Great day to walk in Stockholm. Sunny and a little too warm but it is in the North and is bearable. Walked from the hotel Alexandra to Gamla Stan in 15 minutes and right away bought some hop-on hop-off boat tickets to be used all day ($15) that shorten the distances. Stockholm’s center is not large but we did not have too much time so any help was great. The boats, all run the same route, go around the harbor and stop to the major attractions in the city. The tickets, like many other items, but not everything, can be paid in US$, this being valid all over Scandinavia. However almost everywhere credit cards are accepted.
The first stop was at the Royal Palace, that I gave a miss for an inside visit and I just took a quick peek at the portrait of the princess and her new gym trainer hubby. She is the oldest and will inherit the crown and their disco wedding happened just a month ago in the castle. The boat takes you to the National Theater and to the Royal Sightings before stopping at Vasa Museum, where is located the boat that sank just after she left the harbor in 1627. The king himself designed the boat and supervised the project. He decided to load the ship with large number of cannons a show off of his power. When the investigation was supposed to be started the king did not show up in court so nobody was found guilty for the failure of the project. The boat stayed underwater for 300 years and was taken out in 1961, being originally kept under water sprays till this new museum was opened. The museum is really impressive because the boat was rescued with all the objects that were just loaded on it for a sail that never happened. Just another hop away from the museum is Skeepholmen island where it used to be stationed the Swedish Navy. Now a quite place, the island has a small castle on it and the Museum of Contemporary Arts and Museum of Architecture. You can continue to the Open Air Folk Museum and the amusement park if you have time but I preferred the boat ride all the way to the Royal Sightings where the beautiful residential buildings from the 19th centuries command great views over the harbor with apartments that run way over 1 million US$.
We returned to the Dramatic Theater and further towards the Royal Palace and in Gamla Stan for a last pictures of the narrow streets and we had to rush to the hotel to pick up the luggage and the car and start driving towards Copenhagen, a 6.5 hours on more than 600 km highway. We would have gotten very close to Denmark but it was the night of the World Cup final so we stop on the way to a Rasta Restaurant a little out of Linkoping and watched the first triumph of Spain in the World Cup in a extra time in a match where they outplayed the very dangerous and powerful team of the Netherlands. The extra time delayed our schedule and we slept in a Scandic hotel in Jonkoping.
The hotels in Sweden, like over the entire Scandinavia are very neat. Clean, looking like new and designed very nicely are a pleasure to stay in them and enjoy the plentiful morning buffet breakfast. Except in Norway, the hotel prices are reasonable being relatively more expensive than their American versions but offering way more and of a considerable higher quality. In general everything what you buy/rent in Scandinavia and Northern Europe is of a remarkable quality and implicitly at a slightly higher price. As far as I could see it does not exist the notion of a dingy place. The places are always good and the budget ones give you the option to strip items alike the sheets, linen, towels or breakfast for a lower price.