Stockholm was a good introduction to Europe I could rely on everyone speaking English though most of the conversation around me was in Swedish, the weather was cold and snowy, but the gear I took with me was easily sufficient.Plus there was snow everywhere, it snowed at least a bit every day we were there. Including Christmas day, a white Christmas, one thus unlike any other I have ever known.
Didn't get up to a great deal in Stockholm, had a Julbord (Christmas buffet) at a fancy restaurant, wandered around Gamla stan (the old part of Stockholm) and went to Skansen, which is basically a Swedish mix between Taronga Zoo and Old Sydney Town. Scandinavian animals with good views of the city, and old Swedish buildings, complete with staff to tell you about how they were used by Swedes in the 1800s.
We also watched The Hobbit there, didn't see the 3D version unfortunately due to concerns about subtitles. That said all the subtitles were in Swedish anyway which I cannot follow, so I had to rely on the context for anything spoken in Elvish or Orcish. Turns out I am a lot more familiar with the hobbit than I thought, probably because I used to have it on tape, and so have listened through it a fair number of times. I really enjoyed the movie, look forward to seeing the later ones when they are released.
Kiruna was cold, seriously in Kiruna it was typically around -21C, and that was actually meant to be warm, the week before it had been about -30. It is easily the coldest place I have ever been to, and we pretty much did not leave the hotel unless we had an activity, because the cold weather gear we had was not up to the task of keeping us warm. Heck even with the addition of further warmer clothing from our organised activities, the cold still would seep through by the end.
Unfortunately we did not see the northern lights, the one night we did not have an activity, they turned up whilst we were warm in our bed. Fortunately the trip was not a waste, the activities we did were interesting and fun and Kiruna itself is very pretty. The snow is everywhere, and since it doesn't go above 0 degrees in the winter and doesn't encounter much traffic you never get the slush issues you do elsewhere. You pretty much just get white snow coating everything and about 4 hours of light that is always somewhat approximating sunrise and sunset.
We went up a mountain, we went on a dog sled we ate Sami food in a lavvi (traditional Sami tent), explored the Icehotel and I got to drive a snowmobile. It was a set of wonderful experiences that made temporarily braving the cold worth it.
That said, I was not sad to leave it behind and head to warmer climes. The next stop after Sweden was Germany