My OE - Stockholm, Sweden                            
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Thu 15-Jan 04	Dublin - Stockholm, Sweden  
This morning I flew from Dublin to London Stansted and then on to Stockholm Skavsta Airport, which is about 1¼ hours south of Stockholm.  I was going to visit and stay with a friend, Daniel, who had been in New Zealand 1990-1991 as an exchange student, and had stayed with my family for about 4 months.  Luck would have it that Daniel was flying in to this same Airport just 20 minutes before me!  It was great catching up (after 13 years) during the drive into Stockholm, enjoying the snow covered scenery also - everything was white!

Daniel had to go into work for a couple of hours, so after getting a map and a quick orientation, I went for a wander into town.  Stockholm is made up of a number of islands (5-6 or so near the centre, with lots of bridges and ferries interconnecting them) - and there are estimates of around 24,000 islands in the entire archipelago (literally a large group of islands).  It wasn't too cold today, only about -1ºC.  I walked to the northern edge of Södermalm, the island where Daniel and Jessica live, to discover great views across the water to Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and the central City on the mainland.

Stockholm Street Map

Gamla Stan, Stockholm
(view from Södermalm)

Södermalm, viewed back from Gamla Stan

I crossed over to Gamla Stan - this is a really quaint island with narrow cobbled streets etc, craft shops etc.  Spent most of the afternoon meandering around here.  In the past Sweden has been renowned for being very expensive, but apparently this has improved recently and after being used to Dublin/Ireland prices, everything seemed incredibly cheap!  After having a bit of a look across onto Helgeands-Holmen (a tiny island containing the Parliament buildings), I headed back to the apartment - it was getting quite dark (at about 4pm).

Gamla Stan

Helped Daniel go through the liquor cabinet after dinner!

Fri 16-Jan 03 Stockholm

Both Daniel and Jessica were working today, so I slept in a little and then went for another wander around town.  Today was about –2ºC with intermittent light snow, so rather tropical really.  Caught the tube (Tunnelbana or T-bana) to Gamla Stan again (it's a really nice place!), had a look at The Royal Palace etc, before crossing over onto the mainland for a wander along the shorefront.  A very picturesque area with a (modern) Viking ship, lots of ferries, old fashioned looking fishing boats, nice architecture and plenty of snow and ice.

Stockholm Street Map

Gamla Stan alleyway

The Royal Palace, Gamla Stan

Fishing boats along the mainland waterfront

Walked across onto another island to the east of the City centre to visit Skansen – a large open air museum with various traditional farm houses, village etc, as well as Moose and Reindeer!  A very nice place that I practically had to myself.  Lots more snow and ice here and the weather was threatening to snow some more - the temperature dropped at least a few degrees rather quickly but unfortunately there was nothing more than a few isolated snowflakes.  After Skansen I then visited Vasamuseet (The Vasa Ship Museum) to see … The Vasa Ship! (still on the same island).  This ship was to be the pride of the Swedish Navy back in 1628, when it sunk on it maiden voyage because it was too top heavy and fell over!  It stayed on the bottom of the sea for 333 years until 1961 when it was resurfaced and preservation/restoration began.  It is a very large and impressive wooden warship, with amazingly detailed carvings.



A Rune stone at Skansen

Reindeer, Skansen

For my final stop for the day I crossed back onto the mainland and visited the Historika Museet (Museum of National Antiquities) to see Viking artefacts including lots of gold and silver in The Gold Room, and rune stones (the elfish writing in Lord of the Rings!).  It was nearing onto 5pm, so walked back to Gamla Stan and caught the subway back to Daniel’s.  Went out for dinner for some tasty Indian, and then stayed up late chatting and looking through Daniel's photo albums. 

Daniel, Jessica, and Jason

Sat 17-Jan 03    Stockholm

This morning Jessica had to work unfortunately, so Daniel took me for a drive out along the Archipelago to Dalarö – a very quaint little fishing and holiday home village.  Great views across to various small islands, with lots of snow everywhere again.  A very nice place, even though today it was only about –6º Celsius!  (although it still felt warmer than it often does in Dublin when it’s supposedly 6 degrees above!).  Belgium waffles for lunch!

Sweden Map

Dalarö, Stockholm Archipelago

Daniel and Jason, Dalarö

After going shopping on the way home because there were other visitors for dinner tonight (which was an experience in itself – obviously couldn’t read any labels and for some items, it may have been just as well!), we went to the Kaknästornet TV Tower for some great views of the sun setting across Stockholm and open fields of ice and snow (we left the ice cream underneath the car so it wouldn’t melt – Daniel’s idea of course!).

Sunset over Stockholm, from Kaknästornet

After almost permanently losing all feeling in my fingers while taking photos (okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but the wind was extremely cold!), we then hopped in the lift to head back down to the car - However the elevator stopped (and bounced) suddenly and we ended up staying somewhere between floors 5 and 6 for the next 1 ½ hours!!  After an initial little discussion about whether this was actually an emergency (as opposed to just a mere inconvenience), we used the 'emergency' phone and then sat and waited for our rescuers to arrive.  We chatted and joked the time away - it actually went quite quickly.  Eventually we got out, and they gave us our money back! 

Stuck in the lift! - Me and Daniel

It had been twilight when we entered the lift, but it was totally dark when we left; and yes, the ice cream was still there!

Finally arrived back at Daniel and Jessica's apartment for a dinner party with Daniels sister Cecilia and partner Jonas, and Nicholas (Daniels best-man and business partner) and his partner Sophia.  A funny night, even when I couldn't always understand them - they kept subconsciously slipping into Swedish!
Sun 18-Jan 03    Stockholm - Dublin

After a large and late breakfast/brunch we all went for a walk around Södermalm island.  It was a really bright sunny day (of about 1°Celsius), but unfortunately I was running out of time to catch my flight back to Dublin.  I had a really great time in Stockholm and the Swedish are very friendly people!

Stockholm Street Map

Gamla Stan - on a sunny day!

My hosts, Jessica and Daniel Harder



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