Monday, July 01, 2013

Elegant Stockholm

Our flight from Athens to Stockholm took almost 4 hours. We arrived in Stockholm at about 10.00pm and it was already dark. We had a quick burger dinner at the airport and then took a 6-pax taxi to our hotel. The taxi fare for the 40 mins drive was a whopping 833 Swedish Krona or RM425.

We spent 2 nights in this "hotellet". I suppose the suffix "let" was to mean a small hotel. And indeed it was. But it was very cosy and comfortable. And they throw in a hearty breakfast each day. With a full stomach the next morning, we set out to explore the city. We only had a day and half in Stockholm before we had to move on. And we intended to make maximum use of our time.

Our hotel was very centrally located and was only 5 minutes walk to the water front. Stockholm is such a beautiful place with captivating water fronts, a gushing river, and elegant colourful buildings. We fell in love with the city.

We strolled down the water front. The sun was shining, yet it wasn't hot.

We came across this fellow from a cruise boat. We asked him if he had tickets. He rushed back to his boat and came back with two-in-one tickets for the boat cruise and hop-on-hop-off bus for the city tour. It was a little expensive but it was worthwhile in view of the short time we had.

The cruise was exhilarating. It lasted for about an hour. The sights from the boat were fantastic. They were post-card pretty.

This is the Royal Palace. It is the largest palace in Europe. It has 600 rooms and 5 museums. It is the official residence of the King of Sweden. And it was only about 15 minutes walk from our hotel.

We then came to this beautiful park.

Where the tulips were blooming.

And people came out en masse to enjoy the sunshine.

From the park we walked towards the city centre. There we made use of the ticket we bought and got on a hop-on-hop-off bus to see the city.

These are some pictures from the upper deck of the bus.

This beautiful building is the Nordish Museum. This was where we hopped off the bus to look for food.

Lunch was at an open air restaurant near the museum. They had very comfortable couches. It turned cold and they provided overhead heaters.

We shared some salads which was fresh and nice.

Three portions of fresh shrimps. The shrimps looked soggy. But they were fresh and delicious.

And three portions of lobsters, which were quite an disappointment. They were not totally fresh and did not taste good. They were also quite small and did not have a lot of meat.

After lunch we visit the nearby Vasa Museum. Vasa was a Swedish warship built in 1628. The then Swedish king wanted the ship as the showcase of his maritime power. He ordered 2 decks of canon instead of the normal one. The ship apparently became too heavy.

On its maiden voyage, after sailing just about a nautical mile, it toppled and sank. The ship remained in Stockholm water for more than 300 years. In 1961, they salvaged the ship. It is now in the museum.

After more than 300 years in the sea, the ship is in amazingly good shape. A lot of the wooden structure looked intact. We were of course not allowed to step into the ship. We could only look and take pictures. In the museum were various artefacts from the ship - like this row boat which is also in very good condition.

Out of the Vasa Museum, we hopped back into the bus. The subsequent walk around town was very pleasant. The atmosphere and pace in Stockholm was so easy and relaxing.

Dinner that evening was Chinese. We found a Formosa Restaurant. This was our second Chinese meal in 2 days. There was going to be a 3rd.

This food we had here was nowhere near those in Athens. They looked unappetising and tasted likewise. Like this fish dish. It was mushy.

This was supposed to be kung po chicken. Not the least like the real thing.

The char siew was over-burnt and was hard and dry.

Tomato omelet...

Stir fried choy sum...

Next day, our remaining time in the city was the morning and early afternoon. We explored Stockholm Old Town which was only a 10 mins walk from our hotel. The Old Town is also known as Gamla Stan which was the original name of Stockholm. It is on a small island next to the Royal Palace. It is a most charming place. It had narrow roads and alleys.

A cathedral.

There was even a town square with colourful buildings.

And the Nobel Museum - dedicated to the Nobel Prizes and Nobel laureates.

From the Old Town, we walked to the commercial centre of the city...

... where we had a buffet lunch in yet another Chinese restaurant.

The selection was quite basic. But they did offer sushis which seemed appealing at the time.

But the food was nothing to shout about.

After lunch we made our way to the Frihamnen Harbour.

Here, we boarded the cruise ship Princess Anastasia to go to our next destination - St Petersburg, Russia.

I have some parting shots of Sweden. As the ship sailed out of Stockholm, it navigated slowly through the Stockholm archipelago for 2 to 3 hours before it reached the open Baltic Sea. The views of the archipelago were breathtaking.

Some of the islands were so close, you could almost touch them.

Sweden is indeed a beautiful country. Our stay in elegant Stockholm was far too short. We enjoyed the city thoroughly. We should had planned for a longer stay. But our schedule was tight. We had a ship to catch. And we had to proceed to the next stage of our journey.

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