Destination: Stockholm, Sweden
Date: May 2013
“The Vikings passed through this archipelago long ago, but the official story begins in 1252 when the fort was first built. A town grew around it and boomed when Sweden became a major Baltic power.” Since I have never been to Sweden before I was unsure what to expect. I had heard many call it the Venice of the north and though it isn’t quite as quaint as the small water lined buildings of that city it is still a beautiful city.
When we arrived in Stockholm they made the the exit from the ship and onto one of their tourist buses very easy. There are tons of tour agents standing at the gate ready to lead us in one direction or the next to get to join their tour. We had already decided to to do the Hop-On Hop-Off bus so our choice was simple. All we had to do was follow the painted line on the sidewalk and that would take us to just the right bus we wanted.
The Hop-On Hop-Off buses are easy and take the tourist by many of the sights you’ll want to see in Stockholm. With twenty-one stops on the tour there really isn’t much time to do anything else while in this beautiful and clean city. One of the fact they told us about on the bus tour was that there is a 24 hour graffiti hotline in which you can call and report graffiti and it will be painted over within 24 hours. Pretty incredible way to guarantee a beautiful city.
On the bus tour some of the stops are Central Station, Old Town, the Royal Palace, Nybroplan theatre district, the Vasa Museum, Skasen, Grona Lund (an amusement park and zoo) and Abba Museum, just to name a few. Since we had heard a lot of good things about the Vasa Museum we made sure to make this our first stop.
I try so hard to like museums but traveling through Europe means I could spend the next 25 years just reading my way through museums! So I have become quite particular about the museums I will visit. The Vasa Museum is one that is well worth the time and money. One thing I loved about it too is that anyone under the age of 18 is free. I think all museums should be like that! What a great education for our kids! Though we didn’t have any of our children with us on this trip I will be sure to remember this museum for future vacations.
“On August 10, 1628, Vasa (a sailboat) set sail on her maiden voyage and sank in Stockholm Harbor. The wreck was salvaged in 1961 after 333 years under the sea. The reconstructed vessel, 98% original, is splendidly adorned with hundreds of carved sculptures. Today, Vasa is one of the world’s foremost tourist attractions and offers a unique insight into early 17th century Sweden.” the Vasa Museet.
This entire museum is dedicated to this one sailboat that sank in the harbor and then was brought up in the 60’s. It is an incredible sight to see. Since the ship was in brackish water it did not deteriorate like it would have in the ocean and so 98% of the ship was saved and on display all put together in the museum. Just standing next to this incredible craftsmanship was amazing. I felt dwarfed by its magnitude. After watching so many Pirate of the Caribbean movies I can now say I have seen one of these type ships in real life and it was magnificent. The museum has six levels and offers insights to sailing the ship, life on board, salvaging the Vasa, how they preserve the Vasa, and life at that time in Sweden when the Vasa sunk. Basically because the ship was so heavy with artillery and the hull was not wide or big enough for the ballast’s it quickly turned on it’s side and sank with many of the crew perishing because the sailors did not know how to swim!
Once we exited the museum we cut through an old cemetery to make it over to the ABBA museum. Recently I had seen the opening of the ABBA museum on the Today show so I was anxious to see what it had to offer. Besides a cute cut out for taking pictures in the front and a big gift shop, that was all I saw! Very disappointing. The tickets to enter the museum were $35 each!! With limited time in Stockholm we didn’t want to spend $35 on the 1 hour we would have had in the museum so we quickly abandoned the idea of going in. I figured I’d buy a t-shirt at least but when I saw the $52 price tag on the t-shirts I decided to skip that as well. This was a little bit of a disappointment for me because I really felt like ABBA is one of the best things that ever came out of Stockholm!! 😉
Also in this area of town is the Tivoli Amusement park with lots of fun rides for kids. Across the street from there is the local zoo but since we didn’t have time for either we kept on moving and jumped back on our bus for our next desired stop.
Our next stop was Hotorget or the Concert Hall stop. We jumped off of here becasue we saw a small flea market was set up in the square just infront of the Concert Hall. I was excited to see some local handicrafts but instead it was more like a garage sale. There wasn’t any treasures to find here so we quickly jumped back on the bus and headed for “Old Town”.
“Old Town” was appealing to me because it is all the oldest part of Stockholm, the area that has all of the charm and actually feels a little like being at Disneyland. Here we saw the Royal Palace with the armed guards, then we strolled down Vaasterlanggatan Street and wound our way around to Prastgatan street to find Kryp In Restaurant. Kryp In (or translated roughly into English means Crawl In) was rated #1 on Trip Advisor as the best restaurant in all of Stockholm.
So with high expectations we were able to get a table indoors as the cloud broke overhead and a soft drizzle settled on the city. It made for a perfectly romantic afternoon tucked into this small road side restaurant sitting around a candle lit table for six! I couldn’t have been more pleased. Our excellent waitress was at our table in no time and ready to take our order. With only about six items on the lunch menu there wasn’t much to choose from but we didn’t mine because all of our selections were delicious. I ended up with the seafood stew, Trent had the reindeer pasta, and some of our other friends had the venison meatballs. We all declared ours was the best and we were thrilled to know that Trip Advisor did not let us down on our lunch site selection. The only thing that could have made it better was if they were serving their rhubarb pie selection for lunch and not just part of the dinner menu.
Our walk from ther continued on Vaasterlanggatan Street with all of the old world charms of Stockholm There were lots of shops, souvenir, ice cream, clothing and more. We meandered through the streets and admired the close proximity of how these streets were built way back when. When we got to the end of the street there was some sort of festival going on with people dressed in typical attire of days past, dancing and playing music of the old world Stockholm. It was a the perfect cherry on top of this vanilla sundae that encompassed Stockholm. We grabbed a few more pictures, talked to some locals, and wished we knew the dance moves so we could join in!
Faster than we could imagine our day in Stockholm was over and it was time to jump back onto a bus and head back to the port. We weren’t quite ready to get back on the ship because my opinion of Stockholm felt incomplete. I wanted to see more. I wanted to ride the boats around the harbors, I wanted to try more restaurants, and see more sites, but this time around it was not meant to be. For me Stockholm felt like a vanilla version of London, or Paris. It had the right ingredients but it didn’t have the appeal to me as other European cities. I feel in the end that was simply just a matter of time. My time was inadequate here and I wish I had had more!! So Stockholm, until next time, keep dancing, and singing, and I’ll carve out a little more time so you can “Take a Chance on Me.”
Safe,Happy,and definitely clean Travels from here in Sweden!!