Friday, 14 October 2011

Stockhom Day One

Wow, it's been a week since I left for Stockholm and came back. I've been busy since then with work, a presentation, catching up with sleep and my life in general. So, haven't had much time to update in the last five days. Eventful, eventful.

Last Thursday, right after my night shift I got home, showered and zipped off to the airport with my packed luggage. I reached an hour and a half before the gate was gonna close; I was nervous I'd miss the budget flight! Strangely, Stansted Airport was relatively quiet that afternoon compared to the times when I needed to rock up at 4am for a stupid 6am flight. I was in the departure lounge in like, 15 minutes of arriving?!? Gee, why did I ever book flights at ungodly hours?

Rather proud of my bus ticket
Survivor of an extremely nauseating journey where I held back any urge of throwing up onto the guy beside me.

The flight to Stockholm Skavsta took an hour forty five. A small terminal but a bit less basic compared to Leipzig Flughafen, Germany. The only way of getting for Skavsta to Stockholm was buy either taxi at a whooping £240 (approx) or by bus for a £25 return ticket (approx). OMG, I kinda realized WHY it was a budget airport on the bus; it was a crazy and nauseating two hour bus ride into Stockholm. When I got to the Central Station bus terminal, I had to sit around or collapse with nausea lest I risk being admitted to a Swedish hospital for investigation re: collapse. It was so mengecewakan (disappointing) to find out that Arlanda Airport was a 30 minute train ride to Central Station........... although it was consolation that RyanAir didn't fly there.
The sleek interior of Central Station, Stockholm
Unfortunately, some renovation works outside that didn't inspire picture-taking
Olympus OM-1N + 23mm Hoya OM fit
Three coffee shops within 10 metres of each other, Central Station, Stockholm
What was interesting in Central Station was the numerous independent swanky-looking coffee shops in every corner
Unlike National Rail Stations in England, Central Station wasn't dominated and monopolised by one rubbish looking coffee parlour. In the UK, that'd be AMT Coffee.. and maybe a Costa
Beautifully finished Vanilla Latte from the middle shop in the picture above...
And, I told the barista it was beautiful <3
Olympus OM-1N 50mm Macro 2:1
Finally, after wandering around Central Station and drinking the closest thing to sour - Orange Juice - I managed to persuade myself to find my hostel. I didn't quite survey or read the reviews on HostelWorld when I booked to stay at CityBackpackers Stockholm. The ratings were good and I was pretty confident that a Western European and Scandinavian hostel would provide a decent bed, shower, Wi-Fi and the all-importing heat. I learnt after Greece and Milan, nothing mattered if the place was: 1) clean and 2) warm. It was nice to discover my hostel was only a 10 minute walk from Central Station and nicely situated in the City area of Stockholm. I was super duper impressed with the interiors of the reception area.

City Backpackers,
Upplandsgatan 2a,
Stockholm 11123Sweden

The reception, outdoor lounge and several dorms are on the ground level whilst there were at least fifteen dorms on the lower ground. Pretty impressive revenue this place could generate.
Retro-modern and very functional interior and decor. There was a large weigh-scale useful for the backpacker trying to avoid an extra charge from RyanAir and many computer terminals to allow free (flight) ticket printing to avoid further (flight) charges, too.
Left: The upper landing/lounge where we had to remove our shoes according to Swedish custom before entering. Like!
Right: The outdoor lounge area which was a bit too cold and wet to sit out that day
The lounge area with a large flat-screen, four iMacs, two PCs, leading off to all the dorm rooms, WCs and shower rooms.
Kitchen area with lots of freezers. One for each dorm which are named after areas of  Stockholm
My 12 bed dorm, Grinda with a really dodgy combination door...
Left: My comfy bed! Was sooo ready to crash
Middle: View from my top bunk
Right: The other end of the dorm round the corner with wall sofas to watch the morning sun...
After an hour or two of checking-in, settling down and getting over the wow-ness of my hostel, I finally decided to go look for dinner. Bought a DK Stockholm Guidebook - which looked relatively out-dated judging by the 1980s and 1990s hairstyles of the people in the book - and it recommended a restaurant called Bakfickan some where in the City area which it gave two dollar signs. Plus, the book also recommended trying the Swedish meatballs which I was craving for.

Operakallaren Bakfickan
Kungliga Operan
Karls XIIs Torg
111 86 Stockholm
Not quite so easy to find, this resutaurant is  situated close (actually beside) opera houses and is popular with opera-goers. The Swedish guy who sat beside me at the bar was telling his new-found American buddies that it was one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Stockholm. Lucky me!
Olympus OM-1N 50mm Macro 2:1
Was the lone loser sitting at the bar and admiring the 'pelapik' (cover). I think all the couples felt sorry for me. Lol. Was I bothered? Not really.
Olympus OM-1N 50mm Macro 2:1
I was offered a selection of many different breads and crisps breads with butter before my main dish of veal and pork Swedish meatballs arrived with an accompaniment of pickled juniper berries and cucumbers.
Olympus OM-1N 50mm Macro 2:1
Rawr!!! All this for a reasonable 160 Swedish Krona.
I loved the sweet juniper berries and the freshly picked cucumber was just the sour thing I craved.
The sauce was lovely albeit a bit salty but this was offset by the meatballs and rich mashed potatoes. Was pretty stuffed by the end and couldn't bear dessert, unfortunately.
If you said Scandinavia was expensive, you haven't lived in London.....
Olympus OM-1N 50mm Macro 2:1
And, I left with a full stomach, happy, satisfied and wondering what beef tartare tasted like before knocking out back at the hostel.... to look forward to Day Two in Stockholm.

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