Ain't no cure for Stockholm Syndrome

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Flag of Sweden  , Stockholm,
Thursday, April 12, 2007

For a country whose credits include IKEA, Volvo, Abba, the smorgasboard buffet, and rotten herrings, the Swedish capital has certain attributes which elevate its status beyond your average European city. OK, so the cost of living might ultimately make your wallet weep, the winters may be long and oppressive, and the food culture may not appeal to everyone, but this is officially Europe's cleanest capital city, and it has to be, for my money, Europe's most pleasantly cyclable city. Four nights at a city centre hotel proved to be the best plan, as the urban sprawl is set out on 14 main islands, and a centrally-located hotel is something which a visitor to the city would consider to be vital. With a one-day Stockholm card, I was able to see a wide variety of attractions, and the highlight for me amongst them had to be the jaw-droppingly fine Vasamuseum which houses a viking ship raised from the depths of the ocean in pristine condition many years ago. I've always thought that Sweden's musical output ranks very highly in the context of the rest of the continent's, and I revelled in the fact that independent record stores existed, and showed no real signs of falling prey to the blight of internet downloads and ebay purchases, which have all but deadened the prospects of survival of independent record retailers here in the UK. One interesting themed restaurant visited was the Thai place Koh Samui (check out their wacky decor!), and the multiple charms of the Old Town (Gamla Stan), coupled with the numerous buildings with ornate coloured, pointy roofs made for an aesthetically-pleasing whole. The really liberating trek around Stockholm came, however, in the last full day I spent there, Easter Sunday (2007), when a trusty bike belonging to the hotel was loaned out to me, providing about 8 hours of tiring, but ultimately fulfilling activity, and ensured that the entire urban fabric of Stockholm made perfect sense. I left the city on a snowy morning, when I felt like I had conquered all, though not in the viking sense, purely in the realm of the 'memorable travel experience' which just went to show that a small amount of planning for a trip of this nature can go very, very far indeed.
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