The land of the Vikings Stockholm is a compact & beautiful city. At 59 Degree N latitude its the N most city I have visited ( Only Reykjavik at 64 & Helsinki at 60 are established large cities at higher latitudes). Like any European city it has a wonderful personality and old world charm. A population of about 900,000 and 30% of the city is waterways and another 30% are parks. Its a wonderful place to walk and experience and it takes just a few hrs to cover the length & breadth of the city.
I finally got an opportunity to visit the city famous for greats like The Abba , Bjorn Borg, Greta Garbo , Ingrid Bergman & Alfred Nobel.
Thanks to our quarterly team meeting being held here I was able to spend a Sunday here. Its a short flight from Frankfurt ( 90 Min) and the Arlanda Airport is a well designed spick & span airport. The Arlanda Express connects the airport to the City in less than 20 min and the Sheraton where I stayed is right opposite the Central Station. While one can walk around the city it has excellent public transport – Buses , Taxis , Metro, boats and even Tramways.
Few Things that must be seen
The Djurgardsvagen area – which is like a large central park and covers a vast area. Its green , enchanting , peaceful and tranquil. I was up at 5.30 AM and walked to this park ( 25 min from my hotel). AS I was walking I passed a beautiful passage of tree lines roads that created a boulevard for walkers and cyclists right in the middle of a arterial road.
I spent a good 2 hrs getting lost in the peace and quiet of this wilderness. I loved this green patch which was glistening with dewdrops and spent 30 min meditating in the fresh morning air and praying that in my next birth I should be born in Europe.
Right opposite to the park is the Nordic Museum a structure that has a Russian influence. The city and its people have a mix of Russian , German , Lapland influence which is visible in their features and the architecture of the buildings. In the 9th & 10th Century the the Vikings from sweden spread all across E Europe and reached as far as Constantinople. They even invaded Russia and all but the last Tsar are of Viking descent.
Next to the Nordic Museum is the Vasa Museum. This is the most visited Museum in Stockholm ( and they have 87 Museums in the city) . The Vasa was a ship like the Titanic built in 1628. It was a War Ship built to enable the Swedes to control the Baltic – but the design was faulty and the ship sunk within an hr of setting sail. 333 years later in 1961 the wreck was salvaged. The reconstructed vessel (98% original) is now the largest Tourist Attraction in Scandinavia.
The city also has a Hop on Hop Off bus service , but this can be avoided as all the places are walking distance and the commentary and service is no comparison to what one sees in London. One good place to drop by and explore is the old city
In addition to this all along the waterways there are boat companies offering city tours , bridge tours , hop on hop off tours . One option is to link the Bus & Boat tour in one package.
What else to do – Visit the Opera House and Palaces if you have the time. The hall where the Nobel Prize is announced. Food is not a problem and there are enough Italian / Sandwich / Pizza Huts / McDonalds all over the place. One large TGIF and Hard Rock Cafe are landmarks. I did not spot an Ikea or the Ericsson HQ – and was told that its in the suburbs and not in the Central City. City shops are mainly Mom & Pop stores. Not much of SE Asians ( fortunately) and did not spot any Indian restaurants in the 8 hrs that I walked around. Lots of Chinese & Japanese Tourists.
The local currency is SEK ( Swedish Kroner) and not the Euro though Sweden is covered under the Schengen Visa. (1 SEK = 10 Rs). The place is not cheap – food for one in a simple restaurant is about 300 SEK ( 3000 INR) , the Hop on Hop Off is 260 SEK and the Arlanda Express one way is also 260 SEK ( Compare this to the 14 Pounds for the Heathrow Express – and London looks a lot cheaper). The room rate at the Sheraton is about 2000 SEK ( 20 K INR) and this was booked 60 days in advance ( The ITC Sheraton in India for 10 K / night is a lot more luxurious with superlative service) . So a one day cost for 1 person is about 10 K ( Luckily I had the room on my Rewards Points). Getting a family of 4 with 2 rooms can be a very expensive proposition.
Did I see the Aurora Borealis – No I did not . Although the hotel staff did say that it was visible on certain times of the year. I was lucky that it was a nice sunny day ( 25 Degrees) and it was bright till 8 PM. Summer days are 18 – 20 Hrs and winter nights are 18 – 20 hrs.
Thanks to my company and my manager in London one more beautiful city ticked off the – To visit list.