Tales from The Other Half: First Time Abroad

So, it seems that I’ve finally been convinced to write out stories of some of my experiences, and share them with you here on Batscapades. For those of you who don’t know (or don’t care to go read the “About” section), your friendly blogosphere-neighborhood vet student got stuck with me, The Other Half, an engineering graduate student. As part of my ongoing research, I’m often writing papers for various journals and conferences, and a couple years ago I was fortunate enough that my research advisor wanted to reward my hard work with a trip to a conference in Stockholm, Sweden. This sounded like fun, and a great experience, so of course I said yes.

Now, this was my first trip outside the U.S., so I was a bit nervous about how to get around, what to do, and so forth, since we arrived a couple of days ahead of the conference. So, naturally, Dr. Research Advisor helps me out, gives me some helpful pointers and… Wait, what was that you just said, Dr. Advisor? Here’s your train stop, I’m going with my friend here up north to fish for a day or so, see you at the conference? Needless to say, a bit daunting, since as I said I had never been out of the country, and had only an online map printout of the area around the hotel.

Luckily, Stockholm is fairly easy to navigate—even the bus system, if you know in advance which stop you need and just listen for it. As an added bonus for me (it being my first time out of the country), many Swedes are quite fluent in English, and typically very friendly and willing to help out a polite, respectful traveler. So, with that, on to the adventures!

It’s no secret that we’re both amateur birders. So, on my way to the bus stop the first time out of the hotel, I see this guy hopping about, making quite a racket, and generally announcing his presence anyway he could. That’s a European magpie; despite it being a pretty common bird in Europe, I was quite excited to see something new and different from what we have here at home.

European Magpie

The central destination for anyone wishing to see Stockholm is certainly Gamla Stan, or Old Town. Situated in the middle of the archipelago (Stockholm is built on several islands), Gamla Stan holds the Royal Palace, the Alfred Nobel Museum, and many other historic buildings. Also, the “narrowest street in the world”, which is so narrow that walking down it requires turning sideways. Alas, no pictures, as the rain was too heavy as I passed by. The main thing that strikes you in Gamla Stan is a sense of permanence, since many of the buildings have stood for centuries, such as these:

As I’m walking up and down the two main streets, I turn a corner and run into a large crowd of people.

Changing of the Guard

I’d unknowingly walked right up to the Changing of the Guard outside the Royal Palace. Very much a big deal, apparently, as the marching was supplemented by quite the sizable band.

Strike up the band!

The guards certainly mean business though. Or would, I suppose, if they could see.

Who goes there?

So, the day before my conference was, in all, very well spent, despite being dumped in the middle of a foreign capital with no support. I was fortunate to be able to see both the Alfred Nobel Museum, which focuses both on the inventor himself as well as the prizes bearing his name, and the Royal Palace (including a portion of the Crown Jewels). Unfortunately, neither of these places allowed photography, so I’ll leave you with this picture of the formal garden area on one side of the Palace.

Stockholm Royal Palace, formal gardens

Time and main-author-of-this-blog permitting, I’ll be back soon to share a couple of stories from my time in Stockholm that will stay with me long after the memories of other parts of the trip fade.

The second half of this post can be found here.

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One response to “Tales from The Other Half: First Time Abroad

  1. Pingback: Tales from the Other Half: Stockholm’s Fjällgatan « Batscapades

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