To celebrate the new year, I decided to fly over to Stockholm, Sweden because my fraternity brother and I came across a slick flight deal in the summer of 2015. Upon researching the city, we realized that there was not much to do in Stockholm, so we decided to construct a plan to visit a couple other countries while in Europe, since the cost of flights in pretty cheap. We agreed that we'd round out our trip by adding London and Berlin to the itinerary, with the idea of sending New Year's Eve in London, to watch the fireworks display at the London Eye. That plan did not work out, however...
The day of the trip we received texts from Norwegian Airways staying that our 10:30 PM flight was being delayed to 3:00 AM. This meant we wouldn't arrive in Stockholm until 4:14 PM on New year's Eve, thus missing our 3:00 PM flight (with a separate airline) to London. After exploring ALL other options, we decided to just bite the bullet and purchase another one-way flight from Stockholm to London for later that evening. Well, after getting to JFK, Norwegian still wasn't ready to board at 3AM. We didn't end up taking off until 4:30 AM. That was the night from hell. When we landed in Stockholm, there was only 30 minutes to go through customs and run through the airport to a totally different terminal. We missed our flight...and got stuck in Stockholm for the night. We made a couple calls and let our London hotel know we wouldn't be making it until the following evening, booked a hostel for the night in Stockholm, and had British Airways update our flight to have us leaving on the first flight the next day.
We checked into the Af Chapman hostel, which is actually a cool ship that was converted. After settling in, we walked to Old Town Stockholm to grab a bite to eat at a place called Corner Bar - Grill Steak Restaurant, and get a couple drinks before going out to the waterfront to watch the fireworks. We were determined to make the best of the situation. Considering the long night we had, you'll understand why after the fireworks, we went right back to catch a couple hours of sleep before having to head back to the airport. Note: In Stockholm, any and everybody seemed to be able to shoot off fireworks. It looked quite dangerous because sometimes the fireworks would shoot horizontally instead of vertically.
After getting two hours of sleep, we struggled to find a cab (it was New Years, so all cabs were booked). I happened to check to see if Uber was a thing in Stockholm...eureka!
We arrived in London around 10:00 AM and took the London Underground to the Rose & Crown, where we were staying for the night. Since check-in wasn't until 2:00 PM, we just dropped our bags there and walked to Central London to see the city. We stopped and ate at Garfunkle's. Note: The Fish & Chips was not good. No flavor or seasoning. We figured the easiest way to see the city in one day was to do a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour. The traffic was a bit heavier than usual because of the New Year's Day Parade. Dinner that night was at a small Indian restaurant close to our hostel, called City Tandoori.
- The Palace of Westminster/Big Ben
- The London Eye
- The Tower Bridge
- Buckingham Palace
The next day we arrived in Berlin, where we'd spend the majority of our time. We stayed at the Generator Hostel Mitte. Note: Generator Hostels are the best in my opinion. I have also stayed in the one in venice, Italy. It was much colder in Berlin than London, so anytime we needed to walk out side, with was a quick and swift walk. We walked down the street to a place called Yarok for lunch. This was based on a Yelp review I read. The reviews did it justice. The food was great! Following lunch, we hopped in a cab to head to Görlitzer Park to see some of the street art and graffiti I had heard so much about. Since it was dark and cold (and that park is known to be sketchy), we did not stay long at all...just long enough to get a few pictures. After that, we went back to the room to take a nap in order to catch up on the much-needed sleep. This was enough to reset us for the remainder of the trip. Dinner was at the Italian restaurant next door, called Rosemarin. I highly recommend the lasagna!
We heard that Berlin was an extremely fun city, and we could tell just by looking that it was hip and trendy, even while it was freezing outside. We decided to meet with one of my college friends who now lives in Berlin to party that night. The place of choice was called Cassiopeia. There were two floors, really cheap drinks and the DJs were playing Hip Hop (new and old school all night). We didn't get back to our beds until about 3:30 AM.
The next day we slept in and woke up in time to have a late lunch at a German spot two doors down called Aufsturz. If you go here, ask the bar tender(s) which German beers you should try. It was beyond freezing that afternoon, so all we did was go visit the Brandenburg Gate, snap a few photos and then head back to the hostel to chill at the bar (which is dope), and watched the Washington Redskins spank up on the Dallas Cowboys from my Macbook (I found a link to watch it...shhhh). We walked down the street to get dinner at this Indian spot called Amrit. I suggest the Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala with Garlic Naan.
We checked out of the Generator the next morning but we left our luggage in the luggage room and headed out for the day to go on a Hop-On-Hop Off tour. Note: Do NOT leave any valuables in your luggage if you leave it in that room. Keep your computers and tablets in a book bag and on your person. trust me. for me, the highlights of the tour were Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall Memorial.
We flew back to Stockholm that night to round out our trip for a couple days before flying back to New York. While in Stockholm, we visited the Ice Bar, where everything is made of ice (including the "glasses" you drink from) and walked around Old Town a bit. It was extremely cold, so we did not stay out that long. Dinner was at a place called Garlic & Shots. If you like garlic, you'll love it. For me, the garlic cheese on my burger was a bit much.
We were told by a fellow Nomadness Travel Tribe member that we should stop by a cafe called Fabrique and try that Swedish pastry called cardamom rolls. They were pretty good. To me, they taste a bit like tea. As we walked over the bridge leaving Old Town, we came across a bunch of swans feeding in the river. I had no clue that swans were winter birds. Stockholm is a really beautiful city, but it's something you can see in one or two days.
Note: For this trip, we were #TeamCarryOn. We figured we'd save money on checking bags and it'd be easier to keep up with since we were hopping on so many different flights. For tips on how to pack just a carryon in cold weather climates, check this out!