Stallmästaregården | Historic Inn with Modern Flare in Stockholm

Stallmästaregården | Historic Inn with Modern Flare in Stockholm

This post was last updated on July 20th, 2016Walking through the medieval alleyways and cobbled streets of Stockholm’s Old Town, it’s easy to feel transported to an era long past. But finding a historic hotel that oozes old world charm—without sacrificing modern conveniences—is not as straightforward. Luckily for us, we found Stallmästaregården.     Having opened its doors in 1638, Stallmästaregården is Sweden’s oldest continually running inn, depicting the lineage of Swedish design and architecture with a fusion of classic décor and contemporary amenities. The property is located on the edge of the Royal Haga Park, where you might just find the Royal Princess going for a morning stroll with her dogs. From this serene setting overlooking the tree-fringed Bay of Brunnsviken, Stockholm’s city center is a convenient stroll away.     Though the inn dates back hundreds of years, the 49-room hotel building was only recently inaugurated in the year 2000. The façade of the new building matches that of the original inn, and each room has been thoughtfully decorated to remain true to the time period and style. The result is an elegant hotel with a historic setting. For our three-night visit we stayed in the Junior Suite – a spacious (according to Swedish standards) room with downstairs lounge and upstairs bedroom. The first details we noticed in our room were the elements of Chinese décor, particularly the black and white scroll hung above our bed. Before our stay we were unaware of the Chinese influences that played such a prominent role in 18th century Swedish design. We also thoroughly enjoyed the dark wood furniture, including a...
Becoming a Musher: A Day of Husky Dog Sledding

Becoming a Musher: A Day of Husky Dog Sledding

This post was last updated on August 7th, 2014It might have been Lapland’s Northern Lights that initially caught our attention, but it was the chance to go dog sledding that proved to be one of the biggest determining factors for making the trip up north.   We absolutely love huskies. How could anyone not? They’re beautiful and playful and intelligent and really just all-around adorable. Even if you claim not to be a dog person, it’s hard to deny a face like this:     Needless to say, we were eagerly anticipating our day of canine fun when we returned to the Aurora Guesthouse after our wilderness adventure. The day began with a short drive to Husky Holidays. A small family business, Husky Holidays is run by Birgit and Bruno—and the fifty husky dogs they call family. Birgit and Bruno not only know every dog by name, but they also know their personality, their strengths, and how the dogs interact with each other. Their special relationship with the dogs was evident from the moment we arrived, and we were thankful to have chosen an outfitter we could trust and respect. After donning the appropriate bibs and boots, it was time for our first ‘mushing’ lesson.   Musher: the driver of a dogsled. Birgit first demonstrated on a sledge the basic steps to driving, including how to break, slow down, and use our body weight to control the sledge. Though accidents rarely happen, they are possible, and it was important to clearly understand how to remain in charge at all times. If the musher is not paying attention, the sledge...
An Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland – Part 2

An Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland – Part 2

This post was last updated on August 12th, 2014This is part 2 of a travel narrative describing our wilderness adventure with Aurora Retreat in Swedish Lapland. Don’t worry—if you missed part one, you can read it here.     It was the second day of our arctic adventure. We had slept soundly that first night in the wilderness; our small sleeping cabins proved surprisingly warm and insulating (once we realized we should probably close the vent at our feet). We awoke to silence, allowing the natural rays of the sun to substitute for the buzzing of an alarm. And when we were ready to brave the crisp morning air, we made a run for the main cabin. Leif already had a fire blazing in the hearth and a breakfast on the table consisting of oatmeal with lingonberries (a small red berry and staple in Scandinavian cuisine), bread and cheese, and coffee and tea. We watched the birds flitting around in the snow while we sipped on our warm beverages, soaking in the slow transition to the day.     Eventually, with lunches packed and winter clothes piled on, we set off for another day of cross-country skiing under a bright blue sky. It was the kind of winter day that I love—cool air and glittering snow, the sun shining overhead, and just the slightest hint of a breeze.     Our day’s journey took us along the frozen river that ran in front of our cabin. At first it was almost difficult to tell where the land ended and the water began; the fresh powder snow covered the entire...
The Northern Lights — Everything You Need to Know About Seeing the Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights — Everything You Need to Know About Seeing the Aurora Borealis

This post was last updated on February 21st, 2017 When we first booked our plane tickets to Stockholm, we had no intention of making the journey up north to Lapland. To be completely honest, I don’t think we even knew where Lapland was. But when we learned that the Northern Lights were visible there through the start of April, there was no question about it—we were going to the Arctic. We soon discovered that there was a lot more to Lapland than just Aurora hunting, and we became captivated by the endless ski, snowmobile, dog sled, and snowshoe opportunities waiting for us. Traveling to this region would be a completely new adventure for us in every sense of the word. We were still secretly hoping that the impetus behind the trip—to see the lights—would be possible, but we also had to remind ourselves to be practical. There was a large chance that we wouldn’t see any Northern Lights during our two-week stay. February had been so cloudy that no one saw any lights for the entire month. There was just no way to know for sure.   In the end, we were extremely fortunate. Some nights were better than others, the lights colorfully dancing throughout the sky. Other nights we could only distinguish the lights from the clouds when we looked at the playback on the camera. But there was no question about it—we saw the Northern Lights.   Seeing the Aurora was in many ways a dream come true for us. But throughout the experience we learned a lot about what it’s really like to witness them. And...
An Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland—Part 1

An Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland—Part 1

This post was last updated on August 12th, 2014  “The Wilderness holds more answers to questions than we have yet learned to ask.” Nancy Wynne Newhall   I never used to be much of a ‘wilderness’ girl. Growing up I had a tent for a bit, but I would set it up in our playroom and sleep in it indoors. My first ‘real’ camping experience wasn’t until high school when Dan insisted we try it. (He’s an Eagle Scout with lots of experience in nature.) That first time camping together was fun. There were smores, after all. But I also remember it being freezing and having to trek out into the woods for a bathroom break in the middle of the night. Eh. Since then we’ve gone camping and backpacking too many times to count, and each time the activity has started to grow on me more and more. But none of these trips prepared me for what it would be like to venture into Sweden’s Arctic Lapland.   This was truly an adventure into what can only be described as the wild. And it was absolutely spectacular.   An Arctic Adventure in Swedish Lapland— Part 1   Our venture into the wilderness began when Mikael, the owner of Aurora Retreat, stopped on the side of the road in The Middle of Nowhere, Lapland. “From here, you ski,” Mikael grinned at us. “The lodge is only accessible via foot or snowmobile.” Our group consisted of Dan and I, three lovely new friends from the UK, and Leif, our wilderness guide.  Eager to take on the unknown, we strapped on...
A Moose Safari Via Icelandic Horses

A Moose Safari Via Icelandic Horses

This post was last updated on August 12th, 2014Riding Icelandic Horses through the pristine, snow-covered forests of Swedish Lapland was a magical way to begin our Arctic Adventure. The moose spottings along the way made it all the more memorable.   Since arriving in the Arctic, Dan and I have been like two small children on Christmas morning. I think it’s because despite being the end of March, Swedish Lapland still looks like a winter wonderland taken straight from the pages of a holiday book. Houses are dusted with a fresh coat of snow. Trees are heavy with ice, shimmering from the rays of the sun. Cars are buried under feet of snow as people opt to use their snowmobiles instead. After six months of travel through Vietnam, Costa Rica and Mexico—all hot and humid countries—the chill in the air is delightful.   Last time we went horseback riding, I discovered that I wasn’t exactly a natural equestrian. I didn’t fall off or anything (though I might have come mightily close when we took off galloping towards the end of our ride), but I definitely didn’t feel connected to my horse. It kept stopping to eat leaves, grunting and shaking its head at me, refusing to follow the other horses. I followed all the helpful advice given to me by our skilled guide, but nothing seemed to do the trick. So after that first horseback riding adventure, I assumed I wasn’t the horse-riding-kinda-gal. But as it would turn out, I was just on the wrong breed. Me and Icelandic Horses? Now that’s an entirely different story.   A Moose...