Sweden Trips

Stockholm - Day 3 - Stockholm City Hall, Stockholm under the Bridges Cruise and Östermalm

Guido Amberotti

Sweden

Stockholm - Day 3 - Stockholm City Hall,  Boat Sightseeing Tour of Stockholm under the Bridges and Östermalmm.

Duration: 1 day. Start & End: Scandic Norra Bantorget, Wallingatan 15, NORRMALM. Weather: We explore sea-side landscapes today. Sunny, bright day is essential for the cruise. Avoid windy, rainy or very hot days. Distance: 12 km (most of the walk is in the last section: Östermalmm).

Part 1 Main Attractions: Stockholm City Hall. 

Part 2 Stockholm from the Water, Östermalmm.

Day 3 Itinerary: Our first destination is a 2-hours visit in Stockholm City Hall. We can repeat our 2nd day walk (walking from the hotel to the City Hall via Vasagatan (1.5 km.). Here, we opt for a different route making it a 1.6 km. walk until we arrive to Stockholm City Hall. From Scandic Norra Bantorget
Wallingatan 15, with our back to the hotel entrance we turn LEFT and walk southwest on Wallingatan toward Upplandsgatan, 100 m. Turn left onto Upplandsgatan, 110 m. Continue onto Vasagatan, 210 m. Turn right onto Kungsgatan, 120 m. Slight left onto Kungsbron, 300 m. In the last section we cross the canal. After crossing the water, light left onto Kungsbro strand, 230 m. The water is on your left. Slight left, take the stairs and cross the water again, 550 m. You arrived to the Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms stadshus), Hantverkargatan 1. Buses nr 3 and 53 stop right in front of the City Hall at Hantverkargatan 1. The bus stop is called Stadshuset. The City Hall is formally, NOT a part of Stockholm Gamla Stan and it resides on the Kungsholmen part/island of Stockholm.  The City Hall is only 8-10 minutes walk from the Railway/Bus Central Station. It stands on the impressive eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, facing the islands of Riddarholmen (see Stockholm - Day 2 blog) and Södermalm. Stadshuset (City Hall) is Stockholm’s most prominent landmark. There are many remarkable city halls in the world, but what makes Stadshuset unique is that it plays host to the Nobel Prize banquet which is held each year in the Blue Hall. The City Hall construction took twelve years, from 1911 to 1923. The building was inaugurated on 23 June 1923, commemorating exactly 400 years the arrival of Gustav Vasa to Stockholm. Stadshuset is considered one of Sweden's foremost examples of national romanticism in architecture. The juxtaposition of city architecture and deep blue water is BRETHTAKING (in a sunny day) and very inspiring. The architectural style is one of refined eclecticism, blending massive, austere, North European brick construction and playful elements reminiscent of oriental and Venetzian architecture. Many elements in the City Hall complex will impress the visitor: turrets adorned with golden starlets and burning under the shining sun, decorated balconies, wooden masts, and statues. The whole complex gently resides side by side with the deep blue water of lake Mälaren (south to the building). Even in the most oppressive hot days during MAY-SEP - you enjoy a breeze coming from the south. The internal, shady court provides shelter from the heat, rain and frequent freezing winds in this open district. Allow 2-3 hours for the City Hall visit. Your visit should include a walk around and enjoying the the wonderful views. The preferred time of the day - mornings.

City Hall Main Entrance. The entrance is located along the colonnade on the Courtyard’s south side. From October to March, the entrance is located in the City Hall Shop. You find the shop in the vault between the street Hantverkargatan and the City Hall Courtyard: 

The complex  follows a roughly rectangular ground plan. It is built from eight million bricks which reflect a special colour under the sun rays. It consists of two major parts:  a piazza called Borgargården on the eastern side, and the Blue Hall (Blå hallen) to the west. The Blue Hall, although being a closed, extensive space hall, with its straight walls and arcades, incorporates elements of a representative courtyard. Its walls, actually, have NO blue decorations, but it has kept its name after the original architect (Ragnar Östberg) design. This hall is known all around the world as the dining hall used for the banquet held after the annual Nobel Prize award ceremony. The organ in the Blue Hall is with its 10,270 pipes the largest in Scandinavia.

Stairs from the Blue hall to the 2nd floor:

The Eugene Prince’s Gallery which runs along City Hall’s southern long side is primarily used for the reception of honoured guests.

The French windows running the length of the Gallery’s south side offer a wonderful view of Lake Mälaren and Södermalm. This panorama is reflected on the Gallery’s opposite wall in the form of an Al-fresco called “Stockholm’s Shores” created by Prince Eugen, artist and brother of the Swedish King Gustav V. Prince's gallery is painted by the Prince Eugene himself, trying to display on the wall the same view that was available by looking on the window. Since at that time nobody was willing to give him a honest feedback about his work, he was very auto-critical, hence never happy with the results. This is why he repainted this wall many times:

Above the Blue Hall lies the Golden Hall (Gyllene Salen), with its 18 million gold mosaic tiles, named after the decorative mosaics. The mosaics make use of motifs from Swedish history. The Golden Hall is made of millions of tiles and about 10 kg of gold, sandwiched ever so thinly between tiny panes of clear glass. There are the Greek and Roman references that seem to pop up throughout the older Swedish decorative arts. (They’re frequent at the Vasamuseet, for instance). The northern wall of the Golden Hall depicts the Queen of Lake Mälaren. The southern wall displays scenes from around the Swedish capital, as well as historical motifs:

Stockholm’s municipal council meets in Rådssalen, the Council Chamber. The ceiling was inspired by Viking architecture:

The southeast corner of the building, immediately adjacent to the shore, is marked by a monumental 106-meter tall tower featuring the golden Three Crowns, an old national symbol for Sweden. The tower is 106 metres high and is accessible by an elevator or by a staircase of 365 steps. The eastern side of its base is decorated with a gold-plated cenotaph of Birger Jarl. The tower is open during the summer months (May to September) and tours are available in several languages. During the same period, you can also climb up inside the tower and enjoy a fantastic view over the city. Tours can be canceled with short notice due to events. Remember: you can only take a tour of the Tower climbing to the top between May and September.

The small park between the building and Lake Mälaren's shore is adorned with several sculptures, among them Carl Eldh's ensemble representing the three artists August Strindberg, Gustaf Fröding and Ernst Josephson, as well as Eldh's bronze sculptures "Sången" and "Dansen" ("The Song" and "The Dance"). To the south-east of the City Hall, facing Riddarholmen, is a pillar roughly 20 meters tall with a statue of Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson on top.

The City Hall is open to the public through guided tours only. Available tours in English in 2018: June 7 -  August 27: 9.00, 9.30, 10.00, 10.30, 11.00, 11.30, 12.00, 12.30, 13.00, 13.30,14.00, 14.30, 15.00,15.30 and 16.00. There is one staircase with 39 steps during the guided tour. There are restrooms. Storage lockers are not available in the City Hall. APR-OCT: adults - 110 SEK, seniors (over 65 years old) and students (with a student card): 90 SEK.NOV-MAR: adults - 90 SEK and concessions: 70 SEK. The number of rooms you can see is limited to the main ceremonial rooms and the city council chambers. Apart from a few impressive rooms (the Blue Hall where the Nobel dinner is held, the Golden Room where the Nobel ball is held, and the council meeting room, there is really nothing much to see. 

Ragnars Skaferri Restaurant: You may not bring food and drinks into the City Hall, but you can eat in the City Hall Garden. You can also have lunch or a coffee at Ragnars Skafferi, entrance from the court yard. Opening hours: Monday-Friday 07.30-16.00. For more information, please contact Ragnars Skafferi at: +46 (0)8- 586 218 42. With its entrance from the courtyard of the City Hall, most tourists don't notice this lunch restaurant. But when you come out of the shop, take a few steps sideways right, and with your back still parallell to the shop door, look straight ahead into the corner of the courtyard. There are some steps and a ramp and there is the entrance. For 105 SEK you can eat as much as you like from the buffet. Good food: 2 dishes of the day, one fish or meat, one vegetarian,plenty of vegetables and loads of different mixed salads and greens, dressings, bread and butter (ask for gluten free if you need it). Coffee/tea included - and quite often a little piece of chocolate cake or the like to finish off your meal.There's a rush at 12.00. Come earlier if you can or later.

Our next part of the 3rd day in Stockholm was taking part in a Boat Sightseeing.  The boat departs from Strömkajen.  It might seem simple - a walk of 1.4 km. But, due to reconstruction works - you'll have to consult the locals how to make your itinerary simple and convenient. If you lose your way - ask for the Grand Hotel which is behind the sightseeing boats. Leave the Stockholm City Hall from its southern park ( Stadshusparken). Walk to its most eastern edge. Turn LEFT (north) , using the stairs, 210 m. Turn right onto Hantverkargatan, 15 m. Continue onto Stadshusbron bridge, 95 m. Slight right onto Klarastrandsleden, 40 m (the water is on your right). Turn right onto Klara Mälarstrand, 95 m. Slight left to stay on Klara Mälarstrand, 120 m (part of the road is under another bustling street). Slight right onto Tegelbacken, 90 m (the water is approx. 25 m. on your right). Continue onto Fredsgatan, 70 m. Now you approch the water and walk along the shores quite closer. Slight right onto Strömgatan, 550 m. Slight right to stay on Strömgatan, 40 m. Continue onto Södra Blasieholmshamnen, 130 m. and the sightseeing boats' pier,  is on your right with its tickets office.

Stockholm - Day 2 - Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen and Skeppsholmen

Guido Amberotti

Sweden

Stockholm - Day 2 - Circular Route - Gamla Stan+ Riddarholmen and Skeppsholmen islands:

Duration: 1 day. Distance: 14 km. Weather: only sunny days. Start and End: Drottninggatan. Orientation: Wonderful sights in a sunny day.

Day 2 Main Attractions:

Part 1: Stockholms Centralstation, JarnvagsparkeKlara Mälarstrand, Norstedtshuset, Riddarholmen island, Statue of Evert Taube, Wrangel Palace, Birger Jarls torg, Riddarholmskyrkan, Riddarhuset, Mynttorget, Stallbron bridge, The Parliament, Järnpojke, Skeppsholmsbron.

Part 2: Skeppsholmen island, af Chapman ship, Kastellholmen, the small castle of Kastellholmen, Briggen Tre Kronor ship, Kastellet - the big Castle on Kastellholmen, Hotel Skeppsholmen, Moderna Museet and ArkDes, Östra Brobänken and Norra Brobänken docks, Karl XII Statue, Kungsträdgården, Drottninggatan.

Our 2nd day in Stockholm Itinerary: From our hotel, Scandic Norra Bantorget, Wallingatan 15, Stockholm, we turned left (south-west) (our back to the hotel entrance) toward Upplandsgatan, 100 m. We turned left onto Upplandsgatan, 110 m and continued onto Vasagatan, 400 m. We slighted left to stay on Vasagatan 85 m. further south.  Here, we have to climb the stairs leading to the complex of Stockholm Central Railway Station. Turn left toward Klarabergsviadukten, take the stairs, 50 m. Turn right onto Klarabergsviadukten, 120 m. Turn left to stay on Klarabergsviadukten, 35 m. and you face Stockholms Centralstation, Centralplan 15. In front of the central station stands a statue of Nils Ericson, a Swedish mechanical engineer:

Stockholm Central Station was opened on 18 July 1871. Its turnover is approx. 200,000 visitors daily. 1/8 of the passengers who use this station are coming to or leaving the station with the Arlanda Express line (to/from Stockholm Arlanda Airport) exclusively using tracks 1-2. The one-kilometer-away Stockholm City Station is competing the Stockholm Central Station and caused to a significant decrease in the number of passengers who use the latter one. An underground pedestrian passage connects it to Stockholm Central Station to the T-Centrale ( Stockholm Metro station). A short pedestrian tunnel connects the Stockholm Central Station to the Bus Central Terminal - Cityterminalen. Local services offered by SL (Stockholm Transport Authority) stop at various bus stops close to the main station's exits. Ringen ("the ring"), in the centre of the ground floor, is one of Stockholm Central station's most distinctive interior features:

Note the ceiling of this extensive station:

Further south from the Railway Statio, along Vasagatan, and north of Tegelbacken is . Until the 1960s there was a green and lush oasis in the middle of the city, but most of the greenery disappeared when the major traffic routes, departures and departures to centralbron were built. The site ךlooks quite miserable and surrounded by noisy traffic. The park consists of paved areas with very single trees and a few benches and a piece of tile mosaic, "Idealized park" by Olle Nyman:

When we arrive to the most southern end of the park or to the southern end of Vasagatan - turn right toward Klara Mälarstrand, 15 m. Turn left toward Klara Mälarstrand, 35 m. Cross the road through the crosslights and turn right onto Klara Mälarstrand, 85 m. Klara Mälarstrand is one of the ports of Stockholm: a dock and tour departure point on the waterfront. Klara Mälarstrand was named in 1927, which relates to the Clarence Quarter and to Lake Mälaren:

DO NOT MISS the wonderful sight of Stockholm City Hall from Klara Mälarstrand on a bright morning:

Klara Mälarstrand is, actually, a strip of land, which connects Norra Bantorget and Norrmalm (our start area) and Kungsholmen (an island which is our next destination in this route). We continue walking southward, leaving Norramalm district and moving to the Ryddarholmen island. From Klara Mälarstrand quay we cross the water along the Centralbron bridge, 290 m. If the bridge is closed - walk along Norra Järnvägsbron, 290 m. We continue onto Arkivgatan, 40 m. where the dark-brown-bricked Norstedt Building is on our left. Alternative way: From Klara Mälarstrand quay we head southeast on Vasabron toward Rådhusgränd, 90 m. Slight right onto Riddarhusgränd, 110 m. Turn right toward Riddarholmsbron, 60 m. Turn left toward Riddarholmsbron/Riddarhusbron, 10 m. Turn right onto Riddarholmsbron/Riddarhusbron, 50 m. Turn right onto Arkivgatan, 130 m. and the Norstedt Building is on the left. The Norstedt Building (Norstedtshuset) was designed by Magnus Isæus and was built in 1882-1891. It features a spire-like roof (you can see it from the distance, which is a well-known silhouette on the skyline of central Stockholm. The Centralbron and Vasabron bridges both lead to this building. Adjacent to the Nortedshuset (south to it) is the Gamla Stan Riksarkivet (Old National Archives) at Arkivgatan 3. They are both, actually, on Riddarholmen island grounds. Riddarholmen ("The Knights' Island") is a small, but VERY PICTURESQUE island, which forms part of Gamla Stan,Stockholm old town. Many tourists skip this island so it is much quieter. From Norstedt Building we walk to the western shores of Riddarholmen. Head northwest on Arkivgatan toward Norra Riddarholmshamnen, 40 m. Turn left onto Norra Riddarholmshamnen, 200 m. Turn right onto Evert Taubes Terrass, 15 m. and face, on your right,  the wonderful promenade on the west side of Riddarholmen. The western end of the island gives a magnificent panoramic and photogenic view of the bay Riddarfjärden, often used by TV journalists with Stockholm City Hall in the background.

You cant miss the cheerful Statue of  Swedish troubadour Evert Taube in the centre of the promenade. Evert Taube (1890–1976) was a Swedish author, artist, composer and singer. He is widely regarded as one of Sweden's most respected musicians and the foremost troubadour of the Swedish ballad tradition in the 20th century:

View from Riddarholmen Island to the north - to the Stockholms Centralstation:

70 m. south-east from the statue of Evert taube is the The Wrangel Palace. This impressive palace incorporates a medieval defensive tower and a portal designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder:

From Wrangel Palace we head southeast toward Wrangelska backen, 30 m. We turn left onto Wrangelska backen, 55 m. and see the wide Birger Jarls Square, Birger Jarls torg, Riddarholmen central public square,  with the 19th-century statue of Birger Jarl.  Birger Jarl is traditionally considered the founder of Stockholm. The statue stands on a pillar in front of the Bonde Palace, north of Riddarholm Church and was erected on the square in 1854. The square is surrounded by six palaces, today mostly occupied by various governmental authorities. They are beautiful on the outside, but no chance you can go in.

Birger Jarls Torg with the 19th-century statue of Birger Jarl. On the right side is Stenbock Palace. On the the left side is the Wrangle Palace:

On the south side of the square is the main landmark of Riddarholmen island - the Riddarholm Church. The ornate cast-iron spire is visible from all over Stockholm. The spire was designed by Willem Boy was added during the reign of John III, but it was destroyed by a lightning strike on July 28, 1835 after which it was replaced with the present cast iron spire. The church was founded as an abbey in the 13th century when it was built as a Greyfriars monastery. It is one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm. After the Protestant Reformation, the monastery was closed and the building transformed into a Protestant church. Used as Sweden's royal burial church from the 17th century to 1950, and where a number of earlier Swedish monarchs, from Gustavus Adolphus (d. 1632 AD) to Gustaf V (d. 1950), also lie buried here. 

The architecture itself is lovely, and the side chapels and crypt contain fantastically detailed gold, marble and pewter sarcophagi of rich people. Walls are decorated with colorful historic coats of arms. There is a good guidebook and each section of the church has good descriptions in Swedish and English.  A worthwhile historic visit - there is a real sense of history here. Recommended. It is open ONLY during the months: MAY-SEP: 10.00 - 17.00, NOV: SAT-SUN: 10.00-16.00 (be careful with times of opening during November).

The main Nave: to the left the tomb of king Carl II (Karl Knutsson Bonde) and to the right the tomb of king Magnus III (Magnus Ladulås):

From Riddarholmen Church we continue to the east. Standing in Birger Jarls torg with your back to the Riddarholmen Church - turn RIGHT (east) and head east on Birger Jarls torg toward Riddarholmsbron/Riddarhusbron, 30 m. Birger Jarls torg turns slightly left and becomes Riddarholmsbron, 110 m. Riddarholmsbron is the bridge that connects Riddarholmen island and Stockholm Old Town (Gamla Stan).  Immediately, after crossing the bridge - you see the House Of Nobility, Riddarhuset (or: House of Knights), Riddarhustorget 10, on your left. Since 2003, it has been a private institution which maintains records and acts as an interest group on behalf of the Swedish nobility, its main purpose being to maintain old traditions and culture. The south end of the building carries the Latin inscription CLARIS MAIORUM EXEMPLIS, "after the clear example of the forefathers", and holds a statue of Gustav Vasa. Opening hours: MON - FRI 11.00-12.00. 
Prices: adults 60 SEK students and seniors 40 SEK. You have FREE access to the 1st floor only. The 2nd floor with its reception rooms/halls (not worthwhile, one of them just full with chinaware, the second with coats of arms) is more beautiful and is open 1 hour during weekdays only:

Riddarholmskyrkan from the House Of Nobility:

North of the Riddarhuset is a park in with a statue of Axel Oxenstierna:

From the House Of Nobility (Riddarhuset) we continue north-east toward  toward Riddarhusgränd, 35 m. Turn right and left onto Riddarhusgränd, 70 m. Continue onto Myntgatan, 90 m. Turn right onto Mynttorget, 20 m. On your right - try to discover this beautiful internal court:

Mynttorget means Coin Square. Its central location between the Parliament, Kanslihuset ("The Secretariat House" or "The Chancellery"), and the Royal Palace, makes it a popular spot for demostrations, parades and political manifestations. From the Mynttorget square the bridge Stallbron leads over to the Parliament island Helgeandsholmen and to the east side of the Parliament (Riksdagshuset) (where the cashier and entrance are - see below).

Adjacent is the quay Kanslikajen which stretches along the waterfront. South to the square starts the Västerlånggatan road (see Stockholm - Day 1 blog) which stretches from north to south all through the medieval old town. East to the square are the ramps of the Royal Palace ((see Stockholm - Day 1 blog) and the Lejonbacken road leads up to the palace's northern entrance. The quay Slottskajen (parallel and north to Lejonbacken) passes along the canal Stallkanalen (see below). Overlooking the square is the terrace from its south-east side is Högvaktsterrassen.

The 20 m. Stallbron bridge (Stable Bridge") is over Stallkanalen and connects Riksgatan passing through the Parliament Building on the samll Helgeandsholmen island to the square Mynttorget on the Gamla Stan. It was named in the late 19th century after the Royal Stables which king Gustav Vasa had built on Helgeandsholmen in the 1530s, thereafter rebuilt by Karl IX 1604–12, and finally demolished in 1640 when the present stables were completed on Norrmalm, one km to the north.

The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) sits in the Parliament House ((Riksdagshuset) which resides on the west side of the small Helgeandsholmen island, which is connected by the Stallbron bridge with the Gamla Stan. The Parliament House was constructed between 1897 and 1905 and designed by Aron Johansson. The influence of the local Baroque and Renaissance architecture is evident in the façade of the building and, the overall construction. Keep in mind several facts before you decide to visit the Parliament. For security reasons, bags and outer clothing have to be left in specially provided lockers. They require a 10-SEK deposit, which you will get back after your visit. Please remember therefore to have a 10-SEK coin with you. Photography is ALLOWED - but without tripod and flash. You have to pass a strict security check. During the guided tour you are followed by a security guard. Between September and June, when the parliament is in session, you can visit Riksdagshuset for guided tours and learn how Sweden is actually run and Swedish political history. Tours in English start 13.30, every Saturday and Sunday, and are FREE of charge. From July - Mid September: MON-THU 9.00  – 12.00 and 13.00 – 16.30, FRI 9.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00. Although the guided tour is FREE  - it cannot be booked in advance and places are limited (they only let in 28 visitors for each tour). So you need to join the queue early enough to make sure you get in. You won't find times of English guided tours in the Internet. There is a sign in front of the Riksdag on both sides that notes the times of the tours, and, especially, the English ones. The tour is NOT suitable for young children or babies. The Parliament is surrounded by other historic landmarks and statues. During your guided tour in the Parliament - you can see from the 2nd floor windows the Rosenbad ("rosen bath") which is a building in Norrmalm north-west to the Parliament. It is a building owned by the Swedish State and serves as the seat of the Government:

House of Prime Minister from the 2nd floor of the Parliament:

The City Hall from the 2nd floor of the Parliament:

Inside the Parliament:

Bernadotte Dynasty:

Staircase - Floor V:

Social-Democratic Party Hall:

The Good Deeds Hall - Raoul Wallenberg:

The Good Deeds Hall - Folke Bernadotte:

From the Parliament House, Riksgatan 1, we retrace our steps and head back south to the Gamla Stan. Cross the water, walking (again) south along the  Stallbron, 50 m. Continue to follow Västerlånggatan, 110 m. Turn left onto Storkyrkobrinken, 15 m. On your left - the narrow alley: Prasgatan:

Head east on Storkyrkobrinken toward Trångsund additional 30 . Turn right onto Trångsund, 15 m. Turn left onto Stortorget, 55 m and turn left onto Källargränd - to see the back side of the Storkyrkan or the medieval Stockholm Cathedral (see above).

You can see, from here, also the main entrance to the Royal Palace (See Stockholm - Day 1 blog). Head east on Trädgårdsgatan toward Trädgårdstvärgränd, 60 m. On your left is the Järnpojke, Trädgårdsgatan 2. Järnpojke or Iron Boy, is known as the "little boy who looks at the moon" is a sculpture by Liss Eriksson, which is only 15 centimetres high and therefore is the smallest public monument of Stockholm.
The sculpture was created in 1954 but was inaugurated, at this point, only in 1967. The sculpture is located behind the Finnish Church, which is only few meters off the Stockholm Royal Palace.
In winter, the little boy is also to be found wearing winter hat and scarf. The sculpture is described in very few tourist guides and is therefore considered "secret" tourist attraction:

From here we head to another charming island inStockholm. From the Järnpojke lovely monument (you will be surprised - how many tourists already revealed this court) - head east on Trädgårdsgatan toward Skeppar Olofs gränd, 15 m. Trädgårdsgatan turns right and becomes Skeppar Olofs gränd, 35 m. Turn left onto Köpmangatan, 45 m (See stockholm - Day 1 blog). Turn left onto Bollhusgränd, 130 m. Turn right onto Slottsbacken, 230 m. Turn left onto Skeppsbron, 180 m. On your right the bronze statue of Gustav III on the quay. It is from 1808 and designed by Johan Tobias Sergel and erected by his friend, the inventor and colonel Jonas Lidströmer, who also designed the stairs around the statue, and thus matching the surrounding quays, for which he was responsible.

 :

Continue onto Strömbron 170 m. Turn right onto Södra Blasieholmshamnen, 120 m. On your left, the Grand Hôtel, Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8:

We continue walking south-east along Södra Blasieholmshamnen and 200 m. further, on our left is the National Museum (closed):

We arrive to the Skeppsholmsbron ( "The Skeppsholm Bridge") which connects the Blasieholmen district to Skeppsholmen island. Before entering the bridge - note the sculpture on your right:

We walk along the Skeppsholmsbron - arriving to the Skeppsholmen island. SKIP TO TIP 2 BELOW.

Stockholm - Day 1 - Circular route from Drottningatan to Gamla Stan

Guido Amberotti

Sweden

Stockholm - Day 1 -  Circular route from Drottninggatan ("Queen street") to Gamla Stan (Stockholm Old Town):

Part 1 Main Attractions:  Hötorgshallen Food Market, Sergels torg, Park Kungsträdgården, Norrmalmstorg, Biblioteksgatan, Gustav Adolfs Torg, Jakobs Torg, Norrbro, Daily Parade of the Royal Guards.

Tip 2 Main Attractions - The Royal Palace interiors, Gamla Stan: Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan), Nobel Museum, Stortorget, Köpmangatan, Österlånggatan, Järntorget, Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, Västerlånggatan.

Duration: 1 day. Distance: 10 km. Start: Olof Palmes gata x Vasagatan (Norra Bantorget Park). End: Gamla Stan and walk back to Norra Bantorget Park.

Our Hotel: we stayed 7 nights in Scandic Norra Bantorget Hotel, 15 Wallingatan, Stockholm. We were very satisfied except of the weather. Summer 2018 in Sweden was HORRIBLE. The temperatures rarely dropped under 32° from May-SEP. Even if there is an eternal breeze in Stockholm - the city suffered from unbearable wave of heat. The grass never seemed to be so yellow. Most of the hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums and public transportation are not equpped with AC. The only site which was really COOL was the Vasa Museum. BUT, the evenings and the nights were far cooler - and you could refuel your batteries for another day of long walk. The hotel is 1-minute walk from Drottninggatan - one of the main shopping streets of Stockholm. Most of it - pedestrian-only. Many eateries and elegant fashion and other high-class merchandise items. It is 12-minutes walk to the Railway Station. It is 25-minutes walk to Stockholm Town Hall. Don't bother - Stockholm is walkable. You can arrive on foot to almost every site on one of Stockholm islands. The Scandic Norra Bantorget is good. A quiet place. Almost in the centre of the city. Good breakfast (although it does not change during the week). Comfortable and modern rooms. The hotel consists of TWO BLOCKS. In case you are based in the back block - expect 3-5 minutes walking to arrive to the dining (breakfast) hall (using 1 or 2 elevators). The onsite restaurant is good but with very limited menu. Staff members are young and helpful. A price-worthy hotel considered exaggerated prices in Stockholm.

View from hotel room (5th floor):

From Norra Bantorget  we turn RIGHT (north-east) (with our back to the hotel' entrance). We walk until the end of  Wallingatan and and turn RIGHT (south) to Drottninggatan. After passing through Barnhusgatan, on our left, we see (along Drottninggatan) the The Central Badet (Great swimming and spa complex) on our left. Opposite this spa, on our right - note a nice courtyard with fountain:

We cross olof Palmes gata on our right and left and arrive to the intersection of Drottninggatan x Apelbergsgatan wit the three stoned lions sculptures:

The next intersection down (south-east) along Drottningggatan is with Kungsgatan:

On our left is Hötorget underground station (Hötorget T-bana) (beautiful station !!):

and Hötorgshallen Food Market. This market is located on the Hötorget Square. The square itself is filled with fruit and flower vendors - Mondays through Saturdays. The indoor market has quite a discrete entrance at the back (east side) of the square and it takes up two floors, the smaller ground floor and the larger basement level. This market is very popular with Stockholmers. Hötorgshallen (Haymarket) is only open during the daytime so no dinner options (the market is also closed on Sundays and bank holidays). You can find here fruits & vegetables, bread & pastries, delicacies, coffee, tea, sweets, meat, fish, cheese, sausages and much more. Only few of the vendors are Sweds. Most of them are North-Africans, Asian, Turkish, Italian and Eastern European shops.

The outdoor market - mostly, kinds of berries, flowers and mushrooms:

One of the most iconic buildings of Stockholm resides in Haymarket Square: the Concert Hall (Konserhuset). The Konserthuset is main place for Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Each year on December 10, the Nobel Prizes ceremony is held in the main hall. Opening hours: MON-FRI:  11.00 - 18.00, SAT-SUN: closed. On Saturdays and Sunday - you might meet a flea market here. During summer months free concerts of students of the Academy of Music are held in the entrance. In front of Konserthuset standsd the Orpheus Fountain built by Carl Milles, a famous Swedish sculptor.

The real deal is the indoors food market. Downstairs, inside, you have everything from meat, cheese, fish, to tea, and dried goods. There also were ethnic food stalls from Mexican, through Asian to Mid-Eastern products like Falafel. This place is not so big to become overwhelming. All the stalls are neatly displayed. Since the prices are high - the real sport, here, is taking photos:

Old Movie Camera in the Basement level:

Instead of returning to Drottinggatan we continue south-east along Sergelgatan. Before we arrive to Segel Torg (Square) we see Sergelminnet sculpture by Göran Strååt along Sergelgatan street, 1990:

Sergelgatan stretches from Hötorget in the north to Sergels Torg in the south. The street is named after sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel (1740-1814), who had his studio at number 1. In his former form, Sergelgatan went south to Mäster Samuelsgatan , but passed over Sergel's old studio to Sergels Torg. The street level was then lowered by about four meters and Mäster Samuelsgatan was carried by a viaduct across the street. Sergelsgtan ends, in the south in Sergels torg. Sergels torg ("Sergel's Square") is the most central public square in Stockholm. It is the most popular space in Stockholm for meeting friends, for political demonstrations, for a wide range of events, and for drug-dealers. It is a bit similar to the public space in front of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The main attraction in thi square could be the fountain, in which people celebrate every major victory by a Swedish sports team. BUT, we found it totally dry. The square is partly overbuilt by a roundabout centered on 37.5-meter tall glass obelisk and by the concrete decks of three major streets. A contest for the central monument in 1962 was won by Edvin Öhrström, with the 37 metre tall glass obelisk which was named Kristall - vertikal accent i glas och stål ("Crystal - vertical accent in glass and steel"). The sculpture, finally completed in 1974 and since haunted by technical problems. Large areas of the place are closed for renovation (the whole square is plagued by significant noise) of the 50 years old concrete structures. There also preparation for the installation of tram tracks from Hamngatan to Klarabergsgatan. During the nights the square looks far better. The pole (Totem) in the middle is illuminated in beautiful blue light- amazing sight:

In the southern part of the square - you can find the Stockholm Tourist Office. With our feet at the southern part of Sergels Square and our face to the south - turn left and slope down to Hamngatan (Port Street).

Hamngatan - NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) Department Store building:

In the middle of Hamngatan, in its right (south) side - resides Park Kungsträdgården (Kings Park). What you can see from Hamngatan is ONLY the northern part of Kungsträdgården and it is far less impressive than its more southern parts. The northern part is, mostly, the "Fountain of Wolodarski". The park's central location makes it one of the most popular hangouts and meeting places in Stockholm. It also hosts open-air concerts and events in summer, while offering an ice rink during winters. In the summer it offers beautiful fountains, flourishing trees as well as a number of cafes, art galleries and restaurants. It also hosts open-air concerts and events. In the spring you can catch the Japanese Cherry (Sakura trees) blossoms in full bloom. A total number of 63 Sakura trees is an spring season experience of beauty and scent in the park. Additionally, city architect Alexander Wolodarski commissioned artist Sivert Lindblom to design the large bronze urns now lined up along the new rectangular fountain/pool:

Standing in Hamngatan and looking south to the Kungsträdgården Park - you see, on your left (east) the Palmeska huset by Helgo Zettervall, 1884–86, today the headquarters of  Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB). Further south, on your left (east) is the Kungsträdgården Stockholm metro station (magnificent station !!!):

The park's most notable features reside in the southern parts: the two squares with statues of kings Charles XII and Charles XIII and the Molin's Fountain depicting motifs from Norse mythology- all these will be explored during our later blogs in Stockholm. We continue east on Hamngatan, passing Norrlandsgatan on our left (north). The next square on our left is Norrmalmstorg. Norrmalmstorg square is very famous for the Stockholm Syndrome case. The square connects the posh shopping streets of Hamngatan and Biblioteksgatan and is the starting point for legendary tram Djurgården (blue) line (route number 7N with 10 stations). It is an heritage tram line and operated on a non-profit basis by young members of the Swedish Tramway Society. The vintage of the tram cars varies from early 20th century to late 1950s. On weekends a modified trailer named "Rolling Café" is coupled to one of the motorcars on the line, where one can have a cup of coffee or tea along with some pastries whilst enjoying the scenery. We used this tram on our trip to Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde. Note the Norrmalmstorg Chicken sculpture near the Vaudville Restaurant. It’s a creation of Ebba Hedquist. The sculpture was installed there in 1971 (before the bank robbery!). The hen with flopping wings, running away from the traffic, it was an embodiment of pedestrians who felt increasingly unsafe in the 60s, as Stockholm was becoming busier. Matters got even worse when the authorities decided to implement a changeover to right-hand driving in 1967...:

Attention: We continue NORTHWARD from Norrmalmstorg through Biblioteksgatan - BUT we shall RETURN soon SOUTHWARD back to Hamngatan. From the Norrmalmstorg square we continue walking along Biblioteksgatan until it ends (in the north) in Stureplan /  Birger Jarlsgatan. Biblioteksgatan ("Library Street") is a well-known shopping street with many luxurious brand stores (international luxury brands like: Prada, Gucci and Marc Jacobs alongside Swedish fashion labels like: Acne, Hope and Whyred) and some of the highest rent levels for retail in Stockholm. It starts out as a pedestrian street at Norrmalmstorg until it passes Stureplan, where after it continues towards Humlegården and the Royal Library:

Biblioteksgatan x Stureplan:

Cloe from Barcelona, ​​Bronze, 2017 of Jaume Plensa, Stureplan:

Sorry for the U-turn. We shall walk 1 km. back to the south, to a couple of famous Stockholm squares. We thought that the short detour of Biblioteksgatan was worthwhile just for the experience of window shopping. From Stureplan we head southeast along Biblioteksgatan, 250 m. Turn right onto Norrmalmstorg/Smålandsgatan, 35 m. Turn left onto Norrmalmstorg, 75 m. Turn BACK right onto Hamngatan, 35 m. Slight left to stay on Hamngatan, 140 m. Turn left onto Västra Trädgårdsgatan, 240 m. Continue onto Jakobs torg, 50 m. We shall start with the Gustav Adolfs torg, Gustav Adolf Square. Turn right onto Gustav Adolfs torg, 75 m. A square named after King Gustav II Adolf. In the middle of the square there is a statue of Gustav II Adolf, which was erected in 1796 by the French sculptor Pierre l'Archevêque. South to this square, beyond the water (via Norrbro bridge) are the Riksplan (Parliament) and the Medieval Museum (Stockholms Medeltidsmuseum). The Royal Palace is a bit further south in Gamla Stan.  The square is home to the Royal Opera, Arvfurstens palats (housing the Ministry for Foreign Affairs) and the Ministry of Defence: 

The Royal Swedish Opera (Kungliga Operan) is in the eastern part of Gustav Adolfs torg. The opera company was founded by King Gustav III and its first performance, Thetis and Phelée was given on January 18, 1773:

Walk 75 m. north-east to continue to the adjacent Jakobs torg. Jakobs Torg is a triangular square framed by the Royal Opera , St. Jacob's Church and Denmark's house . The west west side extends to Västra Trädgårdsgatan and in the east the square borders Kungsträdgården. In the square outside the church and facing the Opera, a bronze bust of Jussi Björling , sculpted by the Dutchman Pieter de Monchy in 1961, was set in the square first 1994.

St. Jacobs Kyrka:

We return to Gustav Adolf Torg and head SOUTH (south-east) to the Royal Palace through Norrbro  ("North Bridge"). This bridge which starts, in the north,  is an arch bridge over Norrström in Gustav Adolfs torg , passes over Helgeandsholmen in front of the Riksdag building and ends opposite the northern front of the Royal Palace. Norrbro was designed by the city architect Erik Palmstedt (1741–1803). Norrbro was one of the first bridges of Stockholm to be built in stone. It was completed in 1797 (the northern part) and 1806 (the southern part).  Norrbro replaced two old wooden bridges, Slaktarehusbron and Vedgårdsbron, both demolished on its completion. it is surprising that in the latter half of the 18th century still only 2 out of 17 bridges connecting the city were made, at least partially, of stone. Wooden bridges, that were in majority in Stockholm, were vulnerable to natural forces and fire. Consequently, they were often damaged and the maintenance costs were too high.

Gustav Adolf Torg from Norrbro bridge:

The "Solsångaren" (Sunsinger) sculpture of Carl Milles (east to the Norrbro bridge, on the green,small island under the bridge) - view from
Norrbro (northern bridge):

We hurried up to climb the stairs leading to the Royal Palace (Kunliga Slottet) terrace to watch the daily parade of the Royal Guards. The Royal Guards ceremony at the Royal Palace of Stockholm lasts about 40 minutes and includes a marching band. It starts at 12.15in the palace outer courtyard on weekdays, and at 13.15 on Sundays. It happens EVERYDAY from April 23 to August 31. From September 1, the parade is generally held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, departing from the Army Museum at 11.45 (WED,SAT), and at 12.:45 on Sundays and public holidays. From November 1, the parade is generally held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, departing from Mynttorget at 12.10 (on Sundays and public holidays: 13.10) . If there is no musical accompaniment, the Royal Guards march from the Obelisk at 12.15 (WED,SAT) or 13.15 (SUN). The whole ceremony is no more than splendid. You won't be blown away - but, it is a nice way to spend an hour:

This is the south-east entrance to the Royal Palace after the march of the Royal Guards:

But, it is not the last word of the parade. Hurry up to the south-west front of the palace,the outer courtyard,  where the Change of Royal Palace Guards takes place. Get there early as it gets VERY BUSY ! The royal guard has been stationed at the royal palace in Stockholm since 1523. About 30,000 guards from the Swedish Armed Forces take their turns standing watch. The guards are responsible for safeguarding the royal palace and are also part of the defense of Stockholm. They are an important part of the security force for the capital's citizens. The royal guard takes part in royal ceremonial occasions, official state visits, the official opening of the Swedish Parliament, and other national events. When the trumpets start sounding you see rows of blue-uniformed guards coming in with the marching band. The procession is announced in Swedish before being announced in English. 

Here you can see how the Royal Palace outer courtyard is looking AFTER the Royal Guards Change:

We skip to Tip 2 - where we start our visit inside the Royal Palace.

Dream trip to Norway and a taste of Sweden in 17 days

Lavon Rahel

Norway

Background: 32 years ago we traveled in Scandinavia - Sweden, Finland and Norway. We promised ourselves that we would revisit Norway. Years went by and this destination was so expensive it was pushed to our unreachable dream drawer, till 2011. I booked tickets 9 months in advance, and the production started rolling. 

As soon as they opened the booking to Hurtigruten cruises, I booked it for 4 nights, trip leaving Bergen the same day we landed at 20:00, toward Harstad