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Trip Report Stunning Stockholm - August 2010

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I know I'm a bit late posting this, but since there aren't many Stockholm trip reports on this site I wanted to share for future users.

DH and I visited Stockholm for 8 days in early August and absolutely fell in love with the city. One of our top European destinations to date. Our general approach to European travel has been to pick a city where we can utilize public transporation (prefer not to rent a car for the sake of the marriage), enjoy one or two sites a day and then just hang out and eat the rest of the time.

Lodging:
We stayed at the Hotel J for 7 nights, which is on Nacka Strand. This is what I said on my Trip Advisor entry: Reserved a "Sea-View" room on the ground floor, which was nice but did lack a bit of privacy due to chairs and tables on the lawn. The room was fairly standard, beds comfortable, pillows not so much. Breakfast was nice, brioche heavenly. Staff was helpful when asked questions.

Now about the location...it is a very easy 10 minute bus ride from Stockholm. If you are visiting and have a Stockholm Card, the bus transport is included. That being said, the last bus to Nacka Strand leaves Stockholm at 7:25 pm. However, that ended up working our fine for us as we were usually exhausted from a day of sightseeing. It was peaceful and quiet at the hotel, which my husband and I agreed added some relaxation to our trip as well. Note, this was also good so we could sleep with the windows open, if the room had air conditioning it wasn't very good.

There is some major construction occurring at the site, but it wasn't too much of an issue for us as we were normally gone during the weekday sightseeing. It really did begin at 7 am which I think is crazy. But if you're planning to relax at the hotel during the week day, frankly I'd make another choice.

And one final note, the sodas are not complimentary as I had been lead to believe upon check-in (I thought you just had to pay for alcohol, they said just write down your sodas with your room number). We unknowingly racked up about a $50 bill for Coca-Cola. I think these should have been complimentary for a hotel of this level and due to the construction.

The 8th night we stayed at the Radisson Blu Strand in Stockholm (Hotel J not available the 8th night). Room was fine and they let us check in early which was nice. The location is really good, but it definitely would have been noiser to sleep there with the windows open.

The last night we stayed at the Raddison Blu Arlanda Airport, which is right in the terminal. Cool modern rooms and soooooo very convenient when you have those early am flights. I highly recommend this as a strategy just to take the stress out of getting to the airport early in a foreign country.

Transportation:
Stockholm has an awesome public transporation system. We used a combination of trains, buses and water taxis every day to get us where we needed to go, most of which was covered with the purchase of a 5 day Stockholm card. The Arlanda Express to and from the airport was easy and I thought a good deal at $20 each way.

Sites:
So many cool and different things to see and do! I initially wondered if we could fill 8 days but it was not a problem at all. Here's the attractions that we visited that I can recall (I did not keep up on my travel journal this trip, which I regret!)

Fotografsika - This new photography museum opened in May 2010. This was one of my highlights. The entire 2nd floor was an Annie Liebowitz exhibition.

Vasa Museum - The Vasa was a Swedish war ship that was launched and immediately sank in 1628. It was raised virtually in tact in the 60s/70s and then a museum was basically built around it. I'm not a big history buff, but found this totally fascinating.

Nordic Museum - the history of swedish culture everything from a modern plastics exhibition to furniture, homewares, crafts. Worth a visit.

Drottingholm - we took the Mariefred boat that departs from City Hall to Drottingholm and then the train back. The public spaces in the palace seemed a bit dingy compared to those in France/England, but the grounds were lovely and we enjoyed the half day excursion.

City Hall - we took the guided tour of city hall, which was informative. Did not go to the top of the tower, probably should have! Some beautiful views from City Hall for interested photographers...

Ostermalm Food Hall- being foodies,we enjoyed the food hall. We had one of the cheese shops prepare a cheese plate for each of us. The owner prepared the plates and then spent about 10 minutes with us describing each cheese, where it came from in Sweden etc. It was a lot of fun.

Skansen -similar to our Iowa Living History Farms, it is an open air historical museum, has some zoo animals, small rides for the kids etc. A great place for families.

Prince Eugens Waldemarsudde Museum - Loved this! It's actually his former home on Djurgarden just down the road from Skansen. There was an exhibition of bridal crowns and a medical illustrations, both of which I really enjoyed. The home, which can also be toured, had a nice art collection and was just generally lovely.

Skogskyrkogården - A World Heritage site, this is a cemetery. DH says 2 hours of his life he'll never get back. I say one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever seen. Greta Garbo is buried there.

Fjaderholmarna - this is the closest archipelago to the city of Stockholm and was only a five minute boat ride from our hotel. Basically just a little rock island, we enjoyed a half day with a picnic lunch. It was here I took some of my favorite pictures of the trip!

And then of course there was just a lot of walking around the different areas of the city. Having read the Millenium series by Steig Larsson this summer it was fun to see many of the places described.

Food:
We were pleasantly surprised by the food, we had some wonderful meals. We determined later that I think we only ate 1 meal indoors the whole time, so that may have had something to do with it. Especially enjoyable - the meatballs and lingonberries at Prinsen. We liked them so much that we had them twice! Our hotel restaurant, which was the Nacka Strand Yacht Club was also very good. As expected, the food was expensive. A meal with a drinks and desserts was easily $100+.

Other general comments:
Virtually everybody spoke English, so no communication problems. Lovely, lovely people. The weather was gorgeous - highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s, which is a perfect escape from an Iowa summer. Dress was very casual, jeans were perfectly acceptable. The people were very friendly and helpful. If you're going to be there for any amount of time get a Stockholm card. We purchased the 120 hour Stockholm cards (around $100 each) but that included the entrance fees to everything I listed above and then some in addition to all of our daily transportation by bus and water taxi. It did not include the boat to Drottingholm, although I think it did get us a discount.

Overall just a great trip. Add Stockholm to your next itinerary!

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