Stockholm

We arrived at our parking spot, strategically outside the congestion charge zone, on Thursday evening as we expected it could be busy at the weekend.

Under the bridge like trolls we shared the car park with a few cars, an old Westfalia camper and the French Mercedes camper we seem to be on the same route as!

After a quick bite to eat, we set-off to explore the local area. We only made it as far the local astroturf football pitch complete with ball, we all had a kick around before rain suddenly came. Forced to finish for the night, we dragged Stanley away from the pitch. He is football crazy.

The rain had cleared by the next morning and brought more promising hot weather. We negotiated trams, people and draw bridges on our bikes and made it to Gamla Stan, the old town.

Now on foot, we had to negotiate the narrow cobbled streets and coach loads of tourists which all alight at the Royal Palace. A visit to Marten Trotzigs Grand, the narrowest alley in Stockholm, and resisting the advances of Restauranteurs, we cycled around some more.

Without a destination in mind we followed the waters edge, much like our driving route. We made it as far as the Nordic Museum, set on an island which also holds Grona Lund amusement park and the ABBA museum. We didn’t visit any, especially the ABBA museum!

Feeling hungry and needing the toilet (we didn’t find any free ones in town!), we headed back to base. A good 30 minute ride through Friday rush hour, to the sound of young teens celebrating (or protesting against something?) in the back of trucks.

After tea we walked around Vinterviken, Alfred Nobel’s old dynamite test site, now a public park with sports facilities, allotments and a restaurant in Nobel’s mill.

Going to bed we noted how light it still was at 11pm, even under the bridge!

Waking to the sound of parking Volvos with people on their way to Saturday recreations, we decided we needed to see more of Stockholm.

Cycling the same route towards town, we stopped off at a park in Hornstull. Watching the locals enjoying the sunshine, either playing boules, using the free outdoor gym or just relaxing with a beer, we were tempted to visit ‘The System’, but it closed in 10 minutes time at 3pm.

Moving on, we cycled around the island of Reimersholme. A predominantly residential island made up of apartment blocks, some attractive, some not from the 1930s to the 1980s. Much like the blocks we saw in Norrkoping, if these were in England; they wouldn’t be so desirable.

From Soder Malarstrand, we enjoyed the view over the water which included the impressive Town Hall, host of the annual Nobel Prize ceremony. However, when we cycled to it, it was hosting several weddings. Churning them out, one by one.

Along Norr Malarstrand we passed a row of gorgeous art deco apartments, probably the finest we saw in Stockholm. Opposite, owners of high performance Mercedes’ and Porches’ take advantage of the congestion charge free weekend and race up and down the street. Showing there’s money in Stockholm.

Passing a couple of man-made beaches in the Marieberg district, we took the bridges across a couple more islands and back to the van.

Exhausted from the hill climbs, we were gagging for a beer. As ‘The System’ was closed, we had to compromise with 3.5% Pipps Bla from Lidl.

One the way back, we had another kickaround on the football pitch. The owner of the French Mercedes van we’re following was also there with his Collie. I tried to tell him we’ve seen him before, but he didn’t speak English and I only knew how to tell him my name, where I live and how many rooms I have in my house. So the conversation soon ended.

The next morning we had another stroll around Vintervikens before leaving.

In a designated dog zone Stanley played with a poodle as we spoke to his owner, currently taking his share of the 480 available days of parental leave. He could take none or all 480 days, but on average men take 25% (120 days).

A more gender equal system than ours.

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