The first thing that hits you is the cost
The second thing that hits you is the sea
The third thing that hits you is that everybody speaks English
The fourth thing that hits you is the quality of the offering you get, whether it is a good or a service
The fifth and most enduring thing that you take back with you, is that you are probably amongst the most friendliest people in the world
In this age of the politically correct I guess you are forced to call every nation friendly. (Even the French). But before we get seriously polemical, lets step back.
We did 9 days in all. Flying through Vienna, we landed in Copenhagen before 9am, the entire day at your disposal. How cool was that! Incidentally Central Europe ( Switzerland, Austria, Germany) offers you the best connectivity to Europe.
Copenhagen is a super cute maritime city, but it sort of stops at that. The highlights are the Nyhavn harbour / canal and the Tivoli Gardens. The walk along the canal, sailboats in the foreground and baroque buildings in the background, is one most pleasant in Europe. A good mix of young buzzy locals and tourists adds to the atmosphere. Tivoli gardens are the original Disneyland. Walt Disney is said to have drawn inspiration from it when setting up the bigger and much more commercial counterpart in Florida. Tivoli Garden is an amusement park from the fairy tales one used to read as child. From the Viking themed merry go rounds to bumper cars to Michelin starred restaurants to open air concerts to really scary adult rides to candy floss and cute shooting games, you relive the story books you used to read as a kid. If you have a 7 year old, he will think that he has gone to heaven. A first rate experience, Tivoli gardens is a must do. But as a city Copenhagen is a bit limited. A poorer cousin of Stockholm.A day is enough in Copenhagen and next morning we flew to Stockholm.
Flights in Scandanavia are convenient. They are not very expensive, Airport transfers are efficient and there are multiple flight options. Alternatives like the ferry and train don’t make it past the cost benefit analysis.
However if you want to save the cost of one night stay, you can look at the overnight Copenhagen to Stockholm ferry.
Stockholm is Bloomquist country. An intriguing place, it ticks all the boxes of a proper European city. These include Regal architecture, the obligatory old town, a buzzy nightlife and good shopping. What differentiates it from its sister cities on the European mainland are the sea and some really innovative museums.
Made up of 14 islands, Stockholm is part of 22,000 island archipelago network. To see how deeply the sea penetrates the cities consider this fact. One of every 3 people in Stockholm owns a boat. In percentage terms that is more than car ownership in New York, London, Paris, Rome or Tokyo.
A cruise that touches the canals and islands in and around Stockholm is a must.
Apart from a world class art gallery Stockholm is also home to some of the most innovative museums in the world. The highlights are the 18th century Nordic ship salvaged from deep under, the Vasa and the open-air museum, Skansen. Skansen in particular is a visual delight. Consider this. Historical buildings and settlements have been physically lifted from various parts of Sweden and rebuilt in the park. Within the park, settlements from North Sweden are situated in the northern park of the park and vise versa. Combine this with Nordic animal and real life period actors, and you have an incredible smorsgard of Scandinavia and Sweden between the 12th and the 19th century. You will see flourmills, bakeries, farms, windmills, farms, town squares, manor houses, all with real life period actors enacting village life. (all of whom speak perfect English and are very friendly). There is also a zoo which houses Nordic animals. In fact one of the highlights of Scandinavia are these museums and parks.
From the Tivoli in Copenhagen to the Vasa and Maritime museum in Stockholm to the Kon Tike and Polar ship, Fram in Oslo, the museums demonstrate Scandinavia’s obsession for quality and its surprising capacity for innovation.
After Stockholm, we abandoned the cities. Would we find the Scandinavia of our dreams?
Read about Norway and Part 2 here!