Sunday, October 28, 2007

Visit to Stockholm, Sweden

It has been more than a month since I returned from Stockholm and I wanted to write this blog ever since I came back.

I spent close to two weeks in Stockholm and it was also my first ever trip to Europe. I flew by Lufthansa , a first time in non asian airlines. Once I flew in Singapore airlines and Cathy, I assumed all the international airlines will have per seat TVs and on demand movies and I was bit disappointed in seeing common TVs. Fortunately my vegetarian food in the flight is not bad. My flight is from Bangalore - Frankfurt - Stockholm and the return is in the reverse order. Bangalore - Frankfurt leg is approximately 9 hours and Frankfurt - Stockholm leg is close to two hours.

There was a two hour time to change the flight in Frankfurt. If you are europe bound, your visa will also will be stamped in Frankfurt and I wasn't sure whether two hour would be good enough, it seemed to be sufficient and from the time I got out of my Bangalore - Frankfurt flight and till I reached the boarding gate of the next flight, I didn't stop any where and not much time to look around also.
It took approximately 30 minutes to get the Visa stamping.

Frankfurt - Stockholm flight is a smaller vehicle as it is a short distance flight. Once we landed in Stockholm, I was expecting to spend at least an hour in immigration and customs clearance, but surprise!! I just collected my baggage and walked out of the airport and directly into a taxi stand.

I took a taxi of one of the taxi companies (Taxi 020) mentioned in the wiki travel website and taxi from Arlanda airport to the hotel, which is slightly out of the central city, is very expensive.

I stayed in a hotel ( which is a 10 minute walk from the office I went there to work. Hotel is economical compared to other hotels we enquired and anyway getting hotel accommodation for the two weeks I stayed was a big task and that period coincided with some conferences and exhibitions.

Hotel rooms are small and even the single bed is quite a small and I heard couple people saying to reception folks that they took the double room because they feared that they may fell down from the bed :-) Rooms are clean and neat though. Breakfast is complementary and as you can expect the choice for vegetarians is limited. Hotel kitchen is open only from Monday to Thursday for dinner and you have go out and eat in the week ends.

The best way to move around city is using public transport. Stockholm has good
subway and its connectivity and frequency is quite good. You can plan your trip using and it tells you the timings, bus numbers and which subway to take etc. and it has English version also. Stockholm subway is called Tunnel Bana or in short T-Bana. If you are staying for a close to month, go ahead and buy a monthly card which costs around 630 kronos and you can use subway, buses and some ferries also. Otherwise, you can choose weekly or 72 hour or 24 hour cards, you can by them at any of the T-Bana stations. This was my primary mode of transportation.

Lunch was not a big problem and colleagues at work place took me to different restaurants where the vegiterian options are available. Not very far from the office and closer to Aspudden T-bana station, there is a Taj India restaurant, where we had lunch couple of times. Lunch is not pricey and quite reasonable compared to dinner cost.

After the work, and after a short break at the hotel I used to take the subway and reach either Gamla Stan (Old town) or T-centralen and walk around till the dinner time and take the subway back to the hotel, is pretty much the routine for all the working days.

Drottninggatan is the walking street just next to T-centralen with shops on both the sides and if you starting walking from Drottninggatan towards GamlaStan, you will reach parlament house and it will join Vasterlanggatan (another shoppping street) in the Gamla Stan. Pizza hut and Mc Donalds are near by T-Centralen and I had most of dinners in on of those two places.

There is quite a bit of shopping around T-Centralen, with Gallerian, NK, and many more shopping complexes.

Hare Rama, Hare Krishna (ISCON) centre and Govinda restaurant run by them are in Stockholm, I tried going there on Janmasthami and I reached there but couldn't locate it, before I returned back from the Stockholm, I could trace it though :-)

I had effectively one week end and I needed to do any sight seeing I could in those two days. Since I had one week end, weather decided play its role and started drizzling from the early morning, I didn't care though. I took the ferry from Slussen to Djurgården (Skansen) and by the time we got down the ferry it started raining but I wanted to disparately see as much as possible. I started with Vasa museum (The sunken big battle ship) and then went to Nordiska museum and then moved to Skansen (open air museum) where houses from different parts of Sweden are preserved and they have some Scandinavian animals too. Once I am in Skansen, rain started pouring and though I adventured quite bit moving in the rain, I ended up in spending lot of time doing nothing. I decided to end the day for sight seeing and decided to do shopping. Working days it is impossible to shop as most of the shops (>90%) are closed by 6 PM or 7PM. In the week ends, they are closed earlier :-). I did bit of shopping, roamed around and headed back to hotel.

Sunday I went upto grand hotel, took a ferry to Waxholm (capital of Archipelago) and roamed around Waxholm, went to the fort which was at the centre of Navy defence for long time and took the bus back to Stockholm.
Noble museum is opened till 8PM on tuesday and I took the opportunity to visit it on Tuesday, I should have spent some more time in the noble museum.

One day we went to Morten Trotzig, one of the famous restaurants in Stocholm, ofcourse sponsered, otherwise I can't afford it even on business travel :-).

While I was in the pursuit of Govind restaurant, I bumped into India Curry house restaurant and I had dinner there, it is bit expensive and food is average.

The day before I left Stockholm, In the evening I went to see the City Hall, where the noble prize dinner will take place. If I went in the right time, I should have had an opportunity to see Stockholm from the tower, it would have been beautiful. I went in the evening, as it has been the case with my sight seeing, it was raining too and as it was the case, I didn't care for rain :-). Building is beautiful and surrounding are beautiful and peaceful.

I guess this pretty much summarizes my visit.

Some snippets:
Excellent public transport at quite reasonable cost (if you don't mind walking in streches, I don't mind)
Helpful People (most of them).
More or less safe.
Language is not a big problem (people could understood me. I had to repeat myself very very few times)
I feared so much for food and it proved to be not so much of an issue.
Bit Expensive.
You to have pay 5SEK to piss even in places like McDonalds and big shopping stores. In fact only places where I could piss for free is at Hotel and Office :-)

Have a look some of the trip photos

Websites which helped my stay at Stocholm:

Museums: for going to achipelago anf Skansen. Transport, T-bana etc.


Over all, I enjoyed the trip both professionally and personally.