Song of Stockholm
We arrived in Stockholm via the train from Copenhagen to a gloomy afternoon, which evolved into a mostly glorious 11 days of sunshine. I was excited to spend my birthday in Stockholm that unfortunately I fell and turned my ankle/foot after walking about 100 meters out of our apartment. Paul retrieved Advil for me, and I limped on to see the Royal Palace, one of the largest in Europe and still the official residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf. The Royal Apartments, the Royal Treasury which contains the crown jewels were the best of the museums. We also visited Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, filled with statuary retrieved from Rome in the 18th century. Although it is not particularly impressive now, especially if you have traveled to Italy, it is considered to be one of the oldest museums as well as the first of its kind in Europe. The Storkyrkran/Cathedral offered a famous statue of St. George and the dragon. Royal weddings happen in this church as well. We limped on to see the Nobel Museum, which had an exhibition with an in depth examination of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. I enjoyed the detailed exhibitions exploring the prize awards by decade, especially the information about the recipients of the literature and peace prizes. By then I was ready for a birthday cocktail at Mister French overlooking the water. Elegant couches and heaters (no food in the afternoon although we ate there later in the trip). Reservations required! I would recommend making a reservation anywhere you have a particular desire to eat in Stockholm. We were turned away at several seemingly empty restaurants when we had not reserved. Later we ate at Der Gyldene Freden (The Golden Peace), on recommendation of my dear friend Carol Welwood. It did not disappoint, and since we were early, we managed to snag a table without a reservation.
After a day of RICE for my ankle, we ventured out again. We explored Stockholm using the Stockholm Pass, which included our public transit. We recommend this pass if you are want to see it all and are using public transit. One of the many islands that make up Stockholm is Djurgarden. It is a magnificent park, originally,developed as a summer palace, large park and hunting grounds for the royals. We visited the island twice and saw most of the sights. The most impressive is the Vasa Museum, which houses the albatross of the Swedish fleet the Vasa. The ship is the oldest and best preserved 17th century warship in the world. Designed to strike terror in the hearts of other nations, the Vasa contained three canon decks and was covered in fierce, carved, wooden statuary. Truly impressive to the eye, the Vasa sank 40 minutes out on its maiden voyage, capsizing due to an unexpected gust of wind, in view of the entire town. It was brought up to the surface when it was rediscovered 333 years later and has been painstakingly restored. The Vasa Museum is extremely well done, offers free tours in English and takes a couple of hours to see it all. You can recognize it in the distance with its three masts mounted on the roof of the museum to show the exact height of the ship.
Djurgarden Park contains beautiful trails between the museums. The Nordiska Museum, at the canal bridge, resembles a Renaissance palace and houses a great collection of folk art, which I loved. Paul not so much. The Rosendahl Palace, the summer retreat of King Carl XIV Johan, offers guided tours in the summer. The palace has been maintained as it was in the 19th century. Our tour was great and private as we were the only English speakers at that hour. Another charming museum is the Thielska Galleriet. This mansion is at the far end of the island. Banker Ernest Thiel had an extensive art collection. The house, designed to display the collection, is beautifully situated, with a lovely garden. Finally, the Museum of Spirts occupies Djurgarden. We just wished we had visited it, as we arrived too late both times we went to the island. We did manage to visit one of the ships in Ships Museum, an icebreaker that is no longer in use. Now that is Paul’s jam.
On a drizzly day, we took the train to Drottningholm Palace. Paul loved the little out of the way chapel, but we left saying, Is that all there is? Actually, it’s not. The summer palace and guards’ house at the other end of the garden was intriguing. The Guards’ quarters were constructed of tin and designed to architecturally resemble elegant tents. Now, it houses some picnic tables that we discovered after we had eaten our picnic out of doors in the drizzle. The Chinese Pavilion was used as a summer retreat and is completely decorated in Chinoiserie. The outdoor dining room enabled the royals to have complete privacy, as the table, completely set with all courses, was brought up through the floor by a hand-cranked elevator. Even so, the people of Drottningholm loved their royal family very much and would congregate on the grounds outside of the dining room to admire them. We returned to Drottningholm one evening on a dinner cruise that went past the palace. It was fun way to dine and I snapped some photos of a cute family on the excursion.
Fotografiska is a unique photography exhibition. Three or four temporary exhibitions displayed a variety of approaches to photography. The exhibits we viewed included a very modernist and personal approach to explain art, a fusion of photography approaches to bring into discussion the vanishing lands and animals of Africa,and a travel themed look at the role of women. Visiting the art exhibition at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde was a great experience. Prince Eugune was one of the best landscape painters of his day as well as an avid collector of modern art. The home, built for the prince in the early 20th century, is a treasure in itself. It’s beautifully decorated and really shows the Prince’s flair for art and entertaining. To me, it’s a must not miss.
The finale of our trip to Stockholm included celebrating Sweden Day. We stayed on our island and visited the Millesgarden, the former home of Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, as well as a sculpture garden and exhibition space. The garden was open to the public for the national holiday, with a concert in the afternoon. The sculpture in the garden as well as in the house was amazing, the exhibit interesting, the house beautiful and the afternoon was a great success. We also took one final cruise under the bridges downtown and that was cool because it’s different to see the city from the water. We also had to go through the locks from the lake to the Baltic, a unique experience. At City Hall, we took a tour of the beautiful building and photographed a wedding party that stopped to take photos right in front of our picnic! All in all, Stockholm was great. Here is a gallery of a few of the great people we met and fun sights of Stockholm. I call these my walking around pictures!
We are off on our next adventure, an overnight cruise to Finland! Credit Rick Steves guidebook for this suggestion. Come back and find out what happens next in Helsinki.