Going to Croatia was out. I would only be able to travel for a long weekend and 3 days in Dalmatia do not make any sense. It's too short. What else? Barcelona - great place, but my heart does not really beat for it. Lissabon - I really want to go back but not alone.
While brainstorming I realized that it would make sense to find out where the bonus miles in my Miles & More account could take me - and there it was: A special offer - for only 10.000 Miles (plus another 18.000 for fees and taxes) I could go to ... STOCKHOLM! How perfect was that? I was in Stockholm before and absolutely LOVED it. It's a extremely nice metropolitan city and it is a coastal town built on islands. One of the best things is that you need a just short boat trip out into the Stockholm archipelago and there is nothing around you except the sea, islands, sun, wind and clouds. That was EXACTLY what I needed and so I booked the flight and got myself a nice, affordable hotel room right in the city and .... shortly after off I was ...
When I arrived the weather was not that good - cloudy, windy, a bit of rain, but I did not care too much. I just loved to be back to Sweden and went on a short walk around my hotel (Bestern Western Hotell Kung Carl - I can recommned) in the heart of fancy Östermalm. The location right where the main street Birger Jarlsgatan meets Stureplan and Sturegatan is ideal - lots of great places are in walking distance and the Tunnelbana (underground train) is super close, too.
A mandatory stop for every Stockholm tourist is Östermalm's market hall (Saluhall) - a beautiful food palace:
From there I took a short walk to the waterfront - I was there to see the sea, right? Right!
Then it was already adventure time. Hockey adventure time to be exact. August is not really a time where you can easily catch a hockey game, but I kind of managed to do exactly that. Due to pure coincidence I had chosen the weekend for my trip when Red Wing Niklas Kronwall was organizing his yearly charity game in Jakobsberg / Järfälla - a small town right outside of Stockholm. That was definitely a trip away from the usual tourist path, but the information on the website of the Järfälla Hockey Club, the easy to use website of the Swedish railway company and some friendly people at the main station in Stockholm made it possible that I found myself after a short trip in front of the Järfälla Ishall together with a few hundered fellow hockey fans and a couple of Stanley Cup winners.
It was just a charity game and the players of course made sure that it did not get too serious, but it was hockey and in some scenes on the ice really nice hockey. Right before the game during the national anthem I also had some serious hockey butterflies in my tummy.
The Hawks (and more):
Drop the puck (damn do I miss shouting this):
After the game the players were posing for pictures. All of them were really nice and especially Johnny Oduya was a pleasure to watch playing and interacting with the fans:
The game ended relatively late and I had a bit of bad feeling in the stomach to go back through the empty park to the station, but stupid me - we are talking summer in Sweden and when I got out of the ice rink close to 10 pm it still looked like that (Isn't the Nordic light amazing?):
Saturday was my power day - action from dawn to midnight. I woke up fairly early to enjoy the hotel breakfast. It was really nice although not as delicious as at the Hellstens Malmgård Hotel at Södermalm where we stayed the year before.
After that and before I really started the day I went to the park next door - Humlegården. When you are traveling alone and cannot share your thoughts right away with a travel partner your need your private time to just go through all the fresh impressions. A beautiful park like this is the perfect place:
The amazing thing: Swedish people are obviously no morning people - this is 9 am and Sunday 10 am looked pretty much the same. You do not even need to try to do some serious shopping on Saturday before 11 am. Everything (at least at Södermalm) will be still closed. That is my type of people ;)
Peaceful late morning at Östermalm:
And over an hour later still peaceful morning at Södermalm / Nytorget:
Because it was clearly too early for the planned shopping I was just walking the streets in the hip neighborhood around Nytorget and relaxed with a coffee in the sun. That is what vacation is about anyway isn't it?
When it was finally 11 am I went for gift shopping and was quite succesful. It is always good when you know your friend's favorite shop in her favorite city ;).
After a short break at the hotel to drop my bags and charge the cellphone I walked down to the waterfront to go on a 3 hours boat trip into the archipelago. I was looking forward to this so much. It was one of the main reasons I chose Stockholm for this short trip. We did a tour with one of the island ferries when I was there the first time and I loved it.
This time I had booked a round trip and it was gorgeous except the fact it was a guided tour. That is not in any way the fault of the touring company (Strömma - I can actually recommend). The trip was exactly like described, it was well organized and the food was nicer than expected. I had just simply underestimated my personal mood. I totally did not feel like listening to anybody including the tour guide (who did a good job - not his fault). I just wanted to be for myself and looking out on the water, the sky and the islands. But that is what BEATS earbuds and Biffy Clyro are made for. I just put them on, made the music pretty loud, found myself a sunny, wind protected spot on deck and all was good.
The citizens of Stockholm are lucky, lucky people to have this paradise just in front of their doors and I was really envious of all the relaxed people you could see hanging out in lounge chairs in the gardens of their summer houses placed on one of the countless tiny islands. I so want a place like this.
After almost three hours we slowly came back to the city.
Djurgården's nostalgic amusement parc Gröna Lund:
Back in town:
After another short break to change into fresh clothes and have dinner I went down to enjoy the golden evening light in one of my favorite parts of the city - The Old Town / Gamla Stan:
A gorgeous day like this needs a sundowner and I had mine in the outdoor area of the famous rock club Debaser Slussen - expensive (alcohol in Sweden costs a fortune) but awesome:
From there I walked over to Fotografiska - the museum for photography. I was there before but they change the exhibitions every few months and so it totally worth to stop there every time you are in town. During the summer the museum is open until 11 pm on Saturdays and you can go late in the evening. On my walk there the city looked absolutely beautiful in a stunning sunset.
Highlight of the Fotografiska visit was the Helmut Newton exhibition, which had of course again a picture of my friend Andy ;).
The exhibition of the Japanese artist Motohiko Odani looks way cooler in the pictures than it was in person, because part of the installation was sound and not music in an enjoyable sense but scratching record noises and sound bits. It was nervwrecking.
Hakån Elofsson (Fotografiska has always at least one exhibition of a Scandinavian artist) finally was showing street scenes from India in a very pure way that made you almost feel like driving down that road where the pictures were shot.
As you can imagine I was deadly tired after such a long day and back in the hotel I was sound asleep within minutes.
On Sunday I had half a day left before I had to go to the airport and although the weather was not the best I decided to go to Skansen - the big open air museum at Djurgården. It is like a huge park where you can walk around and see how people used to live in the different regions of Sweden and learn more about the country and the history.
My favorite part was the djurgården (zoo) part of Skansen with the nordic animals.
Around late lunch time I had to leave to pick up my luggage, but I walked back instead of taking the tram because I did not want to miss my favorite spot in the city center of Stockholm - Djurgårdsvägen (the bridge that connects Djurgården and Östermalm):
From there I just walked back home to my hotel to get my stuff and travel to the airport. It was very, very hard to say good bye to Stockholm. I think from all the cities in Europe I traveled (and the list is really long) this one stole my heart the most. It has pretty much all you can ask for and more. I already cannot wait to come back.
More lovely pictures you find in my Instagram stream: http://instagram.com/ckapaun
Tack så mycket & hej då!