Over the past month, I continued my travels in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France. I flew into Gothenburg, Sweden to meet some friends for midsommar, a traditional Swedish celebration of the summer solstice. After exploring Sweden, I took the train to Denmark to visit Copenhagen, and then explored two German cities. For the last stop of this leg of the trip, I met up with some friends from college for a long weekend in Paris to celebrate La Fête Nationale—France’s national day, known as Bastille Day in English. Unexpectedly, the final game of the world cup fell on that weekend, and our stay in France took a turn for the chaotic.
Sweden and Denmark blew open my budget. It didn’t help that I was eating out for almost every meal. However, I did try my best to visit lunch buffets to minimize the amount of money I was spending there.
Paris was also expensive, but that is to be expected of a capital city. There were cheaper options for food, such as kebab shops and local grocery stores. It also helped that we stayed in a quiet neighborhood in the 15th Arrondissement—it wasn’t touristy and we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower from our Airbnb.
The cost of living in Hamburg and Cologne were more reasonable. In fact, I could honestly see myself living in Hamburg. The only other city on this trip that I felt I could live in as an expat was Utrecht.
I landed in Gothenburg on Wednesday, June 20. I only spent a night there so I did a lightning tour of the city. The biggest highlight was the botanical gardens. It was expansive and there was a hill where I could see a panoramic view of the surroundings.
Midsommar in Kalmar County
After I met with my Swedish friends in Gothenburg, we took a train to Kalmar to their parent’s house in the countryside. I stayed there for the weekend to celebrate Swedish midsommar with them. We went boating, danced around the maypole, sang Swedish songs (I couldn’t remember any of the lyrics), and explored Öland.
The day after midsommar, I took the bus to Oskarshamn and then a ferry to Visby, on the island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. When I studied abroad in Lund, I wanted to visit that island but I didn’t have the time.
I explored the town of Visby, with its charming medieval architecture. I wanted to see the raukar on the northern side of the island, but I would’ve needed to rent a car, which I wasn’t able to. So instead I biked south to Tofta beach, about a two hours bike ride. I was really exhausted after that. However, the natural beauty of the island provided a good break in between exploring urban areas.
In Stockholm, I stayed at a hostel in the middle of Gamla Stan. It was the perfect location, but I also spent a crazy amount of money on eating out and on nightlife. And I stayed there for five nights. The city was very beautiful in the summer, but there was also lots of construction. In fact, the construction won’t end until after the summer of 2020.
While I enjoyed my stay in Stockholm, I don’t think I would return to visit for another couple of years unless I were invited by a friend.
On the train between Stockholm and Copenhagen, I stopped by Lund and visited some friends from two years ago who were still in town. It was quite the nostalgia trip, and I’m glad that I stopped by, even if it was only for an afternoon.
Even though Copenhagen was only a thirty minute train ride when I studied abroad in Lund, I rarely visited the city. And when I did, it was only for day trips. I stayed at the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel within walking distance of the central train station and Tivoli. I had a ton of fun sunbathing and biking around the city, and it helped that the hostel organized events every night. I wish I had stayed longer, and I think I will be returning to this city in my future travels.
I took a short flight from Copenhagen to Hamburg, which surprisingly cost about the same as the train. I stayed four nights in Backpackers St. Pauli, about a five minute walk to Reeperbahn and the nightlife. The neighborhood was a bit grungy, but still safe and quiet.
Speaking of the nightlife, it was one of the best I’ve experienced in Europe. Große Freiheit, a pedestrian street, becomes crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings and all the bars and clubs on that street come to life. I also thought the quality of life was pretty good. There seems to be a lot to do from exploring Altona to walking alongside the Elbe River. If I had the opportunity to live here, I might just take that up.
In between Hamburg and Paris, I decided to spend three nights in Cologne. I stayed at Die Wohngemeinschaft in the Belgian Quarter. It was quite chill, and I spent most of my time there walking around the city and drinking kölsch. I think I will explore nearby cities like Düsseldorf and Bonn the next time I travel this region.
My friends and I planned this part of the trip the earliest. We booked an Airbnb with a nice view of the Eiffel Tower about seven months in advance. We originally planned to visit Paris only for the weekend of La Fête Nationale. However, when the group stage of the World Cup ended, we realized that France just might win the entire tournament and that the final game would occur the day after the national day. So we prepared ourselves for the possibility of celebrating two events in one weekend.
Fast forward to Sunday, July 15, the day of the final game. We tried to get into Champ de Mars for the public viewing, but the police closed it off at 90,000 people. So we watched the game in a nearby crowded bar. Every time France scored a goal, everyone went wild. “ALLEZ LES BLEUS!” When the final whistle of the final game blew, the crowd erupted. Champions du monde! After twenty years, France did it again. Everybody marched towards Champs-Élysées singing and chanting. My friends and I joined in. It was a full-on riot and the police didn’t seem very prepared. We managed to make it to Champs-Élysées after an hour, but left after a couple of minutes because it was so crowded.
So that weekend in Paris was wilder than any of us expected. We didn’t end up seeing too many attractions, but I guess that’s a good reason to return.
Finally, if you’re looking to book the Airbnb that we stayed in, here it is. Tell Nicolas that Andrew said hi!
In the next month, I will be finishing up my trip in Czechia, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary. If you want to be notified every time I publish a new travel update or blog post, sign up for my newsletter below!