And now, without any further ado, I welcome you to Stockholm, Sweden.
It's a place of high priced residential areas
Luxury Liners (This one is now actually a hostel)
And fashionable shopping districts. (To be pictured in a later post.)
Since we've stuck around in Europe longer than expected, Mark and I were invited by my lovely friend Malin to come and enjoy a few days in the Nation's Capital. It was quite a change of pace from the last time I visited her at Christmas in '07 when we spent out time in the far north where the houses were few and far between and darkness fell around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. This time we were in a bustling city full of life and activity.
Shortly after our arrival we were whisked off to a dinner at a trendy restaurant (Vapianos) where we feasted on pizza and enjoyed the fashionistas all around us. Having started our day at 5 AM with a three hour train ride in which we were joined in our small compartment by 6 noisy teens who enjoyed that we spoke English and therefore didn't understand them (hahaha) followed by the 80 minute flight and then an 80 minute bus ride, we were pretty much exhausted and therefore there are no photos of this part of the trip. It was nice to have a chance to hang out with Malin and her boyfriend Anders who had to leave on a business trip to Italy the next day and therefore wasn't around for the rest of our time.
Thursday we were off on our own from the beginning because Malin had to work as well. The free map we got at the airport ended up being a saving grace for us, and we used it to traverse the high priced neighborhoods with their fancy cars and multiple embassies. We were highly amused to discover that the Czech Embassy is just around the corner from Malin's house of all things. Too funny.
We didn't get far before we came across this lovely church. We didn't go in, but I couldn't resist snapping a few photos from the outside. I could definitely make a lot of calendars with different themes from all my travels.
As you can see from the photos, the weather was positively gorgeous. What you can't see is how frigidly cold it was. After weather in the 20's C for the past week or so in Czech it was a bit of a shock to our systems to now be facing temperatures scarcely above freezing. But we did our best to fight the wind that challenged us off the water, and took it all in stride.
After a nice wander around some of the lovely museums (I swear you could quickly break the bank if you actually went into all these amazing places!)
we decided to go on the boat tour. It took about an hour and we had English pumped through headphones to inform us of important historical facts, as well as the fact that we were passing the house of one of the band members of ABBA. Here are a few highlight pictures from the cruise (unfortunately they told us it was the ABBA house after we had already passed it so no picture of that.)
If it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, the first picture in that set was of a tree loaded down with Heron nests. When I was a kid out in Horse Creek we had a tree with three nests in it that we called the Heron Condo, so it was fun to relive the experience a bit.
The last picture there is of an amazing amusement park which sadly wasn't open. We did come a bit after the tourist season, and it's so cold now that it might be dangerous to ride, but we were a bit disappointed that we weren't able to try it out.
After a quick lunch break we headed to the Old City. I could have taken pictures there for hours, but I only got a few at this point in time. It was a bit hard with the glare in some places so I wasn't able to capture the Royal Palace. Of course, it isn't exactly the castle most people would like it to be, but according the tour it has something like 160 rooms, so I'm guessing it's a pretty nice place, and the royal family use it mostly only for events, preferring to reside a short way outside the city instead.
We went into an old church and I was intrigued by the massive statue of Sir George and the dragon. This guy must either have gotten around or at least have been very popular because he's seriously everywhere. There are large statues of him in Prague as well. Just interesting.
We stopped for tea at a cafe that ended up being exorbitantly expensive right in the heart of old town. We later saw pictures of ABBA standing in front of the cafe so maybe it was a bit more special than we could ascertain on first perusal. Anyhow, from there I led us a bit astray, thinking it would be a short walk back around the old city island. Instead we ended up pretty far out in the middle of nowhere, but at least we got a nice view of this monumental building.
We did make it back to town where we stopped at a much cheaper cafe for coffee before heading back to meet Malin for dinner, but I'll save our food consumption for a later post.
For now I'll end with this comment about fashion. From what we were able to grasp, the current trend includes skinny jeans, converse, and big scarves. The coats were typically black, but in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Despite all the trendy people, we did discover, however, that there are also lapses in judgment that lead to sights like this:
A little gift from the sea.
And that completes day one/two of our lovely visit to Stockholm.