Live like a local and make your hotel room the enemy.
Those are the rules I try to live by whenever I travel, be it within the United States or abroad. The less time you spend in your hotel room, the more time you can spend exploring your surroundings.
The idea behind that philosophy is to have as few regrets as possible when you get on the plane to go home and back to a more regimented way of life. You can't do everything in any given city but you should do everything you can to soak in the culture of where you are.
As the days dwindled on this week-long trip to Stockholm, the pressure to make sure I had checked off everything on my to-do list, and wander into a few things that I didn't even know about, grew.
I had already seen and tasted so much of what the city has to offer.
I had already taken a long walk to Djurgaden to visit to visit a Viking museum, a boat ride through the harbor, meandered through Old Town and visited Sound Pollution, one of the most famous heavy metal record stores in the city. I had eaten at Pelikan, talked out of the meatballs to have a Swedish hash dish called Pyttipanna, which was among the best meals I have ever had abroad. I had herring seven ways, all cold, as an appetizer while having a legendary meal with great local friends in one of the city's grandest restaurants. I sampled a few of the local craft beers throughout the week.
But on Friday afternoon, as the rain took a convenient respite, I wandered aimlessly through the warren of streets that surround the Stockholm Central Train Station. It is one of the main shopping centers in the city, featuring high-end department stores and specialty shops. At 4 p.m., it had the feel of the Christmas shopping season, especially with people spilling onto and off the metro on their commute home.
Eventually, I stumbled upon Old Haymarket, an open-air market specializing in selling fresh produce, cut flowers and some souvenirs. The square is littered with stalls, some competing directly with their neighbor to sell the same flowers or fruit. I walked around, taking in the sights and sounds, understanding this was the local Stockholm I wanted to experience one final time. The market has been here, in some form, since the 1700s, from what I have read. That is permanence.
Eventually the time approached for the first of the two NHL Global Series games and I walked back down the wide avenue, dodging people doing window shopping as I raced for the subway.
As I sardined myself into a subway with others going to the game, I realized I was living like a local and I would have no regrets when I board my plane Sunday morning to head home.
Thanks for joining me on this special journey.