One of the joys of having children living in far flung places is that you need to visit – check that they are really ‘doing fine’, using sunscreen, wearing a coat in winter etc. etc. To date husband and I have ‘had’ to undertake parental visits to Calgary (including Banff and Lake Louise), Berlin, Venice, Nuremberg, and Cologne – as well as London, Somerset and Edinburgh. Crossing the Border usually involves paintbrushes and screwdrivers – the border crossings easy, it’s the chores that are required once we arrive ? although great to see the ‘home improvements’ taking shape.
Our latest trip was to Stockholm in Sweden. This coincided with an unusually warm spring, so it really was ‘sunshine all the way’.
Although husband had visited the city as a child it was my first visit and I was looking forward exploring.
I found it a city of contrasts – old and new buildings, many parks and museums amongst the mainland and the islands. Water was a constant presence, either in lakes and rivers or the sea. All linked by the numerous bridges. It reminded me of both York and Venice.
The buildings are well maintained and there is little damage from any previous conflicts – although many of the government/royal buildings had tales of major fires in their history. ‘Careless with matches’ I thought.
Despite the weather we did not sit on the beaches, although they were sandy and inviting. We behaved like real tourists and visited ‘the sights’.
The Vasamuseet is a must. I was not expecting such a spectacular sight as ‘The Vasa’. Its size alone was a surprise and that it is intact is a credit indeed to the excavators and restorers.
The Royal Palace – Kungliga Slottet – is very impressive to walk around. We did not go inside although I understand it is worthwhile, so perhaps next time (if it’s raining)
Skansen is an open-air museum displaying a history of Swedish culture using original buildings, tools and exhibits from many centuries.
Traditional skills such as carpentry and pottery were evidenced as well as a fully functional glassblowers workshop – a skill which is always amazing to watch. The Zoo housed many of the native wildlife and was an interesting walk. As it was midday and hot most of the animals were hiding in the shade.
We took a boat trip to the royal residence of Drottingholm. It is not a large palace, yet the grounds are extensive and well worth a walk. The boat trip provides an opportunity to view the outer-city landscape and some of the surrounding islands. Lunch at the small restaurant was traditional fayre – which of course included a cake. The boats sail hourly and appear to finish around 5.00pm so check your return times or you may have to use public transport to return to the city.
We ate a lot, especially joining in the Swedish tradition of ‘Fika Time’, a break involving cake.
I would recommend all the places we ate although my favourite was ‘Meatballs for the People’ at Nytorgsgaten 30 (http://www.meatball.se/) A traditional Scandinavian restaurant, may not look pretty but the best meatballs and mashed potato ever!
The Fotografiska (Photography) is another place to call – for both the exhibitions and the lunch. The walk along the waterside added to the experience.
Whilst walking in the city, in the sunshine, the tourist can view the renown buildings and many of the museums we called in were those we just came to on our walks – such as the Nobelmuseet. More interesting than it sounds. At the time I was reading ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ whose author Gabriel Garzia Marquez was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature in 1982. I picked up a copy of the book in the literature room, found my page and sat to read a chapter – how amazing was that?
The area we spent a lot of time in was Gamla Stan (think York and the Shambles). Full of history, little alleys and delightful cafes. Even though it was hot we still managed to call in to Sunbergs Konditori for a cup of their famous Hot Chocolate.
Stockholm, like many cities, is divided into urban areas (suburbs) interspersed with parks and museums. So much to see and explore – looking forward to our next trip already