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On our own in Stockholm

We are finally alone in Stockholm after having had a great time traveling around a bit with family, meeting more of our extended family and touring with Andrew and Henry.  Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous city in the Nordic Countries with about 2.3 million people in its metropolitan area.  The city stretches across fourteen islands where the freshwater Lake Målaren runs into the Baltic Sea.  Just outside the city and along the coast is the island chain of the Stockholm Archipelago which consists of around 30,000 islands.  The central city is made up of Gamla Stan or old city, Södermalm, Norrmalm and östermalm.  We have been living the past two weeks in Södermalm which is similar to the South End of Boston as it is a very hip, Bohemian neighborhood where a lot of people live enjoying the convenience of numerous restaurants, cafes, bakeries, grocery stores and anything else you could need within a few short blocks.  Public transportation is also very easy with bus and subway very close by.

This is the street in front of our apartment in the summer.  During the other months everything is removed and there is normal traffic and parking on both sides.
Our building, open window on the left, 4th floor is our bedroom.

Our Airbnb is on the fourth floor with a bedroom window overlooking the main street and kitchen, living room and deck looking out at a rear enclosed courtyard.  The very best thing about Sweden so far has been the showers.  After numerous cramped showers with tenuous flow and hot water, Sweden’s showers have all been large with spectacular flow and no hot water restrictors.  We have been running every other day 3-5 miles along the waterways which are about 0.6 mile away, at least Sandy runs that far.  Jim tends to do run/walks or as runners call them fartleks which is a Swedish term meaning speed play.  

This was on our running route one morning, there are so many of them and they are huge.

We have also run the Pride 5K and the Stockholm Urban Trail which we have already blogged about.  After Henry and Andrew left us on 6 August we walked a new area of town for us called Kungsholmen which is just west of Gamla Stan.

It was a beautiful, dry, sunny day with interesting cloud formations.
This is looking from Kungsholmen across to Södermalm.

This is a quieter neighborhood which still has an abundance of shopping and like every other area is surrounded by water.

Fotografiska is a centre for contemporary photography in Södermalm which we both really enjoyed.  It sits waterside with the huge Baltic cruise liners along the quay looking across at Gamla Stan, Östermalm, Djurgården and other islands.

Grona Lund, an amusement park on Djurgården.

Despite its name, it is not a museum because it has no collections, does not conduct research and is for-profit.  We were mesmerized by Sea Legacy/Turning the Tide which uses world-class media to  capture endangered oceanic habitats and wildlife, and shines a spotlight on facts that do not usually get our attention.  We also enjoyed Linda McCartney & Mary McCartney Mother Daughter which displayed photographs from both documenting their life and times.  The cafe on the top floor looked like a great place for a meal as they had a good variety of food and tables looking out over the harbor through huge windows.  The timing was not right for us so we did not get to try the food.

We took a free tour of the Swedish Parliament which was interesting and gave us an education about the Swedish political system.  The building was not nearly as impressive as Stockholm City Hall.  Our guide was a middle aged typical Swede who was very invested in their political system and a Brit in our tour group asked her a lot of questions which enabled her to elaborate even more which helped us understand their parliamentary system better.

Entrance to the original Parliament building, we saw two of seven present buildings.
View of Stockholm City Hall from Parliament.

Our longest day of touring was an 11 hour “Thousand Island Tour” of the Swedish Archipelago which went from Stockholm right to the edge of the open Baltic Sea.  We were on board the M/S Waxholm III a renovated 1903 Archipelago boat which served a small sandwich with coffee on boarding followed by lunch and dinner later in the day.  

Upstairs dining room/bar where we hung out most of the day.
A nice quiet place in the back that we had all to ourselves.
The main dining room during the buffet lunch.

We had experienced some of the Archipelago islands when we went to Dronningen Palace with Henry and Andrew.  The islands are reminiscent of coastal Maine as most are uninhabited or sparsely so, remote, mostly covered with green vegetation and quite rocky.  It is very beautiful in a wild way.  We navigated through some very narrow passages and received a running commentary in Swedish and English by our tour guide Kristopher.  There have been a lot of wars fought over this land both with the Russians and with other Scandinavians.  It is hard for us to imagine fighting for such remote islands.  We made three different stops for about one hour tours which involved a Swedish writer, Swedish history and a pleasure boating center.  We were not familiar with any of the places or people involved. At one of the stops a group of people from Spain participated in some water sports.

This is where a famous Swedish author lived for a summer writing a book about the island, later made into a movie.
Sandy listening intently to our guide Kristopher.

 The meals were pretty good and we had a few rounds of wine and G & T to pass the time.  It was too long on a boat for Sandy, but Jim enjoyed the views and watching the sailboats on the Baltic Sea.

Our evening two course dinner.

On a Saturday morning we took a local train to The Mall of Scandinavia and took in the new Mission Impossible movie.  We were in Paris last summer when they were filming there and we enjoyed all of the views of Paris and London which were mostly whizzing by in chase scenes.

Our last day of touring we explored a very small island just west of Gamla Stan called Riddarholmen.  Holm is Swedish for islet or small island which explains a lot of the names here.  This island houses a number of private palaces dating back to the 17th century.  The main landmark is the church Riddarholmskyrken, used as Sweden’s royal burial church from the 17th century to 1950, and where a number of earlier Swedish monarchs are also buried.

Riddarholmen with the church on the left.  There is a ton of construction going on all around the waterfront right now which obscures a lot of probably beautiful views.
Riddarholmskyrken with an added burial chapel.
Dead kings and queens everywhere in this ex-church.

We leave Sweden for Boston on August 15.  We don’t feel as if we have become as well acquainted with Sweden or Stockholm as we would like but we have enjoyed our time here, especially the family time.  Getting to know our new extended family in Mora and spending time with Geoff, Sofi, Bhavanii and Freya was certainly the highlight of this three week sojourn.

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