This was my first visit to Sweden, inspired by my reading of works by Henning Mankell (he of 'Wallander' fame) and the late Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - the Millennium Trilogy) and the fact that I have a Swedish friend (Hej, Mia!) and I found a country rather different from our traditional image of Sweden. As the map shows, Stockholm is spread over a group of islands (14 in all). The important ones are all linked by bridges and easily accessible from Normalm (the centre), where I stayed. Gamla Stan (the old town), with the Royal Palace and its mediaeval streets and houses, is the first point of call for tourists and is always busy. South of this is Söderhalm, traditionally a working-class area, but now the trendy centre and home to a large number of restaurants, bars and cafés. The area to the east of the centre (Osterhalm) is where the well-off live and play. The 'green' island of Djürgarden has a number of very popular attractions, including Gröna Lund, an amusement park, Skansen, a large open-air museum, which shows the history of Swedish rural life, Vasamuseet (see the photo below) and the Nordiska Museet, which is the National Museum of Cultural History and the smaller adjacent island of Skeppsholmen has the Moderna Museet (Modern Art Museum) and the Ostasiatiska Museum (Far East Museum). Stockholm is quite expensive, but well worth a visit and looked a nice place to live and work. I shall be back there sooner rather than later!

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Gamla Stan (the old town)
A view over Gamla Stan from the Gondolen Tower in Söderhalm
The small island of Skeppsholmen, seen from the old town
Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace)
The Opera House
The National Museum, home of an impressive art collection
Mediaeval houses in the old town....
........and a view along a cobbled street
Another view of Gamla Stan and the centre from Söderhalm
The remarkably well preserved warship 'Vasa', which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. It was rediscovered in 1961 and painstaking restored to its former glory. It is seen here in its own museum on Djürgarden.
The Kulturhuset on Hörtorget
The Royal Insignia on the Skeppsholmen bridge with the Royal Palace in the background
Stunning autumn colours on Skeppsholmen
Bellmansgaten 1, where fans of the 'Millennium' Trilogy will know that Mikael Blomkvist's appartment was to be found.
This is Fiskargaten 9, which houses Lisbeth Salander's luxury appartment, which she bought with the Wennerström money



Fast becoming my favourite city after my latest visit in September 2010.
I stayed in the Best Western Premier Hotel Laurus which is 100 metres from the fabulous duomo and within easy walking distance of all the city's main attractions. It has a rooftop breakfast terrace with views of the cathedral and surrounding area. The weather was fantastic (27°C every day) and I was able to revisit all my favourite places and quite a few new ones. Tip : If you are staying for three days or more you would be well advised to invest in an 'Amici degli Uffizi' (friends of the Uffizi) card which gives priority (no queuing!) and unlimited access to many of the main musuems and attractions, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Galleria del Accademia, Museo San Marco, Museo Bargello, the Medici Chapels , the Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens and a number of smaller, but equally enchanting places. It costs 60 euros (100 euros for a family group) and is valid for one calendar year. You can recoup the cost within two days and return to a special place more than once (I went to the Uffizi Galley three times during my six day visit and the Accademia and Bargello twice each, which would have cost over 70 euros alone).
Photography is forbidden in the main art galleries, so I have cobbled together a selection of photos from the web to give an idea of some of the delights. These are to be found here, on the 'Art' page.

A few photos from the trip

A view of the River Arno and the Ponte Vecchio taken from the Uffizi Gallery

The imposing Palazzo Vecchio on Piazza della Signoria
Santa Croce - one of finest churches in the city and home to the tombs of Michaelangelo, Dante, Macchiavelli, Rossini and Galileo Galilei amongst others.
The Museo Bargello, famed for its collection of sculptures, including many masterpieces by Michaelangelo, Donatello, Cellini et al.
The Jewish Synagogue in the Sant' Ambrogio district.
The cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore) with the baptistry and bell tower
The gate at Piazza della Repubblica - one of the city's main squares
The city seen from the Palazzo Pitti
a ceiling in the Palazzo Pitti
Part of the series of frescoes in the Capella Brancacci at Santa Maria del Carmine, painted by Massacio and Filippino Lippi

One of the many superb frescoes by Fra Angelico in San Marco


Andrea del Castagno's 'Last Supper' in the Cenacolo at Sant'Appolonia