Thursday, May 08, 2008

Valkommen... my official Sweden post, resplendent with pictures! That last entry, whilst mildly entertaining, was a total cop-out and I'm here to redeem myself.

I don't know why, but our first stop in every city always seems to be to the main square - for food. I was particularly excited about the one in Gamla Stan, Stockholm as it was called "Stortorget". My eyes automatically see "Store Target", then rapidly switch to "Target Store". (Just kidding. I didn't really think there was a Target in Stockholm. But a girl can dream, no?)

I only posted this photo because I thought it was funny how my arms look so long compared to my torso because they're in the forefront of the photo. Just imagine my arms hanging round about my shins. Give it a minute. You'll laugh.

After a good bit of walking around and getting our bearings, we stopped for a beer. A Kwak, to be exact. Two of them, to be precise. And little did we know they would bring them out in a dual holder. And little did I know that every time I would try to take a sip, Jason would say "Kwak Kwak" (like a duck) and make me snort.

Remember the mythical beast, champagneicorn? Well, this is its cousin, Kwakicorn.

That Kwak goes straight to my head. Next thing I knew, I was making racy double-entendres of bar names. Well, they're just asking for it, calling themselves Kok Bar, right???

The shyest bagpiper ever. He wasn't busking (there was no little cup or hat for change) and he certainly wasn't giving a free concert as he was literally facing into a corner. He abruptly stopped and left when his mobile rang. Very odd, that.

For the remainder of the afternoon, we simply strolled around the harbour area and relaxed on the grassy banks.

This boat, called af Chapman, was built in England in 1888 as a freight vessel, came to Sweden in 1915, served as a school until 1934 and is now a youth hostel. Quite a history!

Day two dawned bright and warm. Clearly, this put me in a good mood. Ride 'em, cowgirl!

We took a little boat over to the island of Djurgarden...

...where there was no shortage of things to do. Too many decisions. My head hurts.

Amusement park? No thank you. (What kind of amusement park doesn't have a ferris wheel? Don't they know that ferris wheel = wheeeee!?)

So we headed to Skansen, the open air museum with lots of original houses and farm dwellings from all over Sweden. (Also sort of a zoo. More on that later.) This is an old church from the 1700's.

The viewing tower, Bredablick.

Now, maybe I'm the only one here but I had no idea peacocks had the ability to do whatever this one did to get up in this tree (climb? fly??). Also, they make a horrific sound. Horrific! This one poor kid who was so fascinated by the peacock started screaming when the thing began howling.

Then. My favorite. The bears. Or more specifically, the bear cubs. Cutest things EVER! The three of them were born last month and were so clumsy and precious. We stayed there watching them play for about 30 minutes.

It's really too bad they'll grow up and maul your face off, huh?

This red windmill was half covered in scaffolding (Expedia? We're so totally on to your little game.) but I managed some tricky photography to crop it out.

Surprise! A beer break! (What? You mean you're not surprised??)

And then to the Vasamuseet. I can't tell you anything about this that could ever prepare you for it. I could tell you how shockingly massive the boat is. You'd still stand there slack-jawed at the enormity of it. I could tell you how the detail of the carvings is amazing. You'd still be stunned.
Just a bit of history from our travel guide: After a maiden voyage of only 4,265 feet in calm weather, Vasa capsized in Stockholm's harbour in August 1628 about 330 feet off the southernmost tip of Djurgarden. It wasn't until 1956 that Vasa was rediscovered by a marine archaeologist .

I seriously cannot recommend this enough. I personally wasn't that excited about going but Jason was looking forward to it so of course I was happy to do it. But when we walked in, I was hooked.

And back outside to enjoy more sunshine by the water...

Life simply does not get better than this. Water lapping at the dock, a strong cappuccino, sunshine on my face, a cosy blanket to keep the breezes off my arms...

...sun sparkling on the water...

...and sailboats docked under blue skies. If this doesn't make you relaxed, you should seek therapy.

Jason was fascinated by the fishermen. I was more worried about the cloud of impending doom hanging over the harbour. (I needn't have been concerned - although there were a few ominous looking clouds over the course of the weekend, it never rained.)

Monday started off with some souvenir shopping for our nieces. These wooden painted horses are kind of the national symbol of Sweden.

And then we set off on a walk through Sodermalm. This part of the neighborhood is really arty and lined with gallery after gallery. So we weren't exactly surprised to see this painted bin. I think if more trash bins were like this, people would be delighted to put their rubbish in them instead of strewing it in the streets.

A cute little residential street...

This is me lashing out at Jason for making me take a photo.

Then of course he made me do a proper one. However, between the way my bag cuts across me and my weird posture, I think I look about 5 months pregnant. Nice pot there. I think I was cuter when I was faking picking my nose.

Monteliusvagen was the name of the little pedestrian path that ran alongside the hill, giving lovely views of the city.

Extreme walking tours. Not for the faint of heart.

After cutting out early and heading back to the hotel for our massages, we came back to Gamla Stan for a stroll and dinner. This is Marten Trotzigs Grand, the narrowest street in the city - only three feet wide.

The towers of Mariaberget as seen from Gamla Stan.

And dinner... We decided to do a traditional Swedish restaurant and both got meat. You can't very well go to Sweden and not eat Swedish meatballs, can you? We had been imitating the Swedish Chef from the Muppets all weekend for crying out loud. Hor dee dorrden herrfen gurrfen. Horrn derr steer mrrrr bork bork bork! Dee beensey bounceey burgerrr.

And Jason got reindeer! This recalls to mind a favorite childhood song... You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recalllll, the most famous entree of alllll? Rudolph the medium rare grilled fillet of reindeer. Had a very tasty sauce. And if you ever ate him, you would totally agree! Wait, ummm, that's not exactly how it went, is it?

Hej da, Stockholm.


Suze - Manchester UK said...

What's up with the bagpipe player? Totally odd.
Are you also aware that Kwakicorn has 2 glasses of wine sprouting from her, um, mane?

geo said...

That last picture is my favorite!

Muz & Mo said...

What? You guys are eating meat now? Did I miss something??
Looks like it was a great trip!

Johnna said...

exciting! We're going to Stockholm for our 20th anniversary this summer. Looks like fun.