We could have spent many more days in Sweden’s capital. Because there was much more to see, and because Stockholmers are just such very nice people.
Tip when you visit Sweden, and especially Stockholm… Learn to spot pedestrian crossings and don’t hesitate when time comes to walk from one side to the other. This is something that felt a little dare devilish at first, but even if there aren’t any stop signs or street lights, cars and busses will stop if you are about to cross the street. They will. So even if you are used (like we were) to wait until you’re sure that the vehicule will let you go, forget about it, and just walk. You’ll save drivers time if you don’t wait until they come to a full stop. They will stop… I promise.
Ok, so… Last day, and our first stop was a must. I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable with heights David was, before we got to enter Globe City.
Globe City is the sum of many stadiums that hold multiple sports events, concerts and shows… And most certainly, the Globe is the most impressive of them from the outside.
Sky View is a sightseeing activity that is totally worth the little Metro ride outside the center of Stockholm. The 20 minutes ride slowly takes you to the top of the Globe in a little glass ball.
At the top of the Ericsson Globe, you get a 360 view of the Stockholm area, perched at 85 meters in the air.
We skipped my usual sandwiches to have lunch in a local fast food chain, Max. Not that either of us is big on hamburgers and the like, but we thought we should try it since it is Swedish.
After being denied the Hop On Hop Off boat the day before (thank you very much!) we decided to take one of the many other tours on Stockholm’s canals… The sail offers a very different view of the city and its subburbs. And the audio guide, in several languages, provides with interesting informations… A very enjoyable time on the waters!
After our cruise it was time to get back “home” and get ready for our move the next morning. But not before we visited Sergels Torg one last time…
Waking at sunrise, I was worried that we might get a second day of rain, but the skies seemed pretty clear. It could always change, but we were optimistic, and I knew that always paid off in the end.
After a quick breakfast, we headed for the Metro.
After seeing Montréal’s Metro, it is incredible for me to see how clean and gaffiti-free Denmark and Sweden’s wagons are. How do they do it?? Even the oldest trains are totally tag-free! Here, I am pretty sure you can find at least one name hastily written or carved after the very first ride of a new coach.
The Nordic Museum was founded by Artur Hazelius (who also founded the open air museum Skansen – keep that name in mind). The huuuuuuuuuge building housing the exhibitions was designed by Isak Gustaf Clason. Originally, it should have been four times the size of the actual site, which is a bit mind blowing.
When we first saw the museum, from outside, we thought it was a previous royal castle used to present exhibitions. But Hazelius’ dream was to exhibit all of Scandinavia’s history and culture in one site… I was almost glad he had to limit himself to Sweden for budget reasons. Otherwise, we probably would have spent our whole Stockholm time there! LOL
If you want to learn anything about Sweden’s culture, the Nordic Museum is the place to go. From Swedish furniture design to ways to set the table and welcome guests… From the history of fabric to the Sami culture… From the celebrated holidays and traditions, to Swedes’ clothing through the last decades… You name it, they have it! And the free audio guide is a great complement to take a rest from reading the signs along your endless walk through the different levels of the place.
At this point, got hungry. I knew we had sandwiches in David’s backpack, and I knew how delicious they looked, since I had made them… and here’s what hunger inspired me, photography-wise;
That large pot at the end was intended to be filled with beer. Now, something tells me that Swedes had nothing to envy to Danes, in the partying department at that time!
Gröna Lund was next.
The Swedish Tivoli park is at an enjoyable walking distance from the Nordic Museum, especially on a nice day. We just stopped for a moment in front of the Biologiska Museet (Biology… Ok, you guessed!) and Abba Museum to catch this, but it meant extra entry fees, we kept walking, and didn’t visit them.
Now, here’s a traveling tip you should never forget… Like we did. Always check the opening hours of the attractions you expect to visit. Never assume! The Internets were invented for that, and you can thank Google later!
Obviously, we had skipped this important step, probably too excited about the blue skies! And unfortunately realized that Gröna Lund was closed for the day, despite the lovely weather…
And here’s tip #2 (Isn’t this an informative blog?!?) of the day; When traveling, expect that unexpected things will happen (like amusement parks closed when you wanted to visit them) and be ready to improvise! Changing plans is part of being on vacation, and you often get nicely surprised, when you have no expectations!
So what did we do, you might wonder? We crossed the street and went to Skansen (remember, I had asked you to keep that name in mind!)
Skansen is officially an open air museum. What does that mean? Obviously a happy mix of a park, an amusement park, a zoo, an a walk in the past around houses from what looked (I admit, I didn’t read all the signs) like Viking housings.
I got hooked on a sign announcing Nordic animals. So we followed paths that led up the hill… and although each sign we passed by said we were a few hundred meters away from the said Nordic animals, we just kept walking and walking…
Then, we found animals, just not quite Nordic enough, to my liking!
I even made an unexpected red haired friend! Scandinavian Bob first attacked David, climbing up his leg, but when I got the bag of dried fruit and nuts out of our bag, he jumped on my lap… I became Skansen’s main attraction, and I really wonder on how many Facebook pages I ended up (yes, there was a lot of unauthorised picture taking! lol)
But what about the Nordic animals, right? Yes, we found them. Well… Some of them.
Disappointed? Not really. Especially when we noticed the view…
Of course, that’s when we discovered there was an easier way to get up the hill.
I am tempted to skip the next two activities of the day… First was the Hop On Hop Off boat.
The only problem being that there apparently were some issues between the boat company and the tourism bureau, so we weren’t allowed to board the Voulez-Vous.
So we had to go by bus.
The next stop was the Nobel Museum.
Ok, so for dinner, David had found a fine little restaurant so we could try the mythical Swedish meatballs! (No, really, it doesn’t happen often, but I was really disappointed with the museum… Not even worth ranting about)
Nice, cozy little place, and when we got there, there was only a table for two left! Talk about timing!
The lovely apartment we rented in Stockholm was in the Syndbyberg area, and literally 2 minutes of walk away from the Syndbyberg Centrum Metro Station. Easy!! I thought… Until I saw the Stockholm Rail Network map.
I must say I was very impressed by the number of people working to give information to lost travelers. And every time I had to ask for directions, I got clear and easy instructions, always with a smile. We could learn from the Swedes here, in Montréal, although our Metro network is a lot less intricate!
We got to the apartment in (almost) no time, and after a short show-around, our lovely hosts let us to settle in our temporary home.
It was pouring rain on our first morning in Stockholm. We weren’t surprised, the forecast being clear about rainy weather all week long. It didn’t really matter, since we had planned to go get our Stockholm passes, and have a first tour around the city in one of those big red busses.
We had a quick breakfast, and headed to the tourists’ bureau, dressed to face the shower outside.
The Stockholm Pass is a card that allows you access to more than 60 of the city’s most popular attractions. It also gives you access to Hop On – Hop Off busses that drive you to all major sites, and allow you to get historical information about Stockholm while going along. Note though, that the Hop On – Hop Off boats might not be included as indicated on the website. We were denied access to the little red boats, because apparently there were some issues with the contract between the Tourists’ bureau and boat company. There are other cruises along the canals included, so just ask when buying your card, if you are visiting Stockholm.
We also took 72 hours transportation cards. These give you a convenient access to as many train, metro or bus rides as you need during your stay. Which is especially nice and money-saving, if you don’t live downtown.
We had decided to ride one of the Red Busses, and stop by the Vasa Museum. The busses were supposed to pass by every stop on a twenty (or about) cycle. Probably due to heavy traffic downtown, we had to wait almost an hour. Cold and soaked, we “hopped in”, hoping that the heavy rain would stop while we were visiting our first museum.
Many people were heading straight to the Vasa Museum, so we decided to take a walk around and were tempted by the Vikingaliv Museum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t part of the attractions included with our pass, so we settled for our previous plan.
The Vasa Museum isn’t too impressive from the outside, put aside its size. It just looks like a big brown box in the middle of the trees.
But don’t get fooled. It is absolutely amazing.
The ship built in the 1620s at the request of King Gustav II Adolf sank during its maiden voyage, in Stockholm’s harbour. 333 years later, after much efforts, the ship was brought out of the water, restored and displayed at the Vasa Museum.
Walking around the ship is just breathtaking. It gives the feeling of jumping back in time, and I couldn’t help but wonder how human hands could built such huge, yet detailed vessels… The story around the Vasa is also very interesting, and the many pieces of history displayed around the sailing war-boat are fascinating.
And a couple more details from the ship itself…
It was still raining when we finally left the museum, so we decided to finish the Red Bus tour, thinking it would help us plan the days to come. Those pictures aren’t my best, but they were taken from the bus, with wet windows… The best I could do at that time!
It made me smile to see this Sweden supermarket. Anyone living in Québec knows the major chain “IGA”… Who also uses red signs.
It was the last shot taken on this grey but fun day… Hopefully, day 2 would be less cold and wet!
I had warned David that we’d be sleeping early after our first little walk in Copenhagen. We were in fact in our bunk beds before 6pm, and up again around 5 the next morning.
The weather forecast wasn’t on the optimistic side, and we were ready for several days of pouring rain. And here’s the view we got when we stepped out of the Hawila;
Then, it was time to move to Malmö, Sweden. But first, a short ride on the Copenhagen Metro…
Malmö is just across the Øresund bridge, and a very short ride from Kastrup’s Airport. I was eager to see Sweden, but I knew I was stepping out of my comfy Danish slippers. I wouldn’t say I could get along effortlessly in the countryside, but my Danish is good enough to get around, ask for directions and order a meal without getting a surprise dinner!
In Sweden, my confidence took a good drop.
Especially when I saw an alien spaceship while entering Malmö!
But the rest of the city seemed pretty UFO-less…
As you can see, Sunday early mornings are very quiet in Malmö. Most probably because of the Saturday night partying… Theory that seemed to be proven right by the following sight…
Left over drinks on window sides, or simply on the sidewalk, is also something very common in Denmark. Sometimes, you can even find unopened bottles, just left behind when the party moved on…
While walking around, we fund the King’s Park (Kungsparken).
By then, we needed to fuel up and nibble on a little something, so we stopped in a little cozy café, The Expresso House, where we also got a chance to fill our water bottles and charge up the camera and our cell phones.
We wanted to see something internationally known, in Malmö, and went hunting for the knotted gun. I had seen the sculpture in the past, and I couldn’t wait to see the non-violence icone. Like many other attractions, I was surprised to see that it was a lot smaller in size than I had imagined it… But still!
Note that the weather was equally horrible on the Swedish side of the bridge! Another thing that looked familiar, after leaving Denmark, was the numerous bicycles…
One thing I discovered, that is completely different in Sweden and Denmark, is the access to train traveling. Traveling by train (tog) in Denmark is a piece of cake. Once you’ve mastered the use of the ticket booths, you just have to buy a ticket from A to B, and you take the next ride from A to B, hoping to have a nice place by the window. In Sweden, we had to take asigned places at a counter, and I soon realized that it wasn’t a good idea to buy them last minute…
Since we were moving to Stockholm, we spent the last couple of hours around the train station.
After a many hours long ride, we finally arrived in Stockholm.
I am becoming a regular client of the purple plane company, and I must say that I recommend the airline to anyone traveling to Scandinavia from North America. Especially if you are on a budget, and are ready to fly simply. The staff is always friendly, smilling and helpful, and the flights have all been smooth and on time… I haven’t seen the sun shine on Iceland so far, but I am not giving up. I know someday, I’ll catch the yellow ball off guard!
First sights of the Copenhagen area. It was the first time I could spot the Øresund bridge from the air. The famous bridge is the link between Copenhagen (Denmark, of course) and Malmö (Sweden).
Right after leaving Kastrup’s airport, we headed to our first “home”. The Hawila, a beautiful sailing boat, hosts people all year long, when it is not sailing. You can get a bunk bed for a very fair price, and although you have to be ready to chit chat with other guests coming from all around the world, it is quite an experience, and for people who aren’t familiar with Copenhagen, finding the location of the boat is a piece of cake, just a few minutes away from the airport by Metro. It is right next to Den Blå Planet, Copenhagen’s aquarium (We’ll get to that, just a little bit later).
We were just off the plane, and had our 6 time zones jetlag hitting us in the jaw, so I don’t happen to have an actual picture of the Hawila today, but you can read everything about it, and the young people who work on the Hawila project here.
I did take a picture of the Metro station’s entry, though. No, that is not a ramp for wheelchairs on the left. Danes being crazy (in a good sense) about cycling, there are tracks like that everywhere around the city, to allow people to take their bikes up and down the stairs easily….
Art can be found everywhere in Copenhagen, and Ai Weiwei has barricated these windows with migrants’ life vests, as a reminder of the migrant crisis taking place on Europe’s shores…
Everybody knows Nyhavn, one of the most iconic locations in the Capital. And over the canal, people attach locks to the bridge. I have put one back in May 2016, and I was eager to see if they had left it there, after 16 months. And it was!! It is the small green (well, it used to be a flashy green color, now it looks more yellowish) one on the left…
Nyhavn… I told you it would ring a bell!
Across from Nyhavn is the Papirøen project. Papirøen, litterally the paper island, is a street food happening that will unfortunately come to an end this Winter.
Next, a stop to Amalienborg Castle, the Royal Familie’s residence in Copenhagen… But on the way to see it, we took a few minutes to visit the Marble Church. Don’t mind the strange orange fellow, he might show his nose every now and then during the trip.
There will be pictures of Amalienborg Castle later… But here are a few pictures of the majestic fountain right next to it. The Marble Church, the palace and the fountain are aligned with the Opera, on the other shore… Again, photos to come later (blame the jetlag!)
Gefion’s fountain is one of my favorite spots in Copenhagen. The gift from the Carlsberg family can be found near Kastellet, and is well worth the detour. But that’s just my opinion…
Of course, we had to go pay our respects to Copenhagen’s effigy. The Little Mermaid is… Small. She is. But hey! It isthe Little Mermaid. Don’t mind the few tourists cuddling her, she is, after all, the most popular mermaid in town!
No visit to Denmark is complete without a hot dog. Danish hot dogs are just fabulous! Topped with remoulade, pickles and dried onions, they are an absolute must. You’ll find stands all around the city, and it is a sin to leave without tasting at least one!
Ok, I’m not a fan of posting pictures of myself, but this one is special. It is at Amalienborg Palace, and I was just telling David how close the Royal family was to its people. In fact, there was no sign asking not to get near the Castle, and I said “hey! Take a picture of me, touching the Queen’s house!!”
What we can’t see on the picture, is the Royal Guard waiting for the picture to be taken, before he shouted a strong “Lady, step away from the wall!!!!”
Yeah, don’t touch the Castle when you come to Copenhagen. It brings out the guards’ grumpy side. At least, I didn’t get arrested.
Danes are so understanding… I think it was obvious I was just excited to take this shot.
I am getting ready to post some of the souvenirs gathered during our two week vacation in Vikingland. I am going through tons of pictures and flyers, and memorabilia, sorting what is of most interest, and what isn’t so much…
I thought I could give you a little sneak peek before I get to the real posts…
So here are our two weeks, in a picture-a-day sum up:
I hope you’ll enjoy the trip down our memory lane…