Stockholm, Sweden - Part One

Travel in Stockholm in 2011

Stockholm city
When you think of Sweden, what comes to mind? How about, ABBA, Bjorn Borg, leggy blondes, the Nobel prize, IKEA, Electrolux, Absolut Vodka and Volvo. Swedes have a sensibility about them that is evident in their people and design aesthetic. They use the word “lagam” which means not too much and not too little, just in the middle. And that is exactly how they are.

I liked that they don’t insist on helmets for bikers, they allow drivers to use their cell phones, they permit drinking in three of their public parks and hot air balloons are free to coast quietly over the city skyline. They assume that the public will use enough sense to act responsibly. Clearly in Sweden, they do. The Swedish royal family send their children to the same schools they expect their subjects to attend. No wonder the Swedes like their royal family.
The leggy blonde bit is also true. I saw the highest concentration of attractive woman, and men, in a wholesome sort of way, than I have seen anywhere else.

Public park
As the plane flew in to land at Arlanda Airport I peeked through the window and saw forests and lakes. They say that Stockholm is one third forest, one third lakes and one third city. Stockholm is not a land mass as such, but an archipelago of 14 islands linked by 52 bridges. This makes it one of the greenest cities in the world. On a sunny day you will find Stockholm residents swimming, cycling, walking or running about. They happily bask in the sun and are spoilt for choice with places to go.

Heading north, the country becomes mainland but Sweden has 93 000 lakes in all. Sweden is clean and the Swedes pride themselves on their clear lakes. The water is good to drink and you can safely swim in their waters. Sweden has a law called – Allemans rätten – which allows all people right of access to natural land. Again, their inherent sensibility allows such a law to work.

Hot air balloon over the city
The  summer months in Sweden are from June to August. For the rest of the year it is cold. Really cold. The winters are also dark. The cold sets in from October and lasts till end of April. You can do a winter snow break in Stockholm if you fancy something a bit different. You might even be lucky enough to see the Northern lights. Just remember you also get 24 hours of night around that time of the year depending how far north you go.

Every single person I encountered spoke perfect English, so language wasn’t a problem at all. A few handy words are “hej” (pronounced hay) which is hello and goodbye; “tack” (pronounced tuck) which is thank you and “gatan” means street or road, it follows on after a street name.

Bicycles for hire
Scandinavia has a reputation for being beyond the purse of the average person. While Norway is off the Richter scale expensive, Sweden is the cheapest of all the Scandinavian countries and is manageable on a modest budget. Tour prices are around SEK300 – 500. You are looking at SEK40 for a single ferry ticket to Skansen Island. A meal out can cost from SEK100 – 400. I tended to buy a take-out salad and a sandwich, then find the nearest park to relax and eat. That would cost about SEK70 – 80. A coffee at a cafe costs around SEK40. The northern areas of Stockholm are classier and you will pay more. The southern areas were a lot more laid back with a meal costing SEK85 including a drink.

There are a number of options for getting to the city from Arlanda Airport, which is a good 40 mins from the city centre. I chose Swebus over the high speed train, plain and simply because it was cheaper. You could also take a Flybussarna bus. Click on this link for more - Flygbussarna. These busses run regularly between the city terminus and the airport and cost about SEK99 one way.
A beach in the city
You can also avail yourself of a travel card for 24, 72 or more hours. This card allows you to ride any bus, overland train or tube train. The card costs a nominal amount and you are looking at about SEK250 for a 72 hour card. I had a SL card. Go to this link for more - travel card. Just be aware that it is cheaper to top up your card at the local supermarket - Pressbyran  - than at the train stations. I can’t explain this. You could also hire a bicycle. For more follow this link - Citybikes.

Click here to go to Stockholm Part 2.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

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