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May 9th 2018
Published: May 9th 2018
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Thursday 3rdMay 2018

Well, after a hectic two days in London seeing friends and the musical Chess, we left for Gatwick early on the 3rd May and after the Campervan on the M25, bus, airplane, bus, train, subway and funicular, eventually reached our Airbnb about 7.00pm (Swedish time!) in the rain!

We have bought a travelpass, at the Information Point at the airport, for 220Seks each (over 65’s) which is about £21.00 for 7 days unlimited travel on the buses, trains and ferries.

Very clear instructions of how to get to the Airbnb, which was just as well as it was quite a complicated journey, made very easy!

After a delicious meal of chicken and vegetables cooked by Erika, had a quick walk around the lake for 40mins – nice views!

Friday 4th May 2018

It gets light really early – not sure what time but at 4.30am it was light!! By 6.30am we were up and by 8.00am, on our way into the city! Got off at the Central Station for a breakfast roll and an all important adapter (we had forgotten ours!!) Back to Gamla Stan for the Free Walking Tour of the Old Town at 10.00 am.

Ena duly arrived, and we had an hour and a half walking through the old medieval tiny streets of the Old Town, one street as narrow as 90cm!! Lots of blood and gory stories but very interesting! Explained that in 1520AD, 82 leading Swedes were beheaded in the main square (Stockholm Bloodbath) and that is why the famous building is now red – it is said that as the blood ran down the street, some of it was sucked up into the stonework!! Also saw the oldest restaurant in the World 1722AD– thought we had already seen the oldest restaurant in the world in Madrid (1725AD) ?!!!

After the walking tour we had to find the Visitors Centre to pick up our Stockholm Passes (945 Sek approx online) which involved getting the Tunnelbana (Underground/Subway) one stop back to Central Station and then a walk to the centre! Walked back to Gamla Stan picking up a cheeseburger and chips for lunch before getting the hop-on, hop-off boat around the islands! Jumped onto a hop-on, hop-off bus after this, and after securing the front seats, spent an hour and a half orienting ourselves to the city!! Got off at the ABBA Museum, but it wasn’t included in our Stockholm Pass and at 250 Kroner to get in we thought it seemed a bit expensive!!

Had a wander along the waterfront, in the sun, past the cherry trees in blossom in the Central Square again before eating at Valpiano near Central Station. Back to Liljeholmen, a quick shop and another walk around the lake as it was such a beautiful evening!

Saturday 5th May 2018

Another busy day!! Decided to get the underground and bus to Drottningholm Palace (Drottning = Queen ) and left about 8.30ish getting there about 9.30ish, which was a good call as the first boat didn’t leave until 10.00am.

Drottningholm Palace began with Queen Katarina Jagellonica in 1580. Dowager Queen laid the foundations for the present day Palace and gardens in 1661 but it was burnt down a few months later. In 1744 it was given as a wedding present (I think) by King Adolf Frederik to Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Prussia who ordered a Chinese Pavillion and a theatre to be built! This was passed onto their son Gustav III who was murdered at the age of 47 years and the theatre remained unused until the 19thCentury,

We managed to see the outside of the Palace and gardens with very few visitors and were the first visitors in the Palace (until hoards of Japanese children arrived with their smart phones!!) Quite a dark and dingy place but a few nice rooms and views from the windows – one room had a photograph of a particular ugly baby – Karl XIII – I think he took after his mother whose photograph was above!!

Had a stroll around the gardens and lakes afterwards and wended our way to the Chinese Pavilion that opened at 11.00am. Had a good wander around – it was used by the Royal Family as a day room and had a separate building for dining and also the Queen’s toilet hidden away behind a wall screening. Mostly decorated in pink with lots of Chinese things in it! Wandered past the aviary (old! Built about 1775 (I think!) and back down to the Theatre where we booked our tickets for the guided tour at 1.00am. It’s an amazing place – its one of Europes best preserved 18th Century theatres with original scenery, 200 year old stage machinery and interior decoration virtually untouched by the passage of time.

Caught the ferry boat back to Gamla Stan, where after a quick lunch. We boarded a boat and went through the royal canal and around and around the island of Djurgarden, after which we jumped on another ferry boat to the island of Fjaderholmarna. Quite a small island – well it took less than 30mins to walk all around it!! Had an ice-cream and looked in a couple of the craft shops then caught the boat back to Gamla Stan again!!

Strolled around in the late sun, had a meal and then walked up to Monteliusvagen for some wonderful views of the sunset and the Old Town. Got back to Airbnb about 9.00ish!

Sunday 6th May 2018

Ok so not everyday goes as you would wish but hey, two out of three aint bad!!! Messed up today a bit!! Decided we would go to the SkyView in the morning before going on a boat trip to Vaxholm that went at midday! That was the plan!!

Firstly we got on the tram going the wrong way and lost a vital 20mins – by the time we got to SkyView it was 10.30am and we had just missed that slot, the next one was 10.50am…1/2hr trip…pushing it to be back for the boat trip for 12.00am.

Got subway into the city instead, queued up for the boat ticket at 11.15am – only to told that the cruise around Vaxholm had sold out, and the only trip available was 2 1/2hrs guided cruise tour around the archipelago that didn’t leave until 2.00pm! Booked on that and as we had nearly 3hrs in the sun, went to the Botanical Gardens and Edvard Anderson conservatory. It was ok…but….well……I have seen better!! Quick lunch in the park and then boarded Ostana 1, the old steamboat, for our cruise.

It was a good cruise! Went out of the harbour and then into the near Archipelago, past lots of very small islands, Storra Hoggarn, and went between Ostra and Vastra Granholmen, with a glimpse of Vaxholm which is known as the capital of the archipelago. The Danish fleet had entered Stockholm in 1520 and Finland became Russian in 1809 so when the fortress was built in Vaxholm, between 1833 and 1863, it was already out of date. Today it is a museum and a bed and breakfast!!

Back at 4.15pm – too late to go into the Royal palace but we did look into the Royal Chapel before it closed at 5.00pm and then decided to walk to the Fotografiska Museum, as this had a lot of good reviews on Trip Advisor! (and was open until 11.00pm!!) Was it worth the walk through the major development works in Slussen ?? I don’t really think so – I suppose it depends on what exhibitions are being shown, but I wasn’t that impressed by it!

Evening drink and a meal in Gamla Stan then back to the Airbnb to plan tomorrow!

Monday 7th May 2018

The plan was to get the tram to Globen to do the SkyView when it first opened, get the tram back to Gamla Stan to do the inside of the Royal Palace, then walk to Skansen, and get in by 1.15pm, as that’s when our Stockholm Pass expired!

It worked!!! We weren’t able to go on the SkyView until 10.30am – it takes about 1/2hr altogether, saw some good views, but it did seem like quite away from the centre of Stockholm. Tube back to Gamla Stan and a quick run around inside the dark and gloomy Palace – saw the State rooms, Guest rooms and somehow we also managed to see the Royal Apartments and as we left, caught a glimpse of the new guards marching away from the Palace.

Across the road and as it was hot, we got the hop-on, hop-off boat to Skansen with just over 1/2hr to spare on our Pass, so we headed to the Aquarium which was an extra charge, but managed to include on the Pass! Excellent zoo and enclosures as well as fish, crocodiles and free roaming monkeys as well! After a quick excellent lunch in the café we wandered around Skansen looking at the old buildings! Excellently portrayed with many of the buildings open, so that you could see inside and ask the guides further questions! Fascinating stuff! Wandered around the top of the huge park and watched the Brown Bears for a while as they had just come out of hibernation, saw some moose, reindeers and seals! No sign of the wolves!

At 5.00pm we headed back to the tube and caught it to Skarholmen, where there is the biggest Ikea in the world! We had saved the best until last!! Had to get a No 173 bus to Ikea as there were too many motorways to cross, and then had meatballs for our dinner!! Wandered around for a while, then got the 173 bus to Fruangen where we could easily catch the tube back to Liljholmen and the Airbnb!

Tuesday 8th May 2018

Today was a travelling back to UK day as our flight was at 14.10 so we left at 9.30am in plenty of time and got to the airport about 10.45am. Went to Arrivals to find some people to give our Travel cards to (still 2 days unlimited travel on all modes of transport in Stockholm). Found some Australians who were very grateful and insisted on exchanging for a London Oyster card with some credit on it. Sat outside enjoying the sunshine for a while, before succumbing to Airport Security etc! Landed at Gatwick about 15.20 local time after flying over the archipelago of Sweden and probably some sandy Danish Islands, and then Chris had to drive home to South Wales.

My thoughts on Stockholm … is an excellent city to visit and whereas we can normally ‘do’ a City in 2 days, it felt like Stockholm needed more time and even 4 days left us with a lot of things left to do!! It was a good job we had seen the Vasa Museum last time we were here!! Definitely worth getting a Travel Card and a Stockholm Pass and we were blessed with good Spring weather and blue skies for most of the trip.

Travel tips :

Buy a Travel card at Arlanda airport Visitor Centre for your entire length of stay. Catch 583 bus to Marsta station (approx. 10 mins) and commuter train 36 into Stockholm City/Central (approx. 40 mins). Connect with Metro to your accommodation destination. Same in reverse on return. All included on Travel card + all public transport during your stay (train, bus, tram, ferry).

The Travel card is much cheaper than Arlanda Express train to Stockholm City (approx. 20 mins) or Flygbussarna airport buses (approx. 40 mins to Stockholm City.

Buy a “Stockholm Pass” online and pick up free at Main Central Visitor Centre. Includes entry into Stockholm’s 60 top attractions including hop-on-hop-off bus and hop-on-hop-off boat. The Pass seems expensive but cost quickly recouped after several attractions and savings guaranteed.

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