Get set for the city of bridges, but don’t forget your umbrella

Newsroom 30/11/2009 | 00:00

So be prepared for a lot of rainy days throughout the year and to walk around the city wearing a raincoat or carrying an umbrella, a common sight on the little streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. In late November, temperatures are in the range of 4-8 degrees Celsius, but can reach an average low of minus five degrees Celsius. Among the things that strike the first-time traveler is the reduced amount of sunlight during autumn and winter. When planning walks in the city, bear in mind that the sun will set at 3pm, having risen at 9am during these seasons. But if you schedule your trip for the summer months, like June, you can see the sun rising at 3.30am and setting as late as 10pm! Around 800 kilometers from Bucharest, it takes at least four hours of flight and extra layover time between planes to get to Stockholm, as no carrier operates flights directly from Bucharest to the city. But once you get there – and it will take you only 20 minutes from the airport to the city center with the Arlanda express train – be ready to abandon conventional means of transportation and resume any past exercise regime, as one of the main ways of getting around downtown Stockholm is the bike. The city has created plenty of lanes for bicycle lovers and is home to many bike rental outfits. Most of the bridges in the city – and there are plenty of those too – can be crossed by bike if the weather is good. It’s useful to know in advance that Stockholm was built on 14 islands, each home to a different neighborhood in the city, and all are connected by bridges – as many as 50 throughout the city, all across Lake Malaren. In fact, the old part of Stockholm used to be called the city between the bridges, while the entire metropolis is sometimes called the Venice of the North. Foggy mornings and evenings are not a rarity there!Given the length of the trip from Bucharest to Stockholm and all the things worth seeing in the city, the Swedish capital is perhaps not ideal as a weekend getaway destination. If you can spare the time, take a week or so to see it, fitting in other Swedish cities as well. While in Stockholm, make sure not to miss the best known sights. On long walks in the old part of the city, which hosts several shopping drags, such as Vasterlanggatan and Stora Nygatan (gatan means street in Swedish), don’t miss the narrow streets connecting parallel thoroughfares in Galma Stan. Cities like Brasov and Sibiu have similar narrow passages, which in Stockholm’s old town can be seen everywhere. Some of these streets host nice little restaurants and bars. The shopping streets may be bustling at times, with tourists and locals alike, but the city itself is not crowded – a little more than 800,000 people live on around 188 square kilometers of land, and there are only 300,000 private cars in use. By comparison, Bucharest has around 2 million inhabitants on 228 square kilometers. Some 30 percent of the city is made up of water and another 30 percent green areas, making Stockholm one of the greenest European cities. A tour around town should include a boat trip – if you feel like going further afield, you can take a ferry to Helsinki in Finland, Riga in Latvia or Tallinn in Estonia. A cruise to Helsinki would take about 16 hours. It is in Stockholm where you can see probably the only museum in the world built entirely around a single ship. Vasa museum hosts an incredibly well preserved 17th century warship (so not a Viking vessel) which was built at the behest of King Vasa. Because the ship was too big to sail, it sank soon after taking to the water and was found in 1961 in Stockholm’s harbor. The Vasa museum should not be missed – the six-floored building which hosts the ship and the boat itself are awe-inspiring. 
corina.saceanu@business-review.ro

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