Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stockholm Pass: Day #1

After a relaxing and completely satisfying traditional Scandinavian breakfast in our hotel, we made our way on foot to City Hall to catch a Hop-on Hop-off bus.  In Stockholm, City Hall is one of the first stops on the route.  You should know that the Hop-on Hop-off buses don't start until 10 AM, and they are very full in the mornings.  From City Hall, you may still get a seat, but perhaps not from stops further down the line.  It is also worth mentioning that there are multiple companies that run Hop-on Hop-off buses, not all of which are usable with a Stockholm Pass. This can be fairly confusing.

We rode the bus to the Hop-on Hop-off boat dock, which is conveniently located right next to the tour, and proceeded to a Hop-on Hop-off boat to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Stockholm.  If I should visit Stockholm 12 more times in my life, I would still visit the Vasa each and every time.  It is truly special.  The Vasa Museum features an authentic Viking ship which set sail on August 10, 1628, and sank in the Stockholm harbor where it lived until 1961 when it was rescued from the sea after a 333-year slumber.  It was then reconstructed and preserved in this 6 level museum.  The Vasa is truly a mesmerizing mark of Viking grandeur and extraordinary craftsmanship.  We happen to arrive just before the start of one of several tours performed in English.
ticket booth for all of the boat tours.  We quickly acquired tickets for an afternoon

After the Vasa, we made our way to Junibacken, a children's museum just next door.  Those traveling with children will want to plan enough time to take advantage of their considerable offerings.  For us, it was a quick trip to see a childhood favorite:  the Pippi Longstocking exhibit.  The Pippi Longstocking exhibit is a complete reconstruction of her house from the beloved series.

At this point, we needed to make our way back to the area we had just come from so as to be on time for our boat tour.  The boat tours originate in the same area the tickets were purchased.  Unfortunately, taking the Hop-on Hop-off boat would take too long to cycle back to that stop, so we took the 7 tram (streetcar) back to the waterfront. Upon arrival, we realized we had just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat and save ourselves some money on lunch by taking advantage of the outdoor dining kiosk right across the street from the ticket booth.  They serve modest fare: burgers, fries, ice cream, and the like.  While unexciting, we found it to be a quick and economical option.  Our priorities lie more in having a nice dinner as a splurge and saving
on breakfasts and lunches where possible.

There are a great number of boat tours in Stockholm.  They all vary in length, sights featured, and
amenities offered. We opted for the Archipelago Boat Tour to Vaxholm.  This is one of the lengthier tours, taking 3 hours to complete (1 1/2 hours in each direction).  The same basic tour exists under two names:  Vaxholm and Archipelago.   You can opt to get off at Vaxholm, and re-board later.  Many people like to make a day trip of it, go shopping, etc.  We opted to stay on board. This is a fairly classy cruise on a beautiful Yacht, where many other boat tours take place on board much more modest vessels.  This Yacht features a rather nice restaurant, where you can opt to be seated for a nice full-service meal.  We opted to enjoy the lower deck, seating ourselves in the bar area, where we enjoyed some Pimms and beers.  This tour also features a guide person, as opposed to a pre-recorded guide.  The tour guide provides anecdotes in both English and Swedish so as to provide further cultural and historical insight regarding the sights along the way.

After the lovely late afternoon tour, we decided to take the tour guide's recommendation for the best seafood in Stockholm.   I generally prefer a vegan diet, but when I travel, I occasionally like to try something that is both local and traditional.  On those occasions, I aim for the best.  In this situation, the best is to be found at Stockholm Fisk, located just a few blocks from the central train station.  Stockholm Fisk is a classy, yet relaxing atmosphere, and well worth the splurge.  We tried the daily special of Red Fish with horseradish and potatoes and the highly recommended Perch.  Side note: for those of you watching your figures, don't skip the bread basket.  I assure you.  It's worth it!

Full of fish and culture, we leisurely made our way back to our hotel to plan for Day 2 of our pass.

Where we saved money:

  • Stockholm Pass:  Junibaken Museum, Vasa Museum, Hop-on Hop-off bus and boat, and Vaxholm Boat Tour (no additional charge beyond the pass)
  • Breakfast at the hotel (free)
  • Public Transit:  24 hour unlimited pass
  • Lunch at the outdoor kiosk/cafe

Where we splurged:

  • Nice dinner at Stockholm Fisk

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