Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sweden (Part 3)

June 6, 2013 8:00 PM—Stockholm

What a day! What a Swedish National Day! Anything we didn't see yesterday, we saw it today. We started our day out right with a breakfast of hot chocolate and a cake that looked like the Swedish flag. But don't worry. That wasn't the last time we saw the flag today. In fact, the flag was everywhere. Many places hung there flags just for National Day and everyone seemed to be carrying one.

After breakfast, we walked all the way down to Stockholm City Hall, which is quite an interesting building to see. And despite the fact that you may think it is really old, it was only built about 100 years ago. This is where they hold the banquet after they award the Nobel Prize. So this morning, we went down there and took a tour, where we got to see many of the most important rooms.

The Blue Hall where they hold the Nobel Banquet

Once we were done with our tour, we went back up to the Royal Palace where we were able to get our boat which we took one stop so we could go to Kungstradgarden, which is a large park where they were having a food festival today. On the way there we came across a 7-Eleven, which just blew me away. I don't think I've ever seen a 7-Eleven outside of the U.S. It's just not an international chain, but they apparently have one here in Stockholm. Anyway, when we got to the food festival we walked around for a little bit before asking someone to translate their menu for us, because everything was in Swedish. We ended up getting a plate of pork with potato salad, which was really good. And then afterwards, of course, we got ice cream.

After we ate, we got back on the boat and took it another couple stops too this small island that I don't even know the name of. It is right between Galma Stan, which is the island we are staying on, and another large island called Djurgarden, which we went to yesterday. There wasn't much there, but it was nice to go see. We ended up only staying about 20 minutes until the next boat came.

Next we got back on the boat again and went to the southern island, where we went to see a church called Katarina Kyrka that is way up on the hill. The church looks really awesome from the outside, but the inside was very plain with white walls and no stained glass.

After that we took the boat one more stop back to Gamla Stan and I came back to the hostel to take a nap, while Dad went to look for a newspaper. But after our short break, we went right back out again. This time we took the boat back to the island of Djurgarden. We went to go see Skansen, which is an open-air museum. It basically pulled old houses and different structures from all over Sweden and put them in this one giant park, so that you could experience life in 19th century Sweden. It was really nice to just wander around and explore Skansen for an hour or two.

When we were nearing the end of our visit to Skansen, we decided to stand and wait because the royal family was supposed to parade by on their way into the park for National Day. Once inside the king gave a speech and then they had some traditional music. We ended up seeing the parade, which was pretty lame. There were several groups of horse that came through really fast and it seemed that the royal family sped through in their carriages. It was over before you even really thought it began. So we wandered back up into Skansen to see if we could see the king speak. And as a matter of fact, we found a spot where we could actually see him. And once he was done speaking we called it a day.

Tomorrow we are heading down to Copenhagen for a few days and we'll see if it can measure up to Stockholm. I think at this point Stockholm has to be my favorite place that I've visited since the beginning of this trip. It really is just something to see with all of its waterways and museums, not to mention the old town in and of itself. One thing that is really interesting about Stockholm is that it is light out for about 18 hours a day. In fact, it starts getting light out at 3 AM and it is light out until 10 at night. I guess this is the farthest north I've ever been and it is summertime, so this is when they will get the most sunlight, but I was just amazed at the amount of daylight hours. I guess for one thing it really allows you a lot of time to explore the city. In the end, I'm really glad we spent 3 nights here. I could have definitely spent more. There was so much to see and the city was just such as enjoyable place to be.

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