Spontaneous Stockholm

Nothing beats a spontaneous trip away, especially not one with great company. All you need is ยฃ50 return flights and some enthusiastic friends. After a 3 week trip home to NZ, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets booked when you’re deliriously jet lagged.

As it turns out, there was a catch with the flights that cheap, as they were actually flying into an airport that was a 1.5 hour bus ride from Stockholm. Not the most ideal situation when you arrive at 12.30am. Oh well. We made it to bed eventually, and rallied the next day to make the most of our trip.

After a delicious hotel breakfast, which obviously included meatballs, we braced ourselves for the sun and sub zero temperatures to explore the city. First up was the Vasa museum, built around the remains of a ship built in the 1600s, which sunk within the first few hundred metres of its maiden voyage, still in Stockholm harbour. The ship was brought to the surface almost 60 years ago, and places where it is today. It was refurbished and is now a world famous museum. The ship is definitely spectacular.

After the museum, it was time for some Fika, also known as coffee and cake, before we joined a walking tour. The tour took us all through the old town and by the royal palace and parliament and was very informative, although also very cold. There was lots of ice about in the cobbled streets of old town which required concentration to dodge and not slip on.

After warming up with some more fika, it was time for the most anticipated part of the trip, the ABBA museum! Despite the crowds, it was a great interactive experience which saw us singing and dancing to ABBA’s greatest hits. Steph was absolutely in ABBA heaven.

It was now getting dark and we’d had a full on day. Queue Meatballs for the people! Dinner was delicious, with some of the best mashed potato you’ve ever had. I genuinely could have eaten another full serving, but as Sweden isn’t the most budget friendly of European getaway destinations, it was time for bed after a full on day.

The next morning was slow and chilled. After a sleep in and breakfast, we made our back to the airport and then home to London.

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Belgium

Belgium, land of waffles, frites, beer and chocolate. My friend Steph and I decided to take a weekend trip to explore Brussels and Bruges. What better way to get to Europe than on the train from central London, with M&S picnic on hand?

After the train and some interesting Uber experiences, we finally made it to our Brussels hotel. Saturday we were up and off to explore the city. Our first mission was to find the pissing boy, pissing girl and pissing dog. The pissing boy is very famous and in a main tourist area. The pissing girl however, is hidden off down some back alley. Not sure I’m entirely impressed with this comparison, for obvious reasons. The pissing dog was out next stop, and we managed to find some very cool street art on the way. We then checked out the main square before making a bee line for some Belgium beer and frites. Everyone warns you about the strength of the beer, and they are not kidding. Two small beers had us giggling and carrying on as we made our way to the train to Bruges. I believe the beer was also responsible for accidentally ending up in first class on the train, and the naps we both had enroute.

After arriving in Bruges and checking into our less then impressive hotel, we made our way out to a traditional Belgium restaurant, for Steph’s Birthday dinner. I have to say I am definitely a fan of Flemish stew, and definitely a fan of the restaurant for the surprise birthday waffle and for taking our drinks off the bill. Such a lovely gesture!

The next day and a half we enjoyed ourselves exploring Bruges, eating chocolate, frites and waffles, and drinking beer. We even went to the chocolate and frite museums respectively. Bruges is a very beautiful and quaint place, but it actually has quite an interesting and sad history which has led to it looking the way it does today.

After a lovely weekend it was time to head home to London, but not before hunting down Brussels smurf statue before jumping on the Eurostar back to London.