Saturday, May 21, 2011


Stockholm has to be the cleanest city that I've ever been in. We spent the day in Gamla Stan (old town) -- the original island of medieval Stockholm -- walking around the narrow cobbled lanes and around the royal castle and cathedral, and all the buildings are in good condition (or actively being fixed and under scaffolding and tarps), painted lovely ocher shades that make the curving streets seem as if they are bathed in sunlight, even when they are shadowed. It's a lovely place.

Easy to get lost in, despite the fact that it's about 1/2 mile from end to end. We spent the morning just wandering around, then went to the Kunglinga Slottet (royal castle), a huge square not-too-castle-looking castle to see the State Apartments and public rooms. They've got more room here than Buckingham palace, decorated most in the rococo style with tons of gold leaf, over-dramatic scenes on the ceilings, and chandeliers the size of a volkswagen. It's really sort of odd to move from one room that is very much like the florid style of Versailles (gold leaf, red velvet and the like) to a simply decorated room of pale greenish-gray walls, gray woodwork, and white ceilings. it's like going from "woah! Royalty!" to the sedate, calm interiors of IKEA. I kid, of course, but there is somethingquintissentially Swedish about those colors and simple style that are immediately recognizable.

There are actually five different museums in the complex -- and only one wing is really open to the public --so we wandered around the armory museum (which contains, among other things, a really cool collection of carriages), the crown jewels, and the museum tucked under the walls of the original north wing with the remains of the cellars and walls of the first fortress build here - Tre Kronor, Three Crowns. I'm a huge sucker for the bits and pieces that always show up under these old buildings, so we spent a while poking about in the museum there.

The cathedral, Storykyrkan (well, it's not technically a cathedral, but it's accepted as one) is lovely, and has the original of the much-copied St George and the Dragon statue along with some truly spectacularly over-the-top royal boxes/pews. I can't imagine acutally sitting in one, they'd give me nightmares of being swallowed up by frou-frou and gold leaf.

Popped in for lunch in one of the hundreds of little restaurants that line the alleys (it's going to take a while to get used to paying $5 for a glass of diet coke) and followed lunch with a long walk along the original streets of the island -- a couple hundred yards in from the current shoreline, and linked to it by dozens of narrow, twisty alleys. It took two tries to find the medieval Stockholm museum, but it was worth it -- more bits and bobs from the old town and even a stretch of the original city wall (now twenty feet down from ground level).

We made a valiant attempt to wander around the National Museum but we were done. Even ice cream, eaten while watching the boats dock nearby and enjoying the sun, wasn't enough to perk us up. We took the metro back up north and staggered to our hotel room to fall into a coma for three hours. The fact that it was still bright outside at 9pm when we ventured out to find dinner, is still a bit weird.

Tomorrow? Lots on the docket -- Skansen, the architecture museum, Stadhuset, Riddarholmskyrkran, City museum, possibly a quick trip out of the city to see the Anunshog burial mounds after dinner. Probably too much to actually get done, but...well, we're going try!It's supposed to rain on Monday, so we're going to try for some of the more "indoor" pursuits and make sure to visit Skansen and the island of Djurgarden while it's sunny and gorgeous.

Now? To sleep. Possibly to dream. most likely to sink into a coma that won't even be broken by the morning sun 3am.

1 comment:

Fru C said...

Don't forget to visit the Vasa ship ;) if you want something to look at and it is a rainy day.

See you soon :D//Carolina