Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stockholm Sunday 24 – Tuesday 26 July, 2011

First impressions of Stockholm are very good. Within one hour of landing at Arlanda Airport (45 kms north of the city centre) we were already in the city and bording the metro for the short journey out to our apartment. The Arlanda Express is fantastic, a 150kph direct link to/from the airport. We settled in and did some shopping (500m to the supermarket). We had dinner 'at home' then went for a bit of a walk down to Fridhemsplan and Kronobergsparken. First night in a new town, and it's always a bit of a relief to relax and unwnd after the day's travel.

Monday was our first full day and we had arranged for Maddy to meet her friend, Jenny, who lives here but spent the last 2 years at Balwyn HS while her family were in Melbourne on account of her father's work. Maddy will be spending a few days with Jenny and her family while we get to look around Stockholm's city sites at leisure.

Maddy meets Jenny at her grandma's apartment...

After getting Maddy sorted out we went into the city to get oriented, had a nice lunch, then walked across to the old city on Gamlastan.

The food is very good here, and not particularly expensive....

We managed to scope out some things to do in the next few days before heading back, weary and footsore, to our apartment. After our big lunch we settled for cheese on Knackbrod, cider, banana & ice-cream and a good cup of tea. A relatively early night followed. We were stuffed

The fountain around Sergels Torg in the large square at the centre of the city (left) .... and the pedestrianised link to Gamla stan (above).

Down a quieter street in old Gamla stan (right), away from the main tourist trail.... 

...and (below) looking west across the King's Garden (Kungstradgarden) to St James Church (often mistakenly called St Jacob's because Swedish uses the same name for both James and Jacob).

The statue of Gustav III near the Royal Palace on Skeppsbron (right). It got a bit wet and dreary around this time.... 

For Tuesday we had plans to see the Vasa Museum and do the free Metro Art Tour. The Metro art in various cities is always interesting, and generally reflects local history and the work of local artists. We did a tour like this in LA in 2008 and it was fascinating. We took the tram from the city out to Djurgarden, an island just east of the city.

This island houses several museums, including the Vasa, but we opted to first vist the Skansen, an open air museum and zoo, which has many old relocated historic Swedish buildings set in recreated rural gardens.

Historic traditional buildings (left) at the Skansen open air museum...

The zoo section is really great with native animals such as bison, bears, elk, reindeer, wolf and wolverine. We ended up spending quite some time there ...!!
European bears and bison feature prominently at the zoo.... do reindeer !!

There are terrific recreations of cottage gardens from yesteryear and the tiny homes from old rural areas.

They also have a large formal garden area more appropriate to the civic buildings of the past.

Unfortunately, when we finally got to the Vasa it was “full” with 100m queue, and several buses parked out front. We opted for a cheap snack (hot-dog) for lunch instead, and followed up with an ice-cream later on. We decided the Vasa could wait and set off instead to the Nobel Museum back in the old city. Here there were small displays and information about all the winners of the prize in its various categories over the years. Very interesting for an hour or so ...

Nobel Museum (left) in the old part of the city.

Australians Howard Florey and Elizabeth Blackburn feature prominently amongst other past winners of Nobel Prizes in various categories...

We then managed to get back for the free metro art tour at 3pm which gave us a quick snapshot of the metro system as well as the informative commentary from the local volunteer guide.

Some of the stuff is fairly obvious but a lot of it is highly symbolic or makes reference to the history and myths of Sweden's rich past.

We were staggering a bit by now and after shopping for food on the way home and searching in vain for somewhere to buy some wine or spirits we headed back for dinner and a rest after a long day of walking. There is a distinct difference in the sale of alcohol here. Supermarkets sell beer, low-alcohol cider and alcohol-free wine. There seem to be only a few bars and pubs around and I'm blowed if we could find any equivalent to a bottle shop or off-licence. There was definitely no place we could buy wine on Sunday when we arrived, and today we asked at the supermarket and were given vague directions and a sign to look for. We didn't find it, then got better directions from the reception desk but were too knackered again to bother. Maybe tomorrow.... ?

Well tomorrow we plan to visit Vaxholm, a typical historical archipelego seaside town an hours boat trip away. We'll have a good look around, have a nice lunch there (with a drink or two !!) and return in the afternoon. The Vasa museum may have to wait for another day.

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