Yes, you get it right, travel is education. Why so? Because the world has a lot more to offer than worn-out books, tons of assignments and strict deadlines. This is what professional essay writer for. The travel challenges you right off the bat, develops skills you have never thought you had, discover who you really are. No amount of book and lecture can ever beat being there, feeling it, touching it, and seeing it. So, pack your imaginary bags (or better the real ones), and let’s find out where to go in Stockholm and what we can learn from the life of Swedes.
Stockholm is a city with a split personality. You never know what you are going to get. It gives you a throwback to the past, stuns you with neatness and then throws trash all over you. Trying to foresee what may come is a lottery. Well, let’s try our luck?
As you enter the city, you do not see an eye-catching sightseeing, just a typical northern city. This modesty is not accidental. It goes in hand with a Swedish way of life – Lagom. This word does not actually have a translation. It means finding the middle ground. When you have just enough of what you need.
Lagom is not a $500,000 racecar, it is a comfortable and safe automobile like Volvo. Lagom is not about baroque buildings or the golden monograms. It is a modern and practical architecture. Lagom is not about buying ten things that look good, but one high-quality item that is durable. Lagom can be traced everywhere in Stockholm. For example, you just can’t find extravagantly expensive hotels here. So, based your selection on creativity instead of a price tag.
Never judge the book by its cover, especially if it is a Swedish book. In here, a large box with windows that looks like a Soviet research institute may hide a lot of surprises. Just get inside one of those and you will be shocked by being at the center of a hipster bazaar – bookshelves and kayaks on the ceiling, the skateboards, and bicycles you can ride, a beauty salon right next to an elevator. No walls whatsoever. An ordinary building can be a Scandinavian design manual with plenty of open space, lots of woods and pleasant colors inside. Very minimalistic but not without spice.
You have to be able to see the hidden meanings in everything to understand the uniqueness of Stockholm. Here is another example. You do not have to be rich to stay at a creative place. It offers a variety of unusual hostels. A hostel inside of an airplane with illuminators, a boat hostel with sleeping cabins and a deck for hanging out, a hostel inside the jailhouse where the rooms under to be the holding cells. It is a meaning that is valued, not the money.
Swedes are very modest people but they realize that the whole world cannot be as modest. They live according to Lagom philosophy for an entire year and then throw a parade on the first Saturday of August to pay respect to other nations. People put on carnival costumes and party right on the street. You just do not expect it from a discrete Swede!
A strict Stockholm blows up like a blast of confetti. The bosses of different companies join in the celebration. There are firefighters here, medical personnel and even members of the Parliament. The Pride parade attracts people who are not afraid to express themselves. It does not matter whether it is a brutal man who likes to wear leather straps or a nudist girl.
Stockholm Inside Out
The only thing I knew about Stockholm before actually visiting this magnificent city was the “Stockholm syndrome” (both the song and the psychological condition). But it turns out, it is a kind of town where you can stand in the middle of the street, make a 360 turn an no matter where you look, you see unbelievable beauty. Stockholm is really fairytale-like. You keep expecting Karlson to fly out from around the corner or seeing Pippi Longstocking sitting on the bench. There are a couple of must-see places I could not help but mention.
All tourists go to Gamla Stan area of Stockholm. This is the place we imagine every time when reading Astrid Lindgren’s fairytales. Rows upon rows of the ancient houses. The spires of cathedrals and churches. The brick is polished by boots and the centuries. Actually, Stockholm is one of the few cities in the world that allows hot air balloons to fly above the city. A tourist can actually have a Karlson experience here. It is hard to believe that Gamla Stan used to be a large slum until the mid-20th century. The sewage and slop from homes would flow right on the street.
Every Stockholm travel guide recommends visiting Skansen open-air museum. Now, turn on a Swedish folk and continue reading. The exhibits here are hundred-year-old houses, old shops, and brick roads. Swede began preserving this for future generations at the end of 19th century. Imagine that – they built a small copy of Sweden on a specially allocated part of the island and began bringing churches, houses, retail shacks, glassblower shops, old carriages, gas stations, barrels, and scoops. They paid so much attention to details by delivering plants from northern Sweden to plant in the northern part of the park.
In this part of a park, you can find a fairytale hut on chicken’s legs. People in the past would put the crypts on the poles with the entrance facing away from the village. That is why the hut would have to turn its back to the forest in the fairytale. Swedes have a theory of their own. The hut on chicken’s legs is used to be a barn where they kept the grain and other provision away from the reach of rodents. People all over the world appreciated what Swede did with Skansen and open-air museums began popping up in particularly every country.
At the same time, Stockholm continues to amaze by its modern way of life. Will you be surprised if I say that even an out-of-towner can influence how the city looks? There is a free app for phones that allows you to change the colors of the tower’s windows. You can change the three main colors, mix them and then choose which window to paint. So, you basically can control a giant tower with your phone.
There is only one more place I want you to visit in Stockholm. It is Den Gylden Freden restaurant which will turn 300 in four years. It is a favorite place among the members of the Noble Prize committee. Yes, the members of the Noble Academy dine at a modest restaurant with worn-out chairs and contemplate about who should get the prize in literature, for example. They are not meticulous about their meals and prefer traditional Swedish menu for $50.
Stockholm is the cleanest city I have ever seen. The streets are well-tended, the air is crisp and the trees seem to be greener. The riverside is stunning and features a lot of natural landscape such as beautiful trees navigated by cycling path. Environmental policies are prioritized in Stockholm despite having long buildings and numerous residences.
This Scandinavian city is well-known for its waste management and for the conversion of that waste into biogas to reduce dependency on fossil fuel. Stockholm government are planning to make local biofuel free by 2050. According to reports, the city has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since the 1990s. “The recycling revolution”, that is what they call it in Sweden. Levels of waste diversion here reach almost 100%. How do they do that? Sweden has become so good at recycling that they have to import garbage from other countries like United Kingdom, Italy, Norway and Ireland to provide with energy 32 power plants that work on the basis of waste incineration.
99% of Recycling is a Real Number
The average Swede produces 461 kilos of waste per year and that figure is slightly lower than the average citizen across the whole of Europe. But what makes Sweden different from other countries is the use of waste incineration program that destroys more than two million tons of garbage per year. This process is also in charge of converting half the country’s garbage into energy. Sounds like Swedes can turn waste into some kind of a “gold”.
According to the local Waste Management Association, 99 % of the Swedish household waste is recycled. This is one of the highest rates in the world. At the same time, the Swedes have learned to efficiently turn garbage into energy. Almost half of the waste in the country is burned, but only after careful sorting. Plastics, paper, foodstuffs are used for recycling or producing biogas. Today in Sweden the concept of “garbage” is practically non-existent.
Waste is a cheap fuel. The Swedes have developed an efficient and profitable technology for converting household and industrial waste into electricity. What do Swedes do with their waste? 50.6% of the waste they recycle again, 48.6% they burn for energy production and only 0.8% they send to the landfill. Moreover, Sweden has especially succeeded in developing waste-to-energy technologies. Today, garbage plays a big role in the heating system of the country. In 2017, 17 TWh of energy was produced by recycling in Sweden: 14.7 TWh is a thermal energy and 2.3 TWh is electricity.
In Sweden, no one forces to divide the waste. Everything is built on awareness in the consumption. Of course, many environmental agencies demand the authorities to raise taxes for the waste collection. Many eco-activists are sure that this is the only way to increase citizens’ awareness of the general garbage problem. Especially it concerns food waste.
Some companies in Stockholm voluntarily supported this initiative. For example, H & M began to take second-hand clothes from customers in exchange for discount coupons. At the Optibag waste recycling plant, Swedes developed a machine that can separate colored garbage bags from each other. People throw food in a green bag, paper in red, and glass or metal in the next. Thus, it was possible to eliminate the sorting stations.
So, what is so special in Stockholm? The way of life of its citizens. They turn waste into energy, wealth into demand, fairytale into everyday life. They claim that the middle ground is enough to be happy. Stockholm cannot boast of majestic mountains, crystal-clear ocean or a unique history, but this city can easily change your mindset. When you arrive back home from Stockholm, you are never the same person as when you left.