We decided to take a mini break from our big break. This was prompted by British Airways writing to us informing us that we’d lose our air miles if we didn’t use them soon. We checked out destinations from City Airport and chose Stockholm. I hadn’t been this far north before and I could feel my hair becoming blonder as we neared our destination.
Sweden has a lot of trees - and water. As we descended towards the capital, I was expecting to see a few buildings and some urbanization but no, pine trees everywhere; we flew into a pine forest.
This year the weather has been following us, so of course we disembarked into bright, warm sunshine. I’m thinking of asking tourist boards around the world to pay us to visit them. We were soon ascending a bright functional staircase where Mags observed, “I feel like I’ve walked into a giant Ikea”
We whizzed into the city on an efficient express train and arrived at our Hotel just south of Gamla Stan at Slussen. We paid a little extra at check in to be upgraded to the executive floor where there’s a free bar from 6 to 8:30 every evening. The Swedes have taxed the pants off alcohol so this was definitely a good deal. After a few sherbets we headed into the historic old town for dinner. We’d uncovered a Swedish restaurant in the guide books that looked OK and we had a fine meal. Mags went for the reindeer so Santa may have a slightly harder job this year to deliver the presents. I had fish stew that was delicious.
Our primary purpose for coming was, need you ask, to visit the Abba museum. This was reached via a short ferry ride to Djurgarden, a large park to the east of the city. Great fun it was too, with plenty of opportunity for karaoke and singing on stage with simulated Abba cartoons. There’s lots of memorabilia including the original, gold, star shaped guitar from their historic 1974 Eurovision winning performance of Waterloo in Brighton.
Next attraction, also on the island, is the Vasa museum. Here an enormous 17th century wooden warship is housed. It was built by King Gustav II Aldof as the ultimate statement of power with 64 cannons on board. Unfortunately, after years in the making, it sank after fifteen hundred metres into its maiden voyage. I wouldn’t have wanted to be around the King that day. Fortunately for him, the shipwright had died a year earlier. An inquest was held to which no one turned up. I expect they thought they’d be lynched. Modern academics think it sank due to poor design and not enough ballast. It was raised by the Swedes in 1961 and lovingly preserved in a purpose built, environmentally controlled building. Very impressive it is too.
We lunched at Omermalmstorg Saluhall in the indoor food market at Lisa Elmqvist. This is a traditional Swedish seafood restaurant. It’s now or never, I thought, and duly ordered the pickled herring tasting plate. Six types of pickled herring came in various sauces coupled with rye bread and cheese. It was really good. No, honestly. Mags went for the safer Brill in lobster sauce that she said was superb.
We spent most of our remaining time wandering the cobbled streets of the old town admiring the beautiful buildings unmolested by modern development. Stockholm is often referred to as the Venice of the North, and I can’t help thinking that the comparison refers to the prices as well as the abundance of water. We couldn’t help taking to the sea so we jumped aboard the imaginatively named “Under the Bridges Tour” and spent a relaxing couple of hours cruising around some of the city’s fourteen islands. We strolled around Djurgarden for a while soaking up the Sunday sun and then kicked back in the late afternoon at “Mister French”, a chilled out restaurant / bar on the eastern shore of Gamla Stan, sipping wine while people and boat watching. Here we saw this lot taking a group selfie.
You may be wondering how we managed with the language but of course everyone speaks English. Stockholm’s a great little city for a weekend break and only two hours from City Airport. I think we’ll have to come back when we’ve saved up.