The first part of the 20-day journey includes Stockholm, Sweden.
From Philadelphia we took Iceland Air to Reykjavik Iceland where we transferred to the flight to Stockholm. A total of almost nine hours of flight time. Don’t expect many amenities on Iceland Air. And expect confusion when you get to Reykjavik airport.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and comprises fourteen major islands in Lake Mälaren, which flows into the Baltic Sea and is connected by 54 bridges. Unlike Venice, where the city is sinking, Stockholm is actually rising because of a phenomenon known as postglacial rebound. Here the land shifts in the absence of the weight of ice sheets from the last Ice Age. The effects of glacial rebound can be seen in some buildings where tilting is noticeable.
After a 25 minute drive from the airport to our hotel in the heart of Stockholm, we rested for an hour. Then we followed the path Stieg Larsson had forged in his Millennium Trilogy. This tour can be booked online. For the uninitiated, the first book in Larsson’s trilogy was originally titled “Men Who Hate Women” only for the original German publisher to change it into The girl with the dragon tattoo.”
The tour starts at #1 Bellmansgatan, Sodermalm, where the protagonist of the novel, Mikael Blomkvist, has his apartment. There is no street level entrance to the apartment. It is only accessible via a bridge on the second floor that crosses Bellmansgatan to the building.
From this point, the two-hour tour winds its way through the streets of Stockholm to some of the familiar spots from the novels. If you take this tour, you’ll meet some die-hard fans of Stieg Larsson’s work who will have all the details memorized. Polish up before you go.
Panoramic view and Stockholm station
For a fantastic panoramic view, walk from number 1 Bellmansgatan about a block and a half up Bastugatan until you see the sign for Monteliusvagen Street. Then hang a right turn and walk up the hill to this lofty panoramic view to the north including Gamla Stan (The City Between the Bridges). The city or old town as it is known today. Many other historical sites in the north and east of Stockholm are visible from this vantage point.
Stockholm Central Station is a sprawling complex where trains and buses depart. There is an excellent pedestrian arcade with many restaurants and shops. The station is worth seeing, both for the interior shops and the architecture both inside and out.
If you’re from an English-speaking country, you won’t have any trouble finding your way around the city. Almost all locals speak good English. Swedes generally start learning English around the age of seven.
Tours and the Swedish Photography Museum
A great way to see a lot in Stockholm is the Hop On, Hop Off buses. They will take you around much of the city between 10am and 6pm daily. You can even do a Hop On Hop Off boat ride as part of the bus tour for a few dollars more. If you make it to the boat, it will drop you off at one of the nine stops it makes.
For the photographer, get off the boat at the Södermalm stop and head to Photografiska (The Swedish Photography Museum). The museum and associated outdoor restaurant offer a great experience.
Opposite Photografiska is the small island of Kastellholmen. Here stands a small but prominent castle that almost rises from the lake. The castle is also called the Citadel. It has flown the Swedish naval flag continuously since 1665, indicating that the capital is still under Swedish control.
The shopping area
Stockholm has a lively shopping area that is frequented by both locals and tourists. With a million inhabitants in the center of Stockholm plus tourists, it can be a very busy experience almost anywhere. On the corner of Olof Palmes Gata and Drotninggatan is an Espresso House where we stopped for a coffee and some people watching. The throngs of shoppers were non stop all the time. We even witnessed a pedestrian and a driver get into an argument in the middle of traffic after the pedestrian made a disparaging remark to the driver of the vehicle.
Nobel Prize for Peace
Every year on December 10, the Nobel Prize ceremony takes place at the Concert Hall in Haymarket Square. Later that day, a dinner in honor of the winners will be held at City Hall. The only exception is the Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. This is because Nobel felt that Norway was the most peaceful country in the world as they had never started a war.
There is a lot to see and do in Stockholm. You could easily spend five days or more seeing all the sights and other points of interest.
In Stockholm, we board the ship that will take us to our remaining stops. The passage of Lake Mälaren takes about three hours and once we reach the Baltic Sea, the ship gets under way quickly. This trip to Helsinki takes about seventeen hours in total.
Editor’s Note: This is a four-part article by our reader, Bob McCormac. It includes a 20-day journey to the Scandinavian countries where the Vikings originated and left their mark on civilization. In most areas, those direct influences have long since been erased, but the impact on the cultures is still visible in every country.
Bob’s father was an avid hobby photographer who sparked Bob’s interest in photography. When he was about 10 years old, his father noticed his interest in what he was doing around taking pictures. He gave Bob an old ANSCO Readyflash camera that took 620 film. His father showed Bob the basics, which was how to load the film, click the shutter, and move the film to the next frame. He handed him a roll of film and said go try it.
That was the beginning, although it would be nearly fifteen years after that first experience before Bob’s interest returned measurably. Since 2011, he has pursued photography as more than a hobby and seemed to be creative in doing so.
Bob’s work can be found here: