'Sweden', she announced, and what could I say?
We had checked out multiple tour package options from different travel websites, and I had shown her pictures of friends and colleagues vacationing at exotic locations. But what seemed exotic to me was cliched for her. So I let her decide where we should go for our honeymoon.
I was clueless about Sweden, and to be frank, I didn't even know which city we were landing in. But Kriti had figured it all out, and she didn't even let me know much about how our trip was going to be. We have dated for about 4 years and most of our trips had been my surprise to her, so I actually felt happy about her taking charge to plan the most memorable journey that we have ever taken.
The next few weeks were lost to never-ending wedding functions and meetings with distant relatives and well-wishers. We barely got our couple time despite being together throughout. But now was our time, and we could spend it away from our world, in a beautiful paradise that would mark the official beginning of our union.
A direct flight from New Delhi to Stockholm was the perfect start that we needed. The 8.5-hour-long flight with Air India was the most comfortable long distance flight that we have taken. The on-board staff also treated us like royalty to make the newly-wed couple feel very special.
As soon as we landed, the vibe of the city cast its spell over us and we couldn’t wait for the honeymoon to begin! Kriti had left no stone unturned and had booked us a luxe hotel where we could relax and spend a cozy night getting rid of the jet-lag.
Next morning, after the smörgåsbord (a special Swedish breakfast), we stepped out for an old-school romance on a tour to Gamla Stan - The Old Town. The narrow, cobbled lanes that lead to medieval churches and historical marvels can make anyone instantly cry for a picture, and as I took out my camera to click Kriti standing against the gorgeous backdrop of Storkyrkan (also known as Stockholm cathedral), there was a surprise for me. There was no memory card in the camera. I was shocked, but Kriti wasn't.
"I have removed the memory card so that we explore the beauty of Stockholm together, and don't make it yet another trip where I pose and you click. Let's take back memories for ourselves, and not document it for the world," she said.
Believe me, I had never loved Kriti more than I did in that very moment! It definitely takes a place as beautiful as Gamla stan to want to experience it with your love rather than try to capture it.
After the visual bliss of the marvellous architecture of Medieval Museum, Swedish Parliament Building, Nobelmuseet, Riddarhuset and Riddarholmen, we gorged on way too many global delicacies at the numerous food trucks dotting the area.
Until now Kriti was making all the efforts, but it was my turn to surprise her. When we entered Sturegallerian, a swanky mall in the heart of the city, on the pretext to see a Swedish retail market, Kriti had no idea that I had booked a Swedish couple massage and sauna treatment at Sturebadet - a luxury spa inside the mall. The sauna culture in Stockholm is a uniquely pleasing experience and conveys that Swedish people take their relaxation seriously.
The next day, Kriti had to up her game, and she went all crazy. This was way beyond anything that I could have remotely thought of. She decided to treat me with a unique rooftop hiking tour. We began the tour from the top of old Parliament building in Riddarholmen and went on to explore the city by walking around on rooftops with certain sections not even having railings! This was an adventure that added spice to the sweet trip we were on.
After that we headed to this beautiful part of the city called Djurgården. This island is certainly the centre of everything aesthetic that the city has to offer- from green parks to mesmerising museums, and is a favourite among the tourists as well as the locals. Since both Vasa Museum and ABBA: The Museum are a part of Djurgården, we decided to spend the day touring both museums.
And thus, very soon we found ourselves singing ABBA’s Gimme!Gimme! out loud at a Karaoke at ABBA: The Museum. Dedicated to this hugely popular Swedish band, it brought back fond teenage memories. There were many interactive features at ABBA: The Museum including dancing as a virtual avatar of any member of the band. But the most overwhelming moment for us was us gasping at the sight of the vast Vasa Museum which is a 17th century warship that sank on its maiden voyage in the year 1628. The 64-gun warship has now been converted to a magnificent museum which stands on the island of Djurgården.
All the singing, dancing and exploring had made us very hungry, so Kriti led our way to Rutabaga, one of the best restaurants in Stockholm. Kriti had booked a seat at the chef's table and we got the opportunity to converse with Mr. Dahlgren, the chef, while he displayed his craftsmanship, preparing lacto-ovo vegetarian dishes in front of us. Rutabaga is a Neo-Nordic vegetarian restaurant which celebrates seasonal natural veggies. Even the desserts contain veggies and all the dishes are an absolute delight. As they claim, you don't need to be a vegetarian to relish such good food. Being meat lovers, we were pleasantly surprised and at the end of the meal we both agreed that it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
Next morning, we set off to Grinda, a charming island on the Stockholm archipelago. Kriti and I got into a kayak and rowed around smoothly, reflecting on life and our future goals. There were many more adventure activities on offer such as cycling, island-hopping and surfing. But, we lazed around on the beach until sunset, and shared some perfectly romantic moments together.
Our last day in Stockholm was all about shopping. We headed out to Drottninggatan which had endless options for shopping. We bought some souvenirs that included the Dala Horse - a symbol of Sweden. We roamed around Götgatan where Kriti bought designer wear for herself. At Sturegallerian she bought me some nice formal wear. Eventually, we made purchases at Bondegatan for our friends.
After that long tiring day of shopping, we decided to head back to Djurgården, this time for some rest and recreation. Since we both loved the island so much, it warranted a second visit. We spent the rest of our day in the green lawns of Djurgården, reflecting on what a beautiful honeymoon we’ve had.
The ultra luxurious stays, surreal tourist attractions and a range of dining options all came together to make Stockholm the perfect honeymoon destination. To top that, the city is extremely traveller-friendly which only contributes to a seamless experience. Despite being a group of 14 different islands, Stockholm is very well connected. Through the course of this memorable trip, wherever we went, we were greeted with warm and welcoming people who at times, even went out of their way to help us out.
We returned with some wonderful memories built around a beautiful city that ensures you have the best time without having to worry about transport, safety or cultural assimilation. Stockholm welcomes you wholeheartedly and, therefore, choosing it was the best decision that we had made for our honeymoon. The memories of our honeymoon in Stockholm will linger on forever like our love.
In association with Visit Stockholm and Air India.