After returning from our Greece trip the month before we found ourselves with a case of traveler's withdrawal and a four day weekend so mid May we took advantage of a cheapie weekend flight to Stockholm. We flew the same day we booked our tickets and managed to snag a hotel online too. Lana found a 17th Century castle turned hotel/convention center a bit outside of the downtown that had accommodations not more than a five minute walk from the tram line.
Our flight from Germany originated at a former American military airbase now called Frankfurt- Hahn located at least a 100 km from Frankfurt itself. Apparently the carrier, Ryan Air, gets a sweet deal by utilizing this out of the way place. For me it was a bit of nostalgia in seeing the old, dilapidated military facilities as I spent part of my youth in just such places when I lived in Germany in the 50's. This was our first flight with a no-frills airline so we didn't quite know what to expect on boarding the plane. The interior decor was early Fisher-Price having dark blue fabric seats trimmed with school bus yellow plastic. There were McDonald like menu-posters mounted on the backs of the seats that explained the food choices. We knew you had to pay for your meals and drinks, but at ticket prices less than half those of the conventional airlines you can certainly afford to pick up a couple sandwiches and drinks at the terminal. The flight took us into a similarly remote airfield about a 100 km from Stockholm where a connecting bus provided the final link into the city.
Stockholm displays the evidence of its former days as one of Europe's power centers with the magnificence of its public architecture and expensive private homes that line the many waterways that divide the islands upon which the city is built. Essentially Stockholm is a city of islands located in several adjacent lakes having a connection to the ocean via locks. I can now understand why the folks in Seattle did what they did back in the early days of that city when it was populated by immigrants from Scandinavia. Seattle's waterways are in many ways quite the same at Stockholm only on a smaller scale.
The morning after our late night arrival we took our breakfast in the castle dinning room. The choices were abundant including a mixture of typical Scandinavian pastries and cold fish items plus the more traditional European selections of cold cuts, cereals, yogurts, toast, fresh fruit etc. and what is known all over the Continent as the "English Breakfast" which most Americans know as bacon and eggs.
After breakfast and some information gathering from the front desk we set off in search of the tram line into town. The Swedes have a well organized public transportation system which we use as a primary indicator of judging the relative state of civilization of a culture. If a complete foreigner such as ourselves can understand how to get from point A to point B by looking at the signs in the subway and can buy a ticket without the help of a translator, the culture gets an A rating on our scale. The Swedes got an A+ in that regard.
There is enough to see in Stockholm to keep you busy at least two days riding the tour buses and walking around the downtown. Most of the photos in our gallery were taken there. You will see several striking pieces of architecture as well as the canals, ships, and the national place with the changing of the guard ceremony. There are stories behind all of these places, but not time to go into detail here. The easiest and cheapest way to see a lot is to take one of the many double-decker London style tour buses. These provide a continuous circulation along routes past the most interesting places. You can get off the bus at any of the many stops and then catch another bus when you want to move on. This all for the price of one 24 hour ticket. Then you must take the harbor tour. This takes you on a route through the many channels that connect the other islands of the city. A tour guide provides a running description of what you are seeing and adds some interesting asides about famous citizens and some of the strange things that have happened over the years.
The final wrap on our tour was the Wasa Museum where one of Sweden's more embarrassing naval projects is located. Seems the Wasa was to be the pride of the Swedish navy back in the 16th Centaury, but due to some miscalculations by the naval architects the vessel never made it more than a 100 meters from the launching dock. Apparently, due to some last minute changes required by the King, the Wasa became top heavy and rolled over when the wind hit the sails. Several sailors lost their lives but most managed to be rescued. The ship remained under the water for more than 300 years before it was raised back in the 1960's. Now it has been put on display in a special building along with many items found on the bottom such as cannon, cooking utensils, personal items of the crew, etc. It is quite well done and should be part of anyone's visit to Stockholm.Stockholm - Wikwpedia
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