Dark clouds filled the morning sky as we pulled into port today. The temperature is only in the low 40’s and a threat of rain lingers in the air.
But, no worries, our tour today does leave until after lunch so hopefully the sky will clear and we can go on to visit Stockholm’s Old Town and Royal Palace.
With time to kill, Randy and I had a leisurely breakfast in the lounge, walked around on the promenade deck, took some pictures as we pulled into port and then hung out in our cabin until it was time to go down to the pier.
We boarded our bus around 1:30pm and enjoyed a nice ride through the city as we made our way to Stockholm’s Old Town. At one point the bus stopped and let us off for a few minutes to enjoy the view of the city from across the lake.
While traveling to our destination, our guide gave us facts about Sweden and Stockholm.
She told us that Sweden has a population of 9.7 million inhabitants with Stockholm having about 900,000. The average temperature in Sweden is 32°F. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. And, Sweden is a Lutheran country with most residents participating in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden although there are many other religions and denominations in Sweden too.
“Freedom of religion is very important to us,” our tour guide stressed.
Today the temperature started at around 43° and was told that the temperature would most likely rise to 60° sometime in the afternoon. We took our jackets anyway just in case.
We finally arrived at the medieval Old Town home to the Royal Palace, Royal Chapel, wonderful statues, museums, cafes, restaurants, gift shops, cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings.
Before we went inside our guide gave us a little history lesson. The palace is the where official receptions are held. The Drottningholm Palace is the royal family’s permanent residence. We learned that the palace is built in the baroque style and has over 600 rooms.
We entered on the street level and had to climb to the entrance to the palace. Before we did, the guide said in no uncertain terms that we could not take any pictures while touring the palace.
As we passed the ticket station, we noticed a sign that picture a flash camera with a big “X” across it altering everyone that cameras could be used but no flash. That prompted Randy to ask the clerk, “Is it okay to use a camera in the palace as long as I do not use a flash?” The clerk answered, “That will be fine”. He proceeded to take a few pictures and was chastised by the tour guide. So, no pictures inside the palace.
The palace was beautiful. We walked from room-to-room admiring all the beautiful furnishings, walls, painting, chandeliers, wooden and mosaic tiled floors. Each room different, each room beautiful. I liked it very much.
We walked through some of the narrow streets enjoying the views and came to a stop in front of the very tall obelisk. We learned that the obelisk was commissioned by Gustav III as a show of gratitude to the burghers of Stockholm who guarded the city while the king was at war with Russia in 1788.
Next, we turned our attention to the Cathedral just behind the obelisk.
The cathedral is consists of five sections and had a marble statue of Olaus Petri carved on the side of the cathedral facing the square. We learned that Olaus Petri was a reformer who translated the bible into Swedish and had a critical role in the development of the Swedish language.
We were given an opportunity to go into the Cathedral or continue on our walk. Time was short so we decided to continue the walk.
I just loved walking through the streets. They were very narrow, cobblestoned and the buildings were beautiful colors.
We stopped in one small courtyard behind the Finnish Church to admire a tiny statue resting on the ground called the Iron Boy Sculpture. It was a little man with a pink knit cap and scarf standing on a small bench. There were coins on the raised bench. We were told that periodically, the nuns at a nearby convent knit the caps and scarves for the Iron Boy to keep him warm during Stockholm’s cold winter weather. The money is collected and given to the poor.
We passed a beautiful statue of St. George and the Dragon as we walked through Old Town.
We eventually made it to the Great Square in Old Town. We stood with our guide as she pointed to the historical buildings around the square. Inside the square is the old Stock Exchange which now houses the Nobel Museum and the Swedish Academy.
The group was then given 20 minutes to take advantage of browsing some of the shops or enjoying a snack at one of the many cafes and restaurants around the square.
I bee-lined it to a souvenir shop to get magnets and then we chose a little sidewalk café to have a café latte. We chose the Café Kaffekoppen. I asked the server if they had any specialties at the restaurant. She highly recommended the blueberry pie.
What a great recommendation! First of all, the slice was large, the crust was flaky, the blueberry filling was a bit tart but delicious and the vanilla cream was a taste delight. The café lattes came in, what I thought the largest cups ever and had no handles. The lattes were delicious too. Of course, with so little time we had to eat quickly in order to make it back to our bus; but it was worth the effort.
We boarded the bus as the sky started to gather dark clouds again and made our way back to the ship. We made it back to the ship just in time to clean up a little and head up to the lounge where we met Steve and LuAnn and enjoy cocktails and great conversation.
After eating the blueberry pie I was not very hungry for a large dinner and decided on just having a Caesar salad. But when it came to dessert I could not resist the Low-fat Peach Melba with a low-fat almond cookie, poached peach, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. Can you imagine eating two delicious desserts in one day? Yummy!
Randy and I wanted to enjoy the views of the Stockholm archipelago from our balcony of the as the ship made its way back into the Baltic.
The banks were dotted with small villages, boat houses, boat of various sizes.
We also passed many, many islands of various sizes. Some islands were large with vegetation and lighthouses others were just outcroppings of rocks. The view was beautiful.
As the sun started to set pink hues could be seen crossing the evening sky. The entire day was just lovely.
I asked Randy what he thought of Stockholm. “Stockholm is a pretty city with very friendly people citizens and English is spoken almost everywhere. Stockholm is a very nice place to visit and I really enjoyed the blueberry pie and huge café lattes at the sidewalk café,” he replied.
I guess that means we will be back someday.
Tomorrow we are at sea.