Leaving our ship that morning in Stockholm–and leaving 3000 tourists–Rick Steves and I found ourselves alone in the middle of a great city with only 5 hours until we needed to be back on the ship. Abba, the harbor walk, the National Gallery, Swedish meatballs…how would we pack all the experiences into our memory banks without missing our boat?
While cruising may be an efficient way of getting to many cities in relatively short amount of time, you do run the risk of not getting much time to enjoy the places you visit. With limited time in each port city–and if you’re not letting someone lead you around on a pre-determined excursion itinerary, it’s important to prioritize your time. How many museums and churches will you pop into? What monuments will you be able to check off your list? Where (and how often) will you sample local cuisine? And how are you going to get everywhere you want to go? These are all important questions, and you can devise a sensible plan by doing your research well in advance with the help of good guidebooks and online sources.
So what about all the stuff you don’t plan for? Sure, it’s smart to get an overview of a place by experiencing its iconic, if touristic, sites and activities. They’re part of what lend form to the culture of any community. But how about digging even deeper by noticing, appreciating, and engaging in the slices of everyday life. It makes a traveler’s experiences all the richer. Have a picnic with locals in the park, pop into a bar chat up the old chaps who’ve been sitting on the same barstool for decades, attend a church service instead of just dropping in to take pictures of the church, find an heirloom souvenir in a community flea market, or just stop to enjoy the musical talents of a local band at a seaside fair.
We are all so much more than our history, our traditions, and our monuments. Culture lives and breathes and changes all the time. While our five hours in Stockholm were chock full of great touristic activities, we got so much more out of our visit by just being in the city and experiencing its everyday pulse.
Check out this slideshow of the Scandinavian slices of life that we enjoyed on our cruise (click on any picture to begin the slideshow).
4 thoughts on “Scandinavian Slices of Life”
It is wonderful to see you and Rick so happy together. Rick has inspired us to take many trips to Europe the past 20 years and now with your well written travelphile blog, I would love to visit Scandinavia but not by cruising. We love spending days exploring cities and especially small towns and villages. I love talking to locals and searching out interesting places to eat. Please thank Rick for us as he has been such an important inspiration for our travels. Wishing you both all the best, Natalie, Vancouver, B.C. P.s. You have an open invitation to be our guests if you’re ever here. I don’t mean this lightly.
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2013 00:20:40 +0000 To: email@example.com
Thank you, Natalie, for your kind words. It always amazes me to meet and hear from so many people whose lives and travels have been touched by Rick.
Be well, travel well!
I think that cruising to this part of the world is very convenient. It is expensive to just travel on your own on the ground. The cruise ship provides a lot as part of the price. We have looked at this region over and over and have decided either a cruise or a land tour would work better than getting around on your own.
You’re totally right, Judy. It can be of good economic value to take a cruise, and for a lot of people, this is always their preferred method of travel.