The organized way to plan a vacation, I suppose, is to invest several hours online finding Must-See Tourist Attractions in your destination city, make a list of what you want to see, map all the locations and draw up a realistic itinerary. But, you see, I’m too lazy. We picked up the Knopf Stockholm Guide which presented the city in 6 maps and during our four days there, we hit up about 5 areas. Good thing Stockholm is a fabulous walking city….
As much as we were tantalized by the idea of a 24-hour cruise to Helsinki, we stayed in the city and covered it pretty well, I think. In order, we went to Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace), toured it and saw the changing of the guard (what fun!); strolled wonderful narrow streets like Vasterlanggatan in Gamla Stan (Old Town); saw Stortorget, the famed square where you also find the Nobel Museum; walked by that impressive, curved building on the water that is Parliament; enjoyed fabulous tourist- and clothing-shopping on Drottninggattan and at The Gallerian near Sergels Torg; had our Museum Day where we hit up the National Museum, Moderna Museet, Architecture Museum, and the East Asia Museum; visited the Stadhuset (City Hall) on the day of a torrential downpour*; nearly missed the amazing Vasa Museet (Ship Museum) and Nordiska Museet; made a trip to IKEA of course; completed all that shopping previously mentioned because H&M is a Swedish brand; and, finally, omigosh, ate dessert everyday! (See the rest of my Stockholm photoset.)
Hamburg, being our entry- and exit-point in Germany, was our last stop and I was quite pleased how it worked out that we would get to see a small town (Nortorf, 7000 people?), a small city (Kiel, 230K), and Germany’s second-largest city (Hamburg, 1.7M), granted we were confined to the northern reach of Germany.
Booking accomodations in Hamburg proved to be tricky since we were staying over a weekend and I found a hotel whereupon arriving did we realize it was in St. Pauli/red-light district. Don’t let appearances deceive you – pleasantly and surprisingly decent! We were tremulous the first evening and ventured only as far as the end of the street to dine at Rocco’s, a cozy and jovial Italian trattoria chockful of energetic and suave male waiters who sing out “Bueno sera!” and offer you complimentary sparkling wine. Lil’ Sis thought it was out of this world.
We were even less prepared and were equiped with but a flimsy brochure from the Hamburg airport when we set out for 12 hours of city exploring. Needless to say, the accomplishments were fewer in that we only managed to find the fascinatingly ornate neo-Renaissance-styled Rathaus (City Hall), exclusive shopping central under the white arches of Alsterarkaden, and coming across one of the Alster Lakes. Of course we also had dessert. =P (See the rest of my Hamburg photoset.)
Needless to say I feel really spoiled and lucky to have been able to go to Europe twice this year (!!) and to have been there with my sister was a special bonus. These trips undoubtably whet my appetite to travel to more places. Next year….!
* At this point Lil’ Sis and I squabbled a bit because we were two sharing one small umbrella and we were getting desperately soaked with no relief from the rain. The tour bus and some cars packed with comfortable and dry people stopped at the traffic light whipped out their cameras and now there are pictures floating around of two miserably soaked touristing girls!
On this day..
- NPY's PotD*: Day Eight - 2011