Monday, August 11, 2014

Land of a Thousand Islands - Stockholm, Sweden

Actually that should be THOUSANDS of islands, as in over 25,000 just in the Stockholm archipelago alone.  When I realized that we were on our way into port that morning, I rushed up to the top deck to take pictures (hair still wet from my shower, no make up and all) as I heard the arrival into the city is breathtaking. What I didn't realize til that night is that it actually takes HOURS to get thru the archipelago because there are soooo many islands.  So in the end we got photos of the morning and at night (which you'll see at the end) which I loved!!

Arriving in Stockholm...

I was super excited for this port. Stockholm. It's not just because I've heard so many great things about it, but also because after all these years in Europe, we are visiting places of my family's heritage. We've been to Ireland where Josh's mom is from. But until this week we had not visited any locations that my family hailed from. So first Russia (although I imagine they immigrated from a very different Russia/ USSR) and now Sweden.

We have friends who have been to Stockholm and raved about it. And we have friends that have moved here as well.  I can now totally see why. At least during the summer months!  This place is beautiful. Full of history, canals, interesting museums, beautiful and colorful architecture, it's just a beautiful city.  Coming into the city via boat was a beautiful visual - full of color against bright blue skies.

Stockholm has been inhabited since the Stone Age but was not actually founded as a city until the 1200s.  With over 30% of the city made up of water ways and another 30% with green space, you can imagine how beautiful this city is.  It is a very clean/green city in the sense that there is very little industry here with 85% of jobs coming from the service and technology sectors.

When we got off the ship, we found the best way to navigate the city was to take the hop on, hop off boat in addition to the more traditional bus.  So we took the boat around for a little quick tour before hopping off near the Old Town.  It was great to see the city coming in from the water and was absolutely worth it for the views.  

Aidan has found a Swedish horse ;)

View of the city from the ship

You can see the amusement park on the right

Amusement park

Cute harbor

Vasa museum - while I've heard rave reviews, the kids weren't interested so we'll table it for the next trip.  That and I'm still trying to understand what is so great about seeing a ship that sank 300 years ago on it's maiden voyage as it obviously wasn't well built if that's the case... but maybe I'm missing something...

Hop on, hop off boat

Ready to explore Stockholm!!

Knowing that we will, for sure, be back to Stockholm, we set our focus on walking towards Old Town, also known as Gamla Stan.  We only had the day so we were limited on how much we could do and knowing that we will be back, we didn't feel any pressure to do everything possible in that one day so we took it easy overall, seeing what we could and not worrying about what we didn't.  On the way to Old Town we walked by Stockholm Palace and some other historical buildings.

Stockholm Palace

One of many museums

Swedish flags outside the Palace

Another view of the Palace

Like other cities we've been to, yet more animal "posts"

Much of the Old Town, while beautiful, was definitely geared towards the tourist.  However, since we were in town before 9AM, we actually found it quite peaceful.  It was later in the day when we made another round to head to lunch that we saw everyone and their brother actually goes here as well.

Old Town

Yummy treats that remind me of the marshmallows in France during the holidays...

More of Old Town

Note it's founding date...though I have to wonder if it was called the Hairy Pig Deli in English or would it have been in Swedish back then????

We eventually jumped on the bus to take a spin around the city.  The tour took us by the Tivoli Amusement Park (not to be confused with the Tivoli in Copenhagen) as well as the Abba Museum. We didn't stop at either but grabbed a few pictures as we went by.

Abba Museum

Before and after lunch we did some walking around outside of the Old Town.  We walked along the seafront for a bit and found that Stockholm is not the cheapest city we've been to...

Walking along one of the shopping streets

Aidan's "new" car ;)

For lunch we made our way back to Old Town having seen a few cute restaurants when we were walking around in the morning.  Of course, we couldn't find any of those the second time around but found a simple place down a small alley.  We got our Swedish meatballs fix and were on our way again!

Liam and Josh at lunch

Myself and Aidan

Ikea.... shocker!

He hit himself with the glass after checking it out

Old Town

More Old Town

That evening, after dinner, with the boys in the kids club, Josh and I made our way up to the top deck and watched island after island go by.  There were times where the shipped looked like it was barely squeezing in between the coasts.  I think that while we loved Stockholm, this was one of our favorite parts of the day.  We could have stayed up there for hours and hours snapping pictures, it was just so breathtaking.  Island after island dotted with little homes, sailboats in the harbors and of course, the sunset.  Being at such a high latitude, the sun is up for approximately 18 hours in the peak summer time so even though we were watching the sun set, we never actually saw it set completely before we went inside.

I'm super excited to make our way back to Stockholm sometime in the near future.  The kids loved it as well.  And bonus, it's now only going to be a 2 hour flight instead of 3 1/2-4 hours!  The cruise is almost over (from a blogging standpoint I'm relieved!) - one more stop before we get back to England. Next up - Visby, Sweden!!


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