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Day 1: Stockholm

After the slightly traumatic start to trip to Bergen for the last bank holiday, I was a little bit nervous about what might go wrong with our journey to Stockholm, but this bank holiday everything seems to be going a lot more smoothly :) We were flying from Stansted to Stockholm Skavsta at 08.30 this morning, so left home at 4am to make sure that we were at the airport with plenty of time, even if there was another system failure! Stansted was extremely busy when we arrived but we were helped by not having any luggage to check in, and ended up getting through security with 90 minutes to spare before our flight was due to take off. Plenty of time for breakfast.

In the end our flight was a bit late taking off, because there was some sort of delay with the Ryanair catering facilities. We arrived in Sweden around midday and were relieved to find that it wasn't raining. The weather forecast had been a bit mixed for Saturday in particular, and after having a slightly damp weekend in Norway earlier in the month, we were hoping for a bit more sunshine this time around. It wasn't exactly sunny in Sweden, but at least it was dry!

Stockholm Skavsta is a typical Ryanair airport, in that it is nowhere near Stockholm. Well, it's about 65 miles to the southwest of Stockholm, near a place called Nyköping. Luckily there is bus service that meets the Ryanair flights and takes passengers directly into the centre of Stockholm. The journey took about 90 minutes and cost as much as some of Ryanair's flights, but it turned out to be quite a fun journey as we travelled through the densely forested Swedish countryside. Every so often I caught sight of deer wandering in and out of the trees, which was unexpected.

Our first aim when we got to central Stockholm was to find somewhere to get some lunch. We found a possible restaurant fairly quickly, but then realised that we couldn't remember the exchange rate between sterling and Swedish krone (we were a bit confused by having memorised the exchange rate for Norwegian krone a few weeks ago) and so weren't completely sure how expensive the meals were. We walked around for a while to compare prices between different restaurants, and eventually settled for some bacon cheeseburgers, which I think set us back about £15 each. That seemed slightly cheaper than Norway at least!

Our next step was to check into the hotel. Or rather, the boat. We were booked to stay in the Rygerfjord Hotel, which is actually a boat, permanently moored on the shore of Lake Mälaren. Not having stayed on a boat before, I was a little bit unsure of what this was going to be like. It looked promising from the outside at least...


...and there were some nice views from beside the boat.


When we got inside and checked in, we found that the room was..... compact! I'm really glad that we didn't have our suitcases with us because I think it would be a bit hit and miss whether the fitted through the door! The room is just wide enough for a (small) double bed, and a desk which is about the size of one you would have in a school. Three sides of the bed touch the wall. There is a little porthole though to let in some light and a high shelf that we can store things on. Plus there is a tiny little bathroom, where the shower is connected in a weird way to the sink, so that when I tried to wash my hands I accidentally sprayed water all over the floor. It's clean though and will be fine for just two nights :) Plus being on the water, it has the added novelty of rocking back and forwards slightly with the waves. I think this could be a rather disconcerting feeling if you were drunk, but given the price of alcohol in Sweden, this is not likely to be a problem :)

Once we were settled in the room, we set out to explore Stockholm in more detail. It was late afternoon by this point, but the day had brightened up considerably and it was surprisingly warm, with bright blue sky in places. We decided to focus on Gamla Stan, the old town, which dates back to the thirteenth century in places and is home to Sweden's royal palace.

We had a pretty walk along the waterfront to get to the bridge that would take us across the water and into the old town.


The interesting church on the other side of the water is the Riddarholm church, where the Swedish monarchs have historically been buried.


All the buildings along the waterfront seemed really pretty...


...although there are also some rather concrete bridges for trains and cars which span the water.


As we walked through the old town, the buildings became increasingly grand, so we thought we must be in the right area for the royal palace.


We started walking towards this church...


...which actually turned out to be Stockholm's cathedral.


From there we turned a corner and found ourselves outside the palace.


They seemed to be doing some repair work on some of the buildings, as they were hidden behind scaffolding, but the bits we could see looked impressive.


Unfortunately my knowledge of the Swedish monarchy is limited to what I have read in German gossip magazines, so we weren't quite sure of the significance of the various monuments we came across to different kings. A lot of them seem to have been called Gustav!


From the palace, we wandered through the streets of the old town for a bit and soon found ourselves in Stortorget, which is the oldest square in Stockholm.


The fountain was slightly scary!


Unfortunately by this stage of the evening, a lot of the square was in the shade so it was difficult to take good photos.

As we began making our way back to the boat, we saw another large church spire on the horizon.


As we got closer to it, I was surprised to see that the Swedish writing on the signs outside the church looked very... German! It turns out that this is Stockholm's German church, which was originally built in the middle ages due to the large number of German merchants and craftsmen living in Stockholm.

We were pretty tired by this point, so went back to the hotel to write up the blog and have an early night. Stockholm seems like a really attractive city and it looks like the weather should mostly be okay tomorrow, so we're really looking forward to exploring more :)

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