WINTER was coming. Days were shorter and the nights longer, that was how it was at Swedish capital city.

Des and I arrived mid afternoon at the Hotel Birger Jarl, our home for the second leg of the Scandinavian adventure. The centrally located hotel in Stockholm could pass for a showroom for modern Swedish interior design.

The admiration of our nest, one of the hotel's "designer rooms" though, had to be cut short as night was fast approaching. Tempted we were to plop on the fluffy bed wrapped in crisp white linen, or sit on the seductive Swedish chair, we tore ourselves with great effort from the room to tour the city before the sun set.

Birger Jarl, who the hotel borrowed its name from, was the man who founded the city in 1252. Stockholm is spread across 14 islands on the coast at the mouth of the country's third largest lake, Lake Malaren, a freshwater lake that flows out to the Baltic Sea. The city is the cultural, media, political, and economic center of Sweden.

Stockholm is breathtaking. Just like any European country that respects and adores its past, the old world architecture of the capital city is well preserved (the region is home to Sweden's three World Heritage Sights: The Drottningholm Palace, Skogskyrkogarden or Woodland Cemetery, and Birka). The modern structures that were built around it.

And just like the other European cities I had the chance to visit, the public transportation system is excellent. The 1950-inaugurated Stockholm metro has an extensive yet well-planned and comprehensive system, which makes moving about the city very convenient for both the local and tourists. This metro has been marked as "the longest art gallery in the world" with the unique decorations that adorn the stations. I added this place to my list of cities I fell in love with.

The ride to the city center was short and quick. The city centrum, Norrmalam, was the first on the list. The area is not only the business center, but shopping as well. In fact, it is the biggest shopping district in Sweden.

Sunset was caught while crossing the 44-meter span of Riksbron (aka the National Bridge) connecting Norrmalm to Riksgatan (the National Street). The landscape, which included important Stockholm's structures -- Norstedts, the oldest publishing house in Sweden, the Vasabron bridge and the Stadshuset (City Hall) on the foreground, made the photograph a perfect shot at day's end.

Crossing the Riksgatan, between the two buildings of the Swedish Parliament, and the Stable Bridge, we entered the old town of Gamla Stan. It was twilight when we stepped on the cobblestoned main street of the historic area. The walk along the narrow alleys of the town that dates back to the 13th century revealed stillness in its atmosphere at that hour. Time seemed to come to a halt as soon as light faded.

Night fell and the temperature dropped, it was time for us to head back. From the Old Town to the central train station, we walked through the sunken pedestrian plaza of the most central public square of the city, the Sergels torg (named after the 18th-century sculptor who had his workshop at the north of the square). Covering the circular plaza is The Plattan's (aka The Slab"), the two-toned triangular floor pattern, a fabulous visual attraction of the area.

After a quick bite, we were back at the hotel. I didn't mind that daytime was shorter. Longer nights had its perks, like the extended time to bask in the comfort of our stylish accommodations at the Hotel Birger Jarl.

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Hotel Birger Jarl, Tulegatan 8, Stockholm. Visit their website at

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