Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and the largest city in Scandinavia, with a population of just under 1 million people. Located on the east coast of Sweden, Stockholm sits on fourteen islands, situated at the mouth of Lake Malaren. To the east extends the Stockholm Archipelago, a cluster of 24,000 islands that stretch into the Baltic Sea.
Flying into Arlanda Airport, I arrived about 30 minutes outside of Stockholm and took a bus into town. Coming into town late Thursday afternoon, I headed straight to the hostel to drop off my bags. I ended up making reservations at the Castanea Hostel, in the heart of the old town, due to the fact that the hostel’s website had some pretty great photos of narrow streets and historic buildings. I couldn’t resist trying it out. I wandered around the old town until the sun went down and then met up with a nice Indian couple for dinner. They were on holiday from Dublin and were in town for a few days.
The next morning I woke up early, showered and dressed quietly, since all the guys in my room were still sleeping, and headed out to see some more of the town. I walked through the old town, onto the main shopping street, and then up to the market. My plan had been to just ‘walk around’, and see the sites, although the more I walked, the more I felt like I was missing out. I didn’t know which sites I should be seeing, or even where they were. I wound up having lunch at an outdoor cafe in the park, at which point I dug out my phone and found the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. I even splurged on the boat tour, as this is Stockholm, and the islands that make up the archipelago are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
The city is also the birthplace of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was established posthumously, and the market image below is also where the Nobel Prize ceremony takes place.
After taking a tour of the archipelago, I wandered back to the market streets and got some strawberries and grapes, explored some of their shops and design stores, and eventually made my way back to Gamla Stan, or the Old Town. I dressed for dinner, and then headed to the restaurant I had previously chosen, as it was close to my hostel, and in the dark, I could figure out how to get there and back safely. Gamla Stan is a maze of narrow, winding streets, and it would be very easy to take a wrong turn and end up on the other side of the island. Not like the island is that big…
I had wanted to try Swedish meatballs, which was on their luncheon menu, but by the time I arrived for dinner, they had taken it off, and it was pretty much a full blown Italian restaurant. I sat, ordered some wine, and a chicken dish, and tried to occupy myself. Taking myself out to dinner has always felt uncomfortable, but I figured I had better do it now, or else this trip would be really long without dinner!
One thing I did realize is that all of the stairs are crazy dangerous! They remind me of the marble stairs I fell down in Florence, breaking my foot in the process. I definitely tried to stay on the widest part of the step, for fear of recreating that trip!
Saint James’s Church
Saturday morning, bright and early, I packed my bags and headed for the train station, where I picked up my bus for the airport.
Stockholm Central Station.