Stockholm

Stockholm

Address of Ship Berth

There are a few different locations where your ship might be docked in Stockholm.  The largest ships will be moored at a buoy in the harbour with direct tender service to Gamla Stan (the Old Town).

Most ships are berthed either at Stadsgårdan 160 or 165/167.  Though these berths are not as centrally located, you will find tourist information, telephones, internet access, souvenir shopping and mailbox services located on the quay.  Gamla Stan is 20 minutes’ walk away, the city centre a further 10 minutes.  A taxi or bus will get you there in 10 minutes.  The nearest Tunnelbana ( or T-bana, the Stockholm underground) station is Slussen and is less than 10 minutes by foot.  Fans of Swedish pop music will be pleased to know that the long-awaited ABBA museum is due to open right on the south quay in June 2009.

The smallest cruise ships will be docked at Nybroviken 5.  Though this quay does not offer specific tourist facilities, it is located directly in the city centre, and is only about 5 minutes away from Gamla Stan.

Useful phrases in Swedish

Sweden tends to be a rather informal nation, where, outside the military, last names are nearly completely unused.  Also, English is nearly universally spoken (especially in a large city such as Stockholm), so making yourself understood should not be a problem.  Nevertheless, the following phrases may be useful:

English                                                  Swedish (Pronunciation)

Hello                                                      Hej (Hey)

Goodbye                                             Hej då (Hey daw)

Yes                                                         Ja (Yaw)

No                                                          Nej (Ney)

Please                                                   Snälla (Snell-a)

Thank you                                           Tack (Takk)

Excuse me                                          Usäkta (OO-shek-ta)

How to get around

As mentioned above, the Tunnelbana, or T-bana, is Stockholm’s underground system.  Its three lines are identified by colour and cover most of the downtown area and surrounding suburbs.  Buses are also numerous in the downtown area.  As buses are operated by the same company as the T-bana, one set of tickets can be used for both.  Tickets can be purchased for single journeys, or in a cachet of 10 or 20.  All-day passes are also available.  Tickets must be validated by having them stamped by a validation machine before entering the trains.  A one-zone ticket purchased at a vending machine costs 30 SEK, a one day travelcard, by comparison, is a good buy at 100 SEK.  If you are travelling with children or young people under 20, or if you are 65 or older, keep in mind that those are entitled to a reduced ticket, which will save you about 40%.  Further information can be found at www.sl.se.

Katarina Kyrka

If you are planning to make the most of your visit to Stockholm, a Stockholm card may be a good option.  A 24-hour card costs 330 SEK for adults and 160 SEK for children and entitles the bearer to unlimited use of public transport, free admission to 75 museums and attractions (including the royal palace and the Vasa museum).  More information can be found at www.stockholmtown.com.

Taxis are an option, but tourists have been known to be overcharged.  Remember to know exactly where you want to go and to ask the driver approximately how much that will cost in advanced.  Two reliable companies are Taxi Stockholm (telephone: 150000) and Taxi Kurir (telephone: 300000).

Lastly, if you wish to venture out into the islands and towns of the archipelago, there are a variety of ferries to choose from.  These depart from Strömkajen and Strandvägen in the city centre.  Guided boat tours are also available in a variety of languages.

Do’s and don’ts – cultural, social legal

Sweden is a fairly easygoing country, and should not provide any problems for travellers.  First and foremost, last names have hardly been used in Sweden since the du reform of the 1960s.  Nowadays, anyone, save the King, can be addressed by first name, using the informal pronoun du.

You should never feel obliged to tip in Sweden, as service charges are usually included in restaurants.  If you’ve had a particularly nice meal, 5-10% is completely sufficient.  At bars and in taxis, tipping usually only means rounding up so as to avoid taking small coins with you.

At restaurants it is not unheard of to be seated at a table with strangers.  Do not feel you have to engage with them, it is correct simply to act as if they were not there.  Also, to summon a waiter, simply make eye contact; hand and arm waving is not socially acceptable.

If you should get into conversation with a Swede, beware that it is considered very rude to criticise any aspects of Sweden such as the performance of its football team.  On the other hand, compliments about the country or city will be very well received, as long as they are sincere.

Other travel information

Currency

The currency of Sweden is the kronor, abbreviated SEK or kr. As of August 2008, the rate of conversion was about £1 = 11.86 SEK, €1 = 9.35 SEK and US$1 = 6.35 SEK.  It is divided into 100 öre, the smallest coin is the 50 öre coin.  A good guide is that any price divided by 10 is roughly the price in pounds sterling.

Opening Hours

Gamla Stan

Museums tend to be open 10.00 to 17.00 or 18.00, though many have one day a week (often a Tuesday or Thursday) when they are open later, often until 20.00.  Attractions such as the Royal Palace will not be open as long, and can close as early as 15.30.  Large stores are open from about 10.00 to 20.00 during the week, closing at about 18.00-19.00 at weekends.  Smaller stores and galleries are likely to have shorter hours.

Emergency Services

The number to phone in emergencies is 112.  Police cars are white and, as in Britain, feature a blue and day-glow-yellow check pattern on the sides.  Police uniforms are very dark blue with clear Polis markings and feature a black beret.

Public facilities

Stockholm is not blessed with a great many public toilets.  If you do happen to find one, bear in mind that there usually is a 5 SKR charge for their usage, and that the cleanliness standards are not up to the usual Swedish immaculacy.  All in all, the best way forward is to use the facilities in pubs and restaurants.  For a handy guide to toilets in Stockholm, or to share your own toilet experiences, see http://www.thebathroomdiaries.com/sweden/stockholm.html.

Dagens rätt

A good way to start a quick excursion into the world of Swedish cuisine is the dagens rätt, which is a daily lunch special on offer at most restaurants and cafes.  Besides usually being seasonal, plentiful and decidedly Swedish, these dishes are usually quite inexpensive, and often include a beverage.

A note on alcoholic beverages

In Sweden, any beverage with an alcohol content of less than 3.5% is legally treated as a soft drink.  These weak alcoholic beverages (often beers and ciders) can be purchased in supermarkets and other unlicensed shops.  The upshot of this is that visitors wanting a normal-strength beer should be careful to order a stark (strong) beer to avoid disappointment.

Context

The Guards

Royalty

The king of Sweden is King Carl XVI Gustav.  Since the latest constitution in 1974, the King’s position has become largely ceremonial, with even duties such as the appointment of the Minister of State passed to the Speaker of the Parliament.  Recent state reforms have also affected the life of Princess Victoria, who, according to Swedish law, had to relinquish the title of crown prince(ss) to her younger brother in 1979, until a change in the law in 1980.

Sweden’s kings have, of course, not always been figurehead.  Sweden’s first king, Gustav Vasa, is seen as the father of the nation, after having expelled Danish troops from the country in 1523, thereby effectively ending the Kalmar Union and beginning his 37 year reign.  During his reign the conflict with the Catholic Church began, which would continue throughout the Thirty Years’ War.  The Vasa family also contained several notable warriors, including Gustav II Adolph, who managed to expand Sweden to be Europe’s third largest nation; his armies even reached southern Germany.

Carl XVI Gustav is a member of the Bernadotte dynasty, started by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was created Crown Prince in view of the old king’s age and the lack of a suitable heir.  Upon succeeding to the throne in 1816, he became quite possibly the only monarch to have ‘Death to the King’ tattooed on his arm (something which was more fashionable during the French revolution than at the Swedish court).  The King works in Stockholms Slott (the Royal Palace), which is open to the public, where you can tour the state apartments, view the crown jewels and see some first-rate museums.

Politics

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy.  The government is currently headed by Statsminister (prime minister, or literally Minister of State) Fredrik Reinfeldt, who lead his Moderate Party (equivalent to the British Conservatives) to victory against the Social Democrats (equivalent to British Labour), who have governed Sweden for most of the post-war period.  Both of these parties, however, need coalition partners among the smaller parties to govern.  The Centre Party and the Christian Democrats traditionally bolster the Moderate numbers, while the Left Party and the Greens usually ally with the Social Democrats.

The Prime Minister leads the largest party in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament.  This body has undergone significant changes recently, with the abolishment of the upper chamber in 1971, and the introduction of a new constitution in 1974, which transferred any last remnants of executive power from the king to the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament.

Sweden has been officially neutral since before the Second World War, though this official neutrality has been tainted by close cooperation with the West in the form of NATO, as well as by its continued active membership of the European Union.  While it is a member of the Schengen agreement (allowing travel between member states without passport control), it is not a member of the Euro zone, having last rejected the currency in 2003.

Architecture

Though Sweden is mostly known for its picturesque countryside dotted with red and white cottages, Stockholm, like any cosmopolitan city, has much more architecture to offer.  Modern buildings in the centre are largely constructed in the ‘Swedish Grace,’ or ‘Swedish Modern’ style, a simple style that emphasizes detail.  Prime examples of this style, which is still in vogue, are the Stockholm Public Library and the Liljevalch’s Art Gallery.

Riddarholmskyrkan

Naturally, not all of Stockholm looks as if it were lifted from an Ikea shelf.  The city is dotted with ancient churches, like the Riddarholmskyrkan, believed to be the oldest building in Stockholm, and dating from the 13th Century.  Gamla Stan is also filled with architectural jewels, such as the Royal Palace, which has been rebuilt several times since the construction of the first fortress on the site in the 13th century.  In its latest incarnation, the palace consists of no fewer than five rows and wings in the baroque style.  A plethora of architectural styles can be found, from the national romantic KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) to the quasi-Venetian Stadshuset (City Hall), where the Nobel Ball is held annually.  For more exotic fare, the Globen, with its spherical architecture may be of interest.

For those particularly interested in Architecture, a visit to the Arkitekturmuseet (Architecture Museum), which features over 600,000 photographs and 2,000 models of works by Swedish architects?  More information can be found at arkitekturmuseet.se.

(Information from stockholmtown.com and tripadvisor.com)

Arts & Culture – public art & galleries etc.

In a city that prides itself on having the world’s longest work of art (in the form of its T-bana; many of its stations feature artful decor), art connoisseurs should be able to satisfy all their heart’s desires.  Be it commercial galleries, museums, or pieces of installation art, Stockholm can offer it all.

A good starting place is Kulturhuset (the House of Culture).  Here you can find a series of temporary art, design and dance exhibitions.  While there is also a large library (which heavily features comics and graphic novels), this is stocked mostly with Swedish-language books.  There are also movie screenings, music performances and performances of installation art.  Consult the website (www.kulturhuset.stockholm.se) for the latest calendar of exhibitions and performances.  The nearest T-bana is T-Centralen; general admission is free, special exhibitions/events may charge a separate entrance fee.

Stockholmtown.com claims that there are more than 100 galleries in Stockholm.  Be that as it may, there is a large selection, most of which are settled in Södermalm, Östermalm and in Gamla Stan, and are therefore within easy reach of the cruise quays.  Especially large concentrations can be found in Hornsgatan, which is within walking distance of the Stadsgårdan piers, the nearest T-bana is Zinkensdamm.

Those wishing to enjoy Swedish art in a more inexpensive way can best do so at the Nationalmuseum and the Moderna Museet.  The Nationalmuseum focuses on Swedish art, and features collections as diverse as ‘Royal Castles’ and ‘Applied art and modern design’.  In addition, the museum houses temporary exhibitions, see www.nationalmuseum.se.  Admission costs 100 SEK, children go free; the museum faces the Royal Palace, the nearest T-bana is Gamla Stan.  The Moderna Museet focuses on art from 1900 or later, and seeks to integrate Swedish and Nordic art with international masters like Picasso and Dalí.  There are numerous special exhibitions that rotate frequently, see www.modernamuseet.se for the latest programme.  Guided tours are included in the admission price, which is 80 SEK, children go free.  The museum is in Skeppsholmen, the nearest T-bana is Kungsträdgården.

History

A Rune at Skansen

Stockholm’s history has long been intertwined with that of Sweden.  Stockholm’s location, with its natural harbours and access to waterways, prompted settlement in the area of what is now Gamla Stan in the 13th century.  The settlement soon grew, leading to the abandonment of other, nearby settlements.  As Gustav Vasa broke up the Kalmar Union, he needed a new capital, and in 1523, Stockholm was made capital of Sweden.

Stockholm flourished with its new responsibilities, with palaces, and a cathedral being added to the previously narrow and provincial streets of Gamla Stan.  Sweden grew with its capital city through the 30 years war, where the (protestant) forces of Sweden tore through Germany, and even laid siege to Geneva.  Those wishing to delve deeper into Stockholm’s history are well provided for with the Stadsmuseum (City Museum), which focuses on the 750 years of Stockholm’s history, or the Nordiska Museum (Nordic Museum) which takes a broader view, and is also located conveniently close to the Vasa Museum in Djurgården.

Stockholm has continued growing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and even had the honour of being named ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 1998.  One reason for Stockholm’s continued prominence is one of its most famous sons, Alfred Nobel.  The inventor of dynamite endowed five prizes, four of which have been conferred annually by Swedish institutions annually since 1901.  These prizes are awarded in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, which is traditionally followed a gala dinner at Stockholm City Hall.

(some information from sverigeturism.se)

Literature

Given its small size, Sweden has produced a significant number of internationally-famous authors and playwrights.  First and foremost among these is, of course, Astrid Lindgren, who started writing stories for her son Carl.  The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Pippi Longstocking series, which is typical of the fantastical style of writing that has won her much acclaim.  Though she was famously born in Småland, she did live for a time in Stockholm.

Sweden’s most famous writer and playwright’s works are significantly less uplifting than those of Astrid Lindgren.  Johan August Strindberg’s works are, nevertheless undoubtedly influential, and he is considered one of the fathers of modern theatre.  The most famous of his plays, Miss Julie, was typical of his extremist-naturalist style and dealt with power and sexuality in rural Sweden.

Sweden’s literary success has continued into the present, with authors such as Henning Mankell gaining fame for his series of novels about the detective Kurt Wallander, which also delve into the underlying problems of Swedish society.  His colleague Jan Guillou, meanwhile, has gained international fame through his spy novels.  Himself a convicted spy, his novels mostly focus on a Swedish spy, Carl Hamilton (codename; Coque Rouge), a nearly James Bond-like superspy.

Music

Museum of Modern Art

Sweden’s most famous musicians to date are undoubtedly the pop-quartet ABBA, who took the international charts by storm after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with “Waterloo”. A much hyped ABBA museum has still not opened (Aut 2010) but there are still plans!  Those who aren’t fans of pop need not fear, however, for Swedish musical culture is much more varied than one might expect.  It is expected that a museum dedicated to the group will open in June 2009 near the cruise pier in Stadsgårdan.

Swedish folk music, though virtually unknown outside the Nordic countries, is very popular with the populace.  Interest in this form of music has enjoyed somewhat of a revival since the 1960s, and has since expanded its scope into new instruments and styles.  Those wishing to sample some Swedish folk may do so at Skansen, the outdoor museum (For details, see Savvy for Kids to Teens, below).

Those wishing to learn more about Swedish music (and music in general) might consider a visit to the Musikmuseet, or Music Museum, which offers a chance to touch and play the instruments on display instead of just looking and listening.  The museum features over 11,500 instruments, an art collection and rolling exhibition.  Admission costs 40 SEK, children go free; the nearest T-bana are Östermalmstorg and Kungsträdgården.

Religion/Places of worship

The Church of Sweden is, as the name implies, the national church of Sweden.  It is protestant in nature, and, partially due to the fact that all newborn children were automatically registered as church members until recently, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world.

The two most important places of worship in Stockholm are the Riddarholmen Church and the Cathedral of Stockholm.  Riddarholmen Church is the burial church of Swedish monarchs and also the oldest place of worship of the city.  Most of the monarchs between the 17th and mid-20th century were buried here, with the notable exception of Queen Christina, who converted to Catholicism and subsequently travelled to Rome to become a nun.  Nearest T-bana is Gamla Stan, admission costs 30 SEK for adults, 10 SEK for children.

Also worth a visit is the Storkyrkan, or Cathedral of Stockholm, which offers impressive statues, such as the 1489 rendition of St. George and the Dragon, in addition to impressive architecture.  It is located in Gamla Stan and entrance to the Cathedral and a tour of the tower cost 50 SEK.

Those looking for worship in English can find this at St. Peter and St. Sigfrid’s, an Anglican church just outside the city centre, near the British Embassy and the Nobel Park.  Muslim worship is available at the Zaid Ben Sultan Al Nahayan Moské, or Stockholm Mosque for short.  Located in Södermalm, this is the largest mosque in Sweden and is open for worship.  Roman Catholic mass, confession and rosary in English are available at S:ta Eugenia Church.  The nearest T-bana is Kungsträdgårdan.