boarding passes on this “points trip” to celebrate Christmas in Sweden. She lifted her head and with a big smile she asked if I would like to sit in the first class on my trip to London. I said I would love to but didn’t have enough points to do the upgrade. She smiled even wider and handed me my first class boarding pass. “You’re worth it”, she said.

It was an early Christmas gift I was grateful for and thoroughly enjoyed. After a delicious dinner and some champagne, I changed into my provided pajamas, received my pillows and a comforter, and slept practically until touchdown at Heathrow. For the first time ever, I slept through the breakfast service! But there was one more ribbon on my gift yet to be opened, a wonderful sit-down breakfast in the 1st class arrival lounge.

I felt rested and well fed for the rest of my journey to Stockholm. When we approached the Arlanda airport I glanced out of the window – and saw snow! I would experience my first white Christmas in over 20 years. Another unexpected gift.

I thoroughly enjoyed the long walks that Beppe, the poodle, took us on every day along Stockholm’s snow covered sidewalks and paths through the many parks. As you can see this Florida girl was properly attired for the winter weather with a hooded buffer jacket, snow boots and borrowed warm gloves.

I made some interesting discoveries on our walks, like this Santa climbing up the side of a tall condo building in my sister’s neighborhood. And the sentinel cats guarding a shop door.

The blue hour was always beautiful…the snow adding a magical hue.

And the late night walks allowed me to immerse in the feeling of warmth of the Swedish Christmas – despite the below freezing temperatures. Most windows in the city were lit with chandeliers or Christmas stars, like this one at my sister’s…

… and many courtyards of these over a century old buildings were decorated with lit trees.

Very festive and beautiful indeed.

On the Saturday before Christmas I visited my aunt in Gothenburg. A convenient MTR Express speed train now provides a three-hour connection between the two cities. It was great to see her after 13 years! And I couldn’t complain about the all natural Christmas decorations at the Central Station in Gothenburg.

On the Sunday before Christmas, as is customary in Sweden, we visited the grave site of a recently departed loved one. The cemetery was beautiful in its all white outfit. And light snow was still falling.

After some silent moments of remembering our loved one, we felt it was time for an afternoon ‘fika’. And the nearby café offered coffee and lots of goodies to choose from.

Warmed up by a good fika I decided it was time for an afternoon solo walk. I wanted to see some of my favorite places again.
The old town was charming with snow-covered sidewalks and lots of lights outside and inside the shops.

I walked the narrow streets and slippery cobble stone alleys to the Royal Palace, which rises at the north end of the Old Town.

The Old Town is sometimes called “the city between bridges” as there are seven bridges connecting this island, first inhabited in mid to late 1100s, to other islands that form the city of Stockholm. I walked out from the Old Town via the Riksbron bridge.

From that bridge I admired the City Hall and the Centralbron bridge on one side and the Royal Opera House and the Strömbron bridge on the other.

I loved the beautiful Christmas lights on and around these bridges.

By now I was really cold and needed something warming. I stepped into a busy bistro and Santa kindly offered me a tasty Irish coffee.

I lingered inside long enough to feel my toes again. Then stepped back outside on the busy Queen’s Street full of shoppers making last minute gift purchases.

I walked to the Central Square and took the metro for a couple of stops back to my sister’s. My walking quote for the day was full.

Now it was the time to carry home and decorate the live tree… and bake the Christmas tarts. While my sister decorated the tree, I baked the tarts. To be enjoyed with a cup of warm glögg, of course.

In Sweden the Christmas Eve is the time for a sumptuous Christmas dinner, glam and gift giving, while the Christmas Day is more for quiet contemplation and celebration of the real gift of Christmas.

Our dinner was delicious with all the traditional Christmas dishes, from two kinds of hams, all the vegetable casseroles and Janson’s Temptation to small sausages, meat balls, beet salads, red cabbage etc. etc. Poor Beppe was left guarding the presents under the tree while we lingered at the table enjoying all that food. Finally Santa came and Beppe could open his presents, among them a toy squirrel from Florida. He thoroughly enjoyed chasing it.

Needless to say my Christmas was warm and wonderful. Full of love…

… and good food 🙂 Luckily Beppe took us out several times a day, and on Boxing Day we did a long walk around the Karlberg Kanal in the bleak winter sun.

At a marina out there, I spotted an interesting weather forecasting device. A hanging stone.

Since many of my readers don’t speak Swedish, I will provide the translation of the forecasting guidance here:

The stone is wet Rain
The stone is dry No rain
The stone casts a shadow on the ground Sunny
The stone is white on the top Snow
The stone is not visible Fog
The stone swings Strong winds
The stone jumps up and down Earthquake
The stone is missing Tornado

That made me smile. And I saw a faint shadow of the stone on the snow, a treat during a long walk in nature.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and soon it was time to travel back home. But the good memories last. I am still musing on the wonderful time I had.

I wish you all ‘happy continuation on the new year’ or ‘god fortsättning’ as we say in Sweden. May this year bring you many blessings.

70 thoughts on “Walking Stockholm. With Gifts and Christmas Snow.”

  1. What a wonderfully festive looking Christmas, Helen. And that fabulous upgrade too. It happened to us once when flying back to Kenya one summer’s day when we sat in utter comfort as we flew down the Nile.

    1. Christmas at my sister’s is always very festive and warm and it all started with this fabulous gift from BA that helped me to arrive in good shape and enjoy my stay from the first day.

  2. What a wonderful and festive post! You definitely deserve first class! I enjoyed sling with you and dreaming if the food, fellowship and lovely sights! Thank you for bringing us along for your holiday celebration! 🎄😊

    1. Thank you for coming along to Sweden, Carrie! It is a special time of the year and I have felt so comfortable spending it away from home the last two holidays. And coming home have celebrated a ‘second Christmas’ with grandkids before they’ve gone back to school 🙂

  3. What a lovely tour and vacation from your post. I miss snow. Snow makes it seem more like Christmas for me and I love the idea of separating the festive part of Christmas from the more contemplative. Welcome back and Happy New Year Helen! 🙂

    1. I had not seen snow for the longest time, not even on my work trips to North East, so it was a real treat to see the white landscapes and the falling light snow. Like magic 🙂 Happy New Year, my friend!

  4. A simply delightful share, Helen. I could actually sense/feel the warmth, the excitement, the significance in your trip. Yours were/are the type of experiences that are genuinely meaningful and memorable. Cherish all of it and may the coming years provide you with opportunities to revel again in such magic. ✨

    1. This was the second Christmas without my life partner and I have felt a need to spend more time connecting with my roots and family in Sweden (and Finland too). And it has been wonderful…helped me to ground myself in my (still fairly) new reality and feel happy again. I wish you a wonderful 2019.

  5. Happy New Year, dear Helen!
    Thank you so much for sharing some views of your Christmas trip. It’s a real pleasure & honour to “follow” along your journey. I hope your 2019 is off to a great start ❤

    1. Thank you dear Takami ❤ I wish you & yours all the best in 2019! After a 'happy trip' like this, I really feel ready for this new year…and even work which started on Monday 🙂

  6. Wonderful photos of your fabulous Christmas trip. How lovely that you got the upgrade. They must have made your heart sing. That hanging stone and the interpretation of its state at any one time, made me giggle. Happy 2019 to you and Dylan. 😃🤗

    1. Thank you, Sylvia! It was a wonderful trip and got to a great start thanks to the gift from BA. That stone made me giggle too and I had to share its wisdom 🙂

      1. Ten years ago we took our elderly mothers from Heathrow to New York on BA and all four of us were upgraded to 1st class. It made the trip even more memorable especially for our moms who had never traveled In such luxury before. 😃

  7. What a fabulous share, Helen! Loved the natural decor (especially Santa), your 1st class upgrade, the wise weather forecasting stone, and the sites of Sweden.

    All the best in 2019!

    1. Thanks for coming along to Sweden, Nancy! It was a great and heart-warming trip with some extra ‘gifts’ like the upgrade and the weather stone 🙂

  8. What a fantastic tour Tiny! I’m happy for you my friend, such moments like the ones in Sweden I imagine will be great memories to remember later in life. Happy New Year Tiny! 🙂 ❤

  9. What a wonderful and joyful trip you had going to Stockholm! The pictures were so well taken that looking at them I felt like walking through the wintery streets of Stockholm with you. Have great 2019!

  10. What a beautiful showcase of Christmas in Sweden my dear friend, must be such a buzz to have a white Christmas! The city looks amazing and so well kept considering its age. So glad you had a such a wonderful time with your family there , it looks so inviting Tiny!

  11. Tiny, it’s always so lovely to join you on your trips to Sweden. This time I particularly enjoyed the first class flight. And I mustn’t forget to mention the enjoyable glogg and tarts at your sister’s home. One other thing; does your sister have one of those amazing masonry heaters ( Swedish oven?). Is it new or one of the traditional old models?

    1. Thank you for coming along to Sweden again! My sister’s family lives in a condo building from 1906. The whole building has been modernized and when they remodeled their home, they left as much as possible of the original features in place, one is the fully functional original fireplace (or ’tiled oven’ as it would translate into English). They don’t use it for warmth any more, of course, but as a fire place occasionally. I was so happy to bake the traditional Christmas tarts…did it here in FL too before I left after not baking anything in over five years 🙂

    1. Thanks Hien, happy you ventured to Stockholm in the winter…of course it is not the same as in the summer, but there is another kind of magic particularly during the festive season.

  12. Hi Helen! Wow…what an amazing journey. Loved the pics…I felt like I was there with you.
    Sending my best to you as we enter this New Year. I hope that life continues to hold you dear and that every day has a sweet miracle.

    1. Thank you, dear Lorrie, for coming to walk Stockholm with me. I send you much love and pray that blessings will abound in your life this new year ❤

  13. I feel such great joy for you and as always love when you share your holidays or just your every day walk….I could even feel that chill in the air from your beautiful pictures….you have a way of always bringing your readers along with you. There is nothing better than sharing holidays with those you love and walking down streets filled with memories. Wishing you many more adventures this year filled with every good blessing from above.

    1. Thank you, dear Trish! I am happy you came along to Stockholm! It was a happy and memorable Christmas, somehow still easier to be away as you will understand. I, too, am hoping for both blessing and adventures this year – for both of us ❤

  14. What a magical trip Helen, Stockholm looks so beautiful with all the Christmas lights and it was great to see Beppe enjoying his walks with you too. A blessed and very happy New year to you and Dylan from all of us here 🤗🐾💖🐾 xxx

    1. Thank you dear Xenia for joining me for a walk in winter Stockholm. I loved the snow – and the warm atmosphere 🙂 Dylan and I wish you, Eivor and Pearl a wonderful 2018 ❤

  15. Wat een prachtige kerstreis had je naar je familie.Ook fijn die update.Ik heb virtueel met je mee gewandeld en genoten van de sfeer.Wens je een gezond en vreugdevol jaar en bedankt op mijn blog te volgen

  16. A beautifully illustrated and described trip. I think that in spite of all the glories of Stockholm, I enjoyed the weather forecasting stone more than anything else.

  17. What a magical Christmas you had. I really enjoyed the snowy pictures of Stockholm and the pictures of Christmas in Sweden. I also loved the weather stone. It gave me a good chuckle!

    1. Thanks for walking Stockholm with me Kathy! The weather stone was amazingly creative…and easy to use in forecasting 😀 Hope to see you and Eli soon.

  18. So glad that you had such a lovely trip and that it began with a first-class upgrade — such a nice surprise. What a charming city to walk through, and coffee to warm you up, too. I enjoyed the weather stone — very creative!

    1. Yes, it was nice that my trip started with a gift. I actually slept the longest I’ve even done on a plane and felt much better the next day. The weather stone gave me a good chuckle…and I noticed it’s easy to use 😀

  19. Glogg – I googled this charming word, Helen, and found a wonderful recipe; I had no idea! I know I would love this drink on a cold day!
    Such a wonderful trip for you, and your loved ones. Beppe sounds like he was a hero, providing outdoor wonder and great photographic opportunities! I loved them all.
    I know what you mean about ‘still musing’. Trips, such as these, last forever…

    1. Glögg is a Christmas tradition in the Nordic countries and I have always prepared it on and just before the holidays wherever in the world we have lived. One of those things that makes me feel at home.
      Beppe was wonderful in so many way, not only did he take us out but he also cuddled with me when I missed Dylan…although Dylan sent me text messages and pictures of his Christmas every other day 😀
      Still musing …. Much love and many hugs. XOXO

    1. It was, indeed, great to be able to spend my holidays with family I don’t see more and once or twice a year …and see some snow too. Thanks for dropping by Tina.

  20. It took me awhile to read this as I wanted to go back over and over the photos. If you ever take that trip again, I want to sneak into your luggage. Oh, my goodness that was beautiful and enticing. LOVE all the natural decorations. My favorite kind. My daughter and I make a slightly different version of your tarts though we haven’t done so in a couple of years either. I loved everything about your visit there. How wonderful to have all those extras in addition. The stars were aligned. This was a wonderful post to read. Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. I am happy you liked walking in the wintry Stockholm, Marlene. It was a marvelous trip and started with ‘extra gifts’ I gratefully accepted. The starrs were, indeed, aligned. After my husband died in 2017, I have already been back there more times than in the last 15 years and hope to go this coming summer again, this time with my son and his family too. My grandkids have never been there so it would be fun to show them around. Now back home I am waiting for a new nesting season to start for our Osprey couple…always great to observe their joys and challenges. I wish you all the best in the new year!

  21. Sweet Tiny oh, I enjoyed this post so much. What great gifts you were given. Sweden looks so beautiful and the Christmas decorations are amazing. The lights were all so beautiful…that is the kind of Christmas I like and seeing all of your pictures made me wish I could have been there in Sweden. Hugs to you and nose kisses for sweet Dylan.

    1. I am so grateful for the gifts on this wonderful trip! The Christmas season is truly special, and quite different, there. Since the days are very short there at this time of the year, people go to great lengths to bring fort light is many different forms, all windows, balconies, yards and many streets are beautifully decorated….and this year, the rare Christmas snow contributed with lighter landscapes. So beautiful.
      Dylan and I send you, Chancy and Pooh warm wishes for this newly started year. ❤

  22. Amazing to fly first class to Stockholm. It looked like such a treat in the cabin with great seats and good food. What a treat for you to see snow. Looks like quite a lot of walking there but lovely to see you managed to warm up with tasty Irish coffee. Bebbe looks like he’s trying to be a good dog, and sounds like he enjoyed his toy squirrel a lot 🙂

    1. Thanks Mabel for joining my wintery walks in Stockholm. I loved the snow and Beppe kept us moving…and comforted me when I missed Dylan 🙂 he is so funny with his toy animals, he kept bring the now “well used” lam I had given him last Christmas…like saying this was last year, where’s my new toy?

  23. So that’s first class!! 😀😀 How to travel in style … did you get the upgrade on the way back?

    Ahh…I love this post and read it slowly absorbing all the sights. The blue time of a snowy day is always magical, Gamlastan is amazing and we stayed there for our honeymoon just a few steps away from the palace! So happy for your wonderful break in Sweden, Helen … full of love, family and laughter. Beppe is so sweet and patient, waiting by the tree!

    God fortsättning til dej, Helen! 😀🌺

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