When I was younger I had a Swedish penpal. Yeah, I know, that seems to be a topic of conversation regularly in this blog. She was a beautiful girl called Sofia and she had a Norwegian Fjord horse. She was one of the nicest people I wrote to, and I always wanted to go to Sweden because of her. It never seemed very easy to get there from Germany. And by not easy, I mean that it wasn’t a Ryan Air flight and it wasn’t cheap to get to. There are direct flights from Frankfurt Airport, but that means flying with Lufthansa – not much of a budget option.
In planning our trip to Norway, we added on Denmark as mentioned in an earlier blog. The final stop to our Scandinavian adventure was Stockholm, Sweden. We only had a day and a half there, so it was a whirlwind trip, but still longer than a cruise stop would be. We had no plans, and given it was the end of our trip, we spent most of our time soaking up Stockholm like the locals.
Our plane ride was a short one-hour flight from Bergen Airport on the budget airline called Norwegian Air. The flight was actually one of the best we’ve ever had on a budget airline, they even had free wifi and a big comfortable cabin with lots of leg room. I know that they fly to the USA, so I would not hesitate to recommend them given the comfort level of a simple hop plane. We arrived and stepped onto the highly efficient Arlanda Express. The high speed train got us into the center station in exactly 20 minutes – we timed it.
The hotel of choice was the Scandic Grand Central. We stepped off the train, turned left, entered a lift, the doors opened and right across the street was the hotel. It couldn’t have been any more convenient given that we arrived at 10pm. This was the most efficient way to get the full day of sightseeing in Norway and then a full day in Stockholm the next day.
We woke the next morning to the delicious free Scandic breakfast that they are known for. It’s always a great start to the day when the hotel puts on a delicious spread. We headed out on foot for Gamla Stan – the old town of Stockholm. I had read a lot of information on the internet that the city had been overrun by homeless refugees, but we didn’t notice any of that during the daytime. It seemed to be that by the time we got there they had things under control.
The Gamla Stan area is exactly what I had imagined when I thought of Stockholm. Colourful buildings with small medieval walk ways threaded amongst, quaint little shops and restaurants everywhere. While we did little sightseeing in Stockholm, I can honestly recommend this city for any kind of modern shopping expedition. I’ve never seen such cool, quirky furniture and house furnishings anywhere else.
We grabbed a drink and headed down to sit by the harbour where boats were whizzing past to head out to the archipelagos for fishing. They needn’t have gone so far. As we sat there amongst locals eating gelato, we heard the flopping sounds of huge fish jumping out of the water. The fish were huge, at least 30cm long and were jumping the same height out of the water.
As the sun started to fall, we did notice that the atmosphere of the city changed. Heading back to our hotel we noticed a lot of well, unsavoury, characters coming out of wherever they had been during the day. The main metro station downtown became overcrowded with large groups of ‘foreign’ youths (I’m being politically correct). Still, we didn’t feel unsafe and continued shopping through the main strip mall until we decided to head back to the hotel for the night.
If we had more time in Sweden, we would have headed out of Stockholm after the first day and done the same kind of thing we did in Norway. Sweden is a beautiful country and Stockholm itself has the second biggest archipelago in the world with some 30,000 islands. The camping looks especially amazing, like Norway. Next time!
We left the next day out of Stockholm airport and flew directly back to Frankfurt. Our Scandinavian adventure involved 4 flights, 3 airlines, an over 800km road trip, over 20 peanut butter sandwiches, a couple packs of hotdogs, an entire bottle of Bacardi rum and memories to last a lifetime.