Stockholm, the capital of the Kingdom of Sweden is the first Scandanavian city we have visited together - with the 3 countries Sweden, Norway and Finland making up the Nordic or Scandinavian countries. As a Constitutional Monarchy, they do have a king but we never met him. Our journey to Stockholm is slightly over 2 hours by air. Being part of the European Union and part of the Shengan treaty, immigration formalities were dispensed with, making the trip almost like a domestic one. Having said this, instead of the Euro the Swedish currency is the Swedish Crown or Krona, SEK.
We were accompanied this time by Liang and Annie, a Malaysian couple who like us, is on assignment in Munich.
To make best use of time, we decided to procure the Stockholm Card which allowed us access to a variety of museums and transportation. Unfortunately, we have had to scourry all over town looking for whoever sells it. It turned out that only one retailer had stock of them and that ironically, you have to find this feature of convenience in the most inconvenient of places, one level below ground at the Central underground station.
Our first stop was to the Vasamuseet, home of the battleship Vasa which sunk during her maiden voyage in 1623. It was built in the Wasa shipyards by the Swedish King to fight the Polish but sunk just 1000 metres into her journey. So No, they didnt quite get to Poland. It was salvaged 333 years. - exactly have the sign of the devil! A building was then built around her, in order to preserve and display this part of Swedish maritime history.
Although Stockholm is in the midst of an archapelligo, the severe weather conditions during our visit made travel on sea going vessels a bit of a challenge. It snowed as we drove to the airport in Munich, Stockholm had the highest temperature reaching -1°C, averaging -6°C and lowest being -14°C with blizzard like conditions on Day 1 of our visit, Good Friday 2008. We can say this time and the weather was truly challenging. We now have experienced the fact that batteries dischange in the cold as both digital cameras stopped working after being fully changed the night before.
Instead, we spent most of our time after the Vasamuseet at Skansen - the world's first Open Air Museum, Gamla Stan - the Old Town, Kungliga Slottet - The Royal Palace and in Stockholm city. Although there are stark differences between English and the Swedish language, we found travelling in Stockholm relatively easy going, with a clean and efficient public transportation system - tram, bus, train and boat service at regular intervals plus lots of information at stops giving you details of schedules and directions on where to go.
Images of Stockholm
Images in Djurgården
of Vasa Museum and Skansen
Note that images have a 24 bit colour depth and work best when viewed through systems appropriately configured.
So, we learnt a few things during this trip.
Apart from Saab, Volvo and IKEA - the kit furniture store, a few famous things and not so famous things come from Sweden.
- Lingonberry (or the Cow Berry), which Jeanette discovered goes well as a sauce with Swedish meatballs, in a drink and we have yet to try it as a flavoured vinegar.
- Thor, the God of Thunder may be part Swede. Also known as Donar in German, has Donnerstag (Thursday) named after him. HIs dad is Odin - the oldest of the Gods.
- H&M, the departmental store chain as its origins from Sweden.
- Elk (European Moose) and the Lynx are native to Sweden and so's ABBA.
- the Swedish Massage!
- and Ericssons telecommunications.
Swedish fashion is very modular and chic, giving Jeanette a great time as far as shopping goes. Unlike Munich, the shops do open on Sundays from 12pm to 5pm and during those times, the city is alive with shoppers, tourists and people just generally making a great Sunday. It was Easter Sunday when we returned - the snowing had stopped but the temperatures were still in the negative region!
In comparison, we really didn't see enough of Stockholm but this also means that we'll be back when the weather gets better!
Hope you enjoy the pictures!
March 24th, 2008
People were generally nice but kept to themselves. The climate seems to keep people here looking young or at least we could only see young people in the city. The only crude person we saw was an ex army veteran abrubtly "shoo"ed everyone else away whilst he setting up his stall of used brick a brac. We rate this 3.5 out of 5.
Service oriented, smiles, pleasant demenour and good spoken English was on show in Stockholm. For people in Europe who are continually intimidated by the use of local languages, I recommend visiting Sweden as they serve people well here.. We had a great experience with the bus driver of Route 47 which took us from the Central Station in Stockholm to Vasa Museum, then later from Vasa Museum to the Skansen and then later from Skansen back to the Central Station. Although he saw us walking slowly (due to ice on the roads) to the bus, he waited at least 5 minutes for us to make the trip and accepted us happily into the bus.I would rate this 4 out of 5 for Service.
The Viking culture is synonomous with the Danish and the Swedes. This culture is highly prevalent through all of Stockholm. We rate this 3 out of 5.
Stockholm as its charm. As mentioned, we only saw a little of Stockholm but liked it. Lots of museums, nice people, good public transportation with a lot more to discover. People speaking English helps a ton. We rate this a 3.5 out of 5.
We are not exactly big Swedish food fans - with most of the diet consisting of herring (the fish)! . However, they did give us the Smorgåsbord, pea soup and pancake. We rate this 2.5 out of 5.
With income tax at 50% and a 25% VAT, we expected things on the expensive side. High taxes were rewarded with great tranportation, clean and well maintained roads and traffic and great safety rules. Our 4 star hotel costs about €75 per night, inclusive of breakfast and all taxes for two people right in the middle of the city's shopping district and close to transportation. This represented great value if we start comparing things against the likes of Italy and France. Food was less expensive compared to Munich. However, the Mac Index shows Sweden selling these hamburgers at a much higher price than most other places.
Thanks also to Lufthansa for their €88.00 return tickets to Stockholm.
We rate this 3.5 out of 5.
Everything considered; the sights, experience, food and cost - we had a fun time and would rate this 3.5 out of 5. As we said earlier, we will be back!
Big Mac Index
ref: Jul 5th, 2007