Sunday, 29 June 2014

Stockholm 1 - A Quirky Hotel and Heavenly Spires

I felt a thrill as the plane descended into Arlanda Airport near Stockholm, I looked down on a landscape full of forests dotted with countless lakes. I always get that feeling when I arrive at a new destination and wonder what experiences lie ahead of me, don't think I'll ever lose that thrill of travelling. And Stockholm is a place I've always wanted to visit, I'll tell you one of the reasons why later.

Before I knew it I was on the Arlanda Express train shooting through the Swedish countryside at 200 kph. It was brilliant, fast - 20 minutes and you were in the centre of the city - clean, roomy, ran every 20 minutes, WiFi. It was also expensive, but there is a bus that takes longer but is much cheaper. However two tips for the Arlanda Express - they have a two for one ticket offer in the summer and pensioners always can get half price tickets.

I stepped out of the Central Railway Station into a strangely quiet Stockholm. We later found out that it was the Midsummer national holiday over the weekend we were there, it didn't affect our trip, just meant the roads were quieter and many general shops were closed.

I decided to walk to the hotel as I knew it was not far away. I savoured my first views of the city, it was beautiful with its islands, water, bridges, historical buildings and tall church spires soaring up into the blue sky. I crossed the Vasabron and to my left saw the Royal Palace, it was huge! I was now in Gamla Stan and soon was struggling with my wheelie case on the cobbles, not a good mix! Eventually I came to Västerlånggatan, a long narrow street on the western side of the island and that used to follow the line of the old city wall. This is where our hotel, the not very Swedish sounding,  Lord
The Lord Nelson Hotel
Nelson Hotel
 was. It is a hotel like no other, less than six metres wide, full of naval memorabilia much relating to Nelson, the rooms are small, named after shifts and inside like ship's cabins. Its very quirky and absolutely delightful! I will do a separate full review about the hotel soon.

My friend Yvonne was already there and we met up and had a chat. Then we headed out to a nearby restaurant specialising in Swedish food that had been recommended by  the receptionist.  It was called Tradition on Österlånggatan near our hotel and it was a lovely walk through the cobbled streets and lanes of Gamla Stan. 

It was a pleasant place with modern minimal Scandinavian design and served traditional Swedish cuisine with a modern twist. It was expensive so we decided too just go for mains. I had mustard marinated beef with sauté potatoes and pickled cucumber. The meat melted in my mouth and there was lots of it so we didn't have room for another course. We had a glass of wine each, mine was £11.00!! But we both thoroughly enjoyed the meal despite the prices. 

We had a leisurely walk back in the late evening sunshine (love the northern lands long summer days), via Stortorget, the beautiful small square in the middle of Gamla Stan. I was looking forward to exploring the city more in the next couple of days. 

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