A Stylish SURPRISE City Break in Stockholm
Have you ever wished someone would just whisk you away on holiday, packing you a perfect suitcase of stuff and booking the time off work for you? ME TOO. But, like most people, that has never happened for me, and i've never done it for anyone else either - the logistics always outfox and the reality of planning something as monumental as a holiday while trying to keep schtum overwhelms me. But when Mr Wanderluce and I wanted a city break on a set date -- but couldn't work out where to go, what time of day to go and how to narrow down our endlessly growing list of 'bucket list' destinations -- I turned to Surprise Trips to help me. And help me they did!
Forgive the shouting but oh em gee SURPRISE Trips are the best. If you haven't heard of them, and most people I've spoke to criminally have not, here's a brief outline of what they do: Pick a total budget, a departure date and preferred airport and let Surprise Trips work their magic.
We booked the trip about four weeks in advance and it was even under our £600 total budget (flight & hotel) but stopping myself from checking my bank account (which would have given away the airline) and checking every destination they fly to from Heathrow was SO hard. I'm overjoyed I did though, the feeling when you get to the airport and see the letters magically unravel to reveal......STOCKHOLM!
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A New Country
In what is now my third new country of the year (Jordan and Hungary came first) we gleefully headed to Sweden. Travelling to Scandinavia has been on my list for aaaaages and, to be honest, Sweden was top of that list. Stockholm has always been a city I've been keen to visit, despite the fear mongering it's THE most expensive place ever. So, you could say I had high expectations for my first trip to Scandinavia.
It didn't disappoint.
From the moment we arrived at the airport, we whizzed to the centre on the uber fast train (same price as the bus between Thurs - Sunday at £15 for a single) and walked to our hotel in Gamla Stan. Despite the drizzle, it was asy to see why it's considered the best preserved medieval city in Europe - Gamla Stan (the old town) is picture perfect.
SO pretty, filled with gorgeous little cafes and cool shops, the old town is understandably touristy. But the road we stayed on was quiet and quaint. We were right in the centre, but far enough away from the 'hustle' to feel as though we were authentic Swedes.
Style and Saffron Buns
The first thing you should know about Stockholm is that, yes, it's expensive. But I'm a Londoner, so it didn't feel quite as eye-waterinly steep as for some. I found the food to be particularly expensive, but tempered by the fact portions were so HUGE. We shared a main and a bun most days which worked out to be more than enough and kept our wallets happy.
To be graphic, we paid £100 for a two course meal with one glass of wine. It was a nice meal, but nothing special.....and it was in Gamla Stan so pricier than normal. In other places we found sandwiches to be, on average, about £13 (eek) and coffees were about the same price as in London (at least £3).
One thing I REALLY got into was the Swedish art of Fika. Move over Hygge, because this is one Scandi vibe I can get on board with. Fika is the act of having a hot drink and a pastry or cake. I mostly ate cinnaon or saffron buns with hot chocolate. YUM. Saffron buns rock my world now.
A Thousand Islands
Aside from the touristy stuff (Abba and Vasa Museums) we took a boat trip to Vaxholm - the gateway to the Stockholm archipelago. I don't know why, but I completely forgot Stockholm is a series of interlinking little neighbourhood islands alongside an archipelago of dreamy island getaways about 40 kilometres from the city.
We caught a 40 minute ferry to Vaxholm on Sunday and spent about four hours hiking around the sleepy town, walking along coasts and a cemetery before settling into Fika at the delicious (and incredibly popular) Vaxholm Bakery. Next to the historic and super popular Waxholm Hotel, the bakery is filled with locals catching up and filling their bellies.
I stuffed my face on Toast Skagen and a saffron bun before we sleepily cruised back to Stockholm.
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