FINALLY – Johnny has landed in Scandinavia Europe! Me and my mum went to Sweden this past weekend as a belated birthday treat for my mum, who’s turned 56 earlier in the month. Big Happy Birthday Mum!
We departed London friday evening, spent the whole of Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon, and returned early Monday MORNING! That’s perhaps a story for another blog post as to why (Hint: Ryanair)!
I visited Stockholm, the fourth largest city in Europe. That stat shocks me considering there are so many famous cities in Europe. Its economy is also among the fastest ones developing in the continent so the country is making its mark as being a superpower in Europe.
Gauging the high quality of food, the multiple metropolitan shopping centres filled with luxury shops and the natural woodland and forests it’s hard to see why it isn’t.
With Stockholm there was the feeling of Christmas had arrived early: the huge decorations on the high street and in shopping malls, the overnight snow settling on the hills and rocks and of course – the elephant in the room – the extreme coldness. Speaking of the weather in terms of the amount of sun and clear skies there were an abundance of it thankfully! Praise God for that!
Most of our activities we ended up doing on the Saturday for various reasons so this post is going to be kind of a day trip review of the city.
We stayed at both Connect Hotels based at the Skavata Airport and in Stockholm: Friday night to Saturday morning at the airport branch and Saturday night to Sunday morning at the city branch, which was a 15 minute walk away from Fridhemsplan train station.
Immediately I was wowed by its aesthetics on the inside and outside. The lounge areas were very spacious – I’d go as far as to say that the lounge in the airport branch was too big 😛 There’s a lot of furniture where you can sit down and socialise, watch TV, have breakfast in comfort or read a book. Some of the corridors at the airport one were named after famous cities and landmarks in Europe.
The rooms were en suite with a detachable double bed where the double bed can be divided into two single beds complete with a sink and shower and bathroom essentials such as towels provided. I really liked the multiple beddings and duvets they had, it was especially handy for keeping me warm at night more so given it’s the winter season.
However when we got to the Connect Hotel in Stockholm our bedrooms weren’t prepped on time, which was disappointing so we went out and explored the city a bit before we could fully check into our rooms. Adding to that disappointment was that we tried to use the lift multiple times but it wasn’t working so had to walk up the stairs to our room with all our luggage and after a long afternoons of sightseeing.
To round off on a positive the quality of the food was outstanding; I touch on this on my food review but Connect Hotels represents some of Sweden’s best food I must say!
Rating out of 10: 7.5 out of 10
We were weary of how expensive Stockholm is in general so in an attempt to cut on costs we took a lot of snacks from home and homemade food rather than going out to multiple restaurants and cafes.
Connect Hotel City & Connect Hotel Skavata Airport
The Connect Hotel had continental breakfast available as part of our package: boiled eggs, cereal with strawberry yoghurt, cheese and ham cinnamon rolls, fruit juices. Pun unintended – the rolls and ham are the best thing since sliced bread. The rolls themselves were really soft and easy to cut through when prepping my bites. They had such a sweet taste it was like I was on another planet. I discovered that strawberry yoghurt and cereal go well together too. Everything was well-organised in terms of where the food and drink were and cutlery. My mum enjoyed it more than expected. She got a bit scared when my brother told us that the breakfast options they had in Sweden weren’t the full English cooked ones we’re used to in the UK.
At the city hotel branch for Connect we had meatballs and scrambled eggs when we were there for the 2nd morning in the city.
Sweden are most known for their hot dogs and meatballs (shoutout to BeckySkel for the recommendation on her blog). – when we got them eventually. The cues were surprisingly long for a Saturday afternoon. Therefore customer service was terribly slow as the result and it was made worse by how cold it was. My mum was furious with how long she had to stand – and it nearly derailed our whole trip. She even did a U turn and said she didn’t want her hot dog at the end. I dont blame her. I felt sympathy for the lone guy working and would have another person alongside him – not to say that I’m know a lot about running a business – but it’s worth investing more in an extra employee on the track to speed up service and increase chances of customers returning than trying to penny pinch.
Anyway the hot dog we got was the Kabanoss hot dog for 50 SEK/KR each. The Kabanoss is said to be the most popular among the locals. Some hot dogs are chunkier than others as you can see from the menu but you get more of the thinner hot dogs to even out the portions. Other ones I recommend you getting are the Tiroler Wurst hot dog and Paprika Wurst hot dog There’s also vegetarian hot dog options for those meat-free!
We stumbled across Shogun in Gamla Stan. My mum suggested we have some oriental food for dinner on the Saturday. We got skewed chicken with rice after spending time struggling to find out what we wanted as the menu was mainly in Japanese. In the end I wasn’t impressed I must say and it wasn’t to my mum’s expectations either; nothing to do with the language barrier but the rice was very bland with little flavour to it; the chicken skewers were a decent size but not filling enough. Mum and my portion sizes were considerably different, which is basic Food Service 101 not being met in my opinion.
Rating out of 10: 6.5 out of 10
On our way to the city itself from the airport we got the Flygbussarna bus shuttle. We were blessed with much better WiFi connection in comparison to National Express coaches in the UK and views of the natural woodland that Sweden has to offer. The thin trees in the forests and snow on the rocks were very much eye-catching and gravitating! What we weren’t blessed with on the other hand was a smooth journey: a journey that was originally meant to be 80 mins stretched to 120 mins as there was a lot of traffic and it was odd seeing how much traffic there was on a Saturday morning but I guess Stockholm has more visitors at this time of the year than I anticipated.
My ticket cost 281 SEK. You have the option to get an advance ticket online and have the ticket sent to your email, which I did, or spend an extra 4 SEK on buying the ticket at a Flygbussarna ticket office or one of the airports the company runs bus services for, which Mum did as she only had cash at the time.
Mainly for public transport we used the Stockholm underground metro system. Very similar to a lot of European capital cities where there’s interchangeable metro lines and most of the stations we visited, Gamla Stan station included, were close to the main shopping spots we wanted to check out. They were also running frequently which helped a lot getting to our destinations quickly.
There are only 24 hour, 72 hour and 7-day passes available along with single and return journey tickets to use both on the buses and metro in the city; although it was kinda awkward selecting which pass to choose because we were only going to be in Stockholm for 48 hours max and a pass obviously wasn’t available for that period of time. We bought the 24 hour one and we’d planned to try and wing it for most of our last day – fortunately my mum’s pass somehow still worked after the 24 hour limit so I was able to sneak through the barriers a few times via my mum’s pass and avoid paying for more tickets.
Fun Fact: If you ride the Blue-coloured Metro line I believe every station is covered in wall art of some kind. It’s worth seeing, particularly the blue wall art at Stockholm’s Central Station (T-Centrale)
Rating out of 10: 7.5 out of 10
I’ve had no problems with the Swedes. They were always willing to help when needed: like taking time out of their activities to take pictures of me and my mum, giving us advice on the places to go for shopping, food etc. Like Londoners in some ways they enjoy their private space, which they get an abundant amount of given that Stockholm, as big and populated as it is in Sweden, is much smaller than London. Cleanliness around the city is something Stockholm residents take pride in apparently so make sure you don’t go littering on public streets whens snacking away!
Many Swedes were billigual and are fluent in both English and Swedish. That impressed me the most about them, not to say I wasn’t expecting them to be billigual, but it’s always a useful skill to be able to speak multiple languages fluently. The Swedish language was easy to grasp too. You’ll notice if you learn the language, the pronounciation of most words are similar to English pronounciations.
So Shoutout to the people of Stockholm for the good hospitality and human warmth that they showed.
Rating out of 10: 7.5 out of 10
That’s all from me about my trip. I’ll discuss the main attractions of Stockholm in my Top 5 Things To Do post going live on my blog soon. Follow me on my socials via the icons below the post and stay tuned for more content coming through! You’re welcome to send my mum some birthday wishes too 😛
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