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Scintillating Stockholm

SWEDEN | Friday, 15 August 2008 | Views [1182]

Stockhom (3-6 July)

Getting there & accommodation

It was a pretty long day getting to Stockholm. It took a couple of train rides, including one trip on the X2000 train for which one has to pay 17E for a reservation which includes a “light meal” (sandwich) and internet access (which only worked for about ½ an hour and intermittently at that). Consequently i arrived in Stockholm feeling a tad ripped off and tired. I was looking forward to catching up on my sleep since i was in Stockholm for 4 whole nights. Alas – this wasn't to be. My hostel (2Kroner) was nice enough, awesomely located right in the Gamla Stan (old town) and had great staff... BUT it was really, really noisy - right on a main street with a really loud door that slammed every time someone came and went. And, since i was sharing my room with 11 other people and 12 more through a small dividing door – there was always someone coming and going. Add to the mix a big group of american students and one group of Irish guys – all of which were here for a week just to party and you can imagine I ended up behind rather than ahead on my sleep.

Have to acknowledge though that the guys were really entertaining (they even informed me there was such a thing as Ted Fest in Ireland, for those Father Ted fans out there) – just not so much when they stumbled back at 4am and attempted to have in depth discussions about the quality of Swedish nightlife – which is incidentally quite good although the boys had a bit of trouble trying to pull gorgeous Swedish chicks.

I got a tip from the Americans not to accept partying advice from taxi drivers – they ended up heading out to the apparently “hip” part of town where a beer cost about 70 kroner and the youngest patron was about 60.

To add to the lack of sleep situation – on Saturday – shortly after the Irish guys had got back in I felt something (it was a towel) fall on my head. Thinking this strange, as i was on a top bunk, i groggily opened my eyes only to see...one of the Irish guys ½ naked and relieving himself in the corner of the room beside my bunk...Bad enough but guess who had their luggage stored in that corner of the room...

Yup so i woke up at 5am to someone Sleep-peeing on all my worldly goods. The guy was totally out of it – he just got right back into bed and snored the rest of the night away. Meanwhile i had to get up and attempt to salvage and speed clean whatever i could.

I was the only one who witnessed this event (in the morning the pee had evaporated) so i was left with the embarrassing prospect of telling the guy's mate (whose stuff had also been lovingly sprinkled) that he just might want to wait before putting those shoes on.

Thankfully, after embarrassment all round and a thorough depletion of the hostel's supply of upholstery cleaner, we all got over it and on with out sight-seeing.

I have to admit - It has made such a great travel story!

So, enough of the negative....

Sightseeing and all that

There was SUNNY warm weather in Stockholm. I was scarcely able to believe my luck - i was informed by the locals that sun is a rare and much revered thing in Sweden. Everywhere you looked there were sunburnt people, tourists and locals alike!

Stockholm is a really gorgeous city - old buildings in pastel colours everywhere scattered over an entire archipelago of islands. Everything matches and the new buildings and art displays seem to blend seamlessly with the old. It's particularly impressive around nightfall when everything is bathed in a gorgeous pink glow. Was fantastic on Friday and Saturday night when the streets were full of people heading out on the town. There were heaps of al fresco style bars and clubs spilling out onto the streets - a great fusion of modern with cobblestonesque historical grace.

There are also a ton of free or cheap things to do – including some free museums. always a plus on a backpacking budget.

I did a lot of walking around checking out the sights (the usual buildings, castles e.t.c.) and snapping away with the camera – there are some really spectacular views to be had from the high points around the city(the “new” town – a few decades less medieval than the old town – and Sudermalm had the best vistas). As a rule – everywhere you turn there is something cool to set your eyes on.

It's a big city (geographically) so i bought a Citybike pass and grabbed a bike to get around a bit (there are bike paths scattered around the city). Was a great way to sightsee in the beaut weather. I also biked out to a couple of the islands including Djurgatan (an ex-royal playground park) which is a really beautiful park – complete with a Tivoli (fair ground) and a smattering of castles and museums.

Did the cultural thing and went to the fantastic Vasa museum on Djurgatan. The Vasa is a 1628 Swedish warship that sank 12 minutes into her maiden voyage (on it's way to king Gustave, who was fighting against his cousin in Poland - medieval politics!). Then in 1957 a guy decided to search for her and, with the help of the current King's money and a large team, they managed to locate and bring her up from the ocean floor in more-or-less one piece (the shipworm that usually destroys shipwrecks doesn't survive in the brackish Baltic ocean, so most of the wooden ship still looks brand new). Since then they have built a museum around the dry dock where they parked her. It is a really amazing place! The whole reconstruction effort and archaeological studies they have done are pretty spectacular. I was so impressed by the place I spent about 3h there.

Gastronomically - i managed to grab a couple of (semi-affordable) traditional herring dishes (delish!) and, sadly, the first McDonalds of the trip (an apple pie though - which is at least semi-respectable).

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