The group arrived into Stockholm from Oslo at 6:30am, bleary-eyed and one hour earlier than scheduled.
For some, this would be 2 overnight buses in a row, with nary a shower to help them cope with their first monsoonal madness. The 7 other returning monsooners were also beginning to feel the burn of poor sleep hygiene.
The intrepid 23 of us nevertheless walked from the bus station to our hostel, Interhostel, which took about 10-15 minutes. Because reception didn’t open until 8am and our beds wouldn’t be ready until 2pm, we freshened up for an hour and a half in their public space before heading out to explore Stockholm’s old town.
Stockholm obviously doesn’t wake up until 8am.
Along the way, one of our returning monsooners, Alice, made it a mission to play at every open piano in Stockholm:
I take part as well:
Strolling down Drottninggatan Street (Queen Street), we eventually reached the northern end of old town, a bridge called Riksbron that leads you over the Norrstöm river through the inlet of Helgeandsholmen and on it, Aron Johansson’s Parliament building.
We continued on to Mynttorget at the top of Västerlånggatan Street, where we crept from the original western limits of the old Stockholm into the interior of the old city.
We then walked straight down Västerlånggatan to hit Kåbrinken Street, then turned left onto Stortorget.
This is the center and heart of old town and the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520.
The imposing building in the middle is the Nobel Museum (100 SEK admission fee, 70 SEK for students).
Unlike Oslo’s Nobel Museum which focuses only on the Peace Prize winners, Stockholm’s features all the prize winners (Economics, Physics, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, Chemistry, Peace) and their accomplishments.
Although the exhibit is very well designed, with talking heads, dynamic projections and tons of content in the mini theaters straddling the main part, the whole thing ends up feeling quite limited and smaller than you would expect.
After the Nobel museum, we sat down for a quick lunch and jumped at the opportunity to try some of Sweden’s famous meatballs.
A few others headed to watch the 45 minute changing of the guards at the royal palace nearby, which also featured a marching band that would play covers of Swedish House Mafia for the tourists. Get there early because apparently it’s massively crowded everyday.
Our group then reconvened and walked around old town more.
On 51 Österlånggatan Street is Den Gyldene Freden, one of the world’s oldest restaurants. Book ahead.
When you emerge on the eastern side of old town, pass by the obelisk by Jean-Louis Desprez, notable for being the centrepoint where street numbers radiate outwards through Stockholm.
And don’t forget to take a look at the Royal Palace, where the changing of the guard takes place at noon.
Then we headed back up Drottninggatan Street from old town to check into our hostel at 2pm.
After an hour of freshening up at our hostel, the group went south once again towards City Hall (Stadshuset), where we divided into 2 groups of 12 and 11 for guided tours (admission fee 100 SEK).
Stadshuset is the symbol of Stockholm’s political process and is where the Nobel Prize banquet and ceremonies take place:
After a 30 minute tour of Stadshuset, we walked diagonally across the inner courtyard to the tower, where they allow a limited number of people up at a time, separated in 45min intervals.
You’re given only 40 minutes to climb up ~400 steps to the top, take in the views and climb down. it’s highly recommended that you book your tickets way ahead of time (like at least the morning of) as they sell out surprisingly quickly. There is an elevator, but it only fits 4-5 people at a time (which wait time counts towards your 45 minute limit) and it takes you up just halfway.
Nevertheless, after your lower body exercise up to the tower, you’ll be rewarded with a 360º view of Stockholm:
After the tower, we finally took our first full group picture by the river:
For dinner, some of us walked down riverside to one of the hybrid boat café/bar/restaurants:
And to wrap up a full, tiring day after an unforgiving overnight bus ride, we took in the midsummer Stockholm sunset:
But never deterred by a deafening lack of energy, we’re still heading out tonight.
– At time of posting in Stockholm, it was 59 °F – Humidity: 94% | Wind Speed: 9km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear