Category Archives: travel in Scandianvian countries

There is spring in the air :)

Sun is shining, birds are singing but there is still a lot of snow on the streets… This time some images from Riga, Latvia. I would say – waiting for the summer!

Park in the front of Latvian University, Riga, Latvia

Park in the front of Latvian University, Riga, Latvia

Freedom Monument in the central part of Riga

Freedom Monument in the central part of Riga

Old Town of Riga, called Vecriga

Old Town of Riga, called Vecriga

Streets of Old Town

Streets of Vecriga - Old Town of Riga

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Iceland volcano awake once more

This is happening again – some of Iceland’s volcano has awaken and stopping the air traffic in northern parts of Europe with huge ash clouds. Though this is happening second time and airlines already have some experience after last years ash eruption in Iceland, KLM, Easyjet, BA and Eastern Airways have canceled some flights today, May 23 and for tomorrow, May 24.

Mainly there will be disruptions of certain flights following a Civil Aviation Authority warning. To avoid effects of ash clouds there will be canceled flights between London and Scotland, Arctic Island, Greenland and Denmark. Of cource many travelers in Iceland, and UK are wondering how to get home or how this will effect some other travel arrangements, but generally people seem to be more calm.

The good thing is that people learn from their experience. After last years volcano eruption, when there was no air traffic in most of European countries for a week and many travelers were stuck in airports, this time authorities do not predict chaos as seen a year ago. Scientists say ash seems to be more heavy and fall back to earth but winds directions are more favourable…

A year ago many people learned about Iceland much more than in years before and even set a competitions how to pronounce a ‘Eyjatjallajokull‘ (that was a name of active volcano). This year a task with the name is kind of easy – ‘Grimsvotn‘…

Here are some interesting links to more information and images from Iceland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMStcqHfwQ4

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389639/Iceland-volcano-2011-Flights-Scotland-cancelled-ash-drifts.html

Traveling Sweden? Explore Stockholm on budget.

Everyone knows that Scandinavian countries are expensive (if to compare with the rest of Europe or US). After returning from long weekend getaway in Stockholm I can say that is possible to travel around the Sweden without a spending a fortune.

Stockholm View from Katarina lift view platform

Stockholm from Katarina lift view platform

Here are 3 suggestions that will save you some money during the trip to Stockholm and sightseeing the area:

1. Use some of the Europe’s low cost airlines for getting to Stockholm.

I did travel with Ryanair for the first time. Round trip cost me around $50 but if to buy tickets in few months advance then you can find even less. It takes to the Skavsta Airport that is around 100km away from the Stockholm. But there is a direct bus service organized & it takes around 1 h 20 min to get to the Stockholm. Tickets are sold at the Airport or you can get them online from Flygbussarna website.

2. For my stay I did pick one of the Scandic Hotels.

This is a popular Scandinavian hotel brand that has hotels in Northern Europe as well. What comes to these hotels they have a special offer for 2 or 3 night stays on weekends. So you can get 20 up to 35% discount if booked at the Scandic website.

Scandic Hotels

One of the Scandic Hotels in Stockholm.

Besides, why I like these hotels is that there is always free breakfast, free internet access and fitness facilities on site or near by area included in price. What comes to the Stockholm, then in summer time they are offering a bikes for sightseeing the city as well.  There are several Scandic Hotels in Stockholm, so you can choose any depending on destination area needed.

3. What comes to sightseeing then there are two options.

One – get Stockholm Card (1 day450 SEK or  two days 525 SEK) and have access to most of the museums and public transport for free. But I would suggest think ahead what are you interested to do in Stockholm. Count the admission prices and see maybe you can just buy a 24h public transport card for 100 SEK and get separate tickets to few museums. This is an option two.

This is what I did during my stay. First of all I had two days of sightseeing. Since downtown of Stockholm is pretty compact & you can walk simple walk  from place to place. Gamla Stan (Old Town) the place for a walk anyway. So I got this 24h public transport card, activated it on afternoon so I could use it on next day as well.

What comes to museums, then I decided to go to the Royal Palace.  Single admission ticket to any of three  Palace venues costs 100 SEK but you can get a combined ticket for 140 SEK. Besides there are 2 guided tours (English & swedish) included in ticket price as well.

Stockholm's Royal Palace

Stockholm's Royal Palace

 If you decide to visit Royal Palace on Sunday, then there are special Changing of the Guard ceremony at 12pm with horses. So you can easily spend more that tree hours in and around the Royal Palace. Than take a walk in Gamla Stan and go to the Katarina lift for a nice views of Stockholm’s downtown.

My other day I mostly spent in Djurgarden – a big island with a lot of museums and outdoor recreation areas. Depending on your choice, you can visit Skansen ( 70 SEK), Vasa museum or take a tram further on in island and go to Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde (100 SEK). This is how I spent my second sightseeing day in Stockholm.

If to count all my expenses for these two days, total cost of Stockholm’s sightseeing for me was 340 SEK (240 SEK for museums and 100 SEK for public transport card). Well, I was taking this trip kind of easy (with late breakfasts) but I did a lot of walking around the central part of Stockholm. And yes, I did some shopping as well 🙂

Of course, there is much more to do & to see in Stockholm but if you decide to visit more museums, than there will be no time for visiting Djurgarden.  Last thing what comes to Stockholm sightseeing is that there are City Bikes available for a rent. Hire a bike for 3 days just for 125 SEK & you are free to travel from one place to other.

Stockholm City Bikes

Rent Stockholm City Bikes from April 1 till October 31

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Visiting Stockholm. Day 2 – Outdoor Activities

Stockholm is build on 14 islands. Water cover on third of the city area. If to compare with other European travel destinations Stockholm often is called Northern Venice. Therefore a lot of sightseeing includes boat trips, ferries and crossing many bridges.
On my todays route thee was just one because I was going to Djurgarden. Island where you can find Skansen, Vassa Musseum, Junibacken and Tivoli. To get there you can go by ferry, bus or tram.  I took the tram N 7 – though there is just one line for it.

Stokholm's Tram N7

Stokholm's only Tram N7 Sergels Torg - Djurgarden

My idea was to go till the last stop & then I’ll see – go to the Skansen or there are some other things to do.  As day was really nice & sunny, many local people were heading same way. Because there is a big public park ( actually sometimes it was like forest) there but place was very nice.


People use it for a walks, runs, hikes, biking. If you are looking for some kind of fitness activity – it takes around 2 hours to get around the island. And as everywhere in the parks around the city – a lot of people are just sun tanning. Or setting themselves for the picnic…

Stockholm. Outdoor Activities

Stockholm. Outdoor Activities at the Djurgarden

Stokholm. Sculptures at the Prince Eugens Waldermarsudde

Sculptures at the Prince Eugens Waldermarsudde

If you have come so far – one of the places worth to visit is Prince Eugens Waldemarsudde. Formerly the residence of Prince Eugen (1865-1947) now this place is popular art museum. There are around 7000 works of sculpture, painting and craft.

Besides a selection on Prince Eugene own works, there are works from collections and temporary exhibitions. Entrance fee of 100 SEK is worth to pay for the visit to this mansion ( though there are a lot of sculptures in a garden around the main buildings). Afterwards take a walk around the area. The translation of Djurgarden is Game Park…

But at the end of long day with a lot of sunshine, there was one more thing to enjoy. Take a look yourself 🙂

Stockholm. Blossom Trees at the Kunstradgarden

Stockholm. Cherry blossom trees at the Kunstradgarden

 

Sightseeing in Stockholm. Day 1

After yesterdays walk around central part of Stockholm I decide start with  a visit to the Royal Palace.  Maybe it ‘ s influenced by last years royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria but some how it feels good place to start. With live broadcasting of this event Stockholm got a lot of attention and introduction.

I begin my Royal Palace sightseeing by visiting Church  Service in Royal Chapel. I’m not really religious person but this the way to see this wonderful Chapel in Royal Palace. In summer it will be open for public but right now it is open to public just during the services on weekends (or special events like Easter).

Afterwords at 12pm there is a Guards Change ceremony &time to get a tickets for the entrance into Palace.  If visiting all three – the Royal Apartments, The Treasury and The Tre kronor Museum – there is a special combine ticket for 140 SEK. At 1pm there are a guided tours in The Treasury and at 2pm in the Royal Apartments (in English). Why not to use the offer included in ticket price 🙂

It is not allowed to take a pictures inside the Royal Palace because of copyright of the Royal Collections. you have to believe me – it was nice & worth it. I liked  guided tours as well. Both of them last for 40min, with a lot of interesting information about Swedish Royalty and  some Scandinavian history. Visit to The Tre Kronor Museum is the shortest one because museum itself is small  – several rooms dedicated to the original Tre Kronur Palace in Stockholm, destroyed in big fire back in 1697.

Afterwords I go through narrow streets of Gamla Stan to Slussen area for Katarina Lift but it is closed and I have another physical  activity by climbing up to the sightseeing platform.

Then to make my Swedish experience complete I the rest of the afternoon I spend shopping. You can find many big shopping centers in Stockholm but I wish to visit IKEA – one of the Swedish well known trademarks. If you wish to stay somewhere close to central part of the city  H&M, Ahlems are so big that it is easy to lose some time there.

Since this is Easter time I have ti keep in mind that everything has shorter working hours. But anyway, getting back to the hotel before 9pm sounds good. Because after long day of sightseeing bubble bath & sauna sounds tempting  and very relaxing 🙂

Hello Stockholm

Today was my first day here in Stockholm. I would call it arrival day 🙂

This time for my trip I’ m using Ryanair. To be honest I have to say that I was a little bit afraid because of some stories about bad service and so on. But to my surprise I can’t say anything bad about the Ryanair or service during / before/ after the flight.

Maybe it more concerns people who are traveling with low-cost airlines… Most of the people in my flight looked like regular travelers but few men were a little bit drunk & wanted to have conversation with some girls. …but the girls were mad because their luggage was taken away as too big for carry-on. Whole situation was kind of funny (I was sitting in opposite row) but otherwise nothing bad for this flight.

After arrival at the  Skavsta Airport everything went fast I was pretty soon already on aboard of bus taking me to the Stockholm center. But on the way bus had some technical problems (which only drivers knows what – but Sweden is Sweden ) and we stopped to wait for another bus to come.

During the bus ride (normally 1h20min) I started conversation with lady sitting next to me. At first it was because of the bus problem, then what they are doing here in Sweden & so on. Turned out the lady kind of knows someone I know … all this sounds like a regular conversation but the woman was speaking just Italian…

Never thought that while going to Sweden I’ll start to remember my Italian… it’s not that I speak fluently or remember everything but it turns out when it’s needed everything comes back itself. But I like the language itself therefore will have to think about some language studies… preferably in Italy 🙂

So finally we arrived in Stockholm just after 4pm. One thing that I’m very happy about is nice sunshine here in Stockholm. When traveling around & doing sightseeing weather is important factor. So – it’s sunny, bright afternoon… I found the way to my hotel & went for a walk. It turned longer that I expected but it was nice. Went to Old town – Gamla Stan. After this walk I have more or less some understanding where everything is located and I’m ready for serious sightseeing tomorrow 😉

Three things that show that spring has come (for those who don’t know) to Northern Europe and Sweden particularly :

1. In Stockholm many water fountains are working already;

2. Stockholm City Bikes are out for hire. Very reasonable offer – 3 days for 125 SEK. To keep this price with no penalties, bike has to be returned or changed after 3 hours. If you stay longer – seasons ticket cost 250 SEK .  As I did see today this service is very popular amongst tourists & some local people as well;

3. & to know for sure that spring is here – there were some trees blossom already in Kungstradgarden & a lot of people enjoying the view & sunshine in open air cafe around the park area.

First impressions about Stockholm? Very nice, tourist friendly Scandinavian city. It is Easter time but many tourist attractions, museums & shops are open. Everywhere are street signs so it is easy to find directions. Actually today I met more tourists wandering around with the maps. And I was one of them…  🙂

P.S I wish I could upload the pictures but forgot the connection cord at home … ups