Saturday, June 5

Stockholm II

Aren't lazy mornings great?! We took advantage of ours Saturday and still caught everything we wanted to that day. It did require a bit of extra exertion but with the nice weather it wasn't so bad.

What I mean to say is that we sprinted to a few sites. Since the marathon was later that day, one guy we came across joked to me as I ran by that the course wasn't in this area. When we arrived at the first stop of the day, Ryan commented, "I haven't seen you run like that in a long time! We should plan a 2-3 day backpacking trip in the Alps!"

I said, "Wha?! . . . What are you saying [not knowing whether to laugh, cry, or bemoan my lack of discipline and loss of athleticism in recent years] . . . and How does my running equate to a backpacking trip?!!" He was very careful to not say much other than grin at me on this subject. I'm just a bit sensitive right now on that subject.

Our first sprint was to catch the 11:30 guided English tour at Stockholm's Town Hall, the Stadshuset. This is where the Nobel Prize banquet is held each December, in the big room pictured below. Overhauled in the 1920s after the job was bid out as a contest, the building looks old and new at the same time and is a mix of many different types of architecture and decor. Do you see the raised relief of this brick work? I really liked this!

Up in the council room, the exposed roof beams are really beautiful. The architect loved the look and decided to have the beams and interior ceiling painted to look like it was ancient and planned that way.

Rick Steves says the exposed beam roof is meant to hearken back to when the vikings held their councils under an upside-down boat, but the docent said recent historians reject that as the reason. The docent rolled her eyes at us when we asked this. So Rick doesn't know it all, he's fallible. What?! After trying to plan trips without his guides' helps for a year though, I'm not giving up on them anytime soon.

We barely missed the noon boat to Drottningham Palace so we ventured, or more accurately RAN over to Gamla stan, the historic heart of Stockholm to pass the time before the next boat. The picture below is as we entered the island and our view up the street toward the clock tower of Storkyrkan, the oldest church in Gamla stan.

The changing of the guard happens every day at noon with a rousing marching band parade - hence our sprint to catch the show! Loved the helmets!!! All the guards looked so young!

Next we stopped inside Storkyrkan next door, remember that clock tower? The cathedral is mentioned as early as 1279 and was Catholic until it became Lutheran in 1527. The princess will be married in that church in two weeks. It's just a block from the Royal Palace.

Sorry, I'm always succeptable to distractions by chocolate and these official "wedding chocolates" are funny to me. But back to inside Storkyrkan -- we were surprised to see this dramatic huge wood statue depicting Saint George and the Dragon from 1481 to commemorate a famous battle.

Reading a little bit about the story this depicts could have turned into a day's diversion but sufficed to say, it is very interesting to see the transfusion of cultures and their mythology throughout our travels. This story of Saint George and the Dragon is very similar to some Roman, Greek and other mythological stories predating Christianity. I'd sure love to take a class or at least get a great reading list on cross-cultural mythology since I know relatively nothing on the subject!

Next we were on the boat to see Drottningham Palace, where the royal family lives. I love being on the water! The water must have been pretty cold but that didn't seem to stop lots of people from enjoying the little swimming areas, kayaking, boating, or just sunbathing on rock outcroppings with picnics.

After fifty minutes and feeling permanently goosebumped, we reached our destination - the palace, a very pretty mix of many classical Baroque and Roccoco styles.

There were beautiful grounds that we would have stayed to enjoy but we were getting hungry and the food festival was calling us back. We obeyed our hunger!

At the food festival, we chowed down on the Barilla bolognese, a horribly overcooked beef shish kebob, and some tasty pork and beef tenderloin cooked on a BBQ grill with different dipping sauces. For dessert, we tried the chocolate strawberry crepes while wondering why Europeans have such an affinity for the song "Are we Human" by the Killers?! A live band that was quite good dove into the song and locals loved it. I don't think I'd ever heard the song before moving here but it's played constantly in Europe. Go figure.

After we enjoyed the live entertainment and tasty food and treats, we rolled ourselves over to another movie theater . . . because we could! We would have taken a boat ride but Ryan was still a bit chilled from the previous ride.

We saw Ghost Writer with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan. It's rated PG-13 but that rating was given much too generously. While we both liked the film alright, I won't recommend it because of the brief-but-too-often-dropped swear word and the "brief nudity/sexuality" scene. Times have changed and ratings sure do get more permissive with time in the quest after the all-mighty dollar. Grrrr! It really aggravates me that by lowering the rating to PG-13, movie makers make their product much more accessible to a younger, more impressionable audience to increase their revenue. ARGH. How 'bout just dropping the unnecessary vulgarities?! It'd be so much easier than having to lobby for the lower rating, in my humble opinion and quite limited knowledge of that industry.

Stepping off my soapbox now. On our evening walks back to our hotel, we always crossed in front of this beautiful building.

It reminds me of a similar building in NYC on Broadway, but this one seems prettier, more castle-esque. And this concludes part II of our Stockholm adventure. Are ya up for part III? A bit more colorful Nordic history and culture?