A Trip To Stockholm

For those patient enough to still be reading my blog, I’ll give you a treat. Three posts in one day. Hopefully, you like at least one of them.

So I had to go to Stockholm for a short weekend trip. We have our data center here and, my being new and all and us having some work to be done at odd hours, my coworker Ben and I scheduled a trip to Stockholm. Our plan was to get up very early on Saturday, rebuild a server and do some general maintenance and check out our little world in Sweden. I won’t bore you with the details, but we had one day scheduled for work and another day just in case things got ugly.

Fortunately, things did not get ugly and the work portion of the trip ended smoothly. Which left me a day to set out and explore a new city. While I’m pretty sure I’ll be back here at least once or twice, I wasn’t running around going “holy shit! What am I going to do with one day!” but I wanted to take in a sizeable chunk of the city. I decided that renting a bike would be the best option as it’s not a huge city and a bike allowed me to get a good sample of a very nice city.

Stockholm is divided into a number of sections (as a tourist, I’ll focus on the city centre). Gamla Stan is the original part of the city. With some hindsight, the government was able to preserve it with all it’s lovely buildings, churches and winding medieval streets. The same can’t be said for Norrmalm. In the 1950s-1970s, the city thought it was a good idea to tear down huge sections of the old buildings in this section (just north of Gamla Stan). As a result, there is a decent amount of not-so-pretty modernist buildings. But there is also some interesting modern stuff as well. Södermalm is south of Gamla Stan. It’s the bohemian edgy part of town (but bohemian and edgy in Sweden is pretty darn clean and well thought out. None of that converted warehouse kind of vibe. Just coffee shops and people with alternative looks). Östermalm is the ritzy part of town (West of Gamla Stan — some of you might catching a pattern in the naming of things in this part of Stockholm). It has some wide boulevards and expensive housing. Finally, there is DjurgÃ¥rden, an island west of Gamla Stan that has remained quite un-developed and has a lot of nice parks and trails.

In order to see all of this, I found a bike rental place on DjurgÃ¥rden. I took a four hour ride through all sorts of areas. It’s a very pretty city. It has a German/North European feel to it, with lots of dark roofs and pointed decorations on places like the churches. Each of the areas had it’s own feel (very old in Gamla Stan, newer and modern in Normmalm and so on). If you want to see 100 photos of the place, I have a slideshow here. My next post will have a selection of pictures for those who have no interest in a bunch of vacation photos :).
Some random thoughts. Even in April, it stays VERY light here for a long time. The sun was spreading light by 4:30am and it didn’t get dark until 9:00pm. I feel like an ass because I know absolutely no Swedish (I know a little more now) and people here know English soooo well. I know it’s been said that in this country people don’t mind that no one knows their language, but it’s still embarrassing to not even try to me. It’s also interesting how much my intense efforts to think like someone living in the UK have paid off. It took me most of yesterday to remember which side of the road cars were coming from (same side as the US) and I was converting Swedish Kroner into Pounds, not dollars. And I kept saying cheers instead of thanks (or Tack — thanks in Swedish).

Sweden really does live up to a lot of its reputation. It’s very well laid out, clean and the drivers are the most sane I’ve seen anywhere in Europe. It’s a bit of a shock coming from the chaos of London. Even the train from the airport was efficient. The airport is about 25 miles from the city and it took 20 minutes to get there (the train was going 200+ km/hr most of the ride!).

Food so far has actually been Belgian. For some reason, both places Ben and I decided to eat served a huge variety of Belgian beer and food. But it’s pretty heavy stuff, so I think dinner will be lighter. 🙂
Anyway, I enjoyed my first European maintenance day and it was nice to have a day to explore a very nice city. I’m not leaving until the morning, but this would be most of my trip in a nutshell.
Pictures are next!

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