We visited Stockholm March of last year (when I made the Queen of Sweden smile and met Camilla Parker-Bowles at the Vasa Museum). Some places March means spring, it doesn’t in Sweden. We decided we had to go back to enjoy the city and the nearby archipelago in summer. We chose wisely. It was a fantastic trip. We stayed in the Södermalm neighborhood in a boat on the Riddarfjärden, a bay of Lake Mälaren in central Stockholm. We spent a pleasant afternoon and evening picnicking and walking around the island of Långholmen.
Långholmen, the long island, was rocky and barren until 18th century prison inmates covered the island with mud dredged from the surrounding waterways. It undoubtably made the waterways deeper and more easily navigable for larger vessels. It also had the effect of providing fertile soil. When things start growing, leaves drop, providing more organic matter for plants. Before long, the island was lush retreat. Trade and merchant ships introduced of exotic seeds, making its vegetation unique. As a result, it is a popular place for walks, picnics and a cold dip in the lake.
We trekked around the island passing a few people walking their dogs, people singing with guitars, a group of teenagers escaping their families apartments, boatbuilders, several rabbits and even a handful of kayakers. We enjoyed this view of Kungsholmen (complete with a beach bar) on our picnic. It was so peaceful.
At the Stockholm Water Festival in 1993, a JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft crashed on Långholmen. It caught fire but the pilot ejected successfully. Thankfully, no one was killed and only one injury in the large crowd of spectators. We happened upon Thomas Qvarsebo‘s stainless steel sculpture commemorating the incident. It is paper plane with its nose drilled into the ground. It was so striking that I took a picture and looked up what it was later.
Boats are everywhere. Although the Swede’s love worshipping the sun, the climate requires a cabin. The classic wooden boats looked like a great way to experience the country. If someone’s rented one for a day, I’d love to hear about it.
The walk from Södermalm along the Riddarfjärden was fascinating. Many of the larger boats were homes or hotels! By the way, the former Långholmen Prison is now a hotel and hostel, complete with a restaurant and pub. If we hadn’t found unique boat accommodations, we probably would have stayed there.
We had great views of the city towards Stadhuset and Gamla Stan. This is the
giant Västerbron bridge that links Södermalm to Kungsholmen.