Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Photos - Exploring Stockholm, the capital of Sweden

Exploring Stockholm - it was a relief to make it, finally in a city of charm. I had been told so much about it and yet had set foot in this Northern European country.

The flight was smooth, though I had great amount of leg room in the SAS flight being next to the emergency exit I unfortunately had a rather hard seat, it seemed the cushion had been condensed within a millimetre of it's life. However the service was relaxed and friendly. Straight through passport control and my taxi was waiting to take me to the centre.

The 25 minute taxi ride was easy, but discovered that the fast-rail network is definitely the best and more economical option. The Rica Hotel Kungsgatan is centrally located and had seemed to have recently undergone a full refurbishment. On the edge of the central market we had an excellent view of the colour market traders - on closer inspection we realised they sold little variety and were vying for as much trade as one another - the lack of choice was certainly outshone by the colourful personalities of the traders. They like their mushrooms though.

We took a walk up to the Observatory and around the central city to familiarise ourselves. The stark difference with London was its piazzas and outdoor drinking establishments, creating a very social atmosphere of the naturally engaging Swedes.

Visit Stockholm and Stockholm Pride entertained us by sunset on Sweden's largest lake at Malarpaviljongen - which is only open during the summer - on a terrace jutting out on the water, before we were transferred to Pride Park for the pre-night entertainment then onto Hamburger Bors to see the final of Mr Gay Sweden (see the upcoming video).

Mr Gay Sweden was a bit of a let down. The boys were dressed neck to toe in black - no swim-suit round, no flexing muscles - just a question to the contestants on how they would save the world (well that's what I assumed as it was all in Swedish so I didn't understand a word). Once the Gay was Crowned it was time for more drinks and dancing.

Day 2
We explored the city with Stockholm's finest cultural socialite. Sait took us across the city by foot past the Palace and through the courtyard of the Parliament, down into the old town through the cobbled streets. Exploring the german built church before heading to brunch at Hilton Stockholm Slussen awaiting the pride parade.

The sun was out in all it's glory for the Pride Parade with one of the largest and longest processions I have ever seen. Well done Stockholm.

Following the four hour parade we headed to the Photography exhibition before making our way for a disco nap to prepare for another night out in Stockholm.

That night we checked out Wide Open at Berns. The description labelled it a popular gay club, however as most Swedes explained - there isn't a gay scene - it all merges into each other - and Berns was very evident. There were groups of girls, boys, girls and boys and everything inbetween - but a cool place to hangout. After getting bored of whether one was gay or not we headed back to Hambuger Bors for more drinks and party.

Day 3
We took a walk along the lake to the island of Djurgarden for the world famous wreck of the famous warship lost in 1628 - Vasa, which was salvaged in 1961. This was incredible and definitely recommended - photos in a dedicated article coming soon.

By the time we left Vasamuseet it was time for me to get the train back to the airport and head back to London.

Stockholm is a must visit.