Stockholm was a good start to my trip. Everything is very pleasant: the people, the streets, the temperature, the atmosphere.
Not surprisingly, my favorite part was the food. The Swedish meatballs I had were delicious. Tender, well seasoned, and drowning in yummy gravy. Plop down a big scoop of buttery mashed potatoes, add a few lingonberries to each bite, and you got yourself a traditional Swedish meal. A lingonberry is like a cranberry packed into an explosive little bead no bigger than a pea. The combination of meatballs and lingonberries reminds me of turkey and cranberries.
The other highlight would be the reindeer steak. I am very likely on Santa's bad list now. But I think it was worth it. It tasted gamey. The tenderness reminded me of the softness of paté but still had the bite of beef. I went to a restaurant I found on TripAdvisor.com. It was a tiny restaurant that seated maybe 20 inside and 20 outside and was tucked away from a very touristy area. I was lucky to get a table. I sat next to a couple who were celebrating their 20th anniversary, and we talked a bit.
I did have a – shall we say - learning experience with a meal. I decided to try what sounded like a traditional meal: Pickled herring. I had seen herring on menus in many places. It was cold, and tasted like pickled fish. When I ordered it, I could've sworn she slopped it out of a wooden barrel with the word "chum" on it. I ate 2 of the 3 pieces.
My favorite place to visit was Vasamuseet. In 1628, a war ship was launched. 25 minutes later, it sank. It sank because the height-width ratio made the ship top-heavy. It only took a couple gusts of stiff wind to tip her over. Interestingly enough, it has a twin sister ship. She was only 1 meter wider, and she stayed afloat for 30 years. On the bright side, Vasa was lucky to sink where it did. Typically ships that sink in salt water get eaten up by ship worms (the underwater version of termites, I suppose). Vasa sank where the water isn't as salty, which also happens to be where ship worms do not thrive. So it was relatively well preserved for 350 years. About 98% of the original ship was recovered. And now it's the only ship from the 17th century to "survive".
The entire ship sits inside a beautiful building. There's nothing really special about the museum itself. Just seeing this neat ship out of the water and in person is really fun. Tourists aren't allowed on it, but you can get within a few feet from it to where you can see a lot of detail.
I also went to the National Museum where I learned a bit about Swedish historical culture. Apparently in the 1600s, it was fashionable to be "plump". I'm guessing it's because it meant you ate well. Also, it was completely acceptable to vomit to make room for more food. They helped remedy this problem by introducing menus so that guests could plan their meals.
Stockholm was surprisingly quiet. The streets were very tame. Cars driving by seemed to be the loudest noises, and there didn't even seem to be a whole lot of traffic. The people are very quiet too. It was very different story in Copenhagen.