“Did you go to the IKEA factory?” Katia asked me shortly after arriving in Stockholm a few days after I did. “It is based in Stockholm.”

Ah, IKEA. It is just one Swedish purveyor of brilliantly engineered, form-follows-function Scandinavian designs that feature elegant, simple lines. Other companies from this country include Volvo and the (now bankrupt and bygone) Saab. Not bad for a population less than that of, say, California.

My first good-feeling impressions were formed shortly after jumping on the Flygbussarna from the international airport to the city center, and it featured free wi-fi. Then I transfered to a very clean, smooth running commuter train. Mass transit here is purportedly the most expensive per kilometer of any country in the world—and at 38-44 kronas (depending on whether you by the ticket prepaid at the Presbyrian stores, or from a window cashier at the train station) or $5.80-$7.33 for a Zone 1 ticket, I believe it—but if one purchased a refillable transit smart card, individual trips could cost as little as 25 kronas ($4.17). In general, I would say everything in Stockholm costs a little more than most places in the U.S.

The mass transit system was efficient, but I found the City Center to be very walkable. It was also clean with lots of friendly folks, all of whom spoke English as a second language.

Major sites I encountered included the Royal Palace, Parliament, City Hall, Vasa Museum, various parks (including a great one across the street from the Vasa & History Museums). I spent quite a bit of time reading in parks by the water, on benches in the shade. Peaceful and serene for sure.

I only had a few days to spend in Stockholm, but despite its city size I felt very comfortable here. “I could imagine living here,” I told Katia. Never mind that I never did get a chance to visit the IKEA factory.

Carriage rides at the Royal Palace. (July 25, 2013)Guardsman at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. (July 25, 2013)Norrbro Street, as seen from the Royal Palace. (July 25, 2013)Flowers and tour buses, as seen from the Royal Palace. (July 25, 2013)Statue at Kungstr (July 25, 2013)Fountain on the side of the Royal Palace. (July 25, 2013)A church behind the Royal Palace. (July 25, 2013)A Swedish ship. (July 25, 2013)The Nordic Museum. (July 25, 2013)Nobelparken. (July 25, 2013)Geese at Nobelparken. (July 25, 2013)Cyclist at Nobelparken. (July 25, 2013)Gardens by the Nordisk Museet (Nordic Museum). (July 26, 2013)A scooter in front of a house near Nobelparken. (July 26, 2013)City Hall. (July 27, 2013)Katia with a moose. (July 28, 2013)Felix Wong in front of some orange men near the Swedish Parliament. (July 28, 2013)"I love Swedish girls." (July 28, 2013)Katia in a ship museum southeast of the Vasa Museum. (July 28, 2013)

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