The Stockholm Archipelago comprises around 30,000 islands. Within that number there are a lot of little rocks but, generally speaking, many of them are not only habitable but also inhabited. Today we took a cruise around a very few of them.
Our boat was the marvellous M/S Östanå I, built in 1906 and looking like something out of Agatha Christie. Fortunately, there was no murder aboard.
The food, too, was excellent. We had no idea what to expect when we boarded, but we were greeted upstairs by a woman who asked if we’d like to eat during our cruise. After she took us through the menu and the fact that we would be seated in the wood panelled dining area, we agreed and, as the boat pulled away from the dock on Strandvagen, we sat with a drink in seemingly First Class surroundings.
We’d dropped the girls off with the Perfect Swedish Family, something they increasingly look forward to, and headed back into Stockholm aboard the 807.
Getting off the train at T-Centralen, we wandered around underground for ages, trying to find the buses. It’s quite the warren down there. Eventually we found the buses, though not really the buses we wanted. We then found a café which was exactly the one we wanted. The cardamom buns, in particular, were delicious.
Having indulged in our fika for the day, we headed out, deciding to ignore the buses and walk down to the docks.
We walked along some mighty major shopping roads through, what we think was, the heart of Stockholm. We passed theatres and major construction work but, eventually, emerged at the docks.
The thing with exploring a new place is to, somehow, get your bearings in relation to other bits you’ve seen. This isn’t always easy because big buildings tend to get in the way. This is not the case in Stockholm. From the docks we could see where we went the first and the second weeks, creating a perfect triangle. It’s all starting to feel a bit more familiar.
This was also the case after the cruise, when we walked back to Söder via Gamla Stan, collecting more geographical information. And, with the cruise, you could also say we’re getting to know the watery bit as well.
We had a guide for the entire trip, talking us through various points of interest. She spoke first in Swedish then in English. Unfortunately, whenever she spoke in English, the other people in the dining room decided to talk. Not that it was much of a catastrophe because we had a very handy, point by point written guide to use as well.
The boat took us all the way to Vaxholm before turning back to the city. I disagree with the description of Waxholms Hotell in the guide which says it is “…as the herring on a Swedish smörgåsbord.“
To be fair, the full quote actually puts the beautiful hotel in the centre of it all, the herring being a very special part of Swedish culture. And, from our very small glimpse, Vaxholm looks lovely and well worth a visit. There’s a regular commuter ferry so that might be a future visit.
Overall, the entire three hour trip was brilliant. The staff were brilliant, the sights were brilliant, the boat was brilliant. It was just, completely, brilliant.
As was our walk back. Well, apart from the singularly unattractive Royal Palace on Gamla Stan. It proudly proclaims it is designed in an Italian Baroque style. I’ve never liked the Baroque and this building shows why.
The rest of Gamla Stan (the Old Town) is a lovely maze of little streets, small specialist shops scattered around. Including an amazing maritime shop called Fartygsmagasinet with some magnificent ship models and other maritime stuff. Sadly, it was closed.
Shortly after passing the construction zone that is Slussen, we found a British pub called The Old Beefeater Inn where we enjoyed a drink at the halfway mark. Afterwards, as we walked back through Söder, the woman from the boat passed us and said hi. A marvellous coincidence given there were a lot of people out and about.
Eventually we took the Metro one stop and caught the 807 back home before picking the girls up. They clearly didn’t have a good time.
Then, as we relaxed in front of the TV, cuddling the girls, I discovered that the Stockholm Christmas lights were turned on at 15:30 today. This included a giant group of woven elk we walked by five minutes before the ignition. We’ll have to check them out next time.
The title comes from a poster in an art shop we passed on Gamla Stan. It reminded me of social media.