There are lots places to get a pretty panorama of Stockholm. We could hop on SkyView, that transports us to the roof of Ericsson Globe, the largest spherical building in the world. The transmission tower of Kaknästornet is another bird's eye beauty. And while drinking in the scene from this thirtieth floor's observation deck, we can also sip on a cocktail. Now that's my kind of a viewing platform.
But when given the option of either taking the easy route, or one that requires more exertion, my exuberant husband usually chooses the latter.
"You can do it," Brent encourages. "Only a hundred more steps to go." Is he kidding me? My heart is drum-rolling, quads are seizing and I'm regretting eating that buttery croissant for breakfast. But I continue to huff and puff my way skyward, through the brick-encased tunnels and up all 325 gruelling steps. And after summiting, I receive my visual reward.
Stockholm’s red-brick City Hall is one of the city's most recognizable buildings, and from this 106-meter (348-foot) tower we're offered a 360 degree panorama; Saltsjön, an inlet of the Baltic Sea is in the east, Lake Mälaren, lies to the west, the downtown hub is north and the island of Södermalm is south -along with many poplar landmarks that have made Stockholm a world-famous destination to visit.
Over the next three days we put out cross-trainers to work and enjoy closer encounters with a number of these tourist haunts. Thanks to our Stockholm Pass, one price provides admission to over sixty top attractions.
Gamla Stan, the island of Old Town, is a great place to burn off (and add on) the calories. Restaurants and bars intermingle with gift stores and souvenir shops that hug up along the narrow cobblestone streets. Founded in 1252, this medieval centre is one of Europe's best-preserved.
The largest attraction here is the Royal Palace, boasting over 600 rooms. We check out the Orders of Chivalry, gaze at Queen Kristina’s silver throne and learn about the Swedish monarchy while meandering through a maze of authentically furnished rooms.
"Let's try a cruise," I suggest to Brent on our second day, when looking at our pass options. "As well as the Hop On Off boats, there are lots to choose from. And while getting a different perspective of this amazing city, my feet will get some down-time."
A fleet of long boats moored in neighbouring harbours are equipped to deal with the bustling tourist trade. Some cruise under bridges, others through canals, others to islands. And while weaving their way through the waterways, they connect modern-day offerings with tidbits from the past.
We board the MS Östanå I, a 1906 traditional beauty with a turn-of-the-century feel. Seating encircles the outer deck, and it's here where we revel in the roving view. Around 30,000 islands, islets and rocks are scattered between Öregrund in the north to Landsort in the south. And each one possesses its own character and charm. Our guide, Elsa, provides an in-depth commentary along the way and while listening and learning about this beautiful region my resting feet are in their happy place.
But they get a grand finale workout on day three. Stockholm is a shopper's paradise and my guy likes to shop as much as he likes to walk. We stroll Biblioteksgatan where highfalutin names like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton rub elbows, then get into our comfort zone at Gallerian, a mall which boasts 28 thousand square meters of shops. But Drottninggatan is the queen bee street when it comes to popularity, prices and pickings. Throngs flood this pedestrian pathway bordered by every retailer imaginable.
"There are still amazing museums to check out," Brent says after we're shopped-out. He provides the run-down of his favourites; The Vasa, which showcases a sunken warship, the Nordiska that spans the Nordic lifestyles from the 16th century onward, and Skansen, the world's first open-air museum and zoo.
Our pass also gets us into Gröna Lund, Sweden’s oldest and largest amusement park that hosts 31 rides and attractions. "There are seven roller coasters," Brent says excitedly, as if he's 6 years old instead of 65. "And the Jet Liner is supposed to be a real screamer." Although we're two decades older than anyone else in line, we hop aboard this thriller which definitely wakes up our inner child. And as well as being treated to another pretty panorama on the first ascent, our lungs get a workout instead of our legs.
IF YOU GO:
PHOTOS by Jane & Brent Cassie and compliments of Soren Andersson
#1 Skyview in winter -Photo by Soren Andersson
#2 After 325 stairs, Jane comes to the top of the City Hall tower
#3 Old Town, is a great place to burn off (and add on) the calories
#4 Royal Palace interiors
#5 Posed in front of the MS Östanå I, a 1906 beauty
#6 pedestrian pathway bordered by every retailer imaginable
#7 The Vasa Museum #8 Gröna Lund Amusement ParkTravel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.TravelWritersTales.com
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