Wednesday, October 31, 2012

on to Stockholm

our flight was scheduled for just before 2 PM so we got up later for the good Haven breakfast and after that readied ourselves and checked out- we took a cab to the airport and when he made a mistake in the terminal turned off the meter (good dog!) thereby earning a better tip.

we had a snack while waiting for the flight as we knew there would be no lunch for us and our dinner reservation was for 8PM.  here is our last view of Helsinki- the airport- what a lovely place it was -

and then on to Stockholm- our one hour flight was completely uneventful.  we arrived and took the arlandia express train into central station from the airport.  I mention this for two reasons- I read something in a guide book I have never ever read before (we were using Rick Steves- who is about as upbeat about travel as they come)  so the first reason was because Steves said do not take cabs in Stockholm because in all the trips he has made here he has been ripped off by cab drivers of virtually all companies (he named one exception and gave the phone number) and secondly the airport is half way to Uppsala- and so is a forty five minute journey unless you take the express which travels at 120mph- and takes twenty minutes on its own dedicated track.  the static around the express train is the expense- but since we brilliantly are arriving on a weekend we can get a 2 for one deal that makes it much more palatable - actually at that price it was slightly cheaper than a cab and quicker than one too...

from the express train we went through the station to the t-bana (subway) to catch the subway one stop to near our hotel.  we got a bit of run around on the multi use ticket but finally got our purchase made and stamped (two tickets each for one way one stop!) so the card is good for eight one way trips (four each) and we worked it out just by coincidence that was exactly what we used!

so we got off at Gamla Stan (old town) stop just one stop away from the train station and walked about four blocks to our hotel off a tiny street- the Sven Vintappare.

the hotel is not recommended - and we mourned the loss of our Hotel Haven from Helsinki- three STEEP flights of turning stairs to get to our small room- one chair and two beds together (and if I sat on my side of the bed I had to pull up my feet if Phil wanted to go into the small bathroom because the door opened with not an inch to spare) - alas with hotels it is often just like real estate- location location location-
and here we are in the heart of Gamla Stan

luckily the staff at the hotel were all very nice and helped us up and down with the luggage. We settled in as much as we could (no luggage racks or places to store the suitcases outside of the bathroom - LOL) luckily this is also the last leg of our trip because there is no laundry service- actually no service at all as the cafe closes at 6 Pm and the one person who attends to the cafe and the "hotel" leaves then - you come and go with a code for the front door...

after a bit we went out to explore the area before dinner- we would come to learn about timing the forays to the outside world such that you returned as few times to the room as possible as the stairs were beyond treacherous- uneven steps at the bottom of each flight - sometimes too deep and sometimes to too shallow- I suppose to foil the potential thief- LOL

but Gamla Stan is charming- a few of the streets are touristy with  shops of "souvenirs" and downscale eateries of pizza and such but the side streets and lanes were full of old town cobblestone atmosphere-

right on our little lane is a shoemaker (above window) and a series book bookseller (below two photos)

a block away the hot dog truck has signs that are much easier to distinguish than the one in Helsinki- LOL

a local bakery

some store fronts:

no stuffed fish for these Swedes- they want cute and cuddly animals!


along the way we spy this store - Phil translates the name for me- it is "Emil Guirons Widow" - she originally sold hats the "hat store" now they sell coats (close enough)


and finally we stop for a hot chocolate in a place to warm up a bit as after the sun went down it got quite chilly- 

then after a trek up the three STEEP flights we headed out and down the three STEEP flights to dinner- LOL (I promise not to mention them again)

we were headed to Fem Sma Hus (five small houses) which is located across Gamla Stan in the cellars of five adjoining houses- it is warm and cozy and the food was excellent (one of three really nice dinners we had while in Stockholm - which also included Gastrologik - from the post on October 24th entitled "minds blown") 

my choice above and Phil's below:

we walked back through town and stopped for a few photos along the way- the streets were quiet until we got to the touristy street where a few bars had lots of patrons but our little lane was quiet as we keyed in the entry code and headed up to plan the next day.

yes, that is our hotel sign outlined in yellow - and our little lane based "home away from home" for the time we will be spending in Stockholm.

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