Get to know the spring ’23 Stockholm Slow Travelers

Read, see, and hear all about the spring ’23 Stockholm Slow Travelers day trip to Norrtälje. Rebecca, Jocelyn, Rosemary, and Catherine set out to engage with nature, local culture, and explore Sweden.

Meet the team

Hej Hej! I’m Catherine. I study Neuroscience at Hamilton College.

DIS Core Course: Neuroscience of Emotion

Favorite slow thing: Erosion 

Most valuable slow travel skill: Being friendly and asking locals for help! 

Why slow travel: I think slow travel allows you to really know a place, and appreciate it for what it is without feeling like a tourist. What are the locals like? How do they get around? What will I learn from this place to bring back to my daily life? Slow travel allows you to be compassionate with the places you experience, and recognize the impact you leave behind. It’s the least we can do for the memories we take with us.

Hallå! I’m Rosemary. I study Engineering Science at Smith College.

DIS Core Course: Engineering Sustainable Environments in Scandinavia

Favorite slow thing: Slow cooker

Most valuable slow travel skill: logistics and transportation!

Why slow travel: I want to get to know Sweden as much as possible while I’m here, and slow travel provides me with the opportunity to explore places I never would have otherwise traveled. Many of my favorite travel memories are from small moments of connection, not big museums or monuments. Slow travel is a chance to dive deeper into local culture as well as to have more meaningful and intentional experiences.

Hej! I’m Rebecca. I attend Washington University in St. Louis where I am majoring in Psychological & Brain Sciences and minoring in Human-Computer Interaction and Anthropology.

DIS Core Course: Forensic Psychology

Favorite slow thing: Sloths

Most valuable slow travel skill: Directions – once I have walked somewhere, I always know how to find my way back.

Why slow travel: I love immersing myself in nature and have a deep appreciation for learning about different cultures. There is such excitement when you are open to new, potentially unplanned, experiences!

Hej, I’m Jocelyn! I’m from Indiana University and I study Neuroscience.

DIS Core Course: Neuroscience of Emotion

Favorite slow thing: Banana Slug

Most valuable slow travel skill: Staying calm in all situations – I take each moment as it is. 

Why slow travel: Why not? I came to Sweden because I want to learn more about Sweden. I want to get to know the quirks of different communities, and I want to keep surprising myself with the things I happen to stumble upon. By traveling flexibly with the goal of understanding, I think it opens you up to a world of experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have. So just relax and go with the flow — you’ll be surprised with how much you see.

Our Trip to Norrtälje! 

Our chosen slow travel location for the day, Norrtälje, is accessible with an SL (Stockholm public transit) card, which all DIS Stockholm students are provided. This made our transportation experience quite smooth. We took the red line of the T-bana just past where we usually get off to go to DIS, and then transferred to a bus which took us right to Norrtälje. This was a great opportunity to take advantage of Stockholm’s incredible public transport network.

Breakfast on the Go

We grabbed breakfast from a food truck at the bus station. Though we were all pretty hungry, we had some doubts that we would find somewhere that served breakfast, but it worked out perfectly. We briefly chatted with the woman behind the counter, who was very kind and asked us where we were from. We all got sandwiches and warm drinks, which were delicious.

When the bus arrived, we were thrilled to see that it was double decker! None of us had ridden a double-decker bus in Stockholm before, so of course we chose to sit on the second level. We spent the hour-long bus ride getting to know each other and admiring the view.

Arriving in Norrtälje

When we got off the bus, our first stop was one of Norrtälje’s canals. We were greeted by lots and lots of ducks! We spent a few minutes listening to the running water of the canal and the quacking of the ducks.

Crackling snow and quacking ducks.

As it was pretty early in the morning, Norrtäjle was relatively empty, but we still saw a few people walking around. We continued our journey through the city’s cobblestone streets, taking mental notes of which shops we wanted to come back to, including a little thrift store. 

With the sun shining high and a lot of the shops in Norrtälje yet to open, we decided to take a walk down to a nature reserve. On our way, we passed through a park and Catherine instantly found herself drawn to the little hammocks! There were only three so Rebecca and Catherine shared. Considering how gloomy Stockholm has been these past few weeks, it was awfully refreshing to have felt the sun and taken in the fresh air. We kept walking toward our destination, getting to know one another. 

Along the way, we passed a residential area full of cute homes. We crossed a bridge to the little island and were welcomed by some signs telling us where we were: Borgmästarholmen.  This area is used for swimming, walking, and fishing throughout the year. There are even fireplaces where you can grill and spend the day. 

Geocaching in New Places

Being an avid geocacher, Catherine led the group through the woods to find a geocache. It took us a few minutes, but was well worth it! We signed the log book, took a photo, and continued on the trail. 

Our next pit stop was at a sunny little bench. We all took the moment to feel the sun and listen to the birds. One bird, in particular, caught our eye, a woodpecker working hard up in a dead tree. The peace and quiet were needed, just a few minutes to catch our breath and be thankful for the trip we were on. None of us wanted to speak to interrupt the silence. We quietly relocated to a rock along the shoreline and stared off into the water. Though Norrtälje seemed to typically be a summer destination, it was still a beauty in the middle of March.

Listen to the woodpecker work.

Lunch Aboard the s/s Norrtälje

After our hike, we headed back toward the center of Norrtälje where we saw a restaurant that was on a boat floating in the canal. The menu outside explained that they served a dagens lunch, which typically means that the menu has a few options that change regularly, and that lunch will include coffee, bread, and salads. We decided that we could not pass up on the opportunity to have lunch on a boat and went inside. The interior was cozy, featuring dark wooden tables, chairs, and paneling on the walls. The sun shone brightly through the windows, casting shadows on the roses that served as centerpieces on each of the tables. It was a nice relief from the cold after being outside for the past few hours.

Hear the sounds of the s/s Norrtälje

When it was time to order our food, Rebecca decided to be a bit adventurous and order a classic Swedish dish, herring. The waiter asked her if she had ever tried herring before to which she confessed she hadn’t but had been really wanting to try it. Only a few minutes later, he brought out the herring along with the chicken and halloumi dishes that the rest of us ordered. Rebecca took her first bite and looking a bit confused said “it tastes fine, but there are bones in it”. She proceeded to dissect the piece of fish a little more, showing everyone the extremely thin, clear bones that filled it. After some googling, we verified that you are supposed to eat the bones.

Rebecca took a few more bites, but shortly decided the bones were too much for her and finished the side of potatoes that came with her meal. The waiter came back to ask her how her first herring experience was, and she tried to assure him it was good. However, he looked down at her plate and offered to bring something else, to which she politely declined. While Rebecca does not regret trying herring, it was likely her first and last time eating it. After we were all finished eating, the waiter brought out coffee and cookies. He joked with Rebecca about the herring and we asked him for recommendations for what to do in the area. He suggested that we head back toward the old town area near the bus stop.

Let’s Detour!

Taking the restaurant owner’s advice, we traveled back to the weathered cobblestone roads of the old town and we set our sights on the local art museum. The modern museum towered over the traditional Swedish town, and after exploring Julia Peirone’s visual world, we took full advantage of the rooftop view. It wasn’t until we got to the top that we noticed a beaten path leading us to the top of a hill. We couldn’t say no to this new adventure and so we took off along the icy stone stairs and headed towards a picnic table that was perched on the highest point.

A Silent Moment

We sat around the table that looked over the town and we sat in silence. We took this moment to appreciate where we were, and what we’d seen. It was nice to take a break to just enjoy what is now. We listened to the birds chirping with the faint pounding of construction in the background and admired the harmony between the modern residences and the old town shops.

Birds and reflection

A Look into the Community

After a nice break, we decided to explore the other side of town and spend some time in the city library. The heart of a town can be seen from its public spaces, and the library was no exception. People of all ages were spending time with each other, local artwork of felt portraits was out on display, and scavenger hunt clues were posted on each pillar (we tried to use our little Swedish to see if we could get any of them right — we failed). 

Oldie but Goodie

After nestling in the library for a moment, we decided to end the day with fika at a little café we passed earlier. With our limited Swedish we were able to read the sign outside that said that this café was 111 years old – talk about a special year! Inside was like stepping into your grandma’s house with homely wallpaper and an antique assortment of pictures, embroidery, and seating. The warm atmosphere held us in its arms as we unraveled into a corner by the window.

The sounds of fika

The buzzing sound of conversations kept the place lively and we took this opportunity to enjoy each other’s presence as we laughed about the new memories made on this journey – our favorites included the restaurant owner and herringbones, hammock time, and the time we spent in the woods sharing a bench while we basked in the sun, looked out onto the river, and listened to the birds.

Watch Jocelyn’s video of the day and reflections on slow travel.

Learn more about Slow Travel at DIS:

>> DIS Slow Traveler Initiative
>> Off the Beaten Track in Sweden: DIS Slow Travel Initiative
>> A Bornholm Experience: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

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