Friday, 15 July 2011


In Stockholm, staying at the (thankfully ex-)Langholmen prison. This was a complete surprise as it said nothing in the accommodation booklet we chose it from at the airport. Sandy’s initial freakout was balanced by Anna’ thinking it was kind of cool! It is an interesting conversion- the room is 2 of the cells with the wall taken out, and the bathroom is half another cell. Unfortunately the windows are too high and small to see out of, except standing on a stool. The walls are two feet thick, and all the doors in the place clang shut very firmly. Interesting they provide a ladder, and instructions on what to do if you get trapped in your room. Mind you the ladder may be just for the bunk bed.

The prison has its own island across the water from the centre of town. One of the bridges to the city actually does a flyover the island. The old staff houses and some other old renovated buildings have beautiful gardens full of fruit and vegetables. It is now a parkland with a swimming beach and many people having picnics with the rabbits and squirrels. The day is warm and Anna has put away her warm Iceland clothes and is wearing her cotton dress and sandals for the first time.

We had a good flight from Iceland with a fantastic view including all of the glaciers which was spectacular and made up for the other day when we failed to see more than the lower fringe of the Snaefell glacier we travelled two days to visit due to heavy cloud cover. It was the one used at the start of the journey to the centre of the earth film.

 We flew right over areas we had been very curious to see, along the southern edges of the three larger and one of the smaller glaciers. It was like having a scenic flight over Iceland included free. Over the sea and  Norway was under thick cloud and then Sweden emerged between puffy white clouds all green and forested and nothing like Iceland which is mostly barren and the most unique place imaginable.

Stockholm has an archipelago of around 30,000 islands, so many parts of the city are on the surrounding islands.  The city is around 60km from the open sea, but with a harbour for large ships, and the big surprise came when we went swimming at the local beach to find that the water is fresh. 
Salander's Top Floor Pad

Many islands have specific uses, such as Langholmen for the prison, the old city on Gamla Stan, the garden island of Djurgarden, and the funky Sodermalm, site of much of the action in the Millennium Trilogy. In fact we did the Millennium walk to see the various locations used in the books, including the Millennium offices, Mikael Blomkvist’s apartment and Lisbeth Salander’s multi-million apartment overlooking the harbour.

Took the ferry service to Vaxholm Island, with its old fortress, and where the locals go for a day out, if they do not have a summerhouse on their own island. The ride was remarkable for the number and diversity of islands, some barely more than a suburban block, and supporting a house, a landing, numerous trees and the Swedish flag, but also ones which were uninhabited.

We chose the ferry ticket including coffee and waffles and after a hot sunny walk found ourselves at an historic café with the largest cake selection imaginable where we enjoyed our waffles with a beer in the garden and then meandered around the town discovering a sculpture park and local gallery with an exhibition opening of painted glass works in progress and ended our circuit back at the harbour. We found the local swimming spot we’d been overlooking from the café and enjoyed a swim finishing a lovely day out with a return visit to the café for some of their cake and coffee.

On our last sightseeing day the clouds came in and the weather turned cold and we had a long outing to find the Modern Museum of art, and were not interested in the exhibitions once we finally arrived so we got on the ferry to Djurgarden island. Having misread the map we did two round trips of the 3 stop journey around the harbour- the funniest thing about the experience being the sign on a ship at the harbour saying “Ship Happens…” We finally got off at our stop and enjoyed walking in the gardens.

Much of the public sculputre was small and uninteresting after the feast of Iceland, but we did find a couple of really enjoyable pieces.

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