VIKINGS, AQUAVIT, VOLVO, ABBA, SMORGASBORD & U2 - Moving around in Stockholm
In the dark of night
As a music fan – in addition to an aviation enthusiast – I obviously enjoy attending rock concerts; the stress of rearranging my personal budget to buy the ticket, awaiting its delivery culminating on the exhilaration of the gig day.
Then there's travelling to the venue, enduring mega queues, remortgaging my home to pay for a few beers and a lousy hotdog, and finally enjoying the show and bursting my eardrums in the process.
Now, one thing is to travel to an out of town venue or even a nearby town to watch your favourite band play. Another thing completely different – some might say insane, even – is to travel to another country to see a band you are not even a big fan of. On this occasion, I fall into the latter category.
Yes, U2 are one of the greatest bands out. They are exceptional artists as a whole and in their own right individually, with Bono, their flamboyant frontman, the ultimate entertainer! So although they don’t make my top-ten favourite bands, I cannot deny U2’s quality and what they have achieved. For that reason, I agreed to join my godson, his wife, his wife’s cousin and wife and baby to Stockholm to watch them play. As you’d normally do, right?
This also gave me the opportunity to visit a new city and fly an airline I’d never tried yet.
I won’t dwell on the flight reviews, these you can see separately on the other story linked to this one.
I arrived on my own on a late SAS flight from London. Scheduled to land at 22.30, and being new to Stockholm, I thought it would be too late to try being adventurous and creative, so I booked a night at the Radisson Blu Arlandia, very close to Arlanda (ARN) airport, the main hub that serves Stockholm.
Arlanda offers a free shuttle service between airport and hotels nearby. Once I exited the baggage claim area, it took me all of five minutes to locate the information office, ask directions, find the bus stop, and hop onto the bus!
Just under ten minutes after, I was at my hotel.
Room sweet room
As is the case with all or most Radisson Blu, you more than get good value for money. Comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, a full Scandinavian buffet breakfast, what more can a serial traveller and aspiring writer ask for!
Next morning, after eating like a Viking, both because of the Scandinavian nature of the breakfast in addition to the quantity I ate, then following a rejuvenating shower, I checked out and waited for my shuttle back to Arlanda to catch my train to the city centre. This shuttle service operates every fifteen minutes, by the way.
At Arlanda, I alighted at Sky City, a complex within the terminal building that is pretty much the epicentre of the whole airport. Here you will find both the Clarion and Radisson Blu SkyCity hotels, in addition to an array of shopping and eating outlets as well as the platforms for trains into Stockholm, Uppsala and other nearby town and suburbs.
Sweden is notoriously expensive. Public transport, alas, is no exception; however, they are hard to beat in efficiency. Here are a few options to get to the capital city:
Taxis can cost up to SEK675 (Swedish Kroner), which is around $82.00 to get anywhere within the capital’s central area.
Trains are a more reasonable alternative starting with the high-speed Arlanda Express that whizzes you into Stockholm’s Central station in 20 minutes at speeds that can reach up to 125 mph. The adult ticket costs SEK280 with concessions at SEK150.
A cheaper and slower option is the commuter service (SL) operating twice per hour and stopping en route. The full adult fare one-way is SEK135 that includes the airport access fee. Concessions are SEK120. This service takes between 38 and 42 minutes.
Finally, there are busses starting at SEK99 and can get you between airport and Stockholm's Central Station in between 35 to 60 minutes depending on traffic. Air Shuttle and Flygbussarna are two of the companies that offer these services.
You are here
Travel like a boss
On my way in, I tried the Arlanda Express thanks to a discount concession through a work supplier. Signage at Sky City was very clear and I found the platform easily.
Carriages are spacious and very comfortable with adequate space for luggage. The journey was as smooth and silent as it was fast. With TV screens updating on the journey in addition to open wifi, it is a stellar service.
Stockholm’s Central Station as most main railway terminus was a buzzing hive of activity when I arrived. Although a very safe city, exercising caution to avoid pickpockets will never go amiss. Once I knew where I had to go, I simply carried on like a boss, my personals very much out of reach and purchased my 72-hour travelcard.
My hotel, Miss Clara by Nobis, a handsomely appointed boutique hotel very close to the business centre and well positioned to access most interesting landmarks was one stop away from Central Station on the subway’s green line. Besides the location, everything at this property is top quality, from rooms to staff. Highly recommended!
The underground system also called the T-bana (short for tunnelbanna) is quite a comprehensive system for such a small city. Stations are identified by a square sign with the letter ‘T’. Easy to navigate and very efficient. The only difficulty I found was pronouncing the stations’ names. With the travelcard I purchased for SEK230 (there are also 24 hour and seven day tickets) I had unlimited use on the T-bana, busses, trams and some riverboats.
Stockholm is not shy of culture, among the many museums to visit are the Vasa, dedicated to the 17th century Vasa warship, the Abba museum, which you probably know what it’s about, and if you don’t, well...
Gamla Stan is the capital’s Old Town and here you’ll find the royal palace, the stock exchange house, the Nobel museum and the Stockholm cathedral. A striking feature is its beautiful North Germanic architecture with narrow cobbled streets lined with quaint cafés, restaurants, bars, designer shops and endless quirky outlets.
Djurgården is an island accessible by T-bana, on foot, ferryboat, or tram. It is an oasis of calm, which has been a royal land since the fifth century.
Miss Clara by Nobis hotel
What in your opinion is Sweden's most iconic export?
Simply StockholmClick thumbnail to view full-size
Time to rock n roll
Ah, the U2 concert. It was awesome. We were however, very lucky as the day before due to a firearm incident just an hour or so before the gig, security services decided to cancel the concert on safety grounds. That concert was rescheduled for the day after mine.
Nevertheless, they belted out one mother of a show! All I can say is, if you like rock music, and you’ve never seen them live, go at your earliest opportunity. If you have seen them already, go again.
Alas, after three full days, it was time to return. On this occasion, I used the commuter train. Still having the 72-hour travelcard active, all I had to do was pay the airport supplement of SEK85.
Whichever option you chose, both the high-speed train and the commuter service offer safe, reliable and comfortable services. And while in Stockholm, the best way to acquaint yourself with this beautiful capital city is walking and combining trams, subway and buses; you just can’t go wrong.