Saturday, 13 August 2016

Stockholm On A Budget: Day One

Knowing your bus and walking routes beforehand will be well worth the effort travelling around Stockholm.

I spent the first day pretty tired from the travel (just me after a long week at work) hence I chose to keep to the hotel premises. Laid out across the restaurant table, however, were my plans for the days ahead. With my travel pass at hand, I quickly discovered that knowing your bus routes, destination and where the actual stop is became essential. So here is the route I mapped out for my first day for your convenience.

After 20 minutes of aimlessly wandering around, and realising I had jumped on the wrong bus, I thanked the fact I had an unlimited travel card. Fourteen stops later, cutting right across the north of the city to Gamla Stan (the Old Town), I made it to the first destination - Stadshuset, or in English, Stockholm's City Hall.

You may think why the hell would I want to visit a city hall? After all, our own one isn't exactly a tourist attraction, but the views from the back of the building and the ornate architecture is well worth a look. First of all, the fact that it's free to enter is always a bonus. From May through September, you can climb the 103 steps up the tower for a pretty spectacular view - unfortunately due to my gimpy leg, I missed out on this extravaganza.

Instead, I walked further along, crossing a bridge into Gamla Stan, a medieval labyrinth of cobblestone streets and sapphire-hued buildings. The first landmark to galvanise the view is the
Riddarholm Church. Early enough and you'll miss all the crowds that usually surround this little beauty. I didn't enter as it opened at 10am, but it costs around 50SEK (£4.50).

Turning back on yourself, you can head up towards Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), apparently the world's largest palace still used for its original purpose. There were a few ominous-looking guards outside eyeing me up as I innocently photographed the amazing pylons, but Europe has been on high alert for a while, so unfortunately it's not my first time.
Next stop along the route was on the other side of the palace, which allowed you to capture Stockholm's gothic churches - Slottskyrkan, Finska kyrkan and Storkyrkan - all in one place. The unlevel paving by no means hinders you from getting around, especially as the entire area is housed in a walkable complex.

And behind all the lavish structures and edifices lies a sweet little idol - not hundreds of metre tall, just 15cm small - the J√§rnpojke or as it is known in English, "the little boy who looks at the moon", was created in 1954 by Swedish artist Liss Eriksson. Expect it to change on a daily basis, appearing with a hat and a scarf or a flower between his folded arms depending on the season.

So as you might have guessed, there's a lot of walking involved so prepare to stretch your legs! Meandering back through the alleyways, you'll end up at a European-looking square where the Nobel Prize Museum proudly stands. Without realising that I had ended up travelling to the city at a time when they celebrated Ascension day, I missed out on seeing this gem, but I heard it costs 100SEK (£9) to enter.

The next church down the road is the German church, founded in the 15th century - and at this point you'd probably be buildinged-out as I definitely was, so I headed straight past to Marten Trotzigs Grand, the city's narrowest alleyway.

As I am claustrophobic, just looking at it was enough but it was literally big enough for a small child. A fat American tourist unfortunately would quite likely get wedged tight down this roofless tunnel.

And after this mighty effort travelling around Gamla Stan, it's time to get some grub.

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