07.01.11 – We had a full day to spend in Stockholm. The boat wasn’t scheduled to depart until 5Pm so we spent the last hours before we pulled in at 930AM eating breakfast in the ships buffet and planning the day. The ship had an information desk open 24/7 so I grabbed some maps and information flyers on popular things to do.
We came up with a list of three things, the Vasa Museum, a walk through the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and finally the afternoon in the Södermalm and Östermalm shopping districts. The plan was a bit ambitious, you could make a day of anyone of the three, but we knew we would be back and we just wanted to get a taste of Stockholm.
Getting off the ship and quickly on our way in an unfamiliar city was relatively easy. We were off the ship in 15 minutes after docking and followed a crowd of people making their way to the metro station, a short walk from the harbor. We bought full day transit cards at a kiosk in the metro and headed to our first stop, the Vasa Museum.
The Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet), a maritime museum with the 17th century ship Vasa on display, is located on the island of Djurgården, about 3km to the South of the harbor. The Vasa was a Swedish warship built in the 17th century which sank just 2km into its maiden voyage. The ship was salvaged in 1961 and finally moved to the Vasa Museum in 1987 which quickly became one of Stockholm’s most popular tourist attractions. There are several floors to the museum with exhibits or archeological findings of the ship and of 17th century Sweden. Scale models of the ship, dioramas depicting the salvage process and two-story walls with glass enclosed salvaged sails surround the main attraction, the actual ship situated in the main hall. The museum was a great start because it was something both the kids and myself really enjoyed.
We decided to grab lunch at our next stop, The Old Town (Gamla Stan), which is situated just West of the Vasa Museum on the island of Stadsholmen. The tiny island is located right in the center of Stockholm and used to be called Staden mellan broarna (The Town between the Bridges). Although the island is small, which makes it perfect for walking the medieval streets and alleyways, there are quite a few things to see and do. We passed churches, cathedrals, the baroque royal palace Kungliga Slottet before making our way to the town’s large open square the Stortorget. We found an inexpensive cafe and had a lunch of Panini-like sandwiches and pizza slices, not exactly Swedish fare but it definitely “filled the tanks” so we could be on our way.
Our next foray into Stockholm was mainly to appeal our teenage traveler Emma. We had read about a couple of shopping districts and we had our day travel passes so we jumped on the metro and headed to Södermalm in the Southern section of the city. Södermalm has a bohemian/alternative vibe and we spent some time walking on the street Gotgaten checking out the record stores and trendy clothing but Emma was more interested in finding the more mainstream Urban Outfitters rather than the hit or miss trendy boutiques.
Östermalm, the other shopping district we wanted to checkout, was located on our way back to the ship. It also had the Urban Outfitters store so we jumped back on the metro and headed there. Where Södermalm is more working class, Östermalm is definitely home to the more affluent so there were an overabundance of stores, cafes and restaurants to choose from. Emma spent sometime in the Urban Outfitters and I shopped for a new contract free iPhone. Emma was luckier than me Unfortunately Sweden does not appear to have contract free iPhones but Emma picked up a couple of items to take home.
It was getting late in the day and we had to be back to the ship in two hours so we found a cute little cafe and crashed. We even learned a little Swedish while hanging out there. While I was waiting for my cappuccino and older woman returned with her Parma ham sandwhich and started talking to one of the baristas. She was obviously unhappy about something and then I heard her say “stinkerdoo” in that sing-song Swedish way which made the barista sniff the sandwhich and shake his head no. Max, Emma and I, a bit slap happy from our full day, started making the most of our new-found Swedish word. We were the most animated customers in the place, laughing at the idea of ordering the stinkerdoo for two or a pasta dish, the stinkernoodledoo. It was definitely time to put a fork in the day and head back to the ship!
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