If it’s Wednesday, it must be Stockholm!
That’s what we said as we woke with the sun peaking through the black-out curtains on Sea Princess, very early, for the nights are short in this part of Europe at this time of year 🙂
As our world reinvented itself before our eyes, and the Stockholm archipelago came into view, Dave popped up to Horizon Court buffet and brought us tea and fresh grapefruit to have breakfast on the balcony as we cruised into the small port of Nynashamn.
A local brass band played Sea Princess passengers in, which was absolutely lovely and made our brekkie even more enjoyable.
Complimentary Shuttle Service
The ship had arranged a complimentary shuttle for anyone wanting to go into Stockholm and we hopped on at around 8.45 for a very pleasant 45 minute journey through green countryside and forests, and along uncrowded highways into the city.
Venice of the North
Stockholm, we had been told, is called the Venice of the North due to all the waterways, and there’s a spectacular palace, opera house, and many museums (including the Vasa Museum, below, which holds the oldest fully preserved ship in the world that sank on its initial voyage in 1628).
Largest Royal Castle in Europe
We’ve been so lucky with the weather – it was sunny today with big fluffy white clouds, and arriving in Stockholm the shuttle dropped us conveniently in the city centre by the imposing Opera House opposite the huge Royal Castle, which is apparently the largest in Europe with over 600 rooms.
Old Friend – Special Times
I was very excited because we were going to be meeting up with a very dear friend Eva whom I met in 1983 when we were backpacking in the Whitsundays in Northern Queensland in our twenties.
Being able to catch up with an old friend living half way around the world is, I think, a definite Big Plus of cruising 🙂 How amazing to connect again – we’ve only met up three times since 1983.
First though, Dave and I took a walk around the very quaint old part of the city, Gamla Stan, wandering the thin, alleyways where tall old buildings cut out the sun.
I would have loved to have booked on a night time ghost tour had we been staying overnight because Gamla Stan is one of the best preserved medieval city centres in Europe with lots of pedestrian friendly sites and tiny alleys.
Cobbled squares and colourful cafes
Coffee beckoned, and it was fun choosing a cafe because in each cobbled square there are so many offering al fresco dining with tables bedecked with colourful table clothes and welcoming pastries to be pondered.
Lunch at the Opera House
Then we met Eva. It was so lovely to see her. We hugged and laughed and all tried to talk at once before she took us to the Opera House restaurant for a slap up Swedish style lunch of gravalax, dill potatoes, meat balls with small red bitter-sweet berries, pickled cucumber and gorgeous crisp breads.
The restaurant which, was near the main box office, was turn-of-the-century grand yet intimate with leather sofa seats and a fabulous painted, pressed-moulded ceiling. You could imagine all the finery, gossip and the rumours of days gone by.
Afterwards we sat on a park bench in the sunshine in Kungstradgarden (the royal gardens) sipping Pols Roger champagne and eating fresh strawberries, both of which Eva had sweetly lugged with her on the train in a rucksack for 4.5 hours as a celebration of getting together again. Such fun. So many laughs.
In the afternoon we booked on a canal tour which took us on an hour’s watery wonderland discovery around the city with its nearby parklands and gardens. It was a great way to get a different perspective of this lovely city.
There are 14 islands in Stockholm separated by waterways. The cruise took in City Hall, The Royal Palace (and more) and some bucolic country scenes too.
All too soon it was time to bid a teary farewell to Eva and head back to Nynashamn on the shuttle bus.
Here we had a little walk, visited the fishing harbour, where we listened to some joyous live jazz, wondered what it might be like to live in Sweden, and finally went back to Sea Princess at 6.20pm ready for 7pm sailaway.
Snapshot of Stockholm
What a day!
Our snapshot of Stockholm was short and sweet, and we came away with lovely memories to cherish of this city made up of parks and gardens, fairytale castles, waterways and natural scenery.
But the highlight was re-uniting with my friend Eva and understanding how even though we’ve only seen each other three times in over 30 years, the power of Chrismas cards, Facebook and now Princess Cruises can help keep a relationship alive.
I’m a guest of Princess Cruises on Sea Princess, but all opinions are my own.
8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Stockholm
- Because it’s beautiful!
- To walk around the quaint streets of Gamla Stan.
- To visit Storkyrkan, the Cathedral of Stockholm.
- To Visit the Royal Palace and Armoury (it has over 600 rooms and several museums)
- To visit the Vasa Museum – the most visited museum in Scandinavia
- To take a photo of the Stockholm City Hall with its spire featuring the golden three Crowns – a famous silhouette in the city.
- Go to the Stockholm Ice Bar – made from pure ice from the Torne River in northern Sweden
- To go on a Canal Cruise.
Fast Facts for Trivia Buffs!
- Sweden’s capital city was founded in 1252
- Stockholm became the venue for the first Nobel Prize in 1901
- Sweden has the longest life expectancy of any country in Europe with an average of 80 years.
- One third of Stockholm is made up of parks and gardens.