Why on earth did I visit Stockholm in January? When I stepped off the plane at 4 pm, it was as dark as midnight and -17C (1º F).
The answer: I had frequent flyer miles about to expire, and this destination was a special, low-mile rate.
However, Sweden's freezing temperatures led me to something I often overlook: visiting museums and cultural exhibitions instead of wandering a city's streets and hiking the nearby mountains.
By far, my favorite place in Stockholm was the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a 17th-century warship that sank in the harbor a mile into her maiden voyage due to poor design.
Because of the conditions in the harbor, the wood-eating shipworms found in most of the oceans cannot survive, and the Vasa was preserved remarkably well.
Here's a 1/10 scale model of the ship:
And the current view, after being underwater for 333 years:
I spent over an hour taking pictures of the ship from different angles. Besides housing this marvelous vessel, the museum details what life was like for ship-going Swedes of that period.
Much of that knowledge was gleaned from artifacts (and skeletons!) found on the recovered Vasa herself.
After a sub-zero day spent walking between museums in beautiful Stockholm, I needed a drink. It was so cold there that frost “grew” overnight, over a centimeter of frost!
So, where did I go for a refreshing beverage? Perhaps a cafe serving the local mulled wine?
No, as a New Englander, I hitched 'em up and strolled into the Absolut Icebar in the Nordic Sea Hotel. Inside the Icebar, it was- 5C, a full 10C warmer than outside.
For the rather expensive 18 euro entry fee, I received a drink coupon and a wooly parka. Check out the stylin' bar made entirely of ice!
There's nothing quite like drinking a tasty vodka martini from a glass made of ice (resting on a bar of ice) while sitting on an ice stool.
Whether it's the right experience for your next vacation or round-the-world stop, that's up to you to decide.
If you're in Stockholm with a few good friends in the summer, I'd recommend it as a cool place to get a few drinks!
Let me warn you. The garlic beer is simply a light beer with two cloves of raw garlic crushed and floating on top.
Whether you go to learn about the culture, museums, original bars, or friendly residents of Stockholm, I guarantee it will be a great experience you won't soon forget.
Sweden is somewhere I plan to return to. Next time, in the summer!
About the Author: David Douglas is a fantasy author and blogger about to embark on a 3-month trip around the world. You can read more of his travel tales at http://traveldave.com or find him on Facebook.