Chalk and cheese
Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
The journey was to prove slightly longer than any of us expected. The first leg involved an early start on the morning of the 22nd in order to make our midday flight out of Poznan. To be safe we decided to get the 5.35am train, which had us at the airport with almost three hours to kill. We whiled this away with some cappuccinos, but to our dismay our flight was delayed by more than two hours
The three of us were pretty excited by the time we touched down in a very sunny Vasteras around 3.30pm, but our journey was far from over. The tiny country airport was about 100km from Stockholm, and we had to board a special express bus to get there. Unfortunately, despite being completely full with passengers from the plane, we sat in the carpark for the best part of an hour while the driver waited for another bus to come and pick up the passengers who didn't have a seat. It was a frustrating experience, but around 5.30pm after a fantastic afternoon drive through some stunning countryside we made it into Stockholm - 12 hours after we left Wroclaw!
Our accommodation for the first evening was in a hostel in the Norrstrom district, in the northern part of the city. One of the girls on reception told us about a Thai restaurant after we asked her where we could get a cheap meal, and a short while later I was digging into the most delicious green curry I'd had since I was in Asia. But cheap it wasn't. $33AUD for a meal and a pint. And that was a 'cheap' restaurant. We'd been in town less than an hour, but already knew it was going to be an expensive weekend. Making the most of the evening we continued onto the old town, Gamla Stan, which is one of fourteen islands that make up the city. The architecture looked pretty impressive, but unfortunately the light was a little too dark for photos, so we spent a few hours in different pubs tasting some local beers.
We woke to more stunning weather the following day, and after a mighty tasty sandwich for breakfast we made a start at seeing as much as we could on our only full day in the city
After taking a few photos along the docks we continued to the Vasamuseet, home of the 17th century medieval warship, The Vasa. I'd never even heard of this before my brother's trip to Stockholm the previous September, but afterwards I knew it was something I couldn't miss. Built during a time of Swedish expansion (incidentally, also at a time when they were at war with Poland), the Vasa was one of the largest warships of its kind ever built. It set sail on August the 10th, 1628, but didn't make it far, sinking less than half an hour after it first set sail. Built top heavy with great haste, a small breeze was all that was needed to send it to the bottom of the harbour. 333 years later, in 1961, it was raised and later put in the museum for all to see. It was a truly magnificent spectacle, unlike any I'd ever seen. We spent a good two hours wandering round, admiring the huge ship, artifacts recovered and stories of its construction, sinking and restoration before watching a short film about it. I could have spent a lot longer here, but given limited time and sunshine we decided to make a move and get a bite to eat.
Following lunch, the next few hours were spent in and around Gamla Stan, admiring the waterways, Royal Palace and well preserved architecture of the place
Our second night's accommodation was on a southerly island, Sodermalm, and that was our next destination. Whilst not having the medieval architecture of Gamla Stan, the main strip running through the district was as impressive as it was modern, with all manner of shops and pubs lining the pavements. I even caught a glimpse of a very well maintained cadillac. The hostel was immaculately clean, but rather than hanging out we made for a small streetside cafe nearby for some dinner. Another thing that had impressed me was the service, friendly and always with a smile, and dinner in Sodermalm was no exception. Wanting to make the most of the daylight, I told the others I wanted to go for a short walk along Soder Malarstrand, and they were willing enough
The rest of the evening was spent having a few pints at various pubs around Sodermalm. Whilst not the most memorable night I've ever had, I do remember feeling like I was in the centre of Melbourne at one particular place. It would have been cool to check out a club, but finances prevented that, and soon after 1am we found ourselves back at the hostel.
We made our way on foot the following morning back through Sodermalm, Gamla Stan and Norrstrom to the bus station for our bus back out to Vasteras. It was a short trip, but an eye opening one, and I was glad we'd done it. I managed to grab a few snaps of the countryside out of the window on the way back to the airport, and after seeing a billboard advertising cheap flights to Stavangar in Norway I just knew I had to come back to Scandinavia. It might have been expensive, certainly the most expensive place I'd ever been, but it was well worth it. I hoped I'd get the chance to explore Sweden in a little more depth in the future, but for now, the memories of Stockholm were sure to linger.