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Adventures of a short vet

Swanning Around Stockholm

FINLAND | Wednesday, 15 June 2011 | Views [645]

After another hearty breakfast I boarded the Viking Line Ferry for my ten hour trip to Stockholm. I decided to take the day ferry as the night ferry is ridiculously expensive at £180 (and you have to book a cabin quite far in advance) whereas the day ferry is a whopping £10. Plus you get to see more of the archipelago of islands in the channel. Though in the summer there’s probably enough light to do so on the overnight trip as well and if you are into your all night parties then the night ferry is a good bet. I started off the trip in the main café, but soon had enough of the cheesy lounge singer and managed to find a “quiet” room set up with airline seats but with more legroom than in a plane. I snagged a seat and was surprised at how quickly the time passed reading, napping and watching the odd movie on my laptop. Though after the 24 hour flights between NZ and the rest of the world, any other trip is a breeze!

We finally arrived in Stockholm around 7pm and it is a beautiful city right on the water. Unfortunately Mosebacke Hostel is not so beautiful – a tiny, claustrophobic room with no windows (though to be fair the ventilation is surprisingly good), a dining room but no common room, a useless receptionist who didn’t even show me where my room was and…two words…communal showers. Single sex of course, but it is still not a pleasant sight to walk in on a stark naked overweight old woman just wandering about the bathroom first thing in the morning. When in Sweden…

It’s so difficult to gauge time in the Vampire Hostel, as I now refer to it due to it’s complete lack of windows and daylight. On the other hand I managed to sleep in for the first time in a while with no 3am dawn waking me up. After breakfast I wandered out into the overcast day and down to the waterfront where I visited the castle in Gamla Stan – one of the largest royal palaces in the world still in use for its original purpose. A combination ticket took me through all of the opulent apartments, down to the cellars to see the archaeological stuff, and on to the treasury to look at a lot of shiny stuff. I even managed to snag a good spot to watch the changing of the guards, complete with a band that made its way through the streets to the parade ground in front of the castle. There were quite a few female soldiers, which you don’t often see in the guards.

In my quest to find a supermarket I ended up discovering an underground fruit/meat market with a lot of lunch stalls, so I had to stop for a coffee at a stall run by a rasta (random!). But it was a great coffee and it was quite nice to sit there and people watch at the marketplace. I emerged from the market to find the afternoon weather had improved, so decided to walk down to the waterfront and then on to Skeppsholmen – a little island with a castlet and a couple of museums on it. Dinner was an “Afterwork Special” of nachos and beers at a Mexican restaurant. Well you can’t always eat local!

The following day I was planning on cycling around Djurgarden, an island of museums and parkland, but the weather was terrible with rain most of the day, so instead I walked over (fully weatherproofed) and spent a couple of hours wandering around the Viking Museum, learning about the “Vasa” ship that sank just 1500m into her maiden voyage over 300 years ago. This occurred due to a combination of poor design (too narrow and not enough ballast), too many cannons (double row instead of single) and an impatient king (needing more ships for the war) leading to the ship capsizing as water rushed into the gun turrets when she turned after a naval salute leaving the harbour. Not much of a trip. Three hundred years later it was found and recovered as the most intact wreck due to the preserving effects of the cold water (and lack of shipworm), and brought up by a feat of engineering ingenuity. It’s now sitting in the great hall of the museum and is amazing to see. I then headed over to the much less crowded Nordic Museum, where I learnt about the local Sami people (also known as the Laps) and about how the Swedish people used to live. Wandering through the drizzle on the way home I stumbled onto a Thai Festival, complete with Thai dancers, kickboxing exhibitions and an amazing Thai drumming session. So I enjoyed the entertainment while drinking some traditional Thai beer and eating authentic Thai food.

On my last day in town I had to change hostels and was not too upset to leave the vampire hostel. After breakfast I walked the 30 minutes to the Kungsholmen area where Lodge 32 was located. It’s a good thing they have a sign warning you to watch your step as the front door opens straight onto a steep set of stairs to the below ground hostel. It’s yet another hostel with no windows and the bedroom was quite cramped, but at least the showers were separate. I took advantage of the improved weather to walk through the Djurgaden park, having lunch in the sun on the riverfront before heading up to the massive TV tower “Kaknastornet” in Ladugardsgardet. Here you can catch the elevator up to the lookout platform on the 30th floor for a view of the city, before having a drink or snack on the bar floor while looking out of the panoramic windows. After a nice cold cider I walked back down to Djurgaden and past the amusement park and Skansen Open Air Museum whre a jazz festival was taking place.

Tags: djurgarden, ferry, nordic museum, skeppsholmen, stockholm, vasa ship

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