And after all the drama, I have arrived!

Stockholm Travel Blog

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My hostel, the ship (read review for more details)

So, after all the constant (and expensive international roaming calls) between BA and AA, I finally got booked onto the early 7am flight to Stockholm. That meant an early rise for me, and I caught the 430a hotel shuttle bus to LHR. It stopped off at T4 first before moving on to T5. I always say this, but I can't believe how "alive" LHR is even in the wee hours of the morning. Checkin was fairly quick, and I headed to the Galleries lounge in the A gates to while away time (and have my breakie of course, I love their porridge).

Boarding was called on time,  just that it was at the opposite end so it was a bit of a schlep. The flight was fairly peaceful (although the flight was full).

View of Gamla Stan from my ship-hostel
I slept for the most part, and woke up right around when the descent had started. I'm always 'sharp' during landings as it gives you quite a good preview of the place you're about to visit. And I could tell I was going to love Stockholm. It almost reminded me of...well, Seattle. So many islands and lakes and trees in the finest autumn hues, and all so well stitched together. The landing was smooth, and we taxied to the gate in no time. 

I was quite surprised - seeing as Arlanda is supposed to be the busiest airport in Scandinavia (or for that matter, inc. Finland and the Baltics), it was so empty! Very few aircraft (mostly SAS) parked at the gates, literally zero wide bodies, and to think we landed at a respectable 11am! The airport was super quiet, immigration was done in seconds and I had to wait for the luggage for a bit.

Gamla Stan
I was seeing display of  the departure times of the next Arlanda Express (their Heathrow Express). After grabbing my luggage and buying a rather overpriced Arlanda Express ticket (US$60 return), I took what was a long, long, loooong escalator to grab the train. You can tell this is a city proud of ABBA - ABBA was playing at the escalators and the platforms. The platforms were clean, free wifi and wooden benches shaped in very fancy ways. Like Denmark and Finland, simplicity is King in these parts.

The ride on the Arlanda Express was nice. It takes about 30 minutes, free wifi and all, and whilst you can buy tickets on board, it costs more. The screens kept spitting facts of Stockholm and Sweden, in addition to urging us to visit the ABBA museum.

Stockholm was cold! Colder than what I'd imagined for October.

Gamla Stan (centre)
As in, get your scarf out cold. Seeing as this country doesn't use the Euro, my first goal was to withdraw cash, and then buy a timed 1 hour public transport ticket. It was a bit of a run around finding the right bus stop to get to my hostel, but good thing in Scandinavia is that almost everyone speaks English. The main terminus area looked a bit "mainstream" and run down and dingy and I was thinking "oh dear God, what will I do here for 4 days?". But as we left the station and headed towards my hostel, I could tell it was a beautiful city. So much expanse - water bodies, public parks, etc. I'd told the bus driver where I needed to alight, and he promptly called me when the stop arrived. My hostel is a boat (see review for more details).

There seemed like a Sunday family lunch going on at the hostel when I arrived, but turns out that it's quite famous with families nearby who show up for lunch here on weekends.

Royal Palace
I left my luggage in the adjoining storage room, grabbed a town map and headed for a round of sightseeing. It was already past noon. My hostel had a beautiful view of the river and Gamla Stan. Simply amazing. It was so quiet, and so atmospheric.

I walked along the beautiful harbour and saw the famous crown insignia on the bridges. 

As per wont, I always get overwhelmed when I arrive in a new town, no matter how many times I do this. So, needless to say, I wanted to visit everything in the world, so remembered my mum's advice: always take a boat tour where available. Best form of orientation! So off I went on the 1 hour boat ride. Grabbed a choco croissant and a coffee for company. It would leave from literally a few minutes away  from the hostel.

The beautiful path towards my hostel
  The tour was really informative and warm! And gave me a good orientation of things. Again, references to famous Swedish celebs including ABBA, and the guide pointed out to the posh neighbourhood (with the very Parisian boulevard feeling) where Bjorn and Benny own houses, etc. 

After alighting from the tour, I stepped out and walked along the river which curved to the other side, and there I was - the historic old town, aka Gamla Stan. I will say that it's a very pretty old town.  That said, especially with all the travel I've done this year, nothing I hadn't seen before. What continued to impress me about this part of Europe is how darn quiet the towns are - even during peak tourist times such as a Sunday afternoon. I generally just walked around the quiet bylanes, peeped into touristy shops in the main lanes, and of course took  photos by the main square with the Cathedral and the Nobel Museum.

Not sure what building this is, but it was right by my hostel
I noticed that glass artwork and stuffied dummies of reindeer and owls were very famous here. I get the artwork and reindeer, but not sure why tourist shops sell generic owl dummies.

I continued walking till the very end, then got out of the Gamla Stan and walked along the harbour. The sun started to peep out right before it would set...but seeing my hostel (ship) with the sun rays on it was something else. It's times like these you just feel so fortunate to be able to travel.

I continued walking past the palace (with some photo ops) towards the pedestrian shopping areas. This is probably the first time I've had my woolen scarf on for so long! I was hungry (well, and had to pee) so stopped in for a falafel shop. That, and also it seemed like the only cheap variety of hot food over here! The owners were surprisingly not Turkish (I know, stereotyping) but Syrian Christians who had some interesting stories, esp when he knew I'm Indian.

Gamla Stan
He was telling me about how many Syrian Christians there are in India, and pulled out a wiki article to confirm the figure as well. I was quite surprised, talk about learning something new!

The rest of the evening (or should I say night? 5pm and pitch dark already!) was spent walking the main pedestrian areas. I browsed some of the kitchen/home stores to look for some new marimekkos and other Scandinavian brands to add to the kitchen. I wasn't going to buy anything just yet, I just made mental notes. I also saw a brand I wasn't expecting, or heard of - Happy Socks! yes, a Swedish designer sock company that had some pretty cool socks to be honest!

Dinner was a frozen broc mac and cheese tray picked up from a local convenience store. As I'd purchased a multi day ticket, that and Google Maps helped me locate the right bus stop to get back to the hostel.

Walking towards Gamla Stan
I  checked into my room in the ship, only 2 out of 6 beds were taken. 

Fortunately, internet connection was really good in the ship (contrary to reviews I'd read) so spent some time catching up on email, uploading photos, etc. and chatting with my only roommate - a nice fairly senior Italian bloke. Tomorrow would be my first proper day of sightseeing.

Ils1976 says:
Haha, the happy socks ... it has blown over to our country as well ... cool aren't they! :D
Posted on: Jan 01, 2018
trippin_jen says:
I wonder if it gets even more quite in Winter?
Can you share details of the multi-day ticket? You mentioned bus stops? Is it easier than trains?
Posted on: Dec 29, 2017
Paulovic says:
Although I haven't been there, I can tell from relatives stories that Stockholm is Scandinavia's prettiest capital.
Posted on: Dec 12, 2017
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My hostel, the ship (read review f…
My hostel, the ship (read review …
View of Gamla Stan from my ship-ho…
View of Gamla Stan from my ship-h…
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan (centre)
Gamla Stan (centre)
Royal Palace
Royal Palace
The beautiful path towards my host…
The beautiful path towards my hos…
Not sure what building this is, bu…
Not sure what building this is, b…
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Walking towards Gamla Stan
Walking towards Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
My hostel
My hostel
Bridge by my hostel
Bridge by my hostel
The church by the palace
The church by the palace
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
I honestly forgot what this was!
I honestly forgot what this was!
Palace
Palace
This was the posh neighbourhood wh…
This was the posh neighbourhood w…
TV station/transmission tower
TV station/transmission tower
I think this is a museum
I think this is a museum
The photography museum and the cru…
The photography museum and the cr…
former warehouses
former warehouses
View of the river from the Palace
View of the river from the Palace
Church and statue by the palace
Church and statue by the palace
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan - the busy shopping are…
Gamla Stan - the busy shopping ar…
The long long pathway that goes fr…
The long long pathway that goes f…
Gamla Stan - who knew there was a …
Gamla Stan - who knew there was a…
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan
Again, forgot who this is
Again, forgot who this is
Palace
Palace
Palace - thats probably the only …
Palace - that's probably the only…
Road leading to the palace (Gamla …
Road leading to the palace (Gamla…
By royal palace
By royal palace
So, one can fish in this river tha…
So, one can fish in this river th…
Stockholm Hotels & Accommodations review
An extremely safe and well thought of hostel...plus you sleep on a ship!
af Chapman is YHA's Stockholm offering. The premises consists of 2 parts: an 1800s main building where the reception, self help facilities, restaurant… read entire review
Stockholm
photo by: Chokk