Travel: Stockholm

Lucy Montague Moffatt takes us beyond Ikea to explore the beauty of Sweden with it's capital city, StockholmIf you are looking for beautiful buildings, beautiful people and beautiful weather, then Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is the perfect place to visit. A city that is brimming with hidden gems, history, picturesque landscapes and, to top it all off, almost everyone speaks perfect English. In fact, it might become slightly frustrating when trying to practice the few key Swedish phrases you learned on YouTube as most people will talk back in English, spoken with an American accent picked up from the television.Another frustrating thing is that nearly everyone is beautiful. You personally might not find this annoying but you might also be lying to yourself. During the summer, blonde haired beanpoles skip around the capital, their tanned toes peaking out of fresh Birkenstocks. In the winter, chiselled business men saunter through the underground tube in big wool jackets with the intense stare of an underwear model. If The Millennium trilogy has taught us anything, it is that all Swedes are hot. I’m sure Larsson would be proud.The city itself consists of two main bays, which cut into the city, holding ferries and large cruise liners and tourist boats in the shape of Viking Ships; think the Viking Splash tour but actually in a boat and not in a weird car-float thing, and in the sea, as oppose to a polluted section of the docks.What’s great about Stockholm is that it’s really easy to get around. There’s the Tunnelbana (underground trains), which are a cheap and cheerful way to get places. Some stations are decorated with objects that were found when the underground was being built, and a lot of them have kept the natural cave-like features. There’s no right angles here! It’s all jagged rock and lovely slime. Boats are your other transport option, and also one of the best ways to see Stockholm. Some of the nicest buildings look out on to the bays, and some of the top museums are located at boat stops.So now you’ve travelled around on your various modes of transport, but where are you going? Where everyone goes on city breaks, silly: To the museum. And there are some great ones to pick from. The Vasa Museum is dedicated to a ship named Vasa that sank a few minutes after departing from Stockholm’s bay (how embarrassing!). Years later they hauled it up from its watery grave and now it hangs from the ceiling of this huge room. Think Titanic, but really up close, without an oxygen mask in your way, and less famous. You can spot the museum across the bay as they used the sails to decorate the roof of the building, so it looks like a ship. It’s all very epic, and what more do you want from a museum other than epicness? Nothing.Right around the corner is Skansen, which might be the best place in the world (once everyone in the world votes this can be confirmed). It mixes the two of the most popular tourist sites: it is a zoo and an outdoor ‘living’ museum in one! It is the ultimate tourist mash-up. You can stroll around this park-like wonderland, coming across something new at every turn. It might be a crazy Scandinavian animal such as an elk or an angry wolf, behind a fence of course. Or a little wooden village, made to look like it did in the olden times, complete with a working bakery, windmill, post office and townspeople dressed in bonnets and calf-hugging trousers. You can step into their little living history houses and ask the elderly woman churning butter about her life in the 1770s and she will tell you all about her everyday chores. Whist walking around a random green area you might happen to be greeted by the in-house traditional dancers that frolic through the undergrowth in traditional dress with a fiddler in tow. Joy!Skansen is located on a hill and if you wander to the top you can look down at the beautiful views of the bay and the city, and the theme park which is located conveniently right next to it, providing a soundtrack of screaming people to your ambles around the zoo. The theme park is Gruna Lund and is kitted out with a new ride every year. Its biggest attraction is the Fritt Fall, which is Europe’s highest freefall. If you like the sensation of every organ in your body rising up into your mouth in a sudden jolt then this is not to be missed. Some other great rides provided are the Fun House, which makes you giggle the whole way through, no matter what age you are, and the Haunted House, with its very own actor ghosts and witches who are way too good at their job.If just a simple wander around the city is more to your fancy, get the Tunnelbana to Gamla Stan, the old town. It features cute cobbled streets and the best waffles you ever did taste. Make sure to buy a Pippi Longstocking memento, because when in Sweden...There are cafés and restaurants galore, just know that Stockholm can be very expensive. Bring many bags of coins if you plan to wine and dine your way through a fancy holiday.The one place that should be avoided is the Ice-Bar. Yes, it is made of ice, yes you get to wear a cool shiny cape when you go into it and yes the millions of photos you can take of you licking ice Dumb and Dumber style in your allotted forty minutes look cool on Facebook, but in reality it is just a weird cold room at the side of a hotel that you want to leave immediately because it is so cold but can’t as you’ve paid lots of money to be there.