Stockholm, Drottningholm, Mariefred, Norrkoping
54 days away
219 miles / 352 km since last post
3,565 miles / 5,737 km total
We had a later than usual departure from our campsite in Uppsala on Monday, as we needed to get our last blog post finished up - it made sense to use the wifi while we had it. So we arrived in Stockholm around mid afternoon. We had already decided we wanted to stay in Stockholm for a few days or so, and we made our way to a campsite straight away. We didn't much like the first campsite we found. It was right in the city but also next to a train line and seemed really noisy. The next one we found was much better - you still get a bit of noise, as it is in the city, but it was a much bigger site so more space and it seemed like the noise would die down in the evening.
As soon as we'd parked up we got ready to take the bikes off to the city, and it was a really easy ride too. There are ample cycle paths in Stockholm and we had a straight ride right into the centre. First impressions of Stockholm were really good. We took a ride up to a bit of a lookout over the city - some impressive buildings and architecture. It was late afternoon by this point but the sun was still shining, in fact the weather couldn't have been more perfect.
The great benefit of the bikes is that we can cover so much ground in a short space of time, so we did really well seeing The Royal Palace, a lovely church and some of the Old Town. I think we did well in only a few hours. As we started to get hungry we decided to head back to the campsite. I nipped in a supermarket to get some more Nutella, and thought it would be a good idea to get some beers too as they seemed quite reasonably priced. The price made more sense once Stu had a look at them and noticed they were non-alcoholic beers! Oh well, they did actually taste quite nice anyway.
On Tuesday we did much the same as the previous day, riding around the city seeing all the sights. We had considered going to the Vasa Museum today which came highly recommended from every guide on Stockholm, but we opted to do it the following day. We knew the weather was going to change and possibly rain, plus we wanted to come back with a rucksack rather than our Brompton bags as it would be easier to carry. This turned out to be a great decision, as Tuesday's weather was glorious and so a perfect day for being outside. Before heading back to the campsite in the evening we had a couple of, expensive but very much needed, cold beers by the water front.
On Wednesday I awoke to the fabulous news that Stu and I had become an Uncle and Aunt once again - our little niece Olivia Mae was born during the night back in the UK. Congratulations again Mark and Lorraine, and we can't wait to meet her.
Back in Stockholm, the weather forecast had been quite accurate. It was a cooler and cloudy start to the day with the odd spot of rain - perfect weather for the Vasa Museum! We got a rucksack ready rather than take the Brompton bags, and Stu managed to attach it to the front of his bike - then we headed off into Stockholm once again.
There was a huge queue winding its way outside and round the corner from the museum, but thankfully it looked a lot worse than it was and we were at the ticket counter within about 15 minutes.
The museum contains the Vasa, a ship which sank on her maiden voyage on 10th August 1628. The wreck was salvaged in 1961 after 333 years under the sea and is displayed in all its magnificent glory - it really is stunning. Apparently they sprayed the Vasa with PEG (polyethylene glycol) for 17 years after salvage. The PEG replaces the water in the cells of the wood to stop it shrinking. Vasa was then dried for 9 years and the water evaporated away, before the PEG on the surface of the ship is heated into the wood with hot-air guns - an amazingly long conservations project which still continues.
For what worked out to be just under £13 each, this museum was well worth it. It is set over five floors, all surrounding the Vasa itself. There were some great displays, items salvaged from the wreck etc. and it was great to get so close to the ship across all the floors. We spent the best part of the day in the museum - even lunch at the restaurant inside was really good. Once we left, the weather had improved greatly - no rain, and hot and sunny once more. We even spotted a red squirrel near the museum, although it scurried into the bush before Stu could get his camera ready.
Overall, we have thoroughly enjoyed Stockholm. It is a lovely city with lots to offer. It was also nice to stay in the same place for a few days as we felt able to relax a bit more, despite all the cycling about. Stu note: Make Stockholm a destination.
We left Stockholm on Thursday around midday, but only driving a few miles out of the city to Drottningholm Slott (Palace). Originally built in the late 16th century, this is the private residence of the Swedish royal family and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace gardens are were the main attraction for us, containing Baroque and English gardens. The baroque gardens contain lines of trees with some statues dotted around, while the English garden consists of ponds, canals and bridges also with some tree avenues and statues. They were very pretty and well maintained. We managed to get a good walk around them before it started to rain, and we headed back to the motorhome.
We decided to head to a campsite after lunch, a bit earlier than normal, but as the rain seemed set to continue we thought it would be a good opportunity to get some washing done. The campsite we found, positioned by the side of the Malaren lake, seemed to have the smallest washing machine in the world, but I did my best and managed to get most of it done. The rain continued heavily for the rest of the evening.
By Friday morning the weather had mostly cleared up - still mainly overcast but at least the heavy rain had gone. After the exciting jobs of empyting the toilet and filling up with water had been completed, we set off for MarieFred which is home to Gripsholms Slott (Castle) - one of the many castles dotted around the Malaren lake. Again we didn't have much interest in venturing inside but instead took a walk around, from where we could get the best views. The site of Gripsholms was originally a fortress built around 1380, until King Gustav I confiscated it and tore it down in 1526. He had a fortified castle built in its place, of which only the facade of a wall now remains. For a time it was used as a residence by the Swedish royal family, and at times a prison too. In the 1800s it underwent heavy restoration and it now remains as a museum for the public.
After our walk around and then some lunch we hit the road once more. We hadn't wanted to fill up our gas supply in Sweden as we knew it would be expensive, but since we had got extremely low on LPG we had no choice but to buy some. We found a small station which sold it, and the very friendly and chatty guy who worked there filled up our gas bottles - only with 10 litres though. We shall wait until we are back in Germany and the prices are reasonable again before we fill the full 45 litres.
The rest of the afternoon was spent driving further south, through some pretty countryside, and towards Norrkoping. Here we decided to find a campsite so we could catch up with our blog writing, pictures etc. and work out where we are going to stopping tomorrow as we continue our journey south.