Why on earth did I visit Stockholm in January?
When I stepped off the plane at 4 pm, it was dark as midnight and -17C (1º F).
The answer: I had frequent flyer miles about to expire, and this destination was a special, low-miles 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 her 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 just taking pictures of the ship from different angles.
Besides housing this marvelous vessel, the museum also 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 ~Euro 18 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 in the summer with a few good friends, 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. 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.