Jumping off the airport shuttle at Birmingham airport, Flo and I checked into our SAS flight without a hitch. We took our seats at the back and settled in for the two hour flight to Stockholm. Quickly the small plane flooded with a large group of loud and brash Australians. Every time I glanced over during the flight they appeared to be continuously necking tiny cups of gin and tonic.
Touching down in Stockholm Arlanda we were immediately greeted by beautiful weather. The air was hot and the sky a cloudless blue. A spark of excitement began to grow. We were in Sweden.
Grabbing our bags we headed through the airport to buy our tickets for the Arlanda Express. All the ticket machines appeared to be out of order, so we took a waiting ticket and queued at the information desk. A little while later we spoke to a lady behind the desk who informed us that actually the trains weren’t running at the moment and so we would have to get the bus. Not too fussed we paid 99kr, about £10, for our tickets for the Swebus and rolled our bags outside to wait. Climbing onto the coach we began to trundle through the green Swedish countryside towards Stockholm city. In the end the journey took triple the time of the train due to traffic. Arriving at the central bus station we consulted the map before deciding to walk to our hostel half an hour away in Södermalm.
The weather was pleasant so it was nice to walk. Crossing the bridge to Gamla Stan, the old town, smooth cobblestones blanketed the narrow streets. Rather embarrassingly our cases rumbled loudly across their surface, filling the air with a repetitive clatter. In Södermalm we quickly realised that the flat streets on the map actually translated into steep winding paths up the hillside. Following Flo’s lead we found Mosebacke Hostel, our home for the next five days. Checking in, the hostel seemed open and airy. Entering our room though was a slightly different story. I’ve never stayed in a windowless, box-like room before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Thirsty, we quickly escaped back into the outside world and wandered down to the local supermarket for water. Flo picked up two bottles labelled ‘naturell’, assuring me it must be still water. Inevitably it turned out to be sparkling. Walking up the road we headed through a white arch to an area crammed with people having after work drinks. There was no room to really move though so we didn’t linger, instead taking the stairs down to the road below before heading back up another set to the open passenger lift, Katarinahissen. From here we soaked up our first view of the city.
From the elevated walkway we wound our way down to the waters edge in Gamla Stan. It was relaxing to sit with our legs over the edge, taking in the view and the warming rays of the evening sun. After constantly feeling like we were having to race against time back at home, it was nice to just sit. When the sun began to sink we moved on to find somewhere to eat. Glancing at the various menus along the street it immediately became obvious that Stockholm really is expensive, much more so than England. Despairing a little at the prices and thinking of our budgets, we settled for some alfresco dining outside a small café, ordering lasagnas for 100kr – the cheapest we could find. The food was delicious though, and just after 10 we rounded up our first night in Stockholm and began a slow, unhurried journey back up the hillside to our hostel.