Thursday, 27 January 2022

Stockholm in three days Part 1


I love travelling and I always regret that I was not brave enough to go solo travelling in my student days. However its never too late to do the things you have always wanted, so when my daughter asked me to go to Stockholm for a long weekend  in March 2020, I jumped at the chance.

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, it is a very cosmopolitan city. The city stretches over 14 islands, it has many universities, shopping plazas and plenty of Scandinavian history with the Royal palace situated in the city center. There is lots to see and do and the plan was to discover all  these amazing  places during our three day city break.

The weather in Stockholm in March is between -1 to +5 degrees C, so it is good to go well prepared with warm clothes that you can layer, take a hat and scarf and gloves and good shoes if you planning on exploring the city on foot.

This was no luxury five star hotel break, it was going to be a city break on a budget. What I mean by that is that we had booked a hostel for our accommodation and lots of free walking tours to explore the city. It is possible to travel on a budget and still have a great experience.

Our city break was for three days, Fri- Sunday. We flew from London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the flight is very short and convenient and as we had opted for only carry on luggage so it was a breeze to get in and out of the airport and we saved on paying for additional baggage.

Morning flights mean you get a chance to enjoy breakfast at the airport and get an early start to your vacation. To make the most of a short break it's a good idea to set off early and return late, that way you make the most of your time especially for short breaks.

Stockholm is a beautiful city and the airport is only 25 miles away. At the airport, it is really easy to buy tickets for the Flygbussarna airport coaches which run every 15 minutes to the Stockholm City Terminal, the journey takes only 45 minutes and costs approximately £10.00 one way.

We had booked our two night stay at City Hostel, it is in a central location in Stockholm and it is only 15 minutes walk from the city bus station and city center. To enter the hostel there is a flight of stairs, this may pose a problem for some one with a disability.

My student days experience of hostels was cold dormitories with shared bathrooms and toilets and freezing communal kitchens. However when we arrived at the hostel we were staying at I was pleasantly surprised.

The reception is manned between 9 am and 6 pm. It is not necessary to pre reserve the rooms however it is advisable to do so during peak season and if you want a private room.

Our flight was an early morning one as we wanted to make the most of our long weekend. City Hostels offer to store your luggage safely in a locked secure area on arrival if you arrive early and they also offer to store luggage on check out days if you want to go exploring before your return flights or on ward journey. 

We found this really useful and made use of this facility on arrival as well as on departure day as our return flights were in the evening.

Since we were able to to drop of our bags we went out exploring the town and to pick up some groceries for our breakfast for the next two days. 

The standard of living in Sweden is high. It certainly is not a cheap city as food and drinks are costly amongst other things.

After exploring the town and enjoying a late lunch we checked into the hostel. Checking in was an easy process and in no time we were in our room enjoying a coffee and the famous cinnamon bun planning for the next day. 

The hostel can accommodate up to 79 guests per night. There are options of 6,8,10 and 12 bed dormitories, and also private rooms that have a tv.

We had booked a private room which had bunk beds, the bottom being a double bed and top bunk being a single bed. The rooms are compact but very clean. There was a small hanging rail, a desk and a chair in the room and a TV . There were usb charging ports, plenty of sockets and bed linen was provided. As we were travelling light we rented the bath towels at a very reasonable rate of £ 1.50 each. 

The communal space and corridors were well lit and there were security cameras for safety. Modern wall art graced the corridor walls, the decor was clean and minimalist giving the hostel a very sleek feel.

The hostel had male and female showers and toilets which were immaculately clean and all had hair dryers.The sharing kitchen was well equipped and the lounge area had sofas with plenty of books and board games, free tea and coffee which was an added bonus.There was a laundry room and a quiet working station area equipped with computers and WiFi was readily available too. 

The charge for the private room was approximately £ 50.00 a night so £25.00 each which is pretty reasonable for the location. The location of City Hostel is convenient, immediately next door is a 7 Eleven mini market that was open till late selling all essentials, coffee, food and house hold items. A five minute walk around the block there is a larger supermarket and there were many coffee shops, bars and restaurants in the vicinity.

The kitchen was extremely well equipped with crockery, plenty of storage for food and also had an oven and microwave. Although we did not cook, we did have breakfast at the hostel and really enjoyed chatting to the other travellers staying at the hostel. I liked the idea where people could leave any unwanted non perishable surplus food in the pantry for others to use instead of wasting it by throwing it away. 

My experience of a hostel stay was very pleasant and comfortable, If you are looking for clean basic accommodation with no frills I would highly recommend City Hostel. In my next post I shall feature Stockholm City and things to do on a budget and places where we ate.

You can watch the you tube videos of our Stockholm trip below:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Have you ever stayed in a hostel in recent times? Do share your experience in the comments below.

You can also read all about my Peak District Hostel stay at Castleton

Monday, 24 January 2022

Why Your Business Should Have a Digital Marketing Strategy

During lock down I started my online cooking classes. It took a lot of preparing, planning and executing to get every thing in order. From planning the classes, testing recipes and getting all the equipment was just the beginning. Next I had to create a the business plan, do market research  and plan a budget. These are not the only things that are required, to target the right niche and understand your business a digital marketing strategy is very important to make your business survive in these tough times.

A digital marketing strategy highlights the specific goals that you want to achieve from your digital channels and provides a sense of direction for those activities. Without a strategy, efforts are meaningless and there’s no real way to understand your performance. I have teamed up with an SEO agency in Hertfordshire to explain why your business needs one.

Understanding the Competition

Healthy competition is great for business as it creates opportunities to learn and grow. By carrying out research on your competitors you can look at what they are doing to take your own learnings, fill in the gaps and improve on your performance. That might be content ideas that drive traffic and those that don't perform so well. On the SERP in particular, you can use your competitors to see what content Google favours and that visitors want to see.

Improve Efficiency

Monitoring and investigating how your budget is spent can help you to increase your ROI and get more bang for your buck. It's simple enough, without monitoring you won’t have a clue as to how well you’re doing. There are many tools out there that can help you keep an eye on this such as Google Analytics that allows you to track your conversions and revenue. You can even drill down to find out which channels are performing the best and identify problem areas that need to be addressed.

Understand Your Customer Better

Reviewing analytics can also help you to better understand your customers, what they love and do more of it to bring in additional revenue. Again, this is all information that you can access through analytics tools that allow you to see where your customers are spending their time and where they are “bouncing” off. This can help to boost customer satisfaction and user experience which is more than likely to be rewarded by Google and other search engines.

Starting up a business needs a lot of thought and planning and if executed properly and methodically it can pay off. Do lots of research and plan accordingly. Have you ever thought to start up your own business? Do share your any useful tips you may have  in the comments below.

**collaborative post.