WANDERINGS - STOCKHOLM PART 1
I have been wandering - 4 days in Stockholm - having a ball! The early start for the airport was hard - getting out of bed at 430am has never been my strong point! But once on the move all was well!
Stockholm is a beautiful city, situated as it is on lots of islands in the Baltic sea. However, as with many cities the 1960s have a lot to answer for.....the Lonely Planet guide described the main shopping area as a "concrete catastrophe" and they weren't wrong. The colourful buildings of the older parts of the City were full of charm. It's funny but on Friday it was pretty grey and cold in Stockholm and I wasn't all that impressed but by the time I saw it in the sunshine on Sunday my mind was changed! The sun made the whole city come alive - boats ploughing backwards and forwards across the channels between islands, people strolling the quaysides enjoying the sunshine and the water glistening and dancing!
We arrived on Thursday afternoon and took a walk round the old town - Gamla Stan - with its narrow medieval streets, brightly painted buildings and cobbled squares. We had the most amazing hot chocolate at a cafe in one of the little squares.
Later that evening we headed to our accommodation on the island of Langholmen, a green oasis in the centre of Stockholm - kept that way because it was a prison until 1975. We were staying in the old prison, the cells converted into bedrooms - 2 bunks per room - and I must admit slightly more plush that in 1975 - ensuite bathrooms etc. It was a fun place to stay and good value for money in a capital city.
Friday it was also grey and cool so we decided to take the tourist ferry to the island of Djurgarden (your-gore-den) where lots of the main museums are. It was a fun ride in the blustery wind and nice to catch a glimpse of the city from the water that is so important to its character. We visited the Vasa Museet. Home to the Vasa, a warship built of 1000 oak trees in 1628 as part of the Swedish defence in their war with Poland, It took one year to build and required 450 soldiers and sailors - on it's maiden voyage, in the waters of Stockholm, it listed, started taking on water and sank. In the 1950s Anders Franzein spent 5 years using a home-made core sampler searching for the remains. He was successful on August the 28th 1956. The ship was finally raised from the seabed in 1961 after 6 cables were passed beneath the ship and used to slowly raise it from the water. Remarkably the ship was so well preserved that it floated unaided over 300 years after it sank. Many years of painstaking restoration and the ship is now on permanent display in a purpose built museum along with other relics found on board. On entering the museum it is an awe inspiring sight - it is so huge. It somehow reminded me of something from Pirates of the Carribbean.