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November 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm by Angela

“There is something about Stockholm that made me feel right at home before I had even left the airport.”

06_01

Last visited:

9th November 2013 – 12th November 2013

Stockholm has always interested me as a city; Whilst I would also love to see Scandinavia in the summer, it is a country which is also used to the cold and you see a different side to a country when the sun isn’t continually shining. So, when we needed to take holiday late in the year, Sweden seemed like an obvious choice. Coupled with a visit to Gothenburg, the first 3 nights of our 6 night trip were in Stockholm. So here it is, the highs and lows of our trip to Stockholm:

Day 1

After an exhausting week at work, flight day came around quite quickly. We had a relatively early start for a Saturday and were out the door by 7am. We were flying from Heathrow and looking forward to experiencing Terminal 5 again (last time was before we went to Rome and our flight was before almost everything opened) and were pleased when we got to the airport by 8:15 am, having gone via the airport parking. It was a disappointing experience though: there were hardly any bag drop desks open despite long queues. Security was just as bad and it took almost 50 minutes. Given that it is only a few years old, we expected a more spacious terminal experience but it was jam-packed and there were limited catering options. We were quite glad to get on the plane.

The flight was relatively painless and uneventful (apart from a traumatic moment when my Kindle battery ran out) and we arrived at Arlanda airport at about 2pm local time. By 2:30 we were out of customs/baggage claim and heading for the Arlanda Express train. We were expecting a rather pricey train fair of 260SKE pp (about £25 each) for a single but had opted for that over the bus because it was sub-20min vs 40mins. We had a nice surprise though when they had a Thursday – Sunday train deal: 2 travel together for 280 SKE. The train turned up within 5 mins and about 18mins after that we were at Stockholm Central. It was the most efficient train I had been on for a long time!

06_02
2 for 1 (almost) ticket

Despite some light rain, we walked the mile to our hotel on Nybrogatan – The Mornington Hotel. The hotel was wonderfully unique inside – the lobby and every room were full of books. It gave a really homey feel. I was glad I brought tea bags though because there were no ‘English’ blend available and I was in desperate need of a cuppa!

06_03
Our room with Sam enjoying the room brochure

The plan post chill was to go to see Gamla Stan, the old town, at night. We headed out later than planned though, just before 5pm, and it was chucking it down with rain. I had a hood but Sam didn’t and we’d forgotten an umbrella. We wandered around for a while but eventually we had to make a hasty trip to H&M to buy one! We then abandoned the Gamla Stan ‘plan’ and went to an Italian, Piazza Fiore, near the main shopping area. We were both famished so thoroughly enjoyed our large pizzas which would have been fantastic even if we hadn’t been so hungry!

After that it was still raining and it was getting cold. So we headed back to the hotel and took advantage of the TVs HDMI socket to watch ‘The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn’. We planned ahead sufficiently to bring the HDMI lead and iPad adaptor with us.

Day 2

Our first full day in Stockholm did not start as well as hoped. We both had an awful nights sleep; Sam because he found the room too hot and me because a cold that had been lurking kicked in with full force. It was a shame really because the bed in The Mornington was actually really comfortable. Fortunately the breakfast was a good selection so we perked up a bit after breakfast. The Swedes also seemed to be true to the form mentioned in our Sweden book: they eat a big breakfast. We were in good company and ate our fill.

06_04
Street bike pump!

The weather wasn’t fantastic but armed with scarves, hoods and the newly purchased brolly, we went to Djurgarden, one of the islands to the south-east to visit the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is an Swedish warship from the 1600s which sank on its maiden voyage due to incorrect engineering. The ship sat in the water until it was raised in the 1960s and due to being in salt water, what is on display is actually 98% original. It was a wonderful sight and really took you back to what the waters must have looked like back then. My cold took its toll during our viewing so we had to pop to the cafe for me to have a tea. It was, however the most expensive cup of tea ever: 280 SKE (~£2.80). So, despite the food looking pretty good we decided not to eat there.

06_05
Vasa – amazing ship

After Vasa we decided to go to Skansen, a big open air museum showing the history of Sweden. We scurried past the ABBA museum as fast as feasibly possible to get there and once inside used their restaurant facilities for lunch. We had the lunch menu for 90SKE each which was a tasty goulash (mine veggie and Sam’s steak) with boiled potatoes, salad and bread. It was a delicious meal and re-energised us for walking round the park. We only spent a couple of hours looking round but it was a lovely park. All the buildings were originals moved from various locations around Sweden and Scandinavia of all different ages. Some we saw dated back to the 1500s and the carpentary was amazing. There was also a collection of Norwich animals including a Wolverine (I love the way they lollop around), Brown Bears (including 3 juvenile bears who were bickering and playing), Elks and Reindeer. On our way out we stopped in to the little ‘town’ which had some craft shops and a bakery; We picked up a couple of cinnamon buns to have with tea when we got back. A top notch attraction and somewhere you could easily spend a lot longer in warmer weather and more daylight.

06_06
Skansen baked goods which went well with tea

Back at the hotel we had to have a rest so we watched a film on TV and enjoyed our bakery treat with a cuppa. Because we had a big lunch we didn’t want a heavy dinner but we struggled to find anywhere when we went out later that evening. In the end we came across a tapas place, Boqueria, which had a menu with enough choice although had a Swedish take on some Spanish dishes. We are a lighter (but still not cheap) dinner whilst being continually observed by a rather nosey 12 year old (ish) girl at on the very close next table with her Mum! It was hard to completely relax with her starting at everything we did or ate. Oh well!

We stopped at one of the countless 7 Elevens (it felt like being in the States at times!) for a cookie on the way back to the hotel and aside from reading/TV that was Day 2 done. We went to bed hoping for a better sleep and an improvement to ‘the cold’!

Day 3

It was a good start to the day when I woke up feeling extremely less full of cold than the day before. We had both slept well so went down to breakfast eager start to the day. We headed out through the centre and on to Gamla Stan, the old town on a small island in the middle of the city.

06_07
Phone box in Gamla Stan

The plan was to go and see the Treasury at the Royal Palace but to our disappointment it seemed that the Palace and numerous other establishments on the island were closed on Monday. It was quite frustrating but we wandered around some of the back streets and pottered in some of the little shops. The atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant and it was an enjoyable morning. We bought a horse statue which is the symbol of Sweden and a little ‘rotary candle holder’ with little mooses on it, for Christmas!

06_08
Our horse back at home

After doing a loop of the islands we came across the Myntkabinett (The Royal Coin Cabinet) which was not only open but was also free on Mondays. It held a collection of coins from all through history including the World’s Oldest Coin, the World’s Largest Coin and the World’s First Bank Note. It was an interesting museum and definitely worth the visit. I’m not sure it’s something we’d have paid to go in but is probably worth the 70SKE entry fee if you find that sort of thing interesting.

After that we went for lunch at an awesome little vegetarian cafe Sam found in the guide book: Hermitage. It was 110SKE per person for an all you can eat buffet lunch including bread. It was really tasty! We are our fill and wandered to Riddarholmen to let our food go down. We then took a stroll up through the shopping area of town, looking in a few shops but not really buying anything.

06_09
Best veggie lunch spot around – with a bike for a continental vibe

Back at the hotel we chilled out and had a read. We then nipped across the road to dinner to a nice Italian, Ristorante Piatti, which didn’t look too badly priced, by Swedish standards anyway. We have come to the conclusion after a few days that whilst the Swedish might have their main meal at lunch, it is hard to do that as a tourist because there are not many places which do light meals (like sandwiches) for the evening. We may go back to lighter lunches for the remainder of the trip!

Day 4

Our last (partial) day in Stockholm as it was time to move on to Gothenburg. The Mornington delivered on another good nights sleep and we enjoyed another tasty and filling breakfast before packing up or remaining bits before hitting the road. It was raining quite a lot so we decided to take the T bana (Stockholm ‘s metro system) rather than drag the cases in the rain.

My only other experience of a Scandinavian metro system was in Copenhagen; I didn’t find my Stockholm experience anywhere near as simple as in Copenhagen or as I had expected. For starters it was very expensive, 36SKE each per ticket; It makes the London Underground look like value for money. I would definitely advise walking whenever possible! The tickets for from the newsagent also didn’t open the barriers without help from the (not very cheery) guard. We made it the one stop to Stockholm Centrale though with plenty of time to spare and went to buy some sandwiches from a Coop for the journey.

At this point, our Stockholm visit comes to an end and our tale of Gothenburg begins…

Useful links:

Our photos

The Mornington Hotel

Arlanda Express

Vasa Museum

Skansen

Myntkabinett (Royal Coin Cabinet)

Piazza Fiore restaurant

Boqueria restaurant

Hermitage restaurant

Ristorante Piatti

 
Posted in Stockholm, Sweden
 
Tags: Gamla Stan, Skansen, Stockholm, Sweden, Vasa,
 
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