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It was my turn to cash in the Air Miles for a holiday and this time we chose the Swedish city of Stockholm, and what a good choice it was. We were blessed with fabulous weather and plenty to see and do. The Swedish people were extremely helpful and friendly and most of them look fantastic. It struck us a very good place to live. If you'd like to learn more, you can find links to many of the places we visited, at the foot of the page.

We flew out on 29th July and checked in at our hotel, the Birger Jarl, in the centre of the city. Named after the founder of Stockholm, this is a modern hotel and was very comfortable. We spent the evening walking down to the waterside at Nybroplan to check out the ferries and restaurants etc. An unexpected sight was the Shepherd Neame Spitfire pub pictured on the left. But we didn't come to Sweden to go to an English pub so resisted any temptation to go in! We chose to dine nearer the hotel at the Atlas restaurant where we ate red snapper washed down with a French rosé wine. Yes, it was fairly expensive, but the quality was excellent.

30th July 2006

After a good buffet breakfast we set off by ferry to the island of Djurgården, home to several museums. Our first destination was the Vasamuseet, which houses the Vasa, a royal warship which capsized in the harbour in 1628 after a maiden voyage of just 1300m! That's metres, not miles........... It is astonishingly well preserved and continues to remain so in the very subdued lighting in the museum. Well worth a visit, we found it a fascinating story and the museum is laid out extremely well. Outside on the water is a more modern warship, which Martyn found very compelling so we spent quite a long time there too.



We then walked to Skansen, a vast open air museum/zoo park in the centre of the island. This is a great place to spend time, with something for everyone. We walked round the vast majority of it, taking in the old buildings, which were moved from various parts of the country. Some had guides dressed in appropriate costume giving an authentic feel to the place. There were quite a few animal enclosures too, along with plenty of places to find food, drink and souvenirs.



Having exhausted Skansen, we made our way back to the ferry and took ourselves to the Modern Art Museum on the little island of Skeppsholmen. I like modern art but this was a tad too modern even for me. Much of the museum was taken over by an exhibition by American artist Paul McCarthy but we found the work, in the main, far too disturbing to be pleasurable. We caught the ferry back and had an early dinner in the hotel restaurant, having walked miles and feeling a little too weary to wander far.

31st July

This morning we visited Gamla Stan, the old town, on foot, where we started with a visit to the Royal Palace, a huge and interesting attraction, which included the Crown Jewels housed in the Treasury and the Tre Kronor Museum which is dedicated to the original Tre Kronor Palace in Stockholm, destroyed by fire in 1697.  We explored the old town which is very different to the area in which we were staying, far older and with more character.



We did a little shopping, caught the changing of the guard and then took a sightseeing boat trip "Under the Bridges" which was a very enjoyable way of spending a couple of hours. We passed under 15 bridges and through 2 locks and rested our weary feet! The day almost over, we returned to our hotel for a brief rest before going out for dinner. We'd spotted a likely looking candidate close to the hotel, recommended in our guidebook, Bistro Jarl and had an excellent meal there.

1st August

Our last day and we had plenty of time to do some more exploring before setting off for the airport. We returned to Gamla Stan for further exploration and then walked across to the larger island of Södermalm where we found the Katerina Lift, which takes you 38 metres above the waterfront, for great views, although the weather was rather cloudy this morning. We followed the walking tour in the guidebook, passing several lovely churches and squares, and lunched on pizza at Tevere, also recommended. We walked a fair way back but then decided to try out the local underground transport - the T-banan, which was quick, cheap and easy. It took us fairly close to the hotel, where we relaxed with a drink before taking a taxi back to the airport.




We thoroughly enjoyed this break and packed in a fair bit but without exhausting the possibilities. I'd certainly recommend it - there's something special about cities situated on or near the water and Stockholm is no exception. It's clean, really easy to get around and just about everyone speaks excellent English.


Birger Jarl Hotel           Skansen          Modern Art Museum              Bistro Jarl



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