The Kingdom of Sweden: Stockholm, Drottningholm and the Archipelago

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June 25th 2012
Published: September 14th 2012
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June 25, Stockholm, Sweden

In the morning we woke to find heavy fog, pouring rain (and did we see snow?) as our ferry steamed through Stockholm's famous archipelago. From what I could see of the heavily treed islands with their small summer cottages and lovely winter homes, I was reminded of the similar islands and summer homes on NH's Lake Winnipesaukee.

Stockholm, (in Swedish stock means fortification and holm means islet), the capitol of Sweden was founded in 1250 but there are some records that record its origins as early as 1187. As the story goes, Birger Jarl founded Stockholm to protect Sweden from foreigners invading the towns around Lake Malaren from the Baltic Sea. It is believed that Birger Jarl built the fortress Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) where the Stockholm Palace is today. Stockholm is a decidedly beautiful city displaying an impressive collection of magnificent architectural gems on the fourteen islands situated in Riddarfjarden bay. Water is everywhere here and plays an important roll in the commerce of this region. Urban green space is very important to Swedes and it is very apparent in Stockholm with its abundance of parks. Since there is very little industry, Stockholm boasts to be one of the cleanest cities in the world. But despite all its accolades, it does get dark and cold here for many more months in the winter than I would care to experience.

The weather forecast was not promising. When we finally disembarked at the ferry terminal in Stockholm it was pouring rain. We dragged our bags up to the taxi stand and took the first taxi we found. Big mistake. Our driver was not Swedish and did not speak English well. When we asked about some of the buildings we were passing he couldn't tell us what they were. That should have been a big clue. He used a GPS to locate our hotel which also told us he was not a local but when he stopped to ask someone on the street if he had the right place we knew something was terribly wrong. He gave us the bill for our ride and it was nearly $100! We had no choice but to pay him and when we got into the hotel we were informed that it should have cost us less than half of what we paid. Apparently, we were told, there are foreigners who come in and take advantage of the free market system in Stockholm and this gives Stockholm a bad name. The hotel staff couldn't have been more sympathetic. Emma, the front receptionist, was very helpful and our room was absolutely perfect, beautifully appointed in an old restored manor home that dates back to the 1600s in Sodermalm, a quiet, upscale part of Stockholm. We couldn't have been happier.

The Hotel Hellstens Malmgard was originally owned by a wealthy pharmacist. After his death the manor went through various owners and purposes including a reform school for troubled boys. Our friend Ki told us that she once worked in a law office in this building.

Stockholm's subway, known as the world's longest art gallery, is 68 miles long and nearly 90 of the 100 stations are adorned with paintings, sculptures and mosaics. With map in hand we entered the Zingerstramm metro and a man asked if he could help us. He turned out to be Jens Fischer, a cinematographer who had worked on the film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Jens spent the subway ride telling us about his personal history, the many films he worked on and how he had gotten into this business. He will be starting another movie here in Stockholm this Thursday with George Clooney! The people in Sweden will proudly tell you that all movies are shown in their original Swedish language with subtitles, unlike countries like France and Japan who dub in the voices. Giving actors like John Wayne a French or Japanese voice takes a bit away from the context.

Through sprinkles of rain we walked up through the center of Stockholm admiring the church spires and beautiful old buildings punctuating the skyline. Stockholm was founded in 1252 and is built on 14 islands (there are 30,000 islands, islets and skerries that comprise the surrounding archipelago) connected by 57 bridges and has a population of over 750,000 but despite its size, to me it had a small town feel to it. As we walked along a canal we stopped to make reservations for a Royal Canal Tour for later in the afternoon. It was well past Dave's lunch hour and the weather turned to rain so we dashed through sprinkles over the Djurgarden Bridge and had lunch in a floating cafe on the water across from Djurgarden (Game Park) and close to the museums. I had my first taste of lingonberries and true Swedish meatballs. They were delicious!

We walked from the cafe to the famous Vasamuseet to see King Gustav Adolf's war ship the Vasa that was sunk on its virgin voyage in 1628. This enormous war ship was recovered from the muddy sea bed after 333 years. The embarrassment has become a great opportunity to learn from this well preserved piece of history. While waiting for the rain to let up, we stopped in the museum's cafe to enjoy a coffee and delicious chocolate cookies made from a recipe used in the early 17th century.

The sun was peeking out behind the clouds after we left the Vasamuseet so we took our time enjoying a pleasant walk along the canal to our late afternoon Royal Canal Tour on the Djurgarden Canal. We were really fortunate to have had some sunny moments during this guided boat tour. The ferry left the docks from the exclusive Nybroplan where notable people such as Bjorne Borg live. We motored up the shady Djurgarden Canal listening with our headphones to a prerecorded monologue in our own language as we passed the Vasamuseet, elegant waterfront homes and cottages, green parks with their pleasant biking and walking paths, the Waldemarsudde Art Museum donated by Prince Eugen, Grona Lund, the local amusement park, and Slussen, the area connecting Sodermalm and Gamla Stan. We ended at the famous Stromkajen harbor (in front of the Grand Hotel). The ferry monologue gave us a quick overview of this part of the city reminding us that we did not have time to tour the Waldemarsudde (among other sites) since we had to make some hard choices with our limited time here.

After our boat docked the weather began to turn cold and very ominous. We made our way back towards the city in hopes of find a restaurant for dinner. Dave did not want to eat so far away from our hotel in Sodermalm and we as yet had not explored our options so we pressed on in hopes of finding something closer to home. On our quest to find dinner we walked through the city, passing through Karl XII's Torg or Charles XII's Square admiring the rich purple catmint and allium flowers amid the chartreuse green foliage, a bright and promising bright spot against the dark foreboding skies.

Dave's hunger pressed on towards the north side of The Stockholm Palace or Royal Palace. This palace is the official residence of the king when the family are not in residence in Drottningholm. The palace is located on Stadsholmen (city island) in Gamla Stan (old town). The King, members of the Swedish Royal Family and the Royal Court of Sweden all maintain offices in the palace. As I stood by the Medici lions on the bridge admiring the castle and hoping to see someone royal, I saw a young woman wearing a Keene State (NH) sweatshirt who said she was attending college there and on vacation in Stockholm. My daughter teaches high school in Keene, NH and graduated from Keene State College. It is indeed a small world. It began to rain in earnest and we were quite cold as we searched in vain for a place to eat. We walked up and down the streets in the now pouring rain and there seemed to be limited dining options after 8PM in that part of the city so we ended up at Wayne's Coffee, Stockholm's answer to Starbucks for unimpressive sandwiches then took the metro and came back to our lovely hotel in Sodermalm to warm up with hot coffee and cookies and settled in to read in the ambient skylight in the lovely spacious common room with the vaulted glass ceiling outside our room.

June 26, Walking tour of Gamla Stan, lunch with Ki and Allan, bicycling Sodermalm, site of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo house, dinner at the old prison

After a hearty Helstens Malmgard breakfast of cheeses, meats, caviar, soft boiled eggs, and yogurt with fresh berries we embarked on our friend Kevin's walking tour of Gamla Stan (the old town). His guide came in handy and we were especially glad to arrive before the hoards of tour groups. Gamla Stan is comprised of three of Stockholm's fourteen islands: Riddarholmen, Stadsholmen and Helgeandsholmen with Stadsholmen the largest of the three. Most of the cobbled streets in Gamla Stan are car free which was especially nice in the early morning but by the afternoon the congested pedestrian traffic made walking these tiny streets less than wonderful. Many of Gamla Stan's old buildings' foundations date back to the fifteen and sixteen hundreds. The wooden buildings were frequently destroyed by fire and finally rebuilt in stone during the early 1700s. In the Middle Ages the German merchants of the Hanseatic League settled in Gamla Stan and their presence is felt to this day in the remaining architecture such as the German Tyska Kyrkan or Gertrud's Church. Originally built as a guild house for German merchants it was later converted into a church. Sermons are still held in German here and the elaborate carillon can be heard throughout Gamla Stan several times a day adding to the wonderful ambiance of this old town. Walking further along the winding cobblestone streets we came upon on the quiet little Branda Tomten or Burned Lot. Despite its ominous name this is a lovely cobbled square with park benches under the shade of a spreading chestnut tree. It was so inviting that Dave wanted to just sit and read our map of Gamla Stan to orient ourselves but soon we were off since we had to explore the rest of Gamla Stan before seeing the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace.

It is easy to get distracted from the planned route because the charming side streets are so inviting. Colorful baskets of
Heading to Stortgortget and the Nobel MuseumHeading to Stortgortget and the Nobel MuseumHeading to Stortgortget and the Nobel Museum

The Stockholm Cathedral towers over the Nobel Museum in the distance
flowers brighten yellow buildings and narrow streets often tempt me off course. After a bit of meandering Dave steered me into the colorful Stortgortget (big square). In the early morning it is a peaceful place to rest and with very few people around it was a great place for us to enjoy the view and plan our day. The cafes surrounding this square were tempting but since we had just eaten a large breakfast this option was not for us. This area of Gamla Stan is tightly packed with significant historical buildings including the Borshuset, the former stock exchange building that now houses The Nobel Museum on the ground floor, located in Stortgortget. This unique museum of historical geniuses, has an impressive rotating cableway along the ceiling that displays information about past Nobel Laureates. This museum is also where the Nobel Prize of literature is announced.

Around the corner from the Nobel Museum is the beautiful Stockholm Cathedral or Storkyrkan. Dating back to 1279 this church had numerous additions over the centuries including the striking altar made of ebony and silver, the Royal Pulpit, the Royal Pews and the incredible oak sculpture of St. George and the Dragon. The legend of St. George and the Dragon tells of a terrible dragon that demanded human offerings from the town of Selene as its price for not destroying the town. The day the King's daughter was to be sacrificed, St George came riding by. On condition that the town's heathen inhabitants converted to Christianity, he killed the dragon. The marriage ceremony of the current King Carl XVI Gustafson and Silvia Sommerlath was held in the Stockholm Cathedral in 1976 and, important to me, Handel's Messiah is performed here every December.

Even though we had a map in hand we “discovered” Brantingtorget or Branting Square quite by accident. Again, intrigued by these narrow little side alleys I poked my head in and ended up in Branting Square. The curved yellow buildings surrounding the square reminded me of a smaller and quieter version of the public square in Lucca, Italy but since this area is much smaller and enclosed it provides a perfect place for public assembly.

We crossed Knight's Islet bridge to Riddarholmen (Knight's Islet in Swedish) to see the 17th century Riddarholmenskyrkan and Birger Jarl's Tower, the remains of a defensive wall around the city. This tiny aristocratic island, (formerly called Kidaskar referencing the islet where goats grazed) was now tightly packed with beautiful mansions and palaces. Of the three notable palaces in Birger Jarl Torg, my favorite was the pink Stenbock Palace(Stenbockska palatset) across from Riddarholmen Church. Stenbock Palace was designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder who also designed Drottningholm Palace. Stenbock is now home to the High Court but I understand it was not open for tourists. Riddarholmen Church, the oldest building in Stockholm, is located opposite Stenbock Palace. This is the burial church of the Swedish monarchs . It was open for a tour but after peeking my head inside I was disinclined to enter the cold and austere interior and felt I could learn what I needed to know in my guide book. The church is no longer active except for burial and commemorative purposes. That certainly fits with my emotional impression of this church.

Below Birger Jarl Torg (Birger Jarl Square) the Maladrottningen Hotel and Restaurant sits floating in the harbor. This elegant ship named the m/s Vanadis, was built in 1924 and given as a present to Barbara Hutton on her 19th birthday by her father, founder of the Woolworth chain. We explored the elegant yacht thinking how nice it would have been to sail on her, and also thinking how nice it would have been to receive it as a birthday present! We left the harbor and headed back into Gamla Stan ending up in Kopmantorget square where the bronze replica of the wooden statue of St George and the Dragon stands.

Keeping ahead of the crowds we continued to explore Gamla Stan as we worked our way towards the Royal Palace. Our plan was to arrive in time to get in position to watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. This palace is enormous. With 605 rooms it is the largest palace in the world still in use by a king. Because of its size and our lack of preparation we were waiting in the wrong location for the changing of the guards but we were in the right place to watch the approaching parade of the palace guards and marching band. By the time we realized where they were going the crowds had already formed. Being short sometimes has its advantages and this time I was able to squeeze my way towards the front with at least a partial view of the ceremonies. Dave on the other hand was stuck at the back of the throng, hungry and unhappy.

Ki, my sister's longtime friend, has a law office in Gamla Stan and we had arranged to meet Ki and her husband Allan for lunch. We left the palace and met Allan at Ki's office and soon after, guided by Allan, we walked through the less crowded streets of Gamla Stan to the charming Cafe Rouge, where Ki, after a late appointment, was able to join us for a leisurely lunch. After lunch and a passing rain shower we walked Ki back to her office and said goodbye to Ki.

Allan kindly offered to accompany us to the ferry docks to help us sort out the timing and selection of ferries to Drottningholm Palace the next day. On our way Allan gave us a mini history tour of the old city pointing out the beautiful 17th century Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility, where for nearly two centuries noblemen gathered to make political decisions for Sweden and just a stone's throw away was the Knight's Bridge accessing Riddarholmen Church and Birger Jarl's Tower. Allan told us that many historical buildings were torn down during the modernist era including many significant buildings in the Klara district but thankfully people finally understood the travesty of this destruction and saved the areas of Gamla Stan, Sodermalm, Ostermalm, Kungsholmen and Vasastan.

Looking across the Centralbron Bridge we could see another view of Stockholm's Riksdagshuset (locally called Riksdag, a Swedish word meaning diet or Parliament) and in the distance, the Royal Opera House. Approaching City Hall (Stadshuset) on Kungsholmen Island, you get the feeling of its importance as it seems to anchor its power in its reflection in Lake Malaren. Although the architectural elements may be eclectic, its importance is not lost on this observer. Stockholm is a very walkable (and bike-able) city. I was surprised at how close most everything was.

Once at the City Hall docks where the ferries depart to Drotningholm, Allan help us choose which ferry to take the following day. Opposite the City Hall docks and near the train station, Allan pointed out the controversial stainless steel building called Waterfront. This large contemporary building that will house a congress hall and hotel dazzles the eye as the sun is reflected off each of the stainless steel rods that together give the feel of a shining bird's nest, a sharp contrast to the old architectural monuments nearby. Allan left us to go back to work and the rain came down in torrents as we struggled to get across the bridge and up the hill back to our hotel in Sodermalm.

We had agreed to meet Ki and Allan at our hotel (their home is very near our hotel in Sodermalm) in the early evening for a bike tour of the area and a late dinner. Fortunately the weather cleared and with our rented bikes and excellent tour guides we explored Sodermalm on bike paths along canals, up and down hilly cobblestone streets, through parks and past little summer cottages on hillsides with their sweet smelling rose and peony gardens, and expansive views to the city of Stockholm, Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea. Our two hour bike tour of Sodermalm ended at the old Langholmen Wardshus a prison now turned into a chic restaurant. We enjoyed a well earned dinner starting with a complimentary olive tapenade with a brick-smoked ham amuse bouch. We all decided on a creamy nettle and basil soup, (delicous!) followed by lamb sausages with boiled potatoes, and a carrot, asparagus and green onion sauté. A lovely Chianti, and coffee completed our long evening meal. But just when we thought we all would explode, we decided to split a tasty rhubarb press with almond macaroons and cardamom ice cream. Well worth the extra calories!

It was just a short uphill bike ride home from our "dinner in prison" but at 11:30pm and after a wonderful meal I found that my legs were really complaining. We locked up the rental bikes and Ki and Allan walked us the short distance back to our hotel so Ki could see the improvements that were made to the building she once called her office. It wasn't long after they left that it had begun to pour rain and I found out the next day that they had barely made it home before the downpour. Ki and Allan had told us that this June has been the wettest in 100 years of European history so we are especially grateful for any fair weather we have.

June 27 boat trip to Drottningholm, ferry to Ki and Allan's in the archipelago

We were up late for our last Hellstens Malmgard breakfast of Brie, tomatoes, Kava Kaviar and Swedish hard bread, yogurt with black currants and a soft boiled egg. After our second cup of coffee we packed our bags and Emma kindly stored our big bags at the hotel so we could bring just an overnight bag to spend the night on Stravtsoe Island with Ki and Allan. Dave wasn't feeling well (too much alcohol last night?) so he went light on breakfast but he was a trooper when he went to the train station with me to store our overnight bags allowing us to take the steamer unencumbered to Drottningholm Palace, Court Theater, Chinese Palace and extensive park, the first of Sweden's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Drottningholm is the palace and current home of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. It took us nearly an hour to reach the palace crossing Lake Malaren on our steamship cruise on the M.S. Carl Philip. Our luck was with us as the sun broke through the clouds just as we entered the bay that sheltered this imposing modern palace. The original palace that was begun in 1662, was burned to the ground and rebuilt with more contemporary lines than most palaces but still taking design inspiration from the French and German palaces of the day.

I am not sure what impressed me more, the reflection of this magnificent palace in the calm waters of Lake Malaren or the two beautiful swans and their baby that greeted the steamship at the dock. As soon as we got off the boat and approached the palace we saw the beginnings of the ceremony of the changing of the guard. We stayed long enough for the pageantry to end and then left while the weather was still nice to tour the extensive 17th and 18th century gardens. I walked the length of the treed alleys through maze gardens from the old theater to the hidden Chinese Palace or the Kina Slott (Dave decided to take a rest back at the palace.) The first Chinese Pavilion was built as a summer house in 1753 and was a surprise birthday gift from King Adolf Fredrik to Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The current China Castle designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz, replaced the old wooden pavilion that was constructed in 1753 and completed in 1769. The architecture is essentially rococo and was intended to have an exotic character containing Chinese elements which were then the highest fashion.

We had purchased tickets earlier to tour the amazing Drottningholm Court Theater (Drottningholms Slottsteater) so I couldn't linger at the Chinese Palace and had to hurry back up the long alley to be in time for the tour. The theater was built in 1766 at the request of Queen Ulrika but it was her son Gustavo III who invested his time and energy into advancing theater for the Swedish people. He only lived to enjoy it for one year before he was assassinated (he was shot in the back at the Royal Opera House and died later from complications) but in the short time he was alive he made a tremendous impact on the introduction and appreciation of literature and the performing and visual arts in Sweden. He is also credited with the creation of the Royal Theater (Kungliga Teatern) in Stockholm, where his own historical dramas were performed. Coincidentally our guide told us she was related to the man who shot the king! The entire theater building including the actors' rooms and the enormous dining room is well preserved and almost untouched by time giving us an opportunity to truly take a walk back in time. The enormous stage that is as deep as the main theater, has hand painted decorations and original machinery that can change scenes in an amazing four seconds. We were given a demonstration of the thunder and wind machines that still impresses today. The Court Theater is open for summer opera performances and if I were ever to return to Stockholm I would hope to be lucky enough to attend an opera here. We were short on time but I took a moment to slip in for a quick look at the inside of the large stone Drottningholm Palace before we had to leave.

I grabbed a nice tomato, salmon and cream spread sandwich at the Royal Gift Shop and Cafe for a late lunch on the boat trip back to Stockholm. It would have been nice to spend more time relaxing under the shade of the trees to enjoy the view of the swans, the palace and the many islands surrounding this site. This is a place we could have dedicated an entire day, but then we could have, and should have, dedicated at least a week or more just in Stockholm alone.

When our ferry returned us to the docks at City Hall we made a dash to the train station to retrieve our bags from the lockers and hoofed it to Nybroplan (New Bridge Square) to meet Ki in time for the ferry to her home in the archipelago. On our way to the ferry we walked through the little Berzelii Park near Nybroplan to catch our breath and enjoy the peace brought by the abundance of greenery. I was delighted to find statues of playful bears in a rollicking bear hug at the end of the park. It was really nice to see such whimsy near the stiffer and more serious statues of former dignitaries and leaders.

While we waited for the ferry I took Ki's advice and crossed the busy Strandvagen Street (Swedish for Beach Road) to the Svenskt Tenn, an upscale interior design store that Ki tells me designs the best houses in Sweden. I was amazed by the variety of colorful floral patterns on walls, furniture and even lamp shades. I can see why this bright, colorful style would be so popular here in Sweden in the long days without the sun.

Ki came pedaling in to meet us at the dock with her bicycle loaded with packages to bring to her island home. Dave and I enjoyed the hour long ferry trip ride from Stockholm to Svartsoe Island (black island). The sun was out as we sailed by picturesquely rugged tree-lined islands with pine, hazelnut, birch and maple trees growing on rough granite outcroppings. Dark red houses dotted the sparsely occupied islands as we traveled through the beautiful archipelago. What a difference from the foggy introduction we had coming into Stockholm just a few days earlier! Allan was waiting for us on the island with his "moped lorry" (basically a motorized bike with an attached open wagon) to carry us on the long winding dirt roads to their lovely, newly renovated farm home perfectly sited on the lake.

We took a tour of their property, inside and out before Allan excused himself to prepare a wonderful dinner. We started the evening with beer and an unusual herb infused vodka. His appetizers consisted of five different kinds of home preserved herrings: one with lime juice and homemade mayo, another with basil and sour cream, one with horseradish and sour milk, another with onions, berries and vinegar, and another brined and served with sour cream and chives. I couldn't decide which I liked best so I had to retry them all! The herring was followed by a fabulous beet and sour milk (a type of buttermilk), Lithuanian soup with a piece of boiled potato and Angelica leaf. For the main course we enjoyed salmon baked with an oregano pesto served with rice.

We walked around their lovely property on the lake touring the many gardens in an attempt to burn off a few calories before going back inside for the evening. The food fest was not over for we all went upstairs to enjoy a grapefruit and grappa salad with little orange Swedish berries while we settled in their cozy room to watch the soccer semifinal between Spain and Portugal. Spain won in overtime.

June 28 leaving the archipelago, bag dragging, City Hall tour

A tap on our door from Ki woke me to bright sunshine and clear blue skies with a lovely view through the red framed windows to the meadow below. Opening the bedroom door I was greeted with expansive views of the lake and bending birch trees perfectly framing the tranquil scene. Allan had set a wonderful breakfast table of fresh melon, sour milk with muesli, coffee, juice and delicious brown bread and cheese. He is a great cook and he cleans up too! I wanted to take him home with me!

After breakfast was over Ki hopped on her bicycle and Allan ferried us down the lane to the dock in his "moped lorry." Ki met us at the dock on her bicycle a few minutes later. We enjoyed the beautiful sun sparkling on the quiet island waters before saying goodbye to Allan who was staying on the island to clear branches from a previous storm. Ki was going back to work at her office in Gamla Stan so she joined us, taking her bike on the ferry back to Stockholm. As we sailed away through the islands back to Stockholm I was delighted to see white long-necked swans floating near the rugged rocks and in the little harbors and sad that I had so little time to enjoy this special retreat. When I went on deck there was a bit of a chill wind and I had to laugh to see some people bundled up in wool hats and parkas while one young woman sat wearing a thin sleeveless tank top and shorts. I was somewhere in the middle. It was nice to be able to spend some time with Ki as she pointed out various homes and important sites on the way. We said our goodbyes to Ki in Gamla Stan hoping that we could see each other again soon. We continued on the ferry to the last stop nearer the train station where we could lock up the smaller overnight luggage before retrieving the large bags at the hotel in Sodermalm.

There are not nearly enough large luggage lockers at the Centralum train station! Another reason to pack less (but difficult to do when you are gone for six weeks and trying to prepare for warm and cold weather, formal and informal dress.) It took us an hour to find a large locker that was free but unlike the lockers in Tallinn, we could not fit the two large bags in one locker and we didn't want to invest more time in the bowels of the train station so Dave ended up doing the "Bag Drag" to the closest recommended restaurant in the center of the city. Sadly this restaurant was about a fifteen minute walk which is great unless you are dragging a large suitcase through pedestrians, across traffic and over all sorts of bumps.

The NK Cafeteria, located upstairs in Stockholm's popular upscale department store, had many food choices that I would call good but not great. We shared a shrimp salad on toast but the Swedish meatballs over a pickled beet salad was much tastier. I was surprised to have to pay 10kroner to use the store and restaurant bathroom here no matter how nice it was!

The bag drag back to the train station was made more tolerable due to the beautiful weather we were enjoying. After we got back to the train station Dave volunteered to sit with his bag while I left to climb the 106 meter Maiden Tower of City Hall. Legend has it that a princess waited behind a great iron door in this tower praying to be rescued by St. George. As you enter the midsection of the tower a great room opens up displaying busts, statues and mosaics but what is really striking is the nearly 25 foot tall wooden statue of St. Eric, the patron saint of Stockholm.

The steep stone staircase continues winding upwards through the Tower Passage to the Tower Attic and eventually to the Wooden Tower. With more narrow stairs to climb you finally reach the open viewing area of the Copper Tower on the Roof Terrace giving you spectacular vistas of the entire city of Stockholm. The statues of four patron saints, St Erik, St Claire, Mary Magdalene and St Nicolai, Patron of the Seafarers, face their respective parishes. As you stand on the terrace looking up you can see nine enormous tower bells. Three crowns, each the size of a small car, adorn the very top and point in the direction of the old Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) Royal Castle, now the site of the Royal Palace.

As I stood absorbing the outstanding view of Stockholm from my high tower perch, I reflected on our short stay in Stockholm and what we were able to accomplish. Much of our enjoyment of this beautiful city is due to the generosity of Ki and Allan who took so much time out of their busy schedules to entertain us in their lovely home in the archipelago and to help us enjoy (on bicycle, boat, lorry and on foot) the many hidden sites in Stockholm that most tourists don't get to see. And much thanks goes also to my sister Laurie for helping me plan this trip, asking Ki in advance for her help in guiding her travel hungry sister and her husband throughout this region of Sweden. Tack for allting Ki and Allan!


18th September 2012

Great memories of Stockholm
Great job Kell. Thank you Ki and Allan for making our stay in Stockhom so special and memorable. We definitely needed more time to do the area justice. Loved your archipelago home. The meal was also very special.
28th April 2013

bestsoccerplayer Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post

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