Travel

Travel Journal: Sweden and France

I am planning to share more details later, but for now here is a quick summary of the trip I took this last week!

For context: I originally planned a trip to Stockholm to visit a high school friend who was working there. When the flights came around my friend was no longer working there so I switched gears to visit Swedish Lapland and also fly to Paris to visit my friend, Charlotte, whom I hadn’t seen in 9 years!

My mother-in-law flew to California to watch the kids and I set off on my first ever solo trip outside the country! The first thing I did was drop my phone in the Oakland airport taking it completely out of commission as a camera, made texting and calls difficult, and making navigation or internet surfing impossible. Oops.

Upon arrival, I had 4 hours to explore Stockholm before I needed to catch my train to Kiruna. I explored Gamla Stan’s Old Town and the Stockholm Palace.

Stockholm Bridge
Stockholm has so many islands so you are never far away from a bridge.
Stockholm Palace
The portion of the Stockholm Palace that wasn’t being refaced.
Old Town
An alley in Old Town right before sunset.

After a 15.5-hour train ride, I found myself in Kiruna with 2 days to explore. I wasn’t able to spot the Northern Lights because it snowed (and was cloudy) the whole time I was there, but I took a dog sled ride and visited the Ice Hotel.

Candlesticks
Candlesticks made of ice at the ice hotel.
Swings in the snow
I guess the kids won’t be swinging until Spring!
Kiruna Church
The old Kiruna Church. They are moving the entire town of Kiruna to make space for the mine to expand and this church is going to be taken apart and reassembled piece by piece.
Ice hotel
The Ice Hotel near sunset.

After Kiruna, I was supposed to have another 6 hours or so in Stockholm but my train was 8 hours late! I couldn’t believe it when I still managed to catch my flight to Paris!

In Paris, I met a friend who showed me around for the weekend. It was great catching up with her and I’m so glad I decided to add on this French side trip!

Church in Paris
We attended a lovely French Mass in this beautiful church. It’s amazing how many spectacular churches there are in Europe, this is not one of the famous ones.
Notre Dame
Notice how high the river is? Roads along the river were closed and even the trains weren’t running too close.
Paris Opera House
This was my first visit inside the Opera House, but it is well worth adding to any Paris itinerary. Next time I’m going to try to attend an Opera there!

After leaving France, I had a single night (or a portion of one!) in a hostel in Stockholm before catching an early afternoon flight home. I probably could have squeezed in a museum in Stockholm that day, but I was exhausted and just spent the whole morning in a coffee shop.

It was such a wonderful trip and I’m already planning how to get back to both Sweden and Paris! Next time the opportunity arises, I think I will definitely take at least one of the children, if not the whole family. As HJ says, “MOM MOM MOM Will you please take me to Sweden 2 or 5 times because I LOVE hot chocolate?”

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