Saturday, August 27, 2005

Memories of Stockholm

About Stockholm
Positioned where the waters of Lake Malaren rush into the Baltic, Stockholm is one of Europe's most beautiful capitals. The city is built on 14 small islands joined by bridges and has a plethora of parks, squares, and boulevards, contrasted with glass-and-steel skyscrapers.

This is the picture of SWEDEN before reaching Stockholm from FlyNordic flight.

Sweden's most important chieftain in the mid-13th century, Birger Jarl, ordered the construction of a fort on one of the strategically placed islets where the fresh water entered the sea, and traffic on the waterways was controlled using timber stocks arranged as a fence, or boom. The name Stockholm, meaning 'tree-trunk islet' may well have originated as a result of this.
The oldest record of the city consists of two letters dating from 1252. Within a hundred years, Stockholm was the largest city in Sweden. By the 15th century Stockholm had become a significant commercial centre and became the capital of Sweden in 1419.
I was in Stockholm on 12th to 14th August, 2005 ,along with Ananda and the memories from this trip are captured in this page.
Friday, 12 August - Arrival in Stockholm
We arrived in Stockholm Arlanda airport at around 8 pm from Copenhagen. We took a bus and it took us around 45 minutes to reach the city center, where our hotel was.

This is where we stayed....The hotel was quite nice, even though the room was very small. The breakfast was fantastic and kept us going strong for the larger part of the day.

These are some shots of Stockholm that I took that night. The one below is of Sergels Torg (Torg = Square in Swedish) , up a busy roundabout in walking street.
We went to see the Live Music in a Disco come Bar, the atmosphere was really enchanting with lots of Swidish girls and wonderful bands.

Saturday, 13th August in Stockholm
Warship Vasa

The first thing we did on Saturday was to visit Vasa Musuem, which houses the Vasa, a wooden warship that sank in Stockholm Harbor during her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628. On this day the pride of the Swedish fleet, the Vasa set sail for war with Poland. On a clear, calm day, the top heavy ship almost immediately capsized and sank before the stunned eyes of the crowds that had gathered to see her off. More than three hundred years later, the ship was raised in 1960, preserved, and in 1990 placed in a modern museum. The museum contains not only the restored ship, but replicas of the Captain’s cabin, the crews’ quarters, a cannon deck and hundreds of artifacts from the formerly sunken ship. Below is a picture of mine in Vasa musium.

Skansen, the world's first and also the largest open-air museum, was founded in 1891 to let visitors see how Swedes lived in previous times. Today, around 150 traditional houses, with a staff in period costume, and other exhibits from all over Sweden occupy this attractive hill top. It's a spectacular 'Old Sweden in miniature' and we felt as if we had gone back in time. Skansen is over a very large area and has old houses, manors, wooden churches, windmills, farmsteads, bakeries, glass-works, iron-works among other sites. It took us a long walk to visit these places and we rested our tired legs by helping ourselves to some freshly baked pastries from the bakery.

We withnessed some rare scandinavian wild lives also.
The rest of Saturday in Stockholm
It was already late afternoon by the time we left Skansen. We then took a sightseeing excursion by boat around the islands of Djurgarden and Skeppsholmen (Stockholm is made of several islands - the bigger and more important of these are Sentrum, Gamla Stan, Blasieholmen & Skeppsholmen, and Djurgarden). It got cloudy during the boad ride and then it started to rain.
After the rain stopped we went to Kaknas Television Tower (Kaknastornet) - which at 152 metres is the tallest man-made structure in Scandinavia. We got a nice view of the Stockholm city and archipilago from the top. I wanted to stay there till it got dark so that we get a view of the city lights. But we then decided against it due to the rains and the fact that it was still about 2 hrs before it got dark.
It had been a long day and we decided to stop over at our hotel for some rest. After that we went out again for seeing the sights of Stockholm by night. We have spent some time in the Casino and Ananda was not lucky enough in his first play, so we quited the place quickly.
This is a photo of the Stockhom Town Hall taken from across the water in the island of Gamla Stan.
The one above is of the Stockholm Royal Palace, also in Gamla Stan.
Stockholm, being a cluster of islands and sorrounded by the sea, has lovely harbours, sea inlets and waterfronts. And quite naturally these waters have all sorts of ships on display. We saw quite a few old, carefully preserved sailing ships, a warship and several medium sized ocean liners amongst others.
The Grand Hotel in Stockholm was built in 1874. It is a landmark in the city now and among other dignitaries it also plays host to the Nobel Prize laureates, when they arrive in Stockholm each year in December

Sunday - The Town Hall, Gamla Stan and about the Nobel Prize..The Town Hall (Stadshuset)
Sunday started with a visit to the Stockholm Town Hall or Stadshuset. It is an imposing red brick building with an inner court and an 100 m high tower. It was was built in the 1920's and it houses the Blue Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet takes place every year.
Unfortunately entry into the Town hall is restricted to certain specific times (only 2/3 times a day when guided tours happen). So we could not go inside and visit the Blue Hall. What we did was to go to the top of the tower of the City Hall. We got beautiful panoramic views of the islands of Norrmalm, Kungsholmen and Gamla Stan from the top of the tower.
Just across the City Hall in the island of Ridderholmen, stands Riddarholmskyrkan (Church of Riddarholmen) which is the burial church of the Swedish monarchy.
Gamla Stan (The Old Town)
Gamla Stan is the oldest part of Stockholm and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. It is quite an experience to walk through these narrow streets and enjoy the splendid architecture all around.
The most important building in Gamla Stan is the Royal palace. This palace has 608 rooms and is said to be the biggest palace in the world still used by a head of state - King Carl XVI Gustav. The palace is huge and houses the Royal Apartments, the Hall of State, the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry, the Treasury, the Tre Kronor Palace Museum, the Armoury and the Museum of Antiquities of Gustav III. We did not have time to cover all these that day and made a quick visit to the Royal Apartments only.
But we were overwhelmed by the show put by the Palace Gaurds during the The Changing of the Guards ceremony. The whole ceremony lasted for well over an hour and the guards paraded in various maneouveres accompanied by splendid music.
Then we went to Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan. The square was the site of the Stockholm Blood Bath, where over 80 Swedish noblemen were massacred by the Danish King Christian II in 1520.
Nobel Musuem and Stockholm Concert House
Then we went to the Nobel Musuem. This houses memorabilia of all Nobel Laureates including Rabindranath Tagore,Amartya Sen, Mother Terisa. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside. Though we managed to take some.
By this time we were short on time and only had a few hours before our flight. We made a rush to the Stockholm Concert Hall, where the Nobel Prize (except the Peace Prize which is given out in Oslo) is given out each year on December 10. This is also home to the Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra. Even though we went there when there was no official tours on offer, the lady in charge of the Hall was kind enough to let us in and personally guided us around the place.
It was quite an overwhelming feeling to climb on the stage which has been graced by all Nobel Laureates since 1901.
That brought an end to our trip. We rushed back to our hotel, picked up our luggage and took the Arlanda Express train to the airport to catch our flight to Copenhagen.

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