The decision to go to Stockholm was quite a rushed one. We were just about to go to sleep and as always I am on Sky Scanner scouting cheap tickets till the second I close my eyes at night. I found a great deal to Stockholm and in literally 5 mins, with flights booked, we were going to go to Sweden in a few weeks!! Now, we usually do a lot of research prior to booking a trip looking at flight details, accommodation costs, where to stay, what there is to do in the city but since we moved to London other than Stratford Upon Avon, we hadn't been on an international trip just the two of us! So we were keen to spend some quality monkey + possum time and didn't really research prior to booking our flights.
A few days later, when we were looking at the details we realised that our flight was in fact going to land in the outskirts of Stockholm (approx 2 hours away outside of the main city) at Skavsta - a regional airport! No wonder the flights were so cheap! :) Pro Tip: Always check the airport location if you are booking flights with cheaper airlines like Ryanair and Easy Jet. These airline carriers may not always fly in and out of main airports.
We landed at Skavsta really late on the Friday night and decided to crash at an Airport hotel for the night. Connect Hotel was a fabulous choice - right at the airport, really nice, clean and includes breakfast!
The next day we made our way to Stockholm City. Getting to the city isn't difficult from Skavsta but you do need to evaluate all the options in terms of costs and travel time. We decided to bus it there and train it back. If at all you end up at Skavsta and want to know more details on how to get to Stockholm City, leave us a comment and we'd be happy to help you guys out :)
In Stockholm, we were staying at THE COOLEST place! We were staying in a SHIP docked in the city! The massive cruise liner, M/S Birger Jarl offers accommodation without having to be on a cruise! (They do offer a complimentary lunch time cruise though!)
All checked in, we headed to Gamla Stan - the old town of Stockholm. It was approx a 20 minute walk (on a very windy day!) but we didn't mind! We were in a new city and we couldn't wait to explore it! :D
This is the heart of Stockholm with winding narrow cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, beautiful architecture and lots of buzz!! This is the essence of the city! You could easily spend hours getting lost in Gamla Stan.
The main iconic colourful buildings in the heart of Gamla Stan are good places to stop for a quick bite. Agreed - it is heavily packed with tourists, but it is a great spot to people watch and soak in all the euphoria of the city! :)
After a quick bite, we headed to The Royal Palace. Set on the river bed, the Palace is the official residence of the Swedish monarch. The magnificent structure is beautiful from outside but even more impressive from the inside!
Since it was just us two, with no itinerary planned, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Gamla Stan, exploring new alley ways and posing for the camera! :D We also found a very chic cafe called Fabrique for fika! (Fika is a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning "to have coffee", often accompanied with pastries, cookies or pie! Yum yum!)
Being a Scandinavian country, Stockholm is a playground for architects and graphic designers enthusiastic about form and function - The home of IKEA where clean functional lines meet beautiful designed aesthetics. We didn't have a chance to go all the way to IKEA (and let's face it, once you are in, you can never get out and we were only here for the weekend ;)) but to get my Scandinavian design fix, we headed to Design Torget. It sells everything from ceramics, household goods and textiles in minimalistic flavours yet exuberant floral designs. I must have died and gone to Design heaven a few times in this store!
One for me and one for him! After spending more time than we should have in this store, we decided to go to a Akkurat a Whiskey Bar and get Shankar his fix! :) Highly recommend! It has over 400 whiskeys! Also, if you are into your whiskeys, ask for a bartender that knows his stuff. We can't remember his name, but the bartender had crazy amount of whiskey knowledge and recommended some amazing whiskeys to us!
For dinner, we had to try Swedish meat balls! We headed back to Gamla Stan to head to Gastabud, a small non-assuming restaurant on the outskirts of Gamla Stan. We had to wait 45 mins for a table but the wait was totally worth it. The meatballs were HUGE and absolutely delicious! :D Pro Tip: Try and go a little earlier to avoid peak times as they don't do reservations.
We took a detour on our way back to our hotel / ship via Klevgrand Street (12 Klevgrand Street, to be precise). Once you get there, climb the stairs to the top for a beautiful view of Stockholm at night!
Next day, we decided to visit the Photography Museum - Fotografiska. Being amateur photographers we were exciting to visit this museum - especially since it was highly recommend in every travel blog I read however it was strictly ok. Perhaps, it was just the current exhibition? The cafe at the top does have an amazing view - so do check out the top floor on your visit.
We decided to chill out the rest of the day in another one of Stockholm's islands. (Sweden's capital is spread out over 14 islands and hence why touted Venice of the North) We headed to Ostermalm - one of Stockholm's richest suburbs. Head to the intersection of Karlavagen and Engelbrektsgatan street and if you walk along Karlavagen you'll see beautifully lined trees running all the way from the edge of this district all the way through Ostermalm culminating in a gorgeous massive fountain. There are plenty of restaurant and cafes along this island of trees for your Fika time :)
Our Sunday was really cut short as we had to accommodate for the travel time back to Skavsta airport. Two things we missed out on that we would have loved to check out:
1. Stockholm Public Library (for all you Instagram lovers) &
2. Rosendals Trädgård (for fresh farm to table food)
(If you have been here, let us know and share your experiences with us! Would love to hear from you :) )
All in all, I can summarise Stockholm in a poem I came across (which I tweaked a little) :)
Along the simple line
a stream of pebbles
on the unruffled forehead
of a colourful wall
in joyful and narrow openings.
where numerous geometrical shapes
border an innovative perception
movement meets stillness
hey, there you are!
Art and technicality of fantasy and creativity
there your beauty resides
along the line
along the water
an essence providing meaning to all forms
I proclaim your motionless dance