August 10, 2016
If you ever get a chance to visit Scandinavia, Stockholm is a must-see in my book. I had limited time to spend on my travels and, in retrospect, made a huge mistake not allotting more time to this Nordic treasure. In May, Stockholm could pass for any gorgeous southern European coastal town. The sun and amazingly pleasant, sunny weather amazed me after coming from a cooler and often cloudier Copenhagen. (If you’re just tuning in, this is the eleventh installment of a Scandinavian travelogue, which took place in May of 2016 and included stops in Denmark and Sweden. To read from the beginning please go here.)
Stockholm is, in my mind, a gem not given proper recognition. I felt that I had stumbled upon a wonderful secret, and even the Swedes I met did not seem to understand what brought me to their city. “Do you have family here?” I was asked more than once by astonished citizens, trying to comprehend that I had visited simply to take in the sights and learn more about their culture. Their modest sentimentality made me love this beautiful city on the water even more, and I could not wait to explore.
It seemed that everyone was outdoors enjoying the weather, and how could they not with the immense beauty everywhere you turn. From the hustle and bustle of the Norrmalm district to the thousand of islands that make up Stockholm’s archipelago, and everything in between, Stockholm has something for everyone. With every turn of the head there is gorgeous architecture to behold, winding cobblestoned streets full of shops and cafes, fashionable people navigating the city and crystal waterways reflecting the aqua sky.
People were walking, biking, boating, and taking in the sights. The sun began to rise around 3:30 each morning and set well after 9:00 at night. In the long, dark winter months there may only be, at most, an average of around seven hours of sunlight each day, so enjoying the warm Swedish summer weather while it lasts is paramount.
I stayed in the hip and trendy Södermalm district at the very stylish Hotel Rival, once a cinema and partly owned by former ABBA star Benny Andersson. As I explained in a previous post, Stockholm is spread out over the 5-6 “main” islands of Gamla Stan (the Old Town and birthplace of Stockholm), Södermalm (hip and trendy area), Norrmalm (Stockholm city center and the affluent Ostermalm district), Kungsholmen (known for large singles population) and Djurgården (museums, such as Vasa and ABBA, are located on this green island, royal land since the 15th century).
I arrived at the hotel, after my exciting drive in to Stockholm, to a room overlooking the beautiful Mariatorget (The Maria Square). Constructed at the end of the 1760s, its original name was Adolf Fredriks torg (Adolf Frederiks Square) after King Adolf Frederick, who reigned from 1751-1771. It was renamed “Mariatorget” in 1959 to avoid confusion with the church and parish of Adolf Fredrikskyrkanin on Norrmalm. The modern name alludes to the nearby Maria Magdalena kyrka (Church of Mary Magdalene) and the surrounding parish. The central fountain features a sculpture by Anders Henrik Wissler called Tors fiske (Thor’s fish), which depicts the Norse god slaying the sea serpent Jörmungandr. I would make it a point each day to sit and enjoy this lovely park and the people passing through it.
As I settled in on that first day, I took a moment to step out onto the balcony and breath in some of that refreshing Swedish air, enjoying the incredible views and feeling grateful for my journey so far. I had two-and-a-half more days to make the most of my Scandinavian adventure, and I was determined to do so. Tune in next week as I explore Stockholm by boat, land and even high above the Lake Mälaren at one point!
In Other News:
Denmark & Sweden Hilarious Twitter ‘Feud’: http://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-and-denmark-were-feuding-on-twitter-2016-7
In Olympic News:
Denmark Aiming for Double-Digit Medal Haul: http://cphpost.dk/news/sports/rio-2016-ambitious-danes-aiming-for-double-digit-medal-haul.html
Surprise..Denmark’s 1st Medal at Rio Olympics is in Cycling: http://cphpost.dk/news/denmarks-wait-for-first-medal-at-2016-olympics-is-a-short-one.html
American and Sweden take No.1 and No.2 Spots in Women’s Swimming 200-Meter Freestyle Final: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/rio-2016/2016/08/09/katie-ledecky-swimming-200-freestyle-final-result/88494220/
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom sets world record in 100 butterfly in Rio: