First Day in Stockholm

3 Sep

The flight from Reykjavic Airport into Stockholm took about 3 hours. We rode the Arlanda Express train from the airport into the Centralen transit station – the speedy trip (with free wifi!) took only about 25 minutes. Our friendly Stockholm airbnb host, Agneta, met us at Centralen to hand us the keys before boarding her own train out of town.

We bought 72-hour Travel Cards for 200 Swedish Kroner (about $32) apiece. The cards gave us unlimited access to all SL (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik) transit, including the Tunnelbana (subway), buses, trams and in-city ferry service. For longer stays, the 7-day Travel Card is a far superior deal at 260 SK, but I’m pretty sure we used at least our 200 SK even in just three days, and it was well worth it for the convenience of never needing to think about tickets.

Stockholm Overview

Stockholm is beautifully spread over a group of islands, each with its own established aesthetic and neighborhood character.

Map by Lonely Planet

Agneta’s studio apartment was located in Hornstull, an area in the northeastern corner of Södermalm, or Söder, which is known among Stockholm’s neighborhoods as the eclectic, artsy center. It was a good location for us, with lots of interesting shops, ethnic restaurants, and a five-minute walk to the Tunnelbana.

She even left us a bottle of champagne, some chocolate and a note wishing us a happy anniversary!

Gamla Stan

We decided to spend our first afternoon exploring Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s “Old Town.” It’s located on the smallest of all the islands, immediately north of (relatively) sprawling Söder. It’s full of gorgeous old architecture, charming narrow brick roads, bridges and plazas.

We stopped for coffee and rolls at the Grillska Husets Konditori overlooking Gamla Stan’s main plaza.

The big pink building to the right is the Nobel Museum, dedicated to the famous prize.

A few more selected views of Gamla Stan:

Stockholm city bikes

While Mike stopped at the mobile phone shop to try to figure out why our phones weren’t getting any reception, I took a detour through the dizzying Åhléns department store.

I wasn’t in the mood to browse fall clothing, so I wandered instead into the supermarket in the store’s basement for a glimpse of Swedish groceries. I really liked the vintage-style graphic packaging:

Hearing the church bells chime the hour, we went back to visit the Nobel Museum (Entry is free on Tuesdays after 5pm). It’s a small museum, but we found a lot of interesting things to read about past prizewinners, the ceremony and the award itself. I thought it was very cool, for example, that artists are commissioned to design and create unique award certificates for each winner, so no two Nobels are the same (though all winners receive identical medals). Below is an example of the certificate awarded to Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Literature, 1931):

We left Gamla Stan and took the train back to Sodermalm for dinner at a Korean restaurant (because, cinnamon buns aside, we are not so in love with herring- and ham-centric Swedish cuisine). Our friend David from Seattle, who is spending the semester here at the University researching water and systems ecology, met us at the restaurant. He took us to a great neighborhood bar called Nada, where the Turkish owner was working behind the counter. The owner took a break from mixing drinks to sit down with us, and shared a few entertaining stories about expat life in Sweden.

He said he’s working on opening a new nightclub, and is hoping to one day bring the Coyote Ugly phenomenon to Stockholm.

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