April 12, 2017

Rooftop Tour!

I had the opportunity yesterday to try another fun activity here in Stockholm... the Rooftop Tours. The tough life of a Concierge! They, along with their partners OURWAY Tours, invited Les Clefs d'Or Sweden (local Concierge union) to try it out ahead of the busy summer season. The Rooftop Tours have been running for 10 years now and this was my first time trying it so I was happy for the opportunity.
Photo op with Riddarholmen Church in the background.
The tour takes place on the rooftop of the old parliament building, now the administrative courthouse (Kammarrätten), and another building on the island of Riddarholmen, just adjacent to the beautiful Riddarholmen Church. The Church, built in 1271, is the oldest building in Stockholm and towers over you on the tour. The island of Riddarholmen is just next to Gamla Stan (the old town) and is often overlooked by tourists. But it is definitely worth a walk around when coming to Stockholm! Some beautiful architecture and viewpoints can be found here. The church itself is also worth a visit (closed during the winter months). The only preserved medieval monastery church in Stockholm, it is the final resting place of many Swedish kings and queens.
Safety instructions...
...all suited up.
The tour starts in the attic of the courthouse where you suit up in the harnesses and helmets and the guides go over safety and what to expect. It is important to dress appropriately! Sensible shoes and warm clothes, as you are exposed to the elements. They do have extra gloves and clothing to borrow as well as clear plastic bags to hang around your neck for your phone/camera. You can actually use your swipe function on your phone through these plastic bags which means that you are able to take pictures without risking dropping your phone. All pictures in this article were taken through the plastic bags.
Taking pictures with phone in a plastic bag.
Then it was time to step out on the rooftop. They have set up walkways along the rooftops which are easy to follow and you are always attached to the roof via your harness. There are platforms along the way to stop to listen to the guide and take pictures. For the most part there are railings to hold on to, but at a couple of points there aren't. Psychologically these are the tough parts. Even though you are attached to the roof, the walkway is a foot or more wide and you aren't on the edge, it still is a bit daunting to traverse the walkway without holding on to something. Thankfully, I found the fact that you have to concentrate on pulling your "lifeline" along the parallel tracks made it easier at those parts.
The guides were great and very knowledgeable. The tour stops at different points/platforms and the guide explains what you are seeing and how it relates to the history of Stockholm. And, as you are in the oldest parts of Stockholm, you are surrounded by history. These points are perfect places to take the requisite pictures (without worrying about being on a skinny walkway). The whole experience lasted a little over an hour and it was definitely a fun and unique way to see the city and learn a little history. Though perhaps not for someone who has a bad fear of heights.
Our guide!
Booking their set tours can be done through their website or via OURWAY Tours. Besides the set tours, you have the option of booking smaller private tours upon request. Larger groups can also be accommodated. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly for help in making a booking. Keep in mind that these tours are popular and space is limited. This means that you should definitely book in advance as they are generally fully booked on the day. If there is severe weather (windstorm, lightning, heavy fog, etc.) and they cancel the tour, you will get your money back. For safety measures, you cannot be shorter than 150cm (4.86 feet) or weigh more than 120kgs (264lbs). Children under 18 need to meet these requirements and be accompanied by an adult.
View of Slussen.
Panoramic view of Lake Mälaren.
Lake Mälaren with City Hall on the right.

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