My furthest trip North to date - and Sweden gets pinned!
Stockholm Travel Blog› entry 277 of 347 › view all entries
Around four weeks I received an email from an old friend / colleague saying she was going to be coming to the Netherlands for a month. Did I want to go to Barcelona? Well, to be honest, I've been there twice now...so I basically said no. "What abour Rome?" "No thanks, twice as well...what about Stockholm?" "Hm...Why not!" So Stockholm it was to be (she's off to Barcelona this weekend still while I'm off to Asia). Checked my trusty Ryanair and found reasonably affordable tickets so booked them...and as soon as I hit book, I realized my mistake! WAIT!!! No luck, it had gone through. Reminder folks, the name on the reservation must match the name on the passport...do not use nicknames or the western name for people from Asia.
I called the local Ryanair support desk, and was basically told "Sure, we can fix that for you...but it will cost 100 Euros!" "Um, excuse me?" "Sure, we can fix that for you for 100 Euros...but, well, try calling the main number in Ireland and maybe they can help you out..." Well, ok, time to try Ireland...and one week later, I finally managed to get the phone to ring and talk to a real person. I do have to admit though, it worked and they fixed the reservation and only charged 10 Euros...so we're back on track.
Booked a hotel (review will come soon) and looked forward to the big day. We had decided to fly on Queen's Day as those were the cheapest outbound tickets with cheap return 2 days later.
Boom! Within a day, there's a TB meetup in Amsterdam on Queen's Day. Argh! Well, as the previous entry shows, I still managed to celebrate Queen's Day Eve in Amsterdam with the TB gang and then sleep through a brutal train ride back to Eindhoven (where I did manage to sneak in another hour nap...no Queen's Day for me!) in time to pick up my friend and head to the airport.
We left a little early and good thing we did! Both long term parking lots at the Eindhoven airport were full! But wait...here's a good omen. A couple in the first row of the closer lot getting into their car. Out they go, and YES.
We arrived at Skavsta airport, and I must say, they need to do some work there. Two flights arriving at the same time, almost 20 minutes before the bags came out (don't blame me...I only had a carry on), a single ATM in the joint (decided to go the Forex route just to skip the line), and only a single working ticket counter for busses to the city. Another 30+ minutes and we had our bus tickets and made it onto the bus for the hour ride to the city. We had a brief discussion on plans for the next day, but what's this...May 1 is a bank holiday! Will anything be open?
The weather on arrival was pretty dreary...cool and rainy, but that was expected...the next day was supposed to be much nicer (it was!).
NO MORE RANTING...the rest of the trip was great!!!
The hotel (Birger Jarl) was very nice, check in was a breeze, dropped off our bags and went for a little walk to find dinner...quietish neighborhood, couple restaurants, but mostly Italian. We found the Hard Rock Cafe around 3 blocks away and I picked up my required hat for my collection (had to stop back the next night for the shot glasses for my brother and sister) then moved off to still try and find a restaurant. Wound up at the place across the street from the hotel...mondān. It looked a little pricy, but the menu looked good, it had a decent crowd, and turned out to be excellent food! And off to bed, finally get some sleep!
Next day we met for breakfast and bought a stripcard good for like 15 metro rides (multiple people share one card).
We cross over Riksbron, past the Riddarhuset and into Riddarholmen to see the Riddarholms Kyrkan and other buildings in Birger Jarls torg. Walked down to Evert Taubes terrass for an incredible view of the harbor and Stadshuset, and sneak over for a look at Jarlstorn and back through the torg to Gamla Stan.
From here we walked over to the Kunglia Slottet (Royal Palace) and things looked awful quiet. There were a couple guards on duty. Looking forward, there's a tour group gathered around a sign. I wander over to take a look, hoping it's a timetable that says when/if there will be a changing of the guard. A couple people walk behind me heading towards the stairs when suddenly I hear a shout "HALT!!!" The normally stoic guard in dress uniform is stomping towards the people who passed behind me, and within seconds, three more soldiers in battle dress and fully armed come running over to block off the walkway towards the stairs. I guess that way is off limits today!
According to the timetable, the changing of the guard should be taking place around 1:15.
We wander a little more through Gamla Stan, through Stortorget and towards Södermalm, intending to catch the Katarina lift to see the view from the top, but being May 1, it's closed. At this point, we've been walking for a couple hours, and my friend wants to take a break back in Centralen and do some shopping, so we decide to split up and meet later for Lunch.
Side story...in 1991, my sister and I were at Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.
Anyway, I catch another changing of the guard ceremony, wander through the Storkyrkan and see the wooden version of St.
We finally met back up around 1:30 and went to get some lunch, eating at Pyttirian kök & bar in Kungshallen where we try some Swedish specialties (and I try a Swedish beer...not bad actually!) After lunch I see an internet cafe in the Kungshallen and sneak on for a couple minutes to check TB while she uses the restroom (I am such an addict!!!) and then we wander through the Centralen area for a while before deciding to split up again around 3:30 to meet up again at 5, this way she can do more shopping and I can try to fit in some more sightseeing.
At this point, I wander over to the Stadshuset, and good thing I did...I made it into the short line for the tower ascent at 3:50.
After we meet back up, we decide the last thing either of us really has on our list of things to do is take a boat ride, so we head over to the dock where the tourist boats leaves, hoping to catch the 5:30 tour. We get there in time, but it's already sold out, so we buy our tickets for the 6:30 (and last) boat.
And what a dinner!!! I kept the plates small as I wanted to sample a little of everything. Start with the herring dishes and some fresh bread. Next the fish dishes and salmon, marinated and smoked. Some salads and cold cuts (including leg of reindeer.
The next day we have to catch the 10:40 bus to the airport, but I wake up early and take a little stroll through the area to the northeast of the hotel, past Engelbrekts Kyrnan, the technical highschool, the stadium and through Humlegården and then off to the airport and the end of the journey. I decided to skip the drive to Salzburg to finish the weekend.