36 hours in Stockhom

I flew direct from Prague to Stockholm on SAS on a Sunday morning, arriving in the early afternoon. By the time I checked into my hotel and got oriented, it was late afternoon. I didn’t actually count the hours, but 36 seems like a good number.

Several people had recommended that I visit the Vasa Museum, so that was my first stop. It was easy to get there by ferry from Mariantorget, where I was staying. I’ve taken ferries a few times while travelling, but their haven’t lost their novelty and excitement for me. They are also very convenient for travelling around Stockholm, and the same travel card can be used for the metro, trams, buses, ferries.

The Vasa is a few minutes walk from the Djurgårdsvägen ferry stop. It’s interesting how much of the ship was salvaged, and that it was so well preserved, but I’m amazed that it was not better tested. Maybe I misunderstood, and there are lots of (possible) explanations in the museum, but I find it incredible.

From Vasa, I took a ferry to the Modern Art Museum. I only had 45 minutes until the museum closed, so I focused on visiting the permanent collection. I tend to be a bit disconcerted by cubist paintings but still find it interesting to watch them and consider their meaning/message. I’m not very knowledgeable about art, but I had downloaded the app of the museum at the WIFI point and was able to listen to information about the artists and paintings, which provided a bit more context in which to consider the paintings. I enjoyed the visit to the museum, which has lots of what I call Math art.

By the time I left Vasa, it was 6 p.m. I took a while before I managed to catch a ferry back to Slussen. I walked around a bit and decided to have dinner at Tehran Grill which was in the vicinity of the hotel, with good reviews. There were lots of spaces and my impatience was about to get the better of me since it was taking the hostess a while to sit me after she had stopped and said hello. Just as I was about to leave, she sat me. I ordered a shrimp dish with saffron rice, and passion fruit juice. I seldom drink juice and had planned to have tea but I love passion fruit and could not refuse. It was worth it. The food was good, with the jumbo shrimp being perfectly cooked. The saffron rice was nothing special. There was no special flavor that I could discern, just a slight yellow tinge. The restaurant was busy but not full, and the two servers were working non stop. It took a while to get my food, but it was hot when it arrived.

Since the next day was Monday, many museums were closed. Had I planned more carefully, I would have gone to the Vikings museum (not its actual name) on Sunday and left Vasa for Monday. Not having done that, however, I went on a revised version of Frommers’ walking tour of Gamla Stan in reverse (because I got lost and decided to go with it). I stopped and bought some Happy Socks as gifts (which I hope are making whoever found them very happy). The German church was closed so I couldn’t visit. The Storkyrkan cathedral is impressive, and I took the opportunity to light a candle for my grandmother, and seat in a pew to say some prayers for the departed. I visited the church three times. The second time, I went back to see the statue of St. George slaying the dragon that I’d missed the first time. The third time, I went to see if I could find the happy socks, since that was the only place that I’d sat on my tour. The Royal Palace was closed but I was in time to see the changing of the guards. (The one in Prague is more impressive I think.) From the Royal Palace, I quickly walked over to Riddarholmskyrkan. It’ grand to look at from the outside, but was closed so I couldn’t see the inside. From there, it was time to hurry over to the City Hall, so I caught Bus 3.

I made it to the City Hall just after 13:00 and was able to join the tour that had just started (which was my goal). The tour starts in the Blue Room which is a reception room used after the Nobel Prize is awarded. The room is not actually blue, but is elegant. The ceiling is flat and can be used for projections during banquets. The guide mentioned that the stairs were carefully designed to allow women to be able to walk down them elegantly. The architect has his wife test prototypes of the stairs wearing a ball gown and heels, so he could get it right. We swept up the stairs from the blue room and continued our tour through hallways and other rooms. The ceilings vary greatly from room to room. In the council room (I may have made up this name), the ceiling has a feeling of openness, almost like a staircase, and the guide mentioned that’s because everything said in the room should be able to rise and float out to the general public. In fact, there is seating for the general public to be able to attend sessions. At the time of my visit, the room was set up for a session happening later that day. It seats 101 council members, who are seated from left to right, by affiliation. There were originally 100 members, but one was added to avoid ties during voting. I don’t remember the uses for all the rooms that we walked through, but the most visually vibrant room is the Golden Room. Ten kilograms of gold was used to create the mosaic effect on the walls. The central image is a caricature of a queen, emphasizing her abilities and strength rather than physical beauty. The golden room opens out to the balcony above the blue room, and the guide mentioned that the two rooms are used together for the reception of the Nobel Prize award.

After all the walking, I was famished. I’d saved Hermans n my offline map and noticed that I could walk there in about 20 minutes. Hermans is a vegetarian restaurant. A buffet lunch costs 125 SEK and includes tea, water and/or coffee. There were a large variety of both cold and hot food, and I definitely ate too much. The protein sources were tofu, TVP, and beans as far as I could tell. I highly recommend Hermans!

I saw Fotografiska while walking to Hermans so I knew it was nearby. I hadn’t realized that Stockholm was so hilly, and my fear of heights had reared its ugly head again. I think it happens whenever I’m afraid of falling on a bridge in the winter, and it didn’t help that I’d slipped and fallen on the ice the night before while walking over a (thankfully pedestrians only) bridge. I looked at the long path to the museum by road and watched the steep stairs down the street. I really wanted to walk down the stairs (my Withings Pop had already recorded 15000 steps) but was afraid that the stairs would be slippery. I stood at the top of the stairs trying to psych myself up. Thankfully, at that moment, a woman started walking down the stairs and I figured that if she could do it, I could too and followed her, albeit at a slower speed.

It was a quick visit to Fotographiska sine only one floor was open, with a new exhibition being prepared on the second floor.

I walked around a bit after this, and did some shopping. I was looking for snow boots but didn’t find any where I was. I asked a salesperson who directed me to a mall, but I was tired and decided to call it done and head back to the hotel.