Summer island hopping in Stockholm
Utö beach through the trees.
Boats galore along the 'Under the Bridges of Stockholm' tour.
The tranquil bay entrance to Utö.
The quaint little town of Mariefred.
Over summer (or anytime really) in Stockholm one of the things you must do is visit one of the many islands in the Stockholm Archipelago. We managed to visit a couple recently- only 23,998 more to go!
The island of Utö is a popular resort that has been lived in since before the vikings, so it's old! It's 50 km south-east of Stockholm and to get there it's a bit long winded but it's worth it. First you get the train, then bus, then a fantastic ferry across the waters to Utö, which I think for me was the highlight. There was no seating left on the ferry so we were forced out on the bow. But it was absolutely beautiful. With a coffee perched in one hand and face into the salty air and sunshine, it was magic seeing the islands drift by. I thought of Abba all the way for some reason. I think because they wrote many of their songs on an island and I imagined them doing it. It's like the atmosphere up here is suited to making music.
On the ferry to Utö. A breezy ride.
I was looking forward to a sandy beach and a bit of swimming but chickened out as, alas, once again no sand- you had to swim off rocks. I've come to the conclusion that there really isn't any sandy beaches in Sweden. What they call sand here isn't really, it's like industrial sand you get from a nursery. Well there may have been some but we didn't see it. But the beach we went to was stunning in a different way. Surrounded by pine forest and edged in these giant stones which everyone was splayed out on catching a few rays. Only a few people seem to swim, most seem to sunbake and eat and drink. I haven't seen so many people doing such serious sunbaking since the 1970's.
One of the beaches at Utö. The stones were pretty hot under your feet. Obviously I'll have to get used to it.
Fishing's a national pastime in Sweden.
If you can't be bothered getting all that transport yourself you can get on board one of the sightseeing tours in Stockholm that go all over the archipelago. We took this old coal fired steamship built in 1903 to Mariefred (It really is hard work shovelling coal into the furnace which you can see the guys doing as you walk on by). It was great though the weather was rainy and overcast. Being on board this steamer is like being in an episode of 'Poirot'. Mariefred is well worth going to. It's a beautiful, little town with an imposing castle, Gripsholm Slott, in the centre. We didn't get to see inside as I wanted to see this Picasso exhibition of prints and drawings at the graphics museum which took up the time. We should've gone to the castle.
The old coal fired ferry from 1903. Take a book as it takes about 3.5 hours to get to Mariefred.
The graphics museum in Mariefred is a converted barn.
Catching some rays on the ferry.
The 16th century Gripsholm Slott
Closer to home we took the 'Under the Bridges of Stockholm' tour which leaves from the waterfront in front of the Grand Hotel. It's a very enjoyable and relaxing tour of about 2 hours that gives a potted history of Stockholm and it's people. Going on a sunny day was just perfect. Don' t bother going if it's overcast because you're missing how dazzling Stockholm can be in the sun.