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Sweden, Travel

Old American Cars in Stockholm

October 27, 2015

American Cars in Stockholm

One day, we spotted quite a few old American cars driving around, but by the evening the street our hotel was off was at a stand still as old cars paraded down the street.

The street was rammed full of locals and tourists. People had taken deck chairs and were sat out on the sidewalk with their friends, enjoying all the beautiful cars parading past. There were people playing music, piled into the back of cars, and I feel like I might have even seen people with a BBQ.

Man riding an old tractor in Stockholm

There was even this guy, riding a tractor.

American Car parade in Stockholm

This would definitely not be allowed in the UK.

We were taken aback when we first saw it, because it wasn’t something we expected to see at all. We spoke to the hotel staff afterwards, who told us it happens quite often. There’s quite a big club of old American car enthusiasts in Stockholm, and they hold this kind of parade each month down Sveavagan.

The Police had shut the road off to ‘normal’ cars, and there were a couple of Police officers milling around, though they were mostly just directing traffic. It was such a chilled out affair, and I think that was a bit of a culture shock because I doubt a similar event would be held in the UK and still feel so relaxed. For starters, there’d be orange tape and fencing everywhere which would stop you getting within 50 feet of the cars.

Catching the parade was a really nice surprise and a bit of a cherry on top of our holiday.

Have you ever seen something that surprised you while on holiday?

Sweden, Travel

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

October 20, 2015

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

At home, I probably wouldn’t find myself wondering down alleyways, but that is absolutely not the case in Gamla Stan.

Gamla Stan is the old part of Stockholm, which dates back to the 13th century. It’s full of beautiful old buildings, cobbled streets, enchanting narrow alleyways, and wonderful shops and cafes. Interestingly, it has a surprising number of Italian restaurants, which worked exceptionally well for me.

Il Forno Italiano, Stockholm

On the first night, my Mum and I took a walk around Gamla Stan. The heavens opened and it began pouring down, so we dashed into an Italian restaurant called Il Forno Italiano. I imagined that perhaps I’d spend my evenings eating Swedish food (though I’m not entirely sure what vegetarian Swedish food would be) so it was a little odd to be eating in an Italian restaurant. I wasn’t the only one who thought that; a Dutch couple at the table next to us asked my Mum to take a photo of two Dutch people, eating at an Italian in Stockholm.

The pizza was delicious, and we were sat in front of a huge window that looked out onto the street and watched people trying to dodge the rain. What we also saw was a lot of people taking photos of an alleyway.

By the end of our meal the rain had stopped, and I needed to see what people were photographing.

Gamla Stan, Marten Trotzigs Grand

It turns out that people were photographing the alleyway above, called Marten Trotzigs Grand. At 90cm wide at points, it is the narrowest street in Gamla Stan and Stockholm.

Small doorway in Gamla Stan

You might not be able to tell from this photo, but this door was really small. The top of the door was probably about level with my shoulders. It kind of reminded me of the tiny doorways in Alice in Wonderland.

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan

We wondered through Gamla Stan a few times during our trip and discovered record shops (most of which were filled with obscure 80s stuff), cool gift shops, charming cafes that sold the most amazing cakes and pastries, book shops, and yet more Italian restaurants.

If you ever go to Stockholm, Gamla Stan is well worth the visit. It’s not a big island, but with all the alleyways and interesting looking shops, you could easily spend a few hours wandering round and exploring. This is especially the case if you go during the summer and the place is heaving with tourists.

Share with me tales of exploring old, pretty towns.

Sweden, Travel

Kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago

October 13, 2015

Kayaking in the Swedish archipelago

Ready to go kayaking

By far, the highlight of my trip to Stockholm was kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago. This is the blog post I’ve been most excited to write up, so I can relieve the memories.

It was something that all four of us put to the top of our list when we first booked our adventure. My Mum and I went out to Vaxholm a couple of days before my sister and her friend arrived, and we booked the kayaking for the last day of our trip.

Kayak hire, Erikso, Vaxholm

Kayaking around Erikso, Vaxholm

Around Erikso, Vaxholm

I’d never been kayaking before so I was really nervous, thankfully we ended up in double kayaks so I went with my Mum. There is quite a lot of boat traffic at the west end of Vaxholm, so we weren’t even allowed to go that way. On the east side, there was less traffic (though there were still a few speedboats) and we had four hours to explore the area.

I mean look at that little house in the photo above. Check it out on Google Maps; there is nothing around there but beautiful scenary. 

Four hours absolutely flew by. It’s such a beautiful place, and I felt like I could kayak around there for days on end. The photos just do not do it justice.

Despite some boat traffic, it’s just so serene and peaceful. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been to place that’s just so stunning, and wild-feeling. You can do kayaking holidays around the archipelago – can you imagine how wonderful that would be?

Lunch time!

We tried to find a little beach to stop off at for lunch, but couldn’t see anything. Instead we managed to pull up on the edge of a small island and beach the kayaks while we enjoyed out lunch. It’s definitely the most beautiful place I’ve ever eaten a Mars bar. (Apparently, that’s a scale I now have.)

Kayaking wasn’t as hard as I imagined, and the water was really still. It took a few minutes to figure out how to turn, but after five minutes my Mum and I were pros. My sister and her friend shared a kayak and every time I looked over at them they were going diagonally. For some reason, they just couldn’t kayak in a straight line. My sister was adamant that the kayak was broken…

Kayak hire place at Erikso, Vaxholm

Kayak hire at Erikso, Vaxholm

I would go back in a heartbeat, and if you’ve planning on visiting Stockholm I would put kayaking in Vaxholm right at the top of your list. It’s not that far outside the city (about a 45 minute – hour boat trip) and it’s pretty cheap, especially in comparison to what you’d pay in the UK for the same amount of time.

View from Vaxholm kayak hire

Erikso, Vaxholm

We used Vaxholms Kanotsallskap; it’s the only kayak hire place at in Erikso, so you can’t possibly get lost. Most of the website is in Swedish, but there is an English kayak \ canoe rental page – also, the website says you can hire for two hours, but we were told the site is wrong and the minimum hire is four hours.

The guy working there was really friendly, patient, helpful, and chilled out. We were due to come back around the time they close (about 5pm-ish) and he was like “if I’ve gone home when you get back, just drag your kayaks onto the bank and I’ll sort them in the morning.” In the UK, that would not happen!

There are a handful of places in Stockholm city centre that offer kayaking, but I wouldn’t fancy it. There’s a place in the Djurgarden where you can hire kayaks, and we did consider that until we saw just how much boat traffic there is around there, and how many boats are moored up. I wouldn’t fancy it at all, especially if you’re a beginner; I’m not sure you’d feel like you could properly relax and take it all in. In my opinion, it’s well worth heading out to Vaxholm to kayak and take in the scenary and the get a good little trip around a part of the archipelago on the boat trip there and back.

 

What did it cost?

It cost 400SEK for a two-person kayak for four hours, which is approximately £32*. If you divide it by two, it gets even more affordable.

If you’re staying in Stockholm, you’ll of course have to pay for your boat trip out to Vaxholm, which isn’t that expensive at all, and you may want to pay for a bus if you don’t want to walk the 45 minutes from Vaxholm port to Erikso. You could also get a bus straight from Stockholm city centre.

 

Have you ever been kayaking?

*Price correct at time of writing.

Sweden, Travel

Sunset over Stockholm

September 22, 2015

Sunset over Stockholm parliament building

Dusk over Stockholm Palace

On our final evening in Stockholm, my Mum and I treated ourselves to some delicious ice cream and had a wander down to the waterfront, where we were treated to a stunning sunset.

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm / Grona Lund

Sunset over Grona Lund Stockholm

We sat at the edge of the water, with our feet dangling above the water, licking ice cream and watching the sunset as the boats continued to come in. As the sky got even more impressive, we tried to eat faster so we could capture some of it.

It was the perfect end to the holiday really as it gave us time to slowly walk back to the hotel and take in the beautiful city one last time.

On the other hand, it made it harder to say goodbye for exactly the same reason.

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Hotel Reisen, Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm, Norstedts

I love sunset, and I was pretty impressed that I managed to get such decent photos considering that I didn’t have my tripod with me. I’d love to go back with my tripod in tow next time.

I’ve seen a few truly breathtaking sunsets in my time, and the one over Stockholm ranks second on my list. Incidentally, I’ll be posting about the best sunset I’ve ever seen either this week or next week.

Where have you seen breathtaking sunsets?

Sweden, Travel

The Ice Bar Stockholm – the coolest place ever?

September 15, 2015

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice bar Stockholm

We’re back talking about my trip to Stockholm, and today’s post is about the Ice Bar Stockholm.

My sister spotted this when we first booked our trip to Stockholm, and it was pretty high up her list. As someone who doesn’t drink, I wasn’t too fussed about it, but I’m glad I went because it was so much better than I expected it to be.

Ice Bar Stockholm is kept at a constant temperature of -7C, which makes it, literally, the coolest place I’ve ever been. (Yep, getting the puns in early here.)

Ice Bar Stockholm

The ice bar Stockholm

The Ice Bar Stockholm

Everything is made from ice – the bar, the glasses, walls, and the tables. Obviously the floor isn’t made from ice, but your shoes do stick to it slightly.

Ice glasses at the Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice glass at the Ice Bar Stockholm

The glasses were awesome, and it was pretty exciting getting to drink out of something made of frozen water. When we left, we spotted a couple broken on the floor, so someone had tried to take their ice glass back with them…

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice Bar Stockholm

The walls have got some really cool artwork in it, including carvings of animals, a map of Stockholm, and the story of Nils Holgersson.

As part of your ticket, you get a nice, big, warm cape, a pair of gloves, and your first drink. I tried lingonberry juice, which I thought tasted quite similar to cranberry juice. My Mum, sister, and her friend all had something alcoholic and said their drinks were all really nice.

You get around 40 minutes in the ice bar, which is just enough time to enjoy your drink, and look at everything.

At the Ice Bar Stockholm

Reading Magonia in the Ice Bar Stockholm

I was reading Magonia at the time, so I even got in a spot of reading. This means that Ice Bar Stockholm is officially top of my list of coolest places to read a book.

I’m glad we went to the Ice Bar, because it was much better than I was expecting it to be. It was a really fun experience, and it’s something I’ve never done before. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, though pretty much everything I did in Stockholm was a highlight.

 

How much does it cost?

If you reserve online, it cost 195SEK, which is about £15.30 per person*. Depending on how you look at it, that’s an expensive drink (especially if, like me, you don’t even drink alcohol), but it’s the experience you pay for it and it is more than worth it.

If you rock up on the day, it’s 205SEK, which is about £16.13*.

*Prices correct at time of writing.

Have you ever been to an ice bar? If not, would you go?

Sweden, Travel

Ocean Bus Stockholm – a land & water tour of Stockholm

September 1, 2015

Ocean Bus, Stockholm

Stockholm from the water

That’s right; an Ocean Bus, a bus that turns into a boat. 

My sister told me about this before we went, and we saw the bus / boat (named Estelle, after the Swedish Princess, Estelle) in the harbour and booked for a couple of days later when my sister and her friend had arrived. 

The Ocean Bus is impossible to miss at the bus stop at harbour; it’s a boat that’s wrapped in a seascape, which really stands out from the red and green tourist buses. 

We hopped aboard and chose our seats. The windows go all the way down so you get a really good view, and can take photos without getting annoying reflections off the window. 

The tour lasts 75 minutes and is run by two brothers, Paul and Max, who clearly know their stuff, and have got a sense of humour. 

We started off on land and headed through an area we hadn’t even had time to explore and didn’t end up exploring, so it was nice to see that and find out more about it. 

Turning into a boat was really strange; the bus goes down a ramp and through some wizardry, it becomes a boat and continues on it’s way. 

Stockholm from the water

You spend the same amount of time in the water as you do on land, which is nice and means you get to see the sights without people, buses, or traffic in the way. 

The Vasa Museum from the water

Grona Lund from the water

It goes past all the main tourist attractions, so it was a great way for us to see part of the city we hadn’t had chance to see it. It was perfect for my sister and her friend as they’d only got two full days in the Stockholm. 

  • Djurgarden
  • Strandvagen
  • The Royal Palace
  • The Royal Dramatic Theater 
  • Stureplan 
  • Vasa Museum 
  • Diplomatic City 
  • Grona Lund 
  • Skansen 
  • Skeppsholmen 

The Royal Palace, Stockholm

If you’re going to Stockholm, I would definitely recommend the Ocean Bus. It’s a really fun and unique way to see and learn about the city, which is perfect because there’s so much to do in Stockholm that you’ll probably be strapped for time.  

 

Costs

As people are curious about the cost of being a tourist in Stockholm, I’m sharing prices to help you get a good idea. 

Tickets were 250SEK, which is about £19. 

 

Have you ever been on an amphibious boat? 

 

Life, Sweden, Travel

6 days in Stockholm – my itinerary

August 7, 2015

Stockholm at sunset

Stockholm city centre

Stockholm was wonderful; I have a major good time hangover. I’ll be doing lots of detailed posts, but I wanted to do an overview post of my 6 days in Stockholm. 

 

Day one: fly out

We woke up at 02:30 to get down to London Heathrow for our morning flight. Surprisingly, Heathrow wasn’t as stressful as we feared, and we got through security pretty fast and were on the plane before we knew it. 

It was the first time my Mum or I had flown with British Airways and we were really impressed. The service was great, we were on time, the flight was smooth, no complaints at all. I don’t think my Mum is going to settle for anything less than British Airways from now on though. 

We landed at Arlanda Airport around 1 in the afternoon, and got the bus into Stockholm Central Station, which took about 45 minutes. 

Hotel Hellsten, Stockholm

Hotel Hellsten room

Obviously the beds looked nicer than this when they were made – I forgot to take a photo of them all made. Rookie mistake! 

We stayed in Hotel Hellsten, which was really easy to find from the bus terminal and was a 15 – 20-minute walk. The staff were really friendly and helped me break into my suitcase because I left my keys in the padlock. Somewhere, there is a set of suitcase keys working their way through Heathrow’s baggage system. 

By the time we’d broken into my suitcase, our room was ready. It was small, comfy and spotless. The bathroom was immaculate – believe me, I spent 10 minutes trying to get one of my earrings from behind the back of the toilet one evening, and it was super clean. 

If you’re thinking about staying in Stockholm, I recommend Hotel Hellsten. It’s 15-20 from the city centre, it’s in a quiet location, there are loads of restaurants near by (including the Hard Rock Cafe), the staff are friendly, and it was a great price for a 4 star hotel. 

After dropping our bags off, we walked into Stockholm city centre and into the old town (Gamla Stan) which was a 15 – 20 minute walk away, where we had Italian for dinner. The amount of Italian restaurants in Stockholm is surprising – excellent for vegetarians as there’s always something vegetarian at an Italian restaurant. 

 

Day 2 – a day of exploring and dodging the rain

Stockholm city centre

We did so much walking on day 2; I think we walked about 15 miles. It rained on and off in the morning so we dashed in and out of shops, and cafes where necessary.

In the afternoon, the weather cleared up and we walked to the photography museum, Fotografiska. It wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be. Don’t get be wrong, the images were stunning, but there are only three rooms and it felt like there should have been more. 

We were super cultural and went to Pizza  Hut for dinner, where I had a cheese and honey pizza. I’ve never seen that on the UK Pizza Hut menus; I’ve not idea why because it was delicious. 

 

Day 3 – Vaxholm

Vaxholm

Vaxholm, Swedish Archipelago

On Wednesday, we got a boat over to Vaxholm, which is called the capital of the Archipelago. The boat took around 45 minutes to get over there and cost 75SEK for an adult each way, which is £5.50 at today’s exchange rates. 

We followed a coastal path from the port down to Erikso, where we found a place to hire canoes. Canoeing in the Archipelago is something we’d all been looking forward to since we booked our trip to Stockholm, so we reserved our canoes for Monday. 

Erikso has a tiny beach. And of course when you’re at the beach, you have to eat ice cream. We chomped an ice cream, and a bar of Swedish Oreo chocolate and headed back to Stockholm. 

 

Day 4 – Stockholm Palace 

Stockholm Palace

In the morning, we visited Stockholm Palace and watched the changing of the guards. The changing of the guards ended just as my sister and her friend got into Stockholm city centre, so we found them and took them to the hotel. 

After they’d dropped their bags off and freshened up, we took them on a tour of the city and around Gamla Stan. 

In the evening, we went on the Ocean Bus, which takes you around Stockholm on the roads and the water! It was seriously cool and well worth it – A BUS THAT TURNS INTO A BOAT! How can that not be cool? 

As we walked back to the hotel in the evening, we noticed loads of old American cars blocking up Sveavagan, which was the main road near our hotel. We discovered that there’s a group of American car enthusiasts who meet up once a month on Sveavagan and show off their cars.

It’s obviously a popular event because people had bought deckchairs and were sat on the sidewalk watching. The streets were teeming with people enjoying the cars and having a good time; I can’t imagine something like that happening in the UK. 

 

Day 5 – Drottningholm Palace, the Ice Bar, and Hard Rock Cafe

Drottningholm Palace

In the morning, we headed down to the port by City Hall to catch a boat over to Drottningholm Palace, as it was too far to walk. The boat took around 40 minutes, which gave me time to read a chunk of Magonia. 

Drottningholm Palace is where the Swedish Royal Family actually live, so you only get to go around half of it. The rooms are so extravagant and beautiful, and it has the most amazing library I’ve ever seen. 

I wish they could have showed a few photos of what the part where the Royal Family lives looked like, just to see what kind of decor they have. Is it fancier than the part you get to walk around? My Mum thinks they just have loads of IKEA furniture. 

We had a spot of lunch before exploring the gardens, which are just as fancy as the inside of the palace, and provide a stunning view of the palace. 

In the evening, we visited the Ice Bar, which I was a bit skeptical of. I don’t drink, and I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it, but I loved it. You get to wear big, warm, capes and have a drink at -7C. 

We headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, where I accepted the server’s challenge of ‘the deserts are big’ and failed miserably trying to eat their brownie and ice cream. 

 

Day 6 – Canoeing in the Archipelago

Canoeing in the Swedish archipelago

We caught a boat over to Vaxholm again, and arrived at the canoe hire place just after 1 in the afternoon. 

The chap at the canoe hire place got us in our canoes and we went on our way for four hours, exploring the area around Vaxholm. It was so stunning and peaceful, I could have done it for days and days. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. 

My Mum and I were pros in our canoe, but I have no idea what my sister and her friend were doing. Every time I looked at them, they were zig-zagging. They were incapable of going in a straight line. My sister blamed the canoe; I don’t think it was the canoe that was broken…

If you ever go to Stockholm, I cannot recommend canoeing enough. It’s a wonderful way to see the Archipelago. 

 

Day 7 – home 🙁 

Yes, I know, that’s day 7 but we didn’t do anything other than go to the airport and fly home, so it doesn’t count as a day in Stockholm as far as I’m concerned. 

 

We really packed a lot into the 6 days we were in Stockholm, and we came away with plenty of things we simply didn’t have time for. 

All four of us had an absolutely wonderful time, and I think we’d all go back in a heartbeat.

I have plenty of posts planned, including a post about how expensive Stockholm is / isn’t for visitors as everyone I spoke to about going to Stockholm wanted to know how expensive it was. More detailed posts will begin next week, but if you want to see more photos right now then take a peek at my Instagram page.

If you want to visit somewhere clean (the city is spotless), hassle free, safe (I felt safer in Stockholm than in my home town and there was barely any Police presence – unless they’re all plainclothes), with plenty to do, and beautiful scenery, I cannot recommend Stockholm enough. 

 

To help myself get over my major good time hangover, I’m planning next summer’s adventure. I’m feeling Norway – any recommendations? 

 

Life, Travel

Blogging break – I’m off to Stockholm

July 29, 2015

Stockholm guidebook

By the time this blog post goes live, I’ll be dragging my sleepy self around an airport trying to find a Costa Coffee. 

I’m off to Stockholm today with my Mum. As always, there won’t be any posts up while I’m away. 

I’ll probably be posting on Twitter and Instagram, depending on how much wifi I can steal. 

Hope you all have a fun week, and I’ll be back on Wednesday 5th with my belated Share The Love – July post.