Stockholm

I have to admit, it took me a couple of days to warm up to Stockholm. Yes, this is another city that is definitely not Italy. There is some serious architecture here and a lot of waterways. Those are two elements in the equation that make for a beautiful city, but the third element, the enzyme that precipitates the reaction is missing here. Perhaps, it is the absence of charm, or maybe the missing exquisiteness of taste. That said, It is growing on me.
Our first day here, we took a walking tour of the old city and later on, another walking tour of the modern city. The old city is not devoid of charm.  Some streets and squares are legitimately beautiful, some are a bit dull. The area across the bridge from the old town, with a view of the royal palace, the parliament, and the opera house, washed out by day, gained from the magical illumination with rays from the setting sun.  The soft and muted lighting of the twilight transformed the scenery. The new town is not attractive one little bit.  It dates to post World War II, when the country suddenly became wealthy benefiting from its neutrality during the war, but it was built with total disregard to aesthetics.  The famous Scandinavian sense of design must have developed much later!
The area behind our hotel is one of the wealthiest areas in town, Ostermamlm, and the main street, lined with outdoor cafes, was teeming with scores of incredibly beautiful blond people. Few block away, however, in a public square,not-so-attractive common folks were drinking beer, strolling around, or dancing salsa to the tunes of a band playing on a public stage.  
The next day we took a boat tour along the canals, visited a History Museum and then a newly hip neighborhood of Sodermalm. On the way back from Sodermalm, we happened upon an area high on a hill with a magnificent view down onto the old city, the Baltic Sea and the lake on the other side of the bridge. Again, the setting sun made it all so much more spectacular!
On the way to the hotel, by the water’s edge, we passed already familiar palaces, which, on closer consideration, revealed their modest and not so modest charms to us, and the city seemed more beautiful.
Today, we went to the Vasa Museum built around a single ship that sank several minutes into her maiden voyage, right outside the Stockholm harbor, in 1628. The brakish waters and the silt of the Baltic preserved her, and in 1961 she was pulled up from the bottom of the sea, cleaned out, and settled in a museum devoted entirely to her. But not really entirely. This is an incredibly comprehensive museum using objects found on the ship. She is the crown jewel and a centerpiece. She is huge and amazingly beautiful. Even if she were the only thing in the museum, it would be enough, but there are also displays and descriptions of the seafaring life in the 17th century and wax models of people, recreated from their remains found on the ship.
Much as I love museums, 2 hrs. is usually a max for me, but we spent 3 full hours here. It was really incredible.
From the museum, we went to the old city and there,for an hour, I turned into Karlsson-on-the-Roof (minus a propeller and a belly 🙂 as I went on a roof walk with 10 other souls. This was really cool! The views were wonderful and the many copper roofs were great to see close-up. On the way back to the hotel, the city started looking even more beautiful, and the waters of the Baltic became slightly choppy, creating a deep-blue canopy of undulating silk. I don’t think any other sea does that particular trick, and the water color is also specific to the Baltic. All these visceral memories!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s