August 3, 2016
I felt a bit down about having to leave Denmark, and Copenhagen specifically, since I had spent most of my time there over the first five days of my trip. I knew I would miss all that Copenhagen offered me: beauty, culture and great food. However, I was eagerly anticipating what lie ahead in Stockholm, Sweden. Especially since I would be ‘on my own’ without my trusty guides showing me around. (If you are just tuning in to this travelogue, read it from the beginning starting here.)
I definitely had an enthusiastic outlook as I sat in Københavns Lufthavn (Copenhagen Airport) reflecting on the past five days, and imagining the similarities and differences of Stockholm. Many questions streamed through my head as I boarded my plane bound for Stockholm Arlanda Flygpats (Stockholm Airport). I had no preconceived notions about this part of The Nordics, located about 324 miles northeast of Copenhagen. I was giddy with anticipation. What would the people be like? Would the food be similar? I was eager to learn more about Swedish culture.
Disembarking the plane about 55 minutes later, I cannot say that I was immediately awestricken. The airport is located near the town of Märsta, about 23 miles north of Stockholm, and during the drive to my hotel I was struck by how Midwestern the landscape seemed, much like how I felt about Denmark when I first arrived. However, the closer I got to the city center the more excited I became. The landscape began to transform from flat to hilly to cliff-like terrain. Water and beautiful architecture, reminiscent of Greek and Roman design, gave Stockholm more of a European feel to me. I was finally in Stockholm!
As the car traveled along Klarastrandsleden – the north-south highway through Stockholm’s central districts – and over Centralbron (The Central Bridge), connecting the island of Norrmalm to Gamla Stan (Old Town), the driver pointed out the beautiful Stockholms Stadshus (Stockholm City Hall) perched triumphantly along the banks of the Riddarfjården, the easternmost bay of Lake Mälaren, upon which Stockholm emerges.
Sweden’s capital city spreads out over 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Often referred to as “Beauty on Water” it looks out proudly to the Baltic Sea to the east. The grand public buildings, palaces, rich cultural history and museums tell her 700 year-old story beautifully.
The Stockholms Stadshus, one of Stockholm’s grandest buildings, exhibits a refined eclecticism apparent in its Romanesque revival style architecture. Constructed from 1911-1923 on the former site of Eldkvarn, a grand gristmill that burned in one of the many Stockholm fires, it is the perfect welcome for any visitor to the city.
The austere North European brick construction of Stockholms Stadshus, nearly 8 million munktegel (monk’s’ bricks) in all, is juxtaposed with playful elements reminiscent of oriental and venetian architecture. There are turrets adorned with golden starlets, decorated balconies, wooden masts, statues, and the distinctive “lantern” bell tower.
The building is a remarkable sight, commanding its presence among the skyline. However, what occurs inside each December is even nobler (pun intended). For the past 115 years, Nobel Laureates have gathered here to honor new Nobelpriset (Nobel Prize) winners for their outstanding work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics (since 1969). (The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony takes place in Oslo, Norway.) It was an honor just to set eyes on the magnificent building, where so many brilliant ideas have been celebrated.
As I drove through Stockholm that first day, admiring the gorgeous skyline, which was as colorful in actuality as much as in culture and history, I had my first glimpse of the magnificent adventure before me. The next two-and-a-half days I would immerse myself in Swedish culture through museum trips, great restaurants, and exploring the city spontaneously and on recommendation. All the while being pleasantly surprised and amazed about Nordic culture, which I find to be quite fascinating! Stockholm would become one of my most favorite cities and I can’t wait to share more with you next week!