Love at First Sight in Gamla Stan, the old town in Stockholm
As I always say, the life of the traveler is very hard, since our alarm clock rang at 4 o'clock in the morning. Well, everything is for a good cause and for days of travel! I stopped the alarm clock Off! What a pleasure! The day before I had worked, so there was no better way to start the holidays. I am traveling!
The only bad thing of that night was that since 3 I was half dozing, because just below the house a small group met with their bikes, and they were chatting. We dress, prepare some sandwiches for the trip, and we just keep the last things in the suitcase.
At 4:50 my friend called me on the phone, because she was about to arrive. So we switch of the lights, the water, the gas, disconnect the cable from the television, and we go! The car of the friend who was taking us to the airport was already there! We accommodate our bags and leave for the airport!
We left with a lot of time from home, since our flight did not take off until 8:10, but fortunately, in about 10 minutes we resumed the march at a very good pace. At 5:45 we arrived at T3. We still had a long time to take off. We said goodbye to our friend and entered the terminal. There was not much line, thankfully.
I put myself in the machines of auto check-in to print the labels of the suitcases, because the check-in had already been done 24 hours before through the web. I also printed the boarding passes. All this process is very easy. We hooked the tags in our bags, and we put ourselves in the Drop Off queue. There were very few people and it immediately touched us. We invoiced the suitcases. The boy looked at the carry-on luggage (two bags and a backpack) and everything was ready!
At 6 o'clock we went to the upper floor, where the exits are. Again there was very little queue. I took out my tablet, the liquids, the watch. And that's it! Last security check! This time they did not stop any of us!
We picked up our belongings from the trays and headed to the Duty Free, with no intention of buying anything! We started the trip and it was not a plan to go loaded. So first things first. We buy water for the trip.
At that time the hunger was already starting to wake up. So since there was still a long time, we prepared to fill our bellies. We sat at a Cafe and ordered a hamburger, a coffee, a chocolate croissant and an orange juice.
It sat great and filled our batteries to the fullest. So after breakfast we went down to the area of our boarding gate. We were able to sit right next to the door, so we could be among the first to embark. Although we had assigned seats and did not carry large luggage, I always like to be among the first to be seated.
We took advantage of this for a technical stop, since there was still enough to get to Stockholm. On the screen where our flight was coming out, I would say that the boarding was at 7:15. Instead, our boarding pass specified 7:40. They do not clarify.
But the second one more suited me, taking into account that the flight took off at 8:10. But for what it could be, we would be ready at 7:15. At 7:40 the queue began to form, so we are already in the position. In the first, of course. About 7:45 the journey began without priorities. A bus took us to the foot of the plane.
At 7:50 we went up. It smelled new and looked nine! We locate our seats. I sat in the window, because I love taking pictures during the flight. We put our bags. Slowly another bus arrived, and more passengers arrived. And we were all ready to start our journey. Each one with their stories, their illusions, their haste or their calm.
Some travel to their homes, others start holidays, and perhaps others just going to another destination. But all, together, that plane smelled new. At 8:15 the plane began to move slowly. We had a video on the screen, with the typical security instructions. And before taking off, the captain spoke. He welcomed us, explained four little things of the trip and the weather of Stockholm! We took track, the flight accelerated and at 8:30 we took off. 20 minutes later than planned, but surely we would recover it during the flight.
When we were already at cruise speed the flight attendants informed us that as the plane was new, and so wifi was not installed yet. I was testing it before they told us, and there was no way. After a while one of the hostess passed distributing the menu. And on the screens we see a movie.
At 9 o'clock the catering service started. The flight moved with a lot of peace. We had a little turbulence, but very minimal. During the flight, I took the opportunity to read my Sweden travel guide and try to make some points of interest to visit next afternoon.
At 10:25 the hostess come for selling perfumes, and chocolate. By 3:15 the plane has already begun the maneuvers to go down slowly. It was all very plain and green. There were ice crystals in the window.
And at 3:33 we land at the Arlanda Airport sooner than expected! Sure, we had recovered time. That was Swedish punctuality! As we were in front on the plane, we were among the first to go down! We were already in Sweden! We pass through the boarding area, in the direction of the baggage claim area. The truth is that we do not have to walk a lot until we get there.
We arrived at the belt and the screen show that in 10 minutes the bags would come out, so we sat down to wait. And punctually began to leave the first suitcases. But for ours we had to wait a little bit. What moments of nerves and until we see the bags leaving, we do not breathe easy.
So at 4:10 we already had all the suitcases, and we headed towards the exit. The day before traveling I was looking at the option to buy the train ticket through the website. But at the hotel we had been told about the option of taking taxi. We prefer the taxi that take us from door to door.
So we left the terminal, and immediately found a lot of taxis. Each company is grouped in long lines, one behind the other. Some even have a sign above that identifies the row to which company it belongs.
We saw the taxi that the hotel had told us. The fixed price they charge is marked on the door. Other companies were even more expensive. All the taxi drivers were telling us taxi, taxi? We went looking and watching, the different prices. So we took one of these taxis. The driver put our bags in the trunk. I sat in front with the driver. And we start on the way to Stockholm!
The driver gave me his cell phone and asked me to write him the hotel's address. Well luckily I had the reservation sheet handy. There was not much traffic at that time! But is there no speed limit on Swedish roads?
At the moment it was sunny with a good temperature. The days before we had been looking at the weather forecast on the internet and the thing looked a little dodgy. But for now, the thing looked good.
The taxi driver asked us where we were from, and how many days we would be there. And when we were almost there, he gave us a card and told us that to return to the airport, if we telephoned the same company, it would cost less. Well, it was worth it! I asked him how we had to do it, and he told me that we only had to call and reserve. Well, the offer was not bad!
When we were already entering, we paid with the card the price of the trip. How green everything looked! And we saw little boats sailing through the channels! Suddenly the music began to play on the radio! The taxi driver turned up the volume and we were almost dancing! What a geek way to enter the city!
The taxi turned a street and there we had our hotel! It was 4:48 and we had arrived very quick! We had not been in the taxi for half an hour! We got off the vehicle, said goodbye to the driver and entered the hotel reception.
Check in was very fast. The girl informed us about the breakfast times and all the hotel services. She gave us the key (well, better, the card), and she asked for the card (they did not charge us anything yet, but they already asked for it). I asked her if she had any map of the city.
There were 4 elevators to go up to the rooms. In order to go up, we had to pass the card and mark the floor. We went up to the second floor. Just leaving the elevator, we found an ice machine. We follow the indicators to our room. Murphy's law! I was at the end of everything. But finally, there it was.
We passed the card, opened the door and it was a small room! The first thing that caught our attention was the light! It was very clear, and very white! We went in and we were stunned! We knew and we had read that the rooms of the hotels, in those parts, were not very big. Well this room was not bad at all! It was spacious enough!
We had a huge bed, and a kind of sofa bed, also huge. Our room was a family room. There was a plasma television and a space that was like a small room (where the sofa bed was). There was a minibar, an iron, a hair dryer. The bathroom had a shower, amenities set, augmented mirror. The only thing we missed was a safe. In short, that the room was very complete! We loved it! And the beds were very comfortable! And it was not so expensive either with breakfast included.
While we were undressing, there was a knock on the door by the hotel boy. He came to see if the sofa bed was ready, and if the rest of the room looked fine. After freshening up a bit and finishing up, we order sandwiches. So we eat and we could start kicking the city! The sandwiches tasted great!
We also connect to the hotel's wifi (as we had roaming facility, it's worth saving some data! And I contact my family! I also took the opportunity to locate on the map what we could see that afternoon. At 5:00 we were already more than ready to start getting to see Stockholm!
We left the hotel, and the first thing I found was a tourist bus. The hotel is on Kungsholmsgatan. So to go towards the Town Hall we turn into Scheelegatan, until we reach Hantverkargatan. We passed the Radhuset or Courts (in fact, right next to the hotel there was a metro stop with this name).
We were struck by the building in a national romantic style. It was too big. We enter the garden for a moment to explore. It was not very hot and was ideal to be walking at these times. We arrived at the town hall (Stadshuset). Inevitably, we often passed before the grandeur of the building. What a town hall the Holmians have!
We entered the patio and again we were amazed with the dimensions of the space, and the amount of people there were! Nowadays it is a national symbol. It is built in Swedish national romantic style, with some influence of Nordic Gothic and northern Italy. And of course, it was Saturday. And we saw several weddings!
If you have read my blog, you will know that it is one of the characteristics of our trips. And of course, I could not miss the photo. Although this time I had to choose, because there were so many! We see that the ceremony is very short, and that very few guests can attend. That's why there were so many couples dating out there!
The day was beautiful! The sky wear a very intense blue look! And families started the celebrations right there! They uncorked bottles of sparkling wine or something similar to champagne. The atmosphere was lively! And we hallucinated! When we look at the side of the building we find beautiful views of the city! Our infatuation with the city began. A brief, but intense summer love story.
Here we can see Riddarholmen and the sculpture of Engelbrekt, the freedom fighter. Right at the back of the building there is a huge sculpture of Birger Jarl, a Swedish nobleman, who took care of the ruling government, until his son could reign. When the town hall was built, they wanted to bury their remains there, but finally it was only a monument.
Actually it is not a sculpture alone, but a cenotaph. A tomb without remains, the founder of the city. The gaze is directed towards the Riddarholmskyrkan. The sculpture is made of granite, covered with lead and then gilded with gold leaf.
We continue the march, to cross by Centralbron, right next to the train tracks. How could we not fall in love with this city? Many people had already warned us that we would love, and they were not wrong. It even exceeded expectations!
We arrived at the small island of Riddarholmen, and following the water's edge, we came to the sculpture of El Trovador, in Evert Taubes Terrass. It is a Swedish troubadour and composer of the twentieth century, and of course, has the eternal town hall just behind.
There were a lot of groups of Asians, that I will tell you that it has been another characteristic of this trip! They were everywhere! We went up Wrangelska Backen, leaving on our left the building of the municipal courts. The area was under construction (another of the travel hazards, I'll see). And we arrived at the impressive Riddarholmskyrkan.
It is known as the royal sepulcher of the Swedish monarchs. In the interior there are sepulchers and tombstones, like those of medieval kings. Again the brick construction attracted attention. We entered, but we did not decide to pay the entry fee. We are satisfied with seeing the interior from there.
We crossed by Riddarholmsbron, passing in front of Riddarhuset (or House of the Nobility), of the XVII century. Some say it is the most beautiful building in Stockholm. It's nice. The square where it is located had been the old center of the city. We were already at the beginning of Gamla Stan, the old part of the city. We entered a street that we thought was beautiful, with a very interesting color: Storkyrkobrinken.
The tower that we see in the background is that of the Storkyrkan. But when we got to the corner of Vasterlanggatan, people were everywhere. We were in one of the most commercial streets of Gamla Stan. So we get carried away by the tide of tourists and visitors.
The street was very busy. It was a hotbed. People go in and out of souvenir shops, smell food, and take photos here and there. But we were not very keen on buying gifts, because we had just started. So we were more struck by the number of small streets that left the commercial street. In many of them it did not seem that on the main road there were hundreds of people walking and buying.
We walk among pizzerias, ice cream shops, several shops and we arrive at one of the most visited points in the area. The one they say is the narrowest street: Marten Trotzigs Grand. But there were so many people taking pictures, that the width of the little street was not clear. So we continue, but I already meditated an alternative to like it better, without so many people.
In the Jarntorget square, we went up through Osterlanggatan and turned into the first street we found (Prastgatan), which was parallel to Vasterlanggatan. From there we saw the other end of the narrow street, with very few people!
It reminded me of the narrow street of Prague, because it also has some little stairs. But in Prague they regulate the passage with a traffic light. It measures about 90 cm wide, and there we began to see in a very clear way that we were on a hill in the city. The stairs of the street, or some steep streets that surrounded us, gave proof of this.
We continued walking through Prastgatan, and it did not seem like the same city we had seen a few minutes before. There were very few people around. What peace and how pleasant. We arrived at Tyska Brinken, and there was the Tyska Kyrkan (or German Church), from the 17th century.
In the eighteenth century the influence of Germany in the city was very important, thanks to the control of the Hanseatic League. Many merchants and artisans settled in Stockholm. Admission is free and inside we saw a real gallery that had been added for the German royal family, and some fantastic stained glass windows. The church was quite heavy, but beautiful.
We sit down for a moment and rest a little. But immediately we started the march again, because very close we had another main course of Gamla Stan. We took the Svartmangatan street and we arrived at one of the best known squares of that part of the city: Stortorget.
In fact, the first thing we saw was the Nobel Museum (the old Borsa). It was not one of our priority visits, so we did not enter. It is one of the most important squares of Gamla Stan, with an old well. One of its hallmarks are the famous colorful houses, which give the square a cheerful and festive touch.
It was one of the most touristic sites of Gamla Stan, as it was full of people. People sit on the benches, on the terraces, and walk. We took advantage of the fact that one of the banks located next to the well was free and we sat for a while. Accompanying our rest, a musician sang several melodies. From time to time it is nice to make small stops along the way.
After that little bit of recovery, we followed a little more, since we had the cathedral (Storkyrkan) very close by. So from the square we took Trangsund Street. Although the cathedral closed at 6pm we did not enter, but continued to the rear entrance of the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slotet).
Just at that moment there was a mini change of guard. We stayed a moment to see it. We entered the interior courtyard of the palace and were surprised by its size. It is the official residence of the king, a cultural and historical monument and remains an emblematic building of the city of Stockholm.
But we did not want much, so we keep wandering around. To the right of the patio we saw a door and headed towards it. We reached a huge staircase. On the left was the Royal Chapel. The decoration of the chapel is impressive, but for me pulpit is more spectacular!
We went back down the stairs, to climb the opposite side, which led to the State Hall. But when entering, there was a ticket office, a catenary that prevented us from passing, so we saw the silver throne from afar and we continued the route. We exit through the door that directly leads to Slottsbacken. Again the entrance was flanked by members of the guard!
The square was full of coaches, people, and works (especially the obelisk), which quite tarnished the general appearance and side of the palace. So we went down again in the direction of the water, to see the other facade of the palace. Something caught my attention in the garden. And no, it was not the guard! A robot that cut the grass!
From there, the other shore looked beautiful, with its majestic buildings. And a part of the Skeppsholmen island. We cross the Norrbro bridge leaving behind the Royal Palace, and on the left the Parliament (Riksdagshuset). It seemed that the king was at home, because the flag was waving! In front we had the opera building (Kungliga Operan).
We entered the lobby for a moment to see, but we went out again. There was not much to see. By Jakobs torg we reached the St. Jakobs Kyrka. We entered, but we took a quick look, because right then they were closing. Right there was the beginning of Kungstradgarden (the king's garden). We listened to music and we went there. There was a kind of festival, with live performances. It was overflowing with people. Not in vain, it is one of the places of leisure of the city.
Kungstradgarden had been the royal garden of aromatic herbs in the fifteenth century. I have read that it is the oldest park in the city. There were some fountains where the children were having a great time. So we found a bench in the shade (it was not too hot) and we sat for a while.
After resting for a while, and freshening up watching the kids bathe in the fountains, we went on Hamngatan Street. Upstairs there is a clock that lights up in green and red at night. We went for a walk around the ground floor, where there was the decoration of the home. The Scandinavian countries are well known for the design. So we walked between plates, vases, and glasses. We arrived at the sweet section, and to our surprise we found chocolate bars.
It was good in the department stores. So we decided that we were already heading towards the hotel. We continue throughout Hamngatan, with clothing stores and other shops, surrounded by many people buying. But the street was under construction (I think it had to do with the tram) and it was not very comfortable to walk around.
We arrived at Sergels Torg, but I was very disappointed. It was one of the points of interest that always comes in the guides, but since it was also under construction, it completely tarnished it. In the middle was the glass obelisk, but with very little grace, because of the fences that surrounded it.
Right there, in the square we see one of the tourist offices of the city. As there are no excessively tall buildings, so the city maintains its charm. What we had seen so far gave us the impression that it was a very noble city. Something we liked a lot, is that we saw and heard music everywhere, which encourages a lot!
Of course, despite the works that were in the city, it is very quiet. No excessive noise, no tall buildings. We continue through Klarabergsgatan (also under construction in some sections) again, surrounded by shops. We see a pretty nice church called Klara Kyrka. A man at the door allowed us to enter quickly, because they were about to start an organ concert.
And so we come to the height of Stockholm Central Station. We were already quite close to the hotel. We reached our street, the Kungsholmsgatan, and almost in front of our hotel, on the corner with Scheelegatan, there was a supermarket. We needed water so we went inside. In addition, we see the products that are sold there. When we go to a city abroad we like to go into a supermarket to see what is sold out there.
We bought a small bottle of water and a packet of cookies. We arrived at the hotel at night, we went up to the room. We left the things we no longer needed, and at 11pm we went back down to have some dinner. Just as we were leaving, there was a huge group checking in at the front desk.
We had no desire to walk anymore. So we have dinner there. The hotel has a restaurant, but it gave us the feeling that it was too small. So while arriving after the day's visits, we had seen an Italian restaurant. And there we went.
We went inside. There were already people having dinner! We immediately adapted to the schedules there (and, in addition, we were already hungry, really). We sat down and the waiter gave us the menu in English. We ordered some grilled vegetables and a salad and some spaghetti bolognese, and carbonara spaghetti. We ordered a couple of beers and water.
The waiter was a bit unfriendly. The dinner was good. At 12 we went to the hotel. In the room it was cool, so we increase the air conditioning temperature. I took advantage of that little break to take my notes for the blog.
At 12:10 we were already in bed. We had to rest well, because our trip had just begun and there were still many days and many countries ahead. If my mobile app did not deceive me, we had made 15000 steps and 10 Km. It was not bad for the first day.