And our Nordic journey continued… If you haven’t read the Helsinki travel journal then you should! Also known for their design, there is something about Scandinavian that screams effortless cool. How they do it? How come everyone looks like they are coming straight from the magazine? And more questions emerged when I stepped my foot on the capital of Scandinavian design… This is our Stockholm Travel Journal. #keepitcool
The Classy Classic Modern
As the capital of Sweden, Stockholm is the center of everything. Politic, economy, culture, fashion, you named it. It was founded as a city in 1252 Birger Jarl but worldwide known better with its Viking history. Nowadays, it’s known for its trendsetting design in both fashion and lifestyle related. Everything and everyone are that cool, basically.
Stockholm is made of 14 islands and connected by more than 50 bridges. By being located on the Lake Mälaren, the city itself consist of over 30% waterways and the other 3% is green spaces which make the view of the city nothing but ordinary.
I found tranquility is the best describe this city. The mixed of modernize city but somehow maintaining that chill vibes. Some parts, especially the old town a.k.a Gamla Stan, still have that strong classic architecture. But turn around, passed the bridge, and somehow you are already surrounded by blocks of new structures.
Most Prestige Dinner Place
The first destination is the Stockholm City Hall, one of the most famous tourist attraction not only in Stockholm but the entire Sweden. It is designed by architect Ragnar Östberg. Made from nearly 8 million bricks called “munktegel” or monks’s brick due to the traditional use of these bricks in the construction of monasteries and churches.
But the dark red bricks aren’t the only things that made this building famous, instead, it is the annual dinner that being held here. The most prestige dinner held every 10th of December, the Nobel Prize banquet. The dinner is held in the Blue Hall and then the guests will dance in the famous Golden Hall. The interior is breathtaking with more than 18 million gold tiles, but not real gold of course.
The outside view is also as breathtaking as the inside with the garden overlooking the other island of Stockholm. Having a stroll outside is as pleasant as seeing all the glorious hall inside.
The Overwhelming Gamla Stan
Next stop, the old town or also known as Gamla Stan with the iconic building that symbolizes this city. An obvious must visit city here. Gamla Stan is one of the best preserved medieval city centers. It felt like walking in the past with the tiny lanes and cobblestone streets. Just look at the photos!
The center of Gamla Stan is the square called Stortorget. If you feel to overwhelm on where to start when exploring this charming old town, then start with the center. Take some pictures or maybe selfie with the famous building number 18 and 22 and then pick your way to the right or left. Choose your own adventure!
This is an extremely touristy place with souvenir shops every 5 steps, and tons of cafe and bars along the street. The downside to this is, the obvious, it can get extremely packed. The afternoon and getting to night time is usually the busiest, but the shops closed pretty early, expect for the bars and restaurants, and after that, it will get pretty quiet around the area.
The first impression of Gamla Stan to me was overwhelming. When we arrived here, we didn’t have that much time to explore, only for sightseeing and souvenirs buying purposes. Too much to see and so little time. I honestly recommend sparing more time to explore the area and come early in the day is you want to see the whole complex without having to dodge someone along your way.
The Start of Going Solo
The after that first short day in Stockholm, the second day was the start of me going solo. The rest of the group was continuing to the next city and I decided to separate and extend my stay in this city which already planned before the trip start. So after we were done with breakfast at our hotel, Good Morning+ Hägersten, I bid my goodbye to my family and off they went.
If you are not here for the sappy details then you might want to skip to the next point. Cue the personal story time. I am not entirely sure if this happens to everyone, but I get quite emotional this time. Alone in the hotel room, preparing, it suddenly struck me that I’ll be going by myself which I never did before. The mixed of excitement, happy, worry, scared, all the overwhelming emotions result in a momentarily mental breakdown. It was not a bad time, to be honest, but something that felt surreal for me.
I think I can relate a bit now how all the world backpackers and digital nomads felt when they are about to embark their life changing journey. It is something that excites you but at the same time almost scared you to death. The irony of missing your family but at the same time having the urge to hit the road. If you are the most chill person ever then you might not felt this but I do quite enjoy having the experience myself.
All packed (both physically and emotionally), Generator Hostel was my first destination. It took around 40mins to reach the city center from Hägersten by Metro. The hostel was located strategically in the center which was one of the reasons that I choose this hotel, but more about it later on another blog post.
The city center was unlike to old town, it is a concrete jungle as what you can imagine. But venture out a bit on the way to the hostel, I still could see all the old style flats that scream “Stockholm” to me which I did enjoy walking around the area tho. Checked in and dropped all my stuff, I took quite some time to rest and recharge.
Bus is my most used form of transportation while in Stockholm, with the occasion of Metro. While I found their a prepaid card calculation is rather confusing but their public transportation is easily accessed all the main touristy area. Also, when in doubt, walking is your best friend! See the map below the post for my own route and I even put the walking route for you. 😁
First thing in my list was Vasa Museum, the obvious. It is the museum that showcases the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world. Vasa museum is located in Djurgården, an island that was known for its list of museums, historical buildings, and amusement park. You can have a day just exploring the island but I can only fit Vasa Museum this time, unfortunately.
The ship sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage until 333 years later when it finally salvaged. Other than the ship in the main hall, the other parts of the museum showcase archaeological findings surrounding the ships on hows life inside the ship back in the days. Even if you are not into ships and all that stuff but I still found it was quite entertaining.
I took me almost 2 hours to have a brisk walk around the museum, with stopping here and there for pictures. 2 hours is enough to have a quick walk around the museum but I will definitely recommend sparing more time than that if you want to explore deeper.
Strolling Around Djurgården
I was staying in the Vasa Museum until its closing time and unfortunately, all other attractions in the area already closed. But Djurgården itself is a lovely area with lots of path walk and greenery, with small docks around the edge which also provides a great place to just walking around.
The plan was to have my dinner in the area which didn’t actually goes as well as I planned. There were a couple of restaurants around the area, but none of them have any English sign or menu which kinda intimidating for me. So I thought I might as well find something to eat on my way back, but then the view stopped me and I just had to pull out my camera.
Then the next thing I know it was night already. With the weather getting colder and the stomach rumbling, I just needed to find food asap. So I went to the nearest restaurant I could find. It was a bit of a fancy restaurant but you know, “desperate time calls for desperate measures”. I think the waiter looked at me a bit weird tho. Small Asian tourist with a huge backpack that bigger than her body with a tripod, having dinner alone… 😂 #noregrets
I ain’t going to Stockholm without visiting our favorite DIY or what they called ready-to-assemble furniture store, IKEA! Come on, this is the homeland of the famous store that we visit when we don’t actually need anything and go home with a new desk that we need to assemble our self. No yet mentioning about the meatballs. I just need to come here. One of my bucket list ticked!
Anyhow, other than all the sarcasm, I think it is a must do while you are in Stockholm. Because they actually provide a shuttle bus from the Central Station to IKEA, free!
IKEA free shuttle bus going back and forth between IKEA and Vasagatan 10, across the Central Station in Norrmalm and located under the bridge to be exact. It runs every hour start from 10am to 7.15pm.
The journey to IKEA itself took around 20 mins. And surprisingly, even the bus ride is free but it is well maintained. You don’t have to buy anything, they don’t check anything, you just hop-in and out. Easy breezy! Great strategy IKEA!
I was actually coming here for their brunch buffet package which was another cost saver! I might talk about it later in the different post, maybe. Too bad I didn’t actually have a place in my backpack to be able to buy anything, but overall I highly recommend coming here!
Hipsterize at FOTOGRAFISKA
Everyone knows that the magical maze inside IKEA can suck you in and the next thing you know the moment you come out it was dark outside already. But this time I was actually careful not to get lost too much inside because I have spared my afternoon to visit the FOTOGRAFISKA. I can hear all the cool hipsters chanting from a distance.
Either you are a photographer or just a photography enthusiast like me, I believe you gonna be able to appreciate this place. It is an exhibition place for contemporary photography, not quite a museum but not quite a gallery. They also have a book and souvenirs shop, as well as a cafe on the top floor.
This place opened on 21 May 2010 in a former customs house from 1906. The building is a statement on its own with its original brick facade. I am not gonna comment about the exhibition because photography is an art. But I wish I have more time to stay and enjoy the top cafe as the view is one of the best!
Gamla Stan and all its glory
As my first time was rather disappointing, I was coming back to Gamla Stan for my last night here in Stockholm. With enough time this time and a tripod in hand, I was prepared to get all the shots I wanted in the charming old town.
I think 2 times is the charm if you are taking the shot of any famous landmark. First time usually gets overwhelming with crowds of people and too many new things to absorb. But the second time, you know where to look at, where is the best view and it gets easier to pick where you want to shoot and how. So I was actually glad I came back to the old town for the last time. At least for this trip.
Stockholm is a city that I will always admire. Something about how they manage to balance the urban side and their tranquility. Let me know if you ever feel the same way to a city before in the comment below or in our social media. We also have the published the other post of our Nordic series, the 24hours in Helsinki and the Tallink and Silja Line Cruise Review. Please share if you find these post helpful and until next post, tack!
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