After exploring Göteborg and Western Sweden, we decided to end our Swedish holidays in Stockholm, where we found returning to Stockholm is like coming home.
After experiencing Göteborg and Western Sweden in August 2005 by ferryboat, sightseeing cruises, car ferries, a Zodiac boat, streetcars, driving a Volvo, and even riding on the luggage carrier of a moped, Edward F. Nesta and I decided to relax and take the train from Göteborg to Stockholm. However, our plans were almost changed when we missed our exit on the highway on our way to return the Volvo, and finally arrived at the train station at 10:15 am for a 10:42 am train. Of course, everyone in the line ahead of us had some kind of problem, which seemed to take forever, as we slowly gnawed our knuckles trying to patiently wait our turn in line for our train tickets. We made it to our platform with our tickets in our hands and minutes to spare before our train was to leave. Finally we could relax and breathe; we made it! We settled back into our seats, and promptly fell asleep on the ride to Stockholm.
We arrived in Stockholm refreshed from our nap, and went directly to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Stockholm, a gracious hostess that has been welcoming luxury travelers since it opened in 1874. After enjoying a coffee in the sitting room of the hotel, we set out to discover more of this charming and interesting city. Read more about the Grand Hôtel Stockholm in the Hotels and Resorts, Chefs’ Recipes, and Restaurants sections.
Grand Hôtel Stockholm
Södra Blasiehomshamnen 8
SE-103 27 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone: +46 0 8 679 35 00
Fax: +46 0 8 611 86 86
Since this was not our first visit to Stockholm, we had already seen many of the ‘city highlights’ including touring the Royal Apartments at the Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace), which is the largest royal palace in Europe and is still used by the royal family. We had been to many of the museums including the Vasa Museum, Skattkammaren (The Treasury), the Nobel Museum, the Livrustkammaren (Royal Armory) , Stadshuset (City Hall), Stadsmuseum (City Hall Museum), Skansen, and Prince Eugen's Waldenmarsudde, yet there were still so much for us to discover.
For this trip, we began at the Postmuseum (The Postal Museum) located in Gamla Stan, which is the old part of the city. The Postmuseum in Stockholm opened in 1906 and is the only museum of its kind in Sweden. One of their main exhibitions showed how letters have been delivered for over 360 years. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, and admission is charged.
Lilla Nygatan 6
Telephone: 08-781- 17 55
Fax: 08-20 90 21
We continued our museum crawl at the interesting Musikmuseet (Music Museum), which opened in 1901 and houses an impressive collection of around 6,000 instruments, many of which can be played by the museum visitors, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. The museum is free and is open from Tuesday – Sunday.
Telephone: 08-519 554 90
After exploring two museums, we were ready to experience Stockholm on a sightseeing boat. Stockholm consists of 14 islands making a sightseeing cruise necessary to really get a feel of the capital city. We took a 2-hour narrated sightseeing trip with Stockholm Sightseeing on their Under the Bridges of Stockholm tour, where we passed under 15 bridges, went through 2 locks, and traveled on the sea and Lake Mälaren, which is the third largest lake in Europe, and is one of 96,000 lakes in Sweden. In the summer months, boaters enjoy the beauty of Lake Mälaren and in the winter, it becomes a skaters’ wonderland.
A few of the historical facts covered during the tour included learning that the Swedish monarchy dates back 1,000 years. King Gustav XVI has reigned since 1973, and his daughter, Crown Princess Victoria is next in line to inherit the throne, as Sweden allows both male and female succession to the throne. Stockholm has 2 million inhabitants, and Sweden has the highest life expectancy in the world with an average lifespan of 77+ years for men and 82+ years for women. Stockholm is especially proud of their clean water; swimming is allowed in the city center, and fisherman can be seen fishing along the banks of the water or lining the bridges, as fishing is free.
Passing through the locks was an interesting experience, as the boat was pulled with a rope through the canal and secured to the wall while the lock filled with water so that we could pass through. The architecture, the natural beauty and the information learned made the trip definitely worthwhile. Stockholm Sightseeing is located directly across from the Grand Hôtel Stockholm, which made it very convenient when we disembarked.
Telephone: 08-587-140 20
Fax: 08-587-140 44
In the evening, we went to Stampen, a historic jazz club in Gamla Stan that opened in 1968. The club is open every night except for Sunday, and on Fridays and Saturdays there are 2 bands playing on different floors of the club. Stampen is anything but the usual when it comes to the décor, with toy airplanes hanging from the ceiling, the walls lined with trophies, license plates, old instruments, and a bit of everything and anything.
On the night we visited the club, Jump4Joy, a swing/boogie woogie band led by pianist/vocalist Ulf Sandström, with Bo Gustafsson on saxophone, Anders Almberg on drums and Jan Adefelt on bass, was playing and had the enthusiastic crowd on their feet and dancing. Even I got into the spirit, and enjoyed every minute dancing to the fast paced swing music. Who needs to use a Fitness Center when you can dance the night away? During a break between sets, Edward and I met with Ulf Sandström, who told us that Jump4Joy has played all over the world. They play 150 gigs per year, and since 1992, they have played 2,000 gigs. Read the Music Scene where Edward reviews two of Jump4Joy cds.
Stora Nygatan 5
Telephone: 08-20 57 93
The next morning we began our day by enjoying a leisurely breakfast at our hotel in the Grand Veranda, where their breakfast Smörgåsbord is truly impressive. We strolled through Gamla Stan, making stops along the way to browse and of course, make purchases in many of the shops.
We returned to our hotel to drop off our purchases, and then caught a taxi to meet our friend, Tina Brännström for lunch at the charming restaurant, Wardshuset Ulla Winbladh, located in Djurgården. Talented young Master Chef Pelle Johansson creates traditional Swedish cuisine at Ulla Winbladh, which was built in 1897. We enjoyed a wonderful al fresco lunch on the restaurant’s deck, soaking up the last rays of summer. Read about Ulla Winbladh in the Restaurants section.
Wärdshuset Ulla Winbladh
11521 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone: 08-663 05 71
After lunch, we continued our museum exploration at the Nordiska Museet (The National Museum of Cultural History) since it was located near the restaurant. This is an amazing museum with exhibitions on four floors that really requires that you spend hours there to properly see all of the exhibits, which include the history of fashion with clothes and shoes from the mid-18th century to present, Swedish traditions, folk art, textiles, table settings, interiors, photography and more. The museum is open 7 days per week and there is free admission.
Telephone: 08-519 546 00
With time to spare in our schedule, we visited the Vin and Sprithistoriska Museet (Historical Museum of Wine and Spirits), for oenophiles and spirits enthusiasts this museum is truly fascinating. The museum brings the wine and spirits history to life, with videos (Chef Pelle Johansson from the restaurant, Ulla Winbladh is in one of the film clips), antique displays, and you can test your ‘nose’ by smelling over 55 spices that can go into the making of vodka, learn that it was only at the end of the 19th century that Swedes started chilling vodka, (imagine a warm martini!), and even learn the words to a few of the 200 drinking songs.
It is not possible to grow and produce wine in Sweden, yet in 1957, the Swedish government launched “Operation Wine”, to campaign for drinks with less alcohol. They wanted a modern drink with lower alcohol to replace vodka. By 1977, wine consumption overtook vodka, and by the 1980s, Swedes started drinking wine on a regular basis.
Telephone: 08-744 70 70
Fax: 08-31 39 28
Wanting a very romantic dinner for our last night in Stockholm, we had dinner at Franska Matsalen at the Grand Hotel Stockholm. This wonderfully romantic French restaurant closed at the end of February 2006, to make room for another larger restaurant, which judging by the Grand Hôtel Stockholm’s illustrious reputation, should be as just as marvelous. We look forward to dining in the new restaurant on a future trip to Stockholm.
The next morning, we had another breakfast Smörgåsbord at the Grand Veranda, took a long last view of Stockholm, and then took a taxi to the airport. Although it may seem like we really ‘know’ Stockholm, there is so much more to see; we only tapped seeing the museums and the 14 islands that make up Stockholm, which certainly gives us plenty of reasons to return to Stockholm – as if we needed them!
At the airport, we relaxed in the comfortable SAS lounge before boarding the plane, and once on board, we could see the passengers around us surfing the Internet, as “SAS is the world’s first airline to offer wireless high-speed Internet access in all passenger classes on all intercontinental destinations.”
Read our other articles on Sweden and in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Chefs’ Recipes, Restaurants, Music Scene, Gastronomy, Liquor Cabinet and Events sections.
For more information on Stockholm, Sweden and SAS please visit: www.visit-sweden.com, www.stockholmtown.com and www.sas.se.
© April 2006. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com. All rights reserved.