This holiday season forget online shopping and take a journey to Stockholm, a magical capital of Sweden built on 14 islands, for many would say that is has so huge antiques market that it's totally disproportional to its size.Nalynn Dolan Caine ▼ Tuesday October 12, 2010 6:01PM ET
Venice of the North
But we won't lose anything if we put auctions on hold for a while considering that they are held every second week. Because Stockholm offers so many excitements and a wide range of experiences from art, history and shopping, it will take a while to walk around and soak them all in. For the start visit Gamla stan (Old Town) situated on the city's island of Stadsholmen that dates back to the 13th century, and take a leisurely walk through its cobbled street and medieval alleyways.
The Old Town hosts some of the city's iconic buildings as Riddarholm church, one of the most distinctive Stockholm landmarks where most of the Swedish heads of state are buried and Royal Palace, the official residence of the Swedish monarch. Just near the palace you will meet another tourist attraction, a miniature sculpture of Iron Boy to whom people like to leave a candy or a coin. Cute. The Old Town also host Riddarhuset, a Swedish equivalent to the British House of Lords and Stockholm Cathedral, a home of famous statue of St. George and the Dragon and Nobel Museum.
Stockholm has more than 1000 restaurants but before you leave Old Town rest your feet at Den gyldene freden (The Golden Peace), the world's oldest restaurant in business since 1722 with an unaltered interior. Talking about the world's oldest, find time to visit Vasa Museum. It hosts the most powerful ship of its time and the world's only preserved 17th century ship Vasa. Unfortunately, Vasa earned her glory just like Titanic. She sunk on her first maiden voyage just a few minutes after she touched the water. Apparently the king ordered too many canons to be brought to the ship.
The beauty of Stockholm is in its orientation to the water and its most famous silhouette situated by the water is City Hall. Take a guided tour to see its Golden Hall embellished with 18 million gold mosaic tiles where Nobel Prize recipients, royalty and guests dance after the dinner. After that enjoy the amazing view from City Hall Tower and then take a seat at Stadshuskallaren restaurant situated in the basement and taste food enjoyed by Nobel winners. For more great views of Salt Lake, Old Town and Stockholm's most central parts go up to Fjallgatan street in Södermalm, a charming, bohemian part of the city.
Back in downtown find out why Stockholm is called shopping capital of the North. Stroll through Drottninggatan street or Biblioteksgatan, a small pedestrian street (Stockholm’s answer to New York's Fifth Avenue) where you will find the city’s most renowned boutique for exclusive and quality watches, upscale designer clothes, shoes, in short, everything that money can buy. Then take a look at W.A Bolin store, the world’s oldest and the most exclusive jewellery house (the family has been court jeweller to five Russian tsars and three Swedish kings!).
Take a break from shopping at Götgatsbacken, pubs and coffee-shops haven and then, before you go to an auction (you didn't forget an auction, did you?), go straight to Sturebadet, a seven floors architectural gem and Sweden's most exclusive spa that hosted names such as King Oscar II and Greta Garbo. A water tower on seventh floor hosts conference rooms, so if you have a business meeting in your mind, there's no better place to be held than here. And now, you are ready for an auction.
Two auction iconic houses Bukowski Auktioner AB and Stockholms Auktionsverk represent the best what Sweden has to offer. Stockholms Auktionsverk founded back in 1674 is considered as the world's oldest auction house having auctions more than 75 days per year. A few months ago the house made a world record by selling the painting of a Swedish artist at the highest price ever paid at an auction in Sweden. Who knows, maybe at the time of your visit adrenaline will flow again and if it won't, who cares, you had a good time in Stockholm. Haven't you? ■