We took a lovely around 1.00 pm flight with SAS. No hitches or glitches finding a taxi outside the airport. We had read that it would be about 550 Swedish krona (at the time, this was the equivalent to €51.23). We had thought we were going to take the bus or train, which is possible, but it almost worked out the same. Actually, we were a bit slow on the uptake; there are a huge amount of taxis available outside and they are bargaining away, but we ended up paying 650 krona. The upside was, and there’s always an upside if you look for it, because Dan was going hiking in the north after our stay, and we had a huge case, it was comfy and the journey took only about 40 minutes. He was a “speedy gonzalez” of a driver. Hotel was the Clarion Hotel in Amaranten .https://clarion-hotel-amaranten.hotelistockholm.com/en/. It was in a great location, a very modern, happening hotel but the rooms were very small. You know when you have to squeeze by the bed to get at the bathroom which fits a half person very comfortably? However, spotlessly clean and buffet breakfasts to die for, albeit very busy. Because we arrived late, and it was sprinkling rain, we decided to walk along the river and happen upon a restaurant. We found a glorious one by the lake. It was located in the beautiful Stockholm City hall, serving contemporary Swedish dishes inspired by local produce. https://www.stadshuskallarensthlm.se/en/. We had the tasting menu with wine pairings. Each dish tasted better than the other and they cater for vegetarians also. Our waiter was such a character; full of charm, and ceremony. We left the restaurant to walk home along the river, whilst my hair turned into Monica from Friends (if you catch the reference)
The next day, Friday, we walked to the Old Town or Gamla Stan. I had given Dan a Garmin watch for all his cycling and hill walking and it was the curse of the holidays in that he had my little feet in trusty Birkinstocks, walked off me. We hit our target of 10,000 steps and way beyond (insert eyes up to heaven emoji). Anyway, Gamla Stan is just full of atmosphere with loads to offer from souvenir shops, bookstores and antiques shops to elegant palaces, churches and museums. Many medieval cellars are now restaurants or cafés and the streets are wonderfully narrow and cobbled. We bought tickets from the Royal Palace or Kungliga Slotten and had a wonderful tour and later one with audio guide. This tour includes the State Apartments, The Guest Apartments, the Bernadotte Apartments – and the history of how Bernadotte came to be King is fascinating – Hall of State, The Treasury to name a few. On our walk around the old town we booked a Bach organ recital in the main church, Storkyrkan. I’m not a huge organ music fan, but this was short and very sweet. Only took an hour, plus we had cushioned seats in the church.
During the day, we stopped in the Stortorget Square. The square is frequented by tens of thousands of tourists annually, and is occasionally the scene for demonstrations and performances. It is traditionally renowned for its annual Christmas market offering traditional handicrafts and food. The buildings on number 18-20 were merged in the 17th century and subsequently named after Johan Eberhard Schantz, the secretary of the king who also added the stepped gable and the grand portal on the left building. Parts of the interior still reflect the luxury which surrounded the royal secretary. The 82 white stones on Number 20, Ribbinska huset (“House of Ribbing”) or Schantzka huset (“House of Schantz”), are occasionally said to symbolize the heads decapitated by the King in 1520. I loved the colours of the houses, luckily against a beautiful blue sky, and they offer a mean open prawn sandwich. I keep trying to count the white stones on the building to the left, just to see. We happened upon a spontaneous sing song by Spanish students. I think it was to mark exam results. Anyway, great fun.
After the Bach concert, we remained in Gamla Stan and ate “open air” in https://www.magnusladulas.se/. Once again a tasting and wine pairing menu, but typically Swedish fare. Forget the meat balls in Ikea; you haven’t tasted them till you come here. I’m going to try recreate when I’m home.
Saturday, we took a boat trip that we had booked from a company called “Under the Bridges”. It cost us roughly €30 per head. It was just glorious. We started out at 11am and it lasted three hours.
We passed under all 15 bridges that connect the central islands of Stockholm’s Archipelago, gliding through leafy Djurgarden and passing through locks that connect the city’s canals to the Baltic Sea and Lake Malaren. Hard to imagine, watching people bathe and sunbathe along the lake that this will be completely frozen over in the Winter. We were told, many a time, how healthy and fit the Swedes are, and I have no doubt about this. They seem to be a people of activity; whether it be boating, running, cycling or using those nifty electronic scooters. They are also people we could take a few lessons from; many apartments face out over the water, ensuring they are full of light. They also have their own system for getting rid of waste. Stockholm/Sweden is known for hugely reducing the rubbish sent to its landfills. Less than 1 percent of household waste finds it way to landfills. Many apartments have their own tunnels to separate their rubbish and this in turn links to factories to convert into energy.
After the boat trip and a nice espresso, we went to the https://www.nordiskamuseet.se/. I absolutely LOVE seeing how people lived, “back in the day”. This is a brilliant museum; Nordiska Museet is Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history. An everyday palace, and a place of stories about the life and people of the Nordic region – yesterday, today and tomorrow. It contains clothes, fashion, textiles, jewellery – some made out of hair -, homes, furniture, photography, toys, folk art, glass and porcelain. There is also an exhibition about the only indigenous people in Sweden, the Sami. Once again, you have an audio guide and I loved it.
Afterwards, we walked through Strandvagen, on to Blashiholmen Bridge
and onto http://restaurangcloudnine.se/. One of the best Dim Sum I have ever tasted, with once again a wine pairing and such attention to detail from the waiters. Dan surprised me each evening with new places, as it’s usually me who has done all the research, so it was like diving into a party bag full of treats each evening.
I wanted to try catch a sunset and we were very lucky, because the weather obliged.
If you’re an adventurous soul, be sure to visit the fun fair. Gröna Lund is open from late spring (April/March) to September. and contains 30, looked to be, amazing rides. You can book online, as the queuing is long. https://www.gronalund.com/.
Sunday, we took a cycle tour. We booked, checking the best cycle tours on Trip Advisor, and found Stockholm Adventure. We had a great little guide; it lasted three hours again but don’t let that put you off, as you stop so often and it compounds what you have already discovered walking or going on tours yourself and the hills are very slight. Our last stop was an ecological garden, https://www.rosendalstradgard.se/in-english/. Great food and lovely gardens in the middle of the city.
We never got to the Vasa Museum https://www.vasamuseet.se/, which is highly rated and I never got my chance to strut my stuff in the Abba Museum, https://www.abbathemuseum.com/en/. They say you walk in and dance out and if the phone happens to ring, you must pick it up as the likelihood is it’s one of the Abba band.
We kept our our regime of over 10,000 steps (dear lord) and I just had to have a coffee and something sweet. We literally just came upon this gorgeous little, graffiti filled cafe called Café Schweizer, https://schweizer.se/. Just go. I had not one but two of these divine, chocolate covered, mousse filled cakes that boosted my sugar and kept me going for the next week.
We went to Sodermalm, but to be honest, not half as pretty as Gamla Stan, and as it started to really bucket down with rain, we got a taxi to Dan’s next foodie adventure. https://akkurat.se/. Very down to earth, and great craft beer and wholesome food. We sat watching the world go by and listened to the rain drum on the roof before we set off to our hotel. This was our last night together for over 10 days, although Dan keeps saying it’s only 8, as he is hill walking in the North of Sweden.
We made the very best of our time here and like Lisbon, would definitely come back again; if life allows us to do all the things we still want to do and still want to repeat.