My furthest trip North to date - and Sweden gets pinned!

Stockholm Travel Blog

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Mondan restaurant

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 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 not use nicknames or the western name for people from Asia.

Hotel Birger Jarl have to use the real name!

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 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.

  I was a little upset to be missing Queen's Day, but there's nothing going on, is there? 

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 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's a good omen.  A couple in the first row of the closer lot getting into their car.  Out they go, and YES.

..please take a ticket.  In we are, and off we go!

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 and rainy, but that was expected...the next day was supposed to be much nicer (it was!).

  As soon as we got off the bus, we saw a rank of taxis ready to whisk us away.  The hotel said a taxi should cost 90 SEK, but the driver is pointing to a sign stating fixed rate 135 SEK.  That's 4.5 Euros more than we should pay!  I decided to play cheap and we walked to the front of the train station where the normal metered taxis were.  Off to the hotel...we get to the corner, the hotel is right in front of us...and the taxi turns left!  Drives up the block..."What was the number again?"  " drove past it!"  "Oh, here it is...that'll be 140 SEK."  "!"  Well, this went on for a couple minutes, but after threatening to write down the medallion number and make a call, he relented and I only paid 100 SEK (which is what the meter was at when he turned left.
..I'm not a crook, just don't like being cheated.)

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).

..but then decided to walk as the weather turned out to be as nice as expected.  Wandered down around the area we walked the prior night and then walked down Sveavägen until we detoured off to see the Johannes Kyrkan.  Passed a cool little fire station and KGB before wandering back over to Sveavägen for the remainder of the walk towards Centralen.  Made our way into Sergels torg and down Drottninggaten (main shopping street) into Gamla Stan.  We'd be back, as it turns out the shops are all open today!

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.

..and I confirm this with the leader of the soldiers in BDUs...who mentions that there may not even be one today, however, as there are demonstrations taking place and they may need everyone there.  It's barely 11 now, so we decide to head into the Great Church (Storkyrkan), but they have a ceremony going on and no tourists until 12:30.  Guess there's time to wander some more before the church and hopefully changing of the guard.

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.

  I wander around Södermalm for a short time, then a little while later decide to start heading back towards the palace.  I walk up Mårten Trotzigs Gränd (narrowest street in Stockholm?) and find myself in front of the bronze rendition of St. George and the Dragon.  Slip back to Järntorget for a picture of the lifelike Evert Taube statue, wander through Tyska kyrkan, back through Stortorget and into the courtyard where the preparations are being finalized for the changing of the guard!  Wow, time flies!  Then I look at my cell phone, figuring I left my friend alone much longer than intended and we missed's only barely noon!  The ceremony is an hour early!!!

Side 1991, my sister and I were at Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.

  We were supposed to meet the rest of our group at 11; she looked at her watch, and said we had to run to make it in time...even though the changing of the guard had not yet occurred!  I was very upset :-(  We got there in time all hour early!  She had misread her watch!  Since that day, I have made it a point to see the changing of the guard in as many cities as possible, always calling her during the ceremony (except at Arlington, where you do NOT make a sound).  To this day, however, neither of us has seen the changing of the guard at Buckingham day we'll both be there together and THEN we'll both see it where we left off.

Anyway, I catch another changing of the guard ceremony, wander through the Storkyrkan and see the wooden version of St.

George and the Dragon, catch the end of the ceremony (yes, still going on after 45 minutes), stop at the Finnish church to see the tiny statue and leave my coin, and then cross back over to Norrmalm to try to meet up with my friend.  Now, you may be asking what kind of selfish, rude SOB I am doing all this without her?  Well, please note, before we separated, she had me call her cell to make sure it worked.  It did.  As soon as I finished in Södermalm I tried again, and for the next hour I've been trying every 10's not working...even with voicemails!  It wasn't until after I wandered through Gustav Adolfs torg (call), Karl XII's Torg (call) and finally into Kungsträd gärden that I think to try sending an SMS instead.
..instant response!  Should have tried that earlier.

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.

..and the tower closes at 4.  I make it in, opt for the stairs (who needs elevators...especially if they only go halfway!) and get to the top for a great view of the city.  Do try to make it here if you looks a little out of the way to get here, but it's not as bad walk.  FInish with the tower and wander through the garden of the Stadshuset for a while then head back to the meeting point and have a much needed cup of coffee while I wait.

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.

  As we're across from the Grand Hôtel, we wander over and see the menu for the Verandan restaurant which includes a Smörgåsbord...another thing we both had wanted to try, so we make a reservation for after the boat tour, head over towards the national museum for another coffee and rest, then back to the boat to board.  We take the 50-minute Royal Canal Tour around Djurgården seeing the home of an ABBA member amongst other sights then head back to the Grand Hôtel for dinner.

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.

..a first for me) and then finally the hot dishes (including sole, crayfish tails, and of course, Swedish Meatballs!)  A little Aquavit between courses and a great Swedish beer (Nils Oscar God Lager...I need to find this one again).  Some homemade ice cream and fresh fruit for desert.  Well contended, we head back to the hotel, a day of sightseeing (and shopping) completed to both of our satisfaction.

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.

..with Vaduz, Koningeningnacht, and Stockholm; I was ready to realx for a couple stop, Asia!

ms_travelr says:
Brett, talk about a full day ! A friend and I had a similiar taxi incident in London. We were going back to our hotel and asked the driver to drop us off at Harvey Nichols. When we were counting out the coins to pay him, he drove by the store. I noticed and mentioned this to him and he made some excuse about the which corner of the store, blah, blah. We refused to pay the extra and refused our money and threatened to call the police. So my friend threw the money onto the driver's side seat and pulled out her mobile and when she offered to call the police for him, he drove away. We still had a great trip despite this incident, glad you did to.
Posted on: May 05, 2008
tvillingmarit says:
Nice to see you liked Nils Oskar God Lager
Posted on: May 05, 2008
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Mondan restaurant
Mondan restaurant
Hotel Birger Jarl
Hotel Birger Jarl
Ok...guess I may need a haircut
Ok...guess I may need a haircut
King me!
King me!
Stockholm Hotels & Accommodations review
Birger Jarl Hotel
I was very pleased with this hotel. I stayed here two nights at the end of April, 2008. Had a single room, and was very pleased with the room. Brea… read entire review
photo by: Chokk