Stockholm, Sweden, June 21-June 27, 2012

(Part One of Three)


Our destination was Sweden as we drove to the airport on the afternoon of June 21st.  We had an evening flight to Amsterdam, and then a two hour flight to Stockholm on a smaller plane.  The flight connection was pretty tight, and we barely made it to the connecting flight before they started to board.  The bumpy flight to Stockholm was a bit much for Joan, and she was very happy to finally be on the ground.

We retrieved our luggage, figured out how to buy a bus ticket to get close to our Bed and Breakfast, and off we went.  The bus ride was just fine, and we found our stop down in the heart of Stockholm. The lady who ran the bed and breakfast had not given very good instructions, so we walked much further, hauling our luggage, than we needed to.  Luckily it was a beautiful day. We finally arrived at the B&B, and got settled in.  It wasn't quite what we had expected.  There were three flights of stairs, and a little less privacy than we had been expecting.

We headed out shortly to get a bite to eat, and had a wonderful pizza at a Greek restaurant that was just down the street. Their pizzas came with a side salad of a kind of coleslaw.

The next morning, we headed off to the Vasa Museum, which houses a huge wooden ship that had sunk 300 years earlier.  The restoration was incredible. If you ever get to Stockholm, this is a "must see".  

The massive size, and how they had preserved it, soaking board by board in a preservative for a long period was all very impressive.  

The entire museum is devoted to this ship, it's history, and restoration.













After touring the museum, we met Eva, her husband, Andrea, and their little daughter, Laura. Eva had visited us in Minnesota several years earlier, and we had kept in touch with her over the years.  She had helped us plan our trip.  They were wonderful in taking time to show us around, tell us about the various sites, and just made us feel so welcomed.  We walked from the museum over to Skansen, which is a massive outdoor museum spread over many acres.


One of the biggest holidays in Sweden is Midsummer's Day, and this was the second day of the festivities.  Raising the Maypole, and dancing around it are "must do's" if you are there for the occasion, and we were persuaded that we should also partake in this tradition.  And what dance did we do?  Well, the Frog Dance, of course!



This video may give you a little taste of the event:

We walked around the outdoor museum and saw many of the old structures that had been moved into the area. It's a massive place, we saw only a little part of it.

Another tradition is wearing a garland made of flowers and birch branches, so we took part in that activity too, with the bust of Linneaus looking on.  We convinced Eva and Andrea to have their photo taken too.












They were kind enough to give us a ride back to our B&B later that afternoon, and we went out to eat later in the evening.

The next morning started off as a beautiful day.  After breakfast, we headed off to the old city of Stockholm, called Gamla Stan, and met my brother, Rodney, and his wife, Joanne.  We talked a bit, and then went to tour the Royal Palace.  The lengthy history of some of these places is amazing, going back to the 12th and 13th century.  

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the palace, but it was a very impressive building with a lot of pomp, circumstance, and beauty.




This is the palace.








From there we walked downtown, had a very Swedish lunch, and headed to City Hall.   Birger Jarl, has his cenotaph here.  He worked to unite Sweden around 1250 or so. 

From here we went on a tour boat to get a view of Stockholm from the many canals that run between the islands on which Stockholm is located.  While we were waiting, the skied opened up and we got rather soaked. Luckily, we had umbrellas to help a bit, but we still got pretty wet.

The "Under the Bridges" boat tour took us by many historic buildings, and had to go through two locks.


After the tour, we walked around Gamla Stan, and found a place to eat, and then headed back to our B&B via the bus system, which was a great way to get around.








Monday morning we awoke to rain, so we just kind of stayed around the B&B. Later in the morning we snuck in a walk between showers around the Vasa Park area.  Andrea and Eva picked us up after lunch and we drove north out of Stockholm to a city called Sigtuna.  

Sigtuna has the title of being the oldest city in Sweden, dating back to about 950.  The Main Street is the same location that it was then.  Pretty amazing when you think that's over 1,000 years.

The ruins of the first church, dating back to 970-1050 are still very much visible next to a "newer" church from the 17th century.

It really is difficult to comprehend the age of some of the places, and the history that has occurred in these locations. 


After leaving Sigtuna, we headed to Uppsala, also north of Stockholm.  It's a beautiful city surrounded by country that is very reminiscent of Minnesota.

We stopped into a bakery for a small bite to eat and drink, and we had some wonderful little tarts covered with three sugared raspberries.  They were almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.




The cathedral in Uppsala is a wonder to behold.

It was enormous, with a very high ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows and ornamentation, and intricate carvings. 

We also found Linneaus again, this time his bones were buried in the floor under our feet, as were many other notables.

Apparently, the church was originally Catholic, but is now Lutheran. This apparently was based on the decree of a king who changed the official religion of Sweden.

We headed back to Stockholm to meet my brother and his wife, because they were taking us out to eat in honor of our 45th wedding anniversary in just a few days. My brother had made reservations at "Wedholms Fisk" well in advance. Oh, and what a meal it was!  We started out with champagne, had some wine, and the most marvelous shrimp dish that I have ever eaten. "Tiger Prawns roasted with garlic, bread crumbs and parmesan" to be exact.

 We ended with three scrumptious desserts that we all shared.  It really was an evening to remember, and so nice of them. And I am so blessed to have been married to Joan for 45 years, a decision I have never regretted and often appreciated.




The next day, Tuesday, June 26th, was overcast with a few sprinkles. 

After breakfast at the B&B, we headed to City Hall to meet Rod and Joanne.  We went on a tour of the building, and it really is quite the structure!  Nobel Prize winners are wined and dined here in the "Blue Room" which isn't blue. 

They have an immense council chambers, but the real "Pièce de résistance"   was the large golden chamber covered in small mosaic tiles. There were a lot of drawings and symbolism in the illustrations, and literally millions of mosaic tiles covered every available space. 


From there, we headed to Mosebaken Park to see the city of Stockholm from the heights.  It was an impressive view.







On the way back toward Gamla Stan we walked through some interesting streets and buildings, and I took some pictures of the various colors.  This picture is where I got the background color for this page:






We had lunch at a Thai restaurant in the square as we watched the dark clouds and rain move in.  Luckily, by the time we were done eating, the heavy rains had stopped, and it was only a light drizzle. We took the train back to Gamla Stan, the heart of Old Stockholm, and and went to see an immense church that holds the burial vaults of many of the kings, nobles, and important people of the 16th-18th century.  It was very impressive, and amazing how well the ornamentations had lasted through the centuries.


We then walked to the palace to see some of the things we had missed previously on our visit, namely the treasury room where crowns, scepters, and family jewels and robes were on display. Again, no pictures were allowed.



As we headed back to the bus, it started to pour, and everyone got pretty wet.  We went and ate at a pizza place called Pompeii, and it was very good.  In Stockholm, all pizzas are of one size, so you order your own, and they are not pre-cut, you cut them yourself when you get it at your table.  And again, coleslaw came with the meal.

The next day, we left Stockholm and headed south and west.