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Europe: A Stockholm Honeymoon

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

If you're thinking about a European destination for your honeymoon, consider Stockholm. In a week's time you can see the sights of this Northern capital and still have plenty of private time together. English is readily spoken, so no worries about language barriers.

Stockholm and water--the two are inseparable, since the city stretches over fourteen islands. With so much water veering off in all directions, she's referred to as "The Venice of the North."

Flights from the U.S. arrive at Arlanda airport, about 25 miles north of downtown. Take the Arlanda Express train for a quick and inexpensive trip to the Central Station. Trains run several times per hour.

As with most European train stations you can exchange money, get a quick meal and access the Internet at the Central Station. Here's a tip from a frequent traveler--while at the station stock up on snacks for your hotel room, such as fruit or cookies. Because of the time change, you may wake up hungry at odd hours.

Adjacent to the central train station, the Radisson SAS Royal Viking Hotel is conveniently located for a city stay or for day tripping.

Get your bearings by taking a narrated bus and boat orientation tour. Called Stockholm in a Nutshell, you'll find a ticket booth on Gustav Adolfs Torg, walking distance from the hotel. The red double-decker bus picks up at this same location. When the ground portion is complete, the bus drops you near the dock, where you board a boat for the remainder of the tour.

A must-see in Stockholm, the 17th-century warship Vasa will take your breath away. An enormous ship made of wood--she sank in Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage and lay for 333 years on the bottom. Even near shore, about 50 people went down with the ship.

Experts believe her design was flawed and the Vasa was top heavy, which caused her quick demise. Just imagine how the builders and wood carvers must have felt as they watched their beloved creation plunge below the water. The Vasa sank barely a mile from where she was produced. Heartbreaking!

The Vasa was painstakingly raised to the surface in 1961 and sprayed with preservatives for seventeen years (1962-1979) to keep her wood intact. Today the vessel rests inside a building on the island called Djurgarden, once the royal hunting ground.

The Djurgarden has few man-made structures, but an abundance of open, parkland. You can easily spot the Vasa by looking for the three tall masts that jut out from the top of the building. The Vasa reigns as the city's most popular museum.

To witness daily life in early Sweden, visit Skansen open-air museum also on the island of Djurgarden. The great-granddaddy of open-air museums, it opened in 1891 and is considered the world's first. You can easily spend all day at Skansen and only see a portion of their offerings.

If you care to delve further back into the long history of Stockholm, another option is their Medieval Museum. A bit tricky to find, it's tucked beneath the Norrbro Bridge, a level below the Stockholm of 2004. The structure was built around remaining sections of the ancient city wall, dating from the 1530s.

The Medieval Museum is part of the Gamla Stan or Old Town. The entire island is a district of historical heritage, filled with sights to see and bisected by narrow streets, perfect for wandering. When you need a coffee break, you'll find a number of Medieval cellars have become cafes.

Inventor and chemist Alfred Nobel changed the fate of Stockholm with his generous legacy of metals and monetary rewards. It's a rare soul who hasn't heard of the Nobel Prizes. Each year since 1901, the awards have been presented on December 10th in Stockholm, except the Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo.

Some of the Nobel Prize festivities take place in the Blue Hall of the Stadshuset, or City Hall. This building is an easy walk from the Royal Viking Hotel.

The tallest tower of the City Hall, topped with a gleaming gold cap and three crowns has become the universal symbol of the city. Available in English, guided tours are the only way to see the Stadshuset, but well worth the time. You're sure to marvel at the Golden Room, containing an eye-popping 19 million fragments of gold leaf.

A true Nordic experience awaits at the famous Ice Bar. Located in the Nordic Sea Hotel, the world's first ice bar opened in June of 2002. A space like none other, you can visit year round to be surrounded by clear, shimmering ice and drink from an ice glass. The tables are also made of ice, but they offer no ice seats, since most people don't care to linger that long!

In the Ice Bar temperatures remain well below freezing, but never fear, all guests are loaned a parka and warm footwear. This extraordinary room is just off the hotel lobby and can hold 30 guests at one time. As you might expect, this unique experience is popular, so advance booking is recommended.

In the summer Stockholm experiences long hours of daylight, due to it's northern location. However in the winter months, December for example, darkness falls around 3:00 p. m.

You'll find Stockholm especially romantic after dark. The combination of historic buildings and reflecting light, gently rippling on the water is beguiling.

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