Outside Copenhagen Central Station at 4:34am on the very cold morning of Day 3.
Copenhagen Central was very closeby and only 5 minutes walk from our hotel.
The plan this morning was to catch the train for the 657 kilometre ride to Stockholm, Sweden via Malmö.
The fresh newspaper headline in the early morning, where the Danish PM, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, got a 'Fuck-Fingeren' (middle finger) after the 'No' vote prevailed in the previous day's referendum.
Our train arriving at 5:12am to take us to Malmö.
Crossing the 8 kilometre Øresund Bridge in the morning darkness.
At the first train station once we arrived in Sweden, and even though we were still in the Schengen zone, the police boarded and checked everyone's identification. With the massive influx of migrants entering Sweden this year, they had just abruptly ended their famous 'open-borders' policy. The Swedish government was also seeking to introduce legislation allowing them to close the bridge to Denmark 'in an emergency'.
And at Malmö Central Station where we got some coffee and Swedish Kronor from the ATM before boarding the train onward to Stockholm. Sweden was also now my 80th country visited.
The high speed SJ 2000 train for our ~5 hour trip to Stockolm.
Our tickets were 750 SEK / $88 each for first class, with the extra cost above second class being only $18.
The 1-2 seating in first class.
Our breakfast, also included in the first class ticket. As well as getting an early morning train to maximise our time in Stockholm, it was ~40% less expensive than later ones.
The Swedish scenery whizzing past at 200 kph.
Complimentary tea, coffee and snacks in the first class cabin.
The second class cabin.
And the Bistro car.
Where you could sit and enjoy a hot drink and some food.
Disembarking on time at Stockholm Central Station.
Quite a beautiful train station, both inside and out.
It was definitely a few degrees colder than when we left Copenhagen and a bit windier too.
Before heading to our hotel, we went to check out Klara Church.
Construction of the church started in 1572, with the 116 metre tall tower added in the 1880's.
We then checked into our hotel, the Radisson Blu Strand Hotel. An historic hotel, built over 100 years ago.
And the beautiful view from our window.
We then went for a walk to Östermalms Saluhall.
Fresh fish. Östermalms Saluhall is an 1880s food hall with antique stalls selling produce, seafood & gourmet goods, plus several cafes.
Some of the locals enjoying their lunch.
A great place to take in the sights, smells, amazing atmosphere and tasty food.
The place was very busy, but we managed to find some spare seats after a bit of a wait. Rianda opted for the marinated salmon.
And I had the Stekt strömming (fileted fresh herring with dill, salt, ground white pepper and breadcrumbs and fried in butter) with mashed potatoes and Lingonberries. A very tasty and traditional Scandanavian dish!
After the delicous lunch, we then walked over to the Old Town area of Gamla Stan and perused the Christmas markets in Stortorget.
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, at 90 centimetres at its taper, it is the narrowest street in Stockholm.
We then walked over to the island of Skeppsholmen to the Moderna Museet, the Museum of Modern Art. At the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.
Where they also an exhibit full of gingerbread houses made by Swedish kids!
A the main exhibit for the Moderna Museet, 'Reality Machines' by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist. This colourful labyrinth-like work was called 'Seu Corpo Da Obra' (Your body of work), 2011. You could walk around and touch and look through the coloured transparent walls. Quite a fun way to experience a piece of art!
Moss Wall, 1994. This piece of art was a wall covered in reindeer moss. Not quite as engaging as the previous artwork but was based on the message that pure nature no longer exists.
Who is afraid yellow ball, 2006. This artwork is based on the notion that we all share the world but see things differently. That visual perception is a cultural construct.
Beauty, 1993. This artwork was a darkened room, with a fine mist spraying from the ceiling, with a light shining through it. Optical phenomena is supposed to be Eliasson's oeuvre.
Your Condensation, 2013.
Room For One Colour, 1997. This artwork was a room with muliple mono-frequency sodium lights shining from above. Because of the mono-frequency, it was only possible to make out tones varying from yellow to black. Quite an interesting experience and supposedly allowed you to simplify your sense of vision because of the lack of colours and perceive details more clearly. Very trippy anyway!
We then went on to the main collection where there was artwork by Picasso, Dali, Warhol etc.
Poster artwork from the days of the U.S.S.R.
The Enigma of Wilhelm Tell, 1933, Salvador Dali.
Swedish Art students.
Expansion dirigée rose, 1967, César.
Brillo Soap Pads Box, 1968, Andy Warhol.
Raysse, peinture à haute tension, 1969, Sturtevant.
After a very interesting afternoon, we then headed back to the Radisson Blu Strand Hotel.
After a bit of a rest at the hotel, we ventured out for some dinner at Restaurang Frippe Dramaten.
Where Rianda had the very tasty burger with two types of cheese, truffle aioli and fried onion.
I had the Swedish farm chicken with deep fried aubergine, grilled peppers, rocket, goat cheese and red wine sauce.
For dessert we both shared Frippe's Royal dessert which consisted of Meringue with cloudberry jam, white and dark chocolate, vanilla icecream and roasted almonds.
And Rianda hanging out with some very bright and colourful Swedish Moose on our evening stroll back to our hotel.
The view from our window at 7am on a cold winter's morning in Stockholm.
And Rianda snuggling up under the sheets while I went for a run to the island of Djurgården.
Breakfast was served in the atrium of the hotel, which was delightfully decorated with festive Christmas decorations.
And another tasty breakfast including bacon, sausages, pancakes, salmon and pickled herring.
We then went for a walk to Djurgården to go to the Vasa Museum, to see the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank 1.3 kilometre's into her maiden voyage in 1628.
After being rediscovered in 1956, she was raised after 333 years at the bottom of Stockholm Harbour in 1961.
An English tour was commencing just after we arrived and it was a great way to learn the very interesting history of the ship and ask a few questions too.
Volvo. We then headed back into the city.
At Kungsträdgården where an ice-skating rink had been set up to enjoy the winter weather.
And a Christmas Market as well.
And where enjoyed some hot glögg and pepparkaka.
People of Stockholm checking out the colourful christmas window displays at NK department store.
Also she wasn't quite ready to end the vacation, Rianda had to go home a day early for work, so we said farewell before she caught the bus to the airport to fly back to Dubai.
I then checked into my hotel for the night, Victory Hotel located in the Gamla stan Old Town, and rated #14 of 161 hotels in Stockholm on Tripadvisor.
Quite a quirky and fun hotel, with every room named after a Swedish Captain. Every room suposedly contained photos, memorabilia and interesting facts about the captain that the room was named after, including a model of his ship.
I then ventured out to explore the alleys of Gamla stan again.
A sculpture of Saint George and the Dragon at Storkyrkan / Stockholm Cathedral, to commemorate the victory of Sweden over Denmark at the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471.
Grabbing a hot dog at a Korvkiosk in Stortorget.
And listened to the Christmas carols at dusk.
For dinner I went to a small, quaint restaurant down an alley called Gasgrand 4, and enjoyed some reindeer burger with potatoes and lingonberries.
Nova Café on Järntorget.
For my final evening I had organised to join a walkabout through the Old Town on the Stockholm Ghost Walk.
Our guide was an Englishman living in Stockholm, and was a very entertaining orator and actor.
Leading us through the streets with his lantern.
Saint George and the Dragon again.
Järnpojke, or "little boy who looks at the moon". It was apparently good luck to rub his head.
He had everyone really enthralled with his stories, tales and history of Stockholm. At one stage he was talking about the black plague, went into a coughing fit and started spewing up some 'blood' into his handkerchief!
Checking for a ghost down the alley. He joked about the crazy Swede's, and how we were lucky as we could go home after our holiday, but he wasn't so lucky as he had unfortunately married one!
When I got back to my hotel, someone was waiting at my door with some port, a glass and some chocolate. I had at first thought they had got the wrong room, but it was actually for me! A very nice touch and great end to the day.
Another decent hotel breakfast on Day 5.
After breakfast, I walked over to Stadsgården, where Fotografiska, the Swedish Museum of Photography, was situated. Fotografiska is housed in a former customs house dating from 1906.
After paying my 115 SEK entrance fee, I went to see the first exhibition, where portraits by the New York-based German photographer Martin Schoeller were on display.
Schoeller came to New York in 1993 and worked as an assistant for Annie Leibovitz, and where he developed his "big head" portrait technique. His use of high definition medium format photography also results in the 'hyper-detailed' close-up style.
The slightly quirky portraits of famous people were also quite a delight to peruse and admire.
Also on the first floor was a collection of images of refugee children making their way to Europe by Magnus Wennman.
On the second level was an exhibition of some of the work of French photographer, Guy Bourdin. Bourdin was known for his provocative fashion and surrealist photography, worked for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and shot ad campaigns for Chanel, Gianni Versace, Loewe, Pentax and Bloomingdale's.
This image was shot for Vogue magazine in 1970. No photoshop either!
Some amazing and beautiful photo's that were a real joy to observe, absorb and admire. They also had a timeless quality and aesthetic to them, even though they were 30-40 years old.
Also on the second floor was the work of Swedish Photographer, Thomas Wågström. The work and style, while interesting, was very different and not as accessible or as easily appreciated as Bourdin's mixture of colour, beauty and shock.
After a very interesting morning at Fotografiska, I then walked along Stadsgården to the lookout at Katarinahissen to see Gamla stan. The tower in the distance on the middle-left is Stockholm City Hall, and the location of the Nobel Prize Banquet.
After picking up my bag from my Hotel, I stopped by the Christmas Markets in Stortorget to spend my last Swedish kronor on some glögg and pepparkaka.
The Royal Swedish Opera house in the distance on my last walk through the Old Town.
I then took the Air Shuttle Bus for the 35 minute ride to Arlanda Airport to begin the journey home.
And outside Terminal 5 for the international non-Schengen flights.
Grabbing a Christmas meatball and ham sandwich airside.
And about to board the Ukraine International Airlines 737 for the ~2 hour flight to Kiev (KBP).
Chocolate dessert for 2 euro's. The airline is owned by Ukrainian billionaire, Ihor Kolomoyskyi.
Disembarking at a remote stand at Kiev Airport. The arrival time was 6:35pm and the departure time for my Dubai flight was only 50 minutes away at 7:25pm.
Luckily I made it through security and to the gate a few minutes before boarding commenced. We then departed on time for my final flight of a great and very enjoyable trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm!