We arrived in Stockholm, but should we have come? (Part 1)

Welcome to Stockholm. Upon arrival please ensure that you leave your bank details with us so we can bleed you dry. Don’t get us wrong, Stockholm is wonderful. The city is stunning, it’s a very easy city to walk and there are so many things to do. It’s just expensive and we feel like we have been ripped off on every corner. 

We arrived at the ferry Terminal at around 10am on Sunday. After collecting our luggage from our room, we made our way off the boat. Much like when we arrived in Helsinki, there were only signs saying “Nothing to declare” or “Stuff to declare”. Maybe not in exactly those words. So with nothing more than clothes and half a bottle of red wine in our bags, we decided that we didn’t need to declare anything. This meant that we didn’t see a single customs or security officer at any stage between Finland and Sweden. In fact the only stamp we’ve had in our passport so far was in Amsterdam, and we were just transiting through!

It was about 2.5km from the ferry terminal to our ‘Hotel’ in Södermalm, so we chose to just walk there with our suitcases. We booked a ‘room’ at the Loginn Hotel, which happens to be an old passenger boat which is moored permanently in the archipelago of Stockholm. We found it to be one of the cheapest options we could find that was still somewhat central. In fact it is only about 10-15 minutes walk to Gamla Stan which is the old town of Stockholm. Turns out we also happened to book one of their cheapest rooms, which is barely above the water line. The room itself is about seven square metres, while still having a private shower and toilet and has probably been the only thing in Stockholm that has equaled value for money.

We arrived before check-in so we left out luggage and went to explore the city. It was already around eight degrees, which felt almost warm compared to the weather we had been in for the last week. There is quite a lot of wind though which makes it feel almost zero degrees anyway. Stockholm is the kind of city that you can just walk around for hours, staring at the amazing architecture. Almost every single building is just beautiful. We made our way to the central train station where we decided to buy the Stockholm pass. The Stockholm pass is a tourist card that you can get for a nominated length of time, which will get you into many museums and other attractions around the city for free, or for a discounted price. We thought we’d get our money’s worth for sure, until we realised that almost everything is closed in winter. Or if it isn’t closed, then it isn’t open on Mondays, or has reduced opening hours. Apart from that, there’s a whole lot of museums which are free as the government has made it a requirement that a certain percentage of the cities museums had to have free entry.

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One of the free museums is the Stockholm Medieval Museum. The museum is right next to the Stockholm Parliament House. The site was going to be developed as a car park for parliament but they decided to do an archaeological dig before any development. They found much more than they expected, including a medieval graveyard and a warship dating back to the 16th century.

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Later that night after having some drinks on the deck of our boat hotel (“Boatel” we’ve been calling it), we walked back into the old town in search of dinner. Gamla Stan is criss-crossed with lane ways and streets, and full of little boutique shops and restaurants. We basically did a full lap of the whole place before we settled on one of the first restaurants we went past. Mostly because every single restaurant is very expensive, and we didn’t know how to choose between them. It was an Italian restaurant, so we thought we could just share a pizza and it would be quite reasonable. That was until the waiter convinced us that the pizzas were just for one person. Almost immediately after ordering, we saw a pizza come to the table next to us, and we knew we’d made a terrible mistake. Even Ben, who can normally eat a fair bit more than Mary, still couldn’t finish a whole pizza. So about $80 and half a wasted pizza later, dinner was had. Fun fact: Our Italian waiter’s ex-girlfriend was from Toowoomba…

Our adventure in Stockholm is continued in part 2.

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