“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” —Albert Camus
The first thing I noticed about Stockholm is how quiet it is. I arrived on Friday night and the streets were empty, Saturday night was no different. I expected to see young people out in bars and clubs but the streets were deserted. Saturday daytime was the same, I thought perhaps the cold was keeping everyone indoors, however, a local later informed me that Swedes like to have family time on weekends and do not leave the house till at least noon. Presumably they don’t like to party either?
Stockholm is a beautiful city, so beautiful Stockholmers call it ‘beauty on water’. Although spread across 14 islands, it is surprisingly compact and easy to navigate with bridges connecting most of the islands. I just wish I had visited at a warmer time and not during the winter month of February. The temperature during the day was around minus six degrees and fell to minus twelve degrees at night. I have never been so cold in my life.
The Walking Tour
It does not make for good sightseeing but I still joined a city walking tour this morning after putting on five layers (which made walking somewhat challenging). Almost thirty people turned up which is impressive given the weather.
The guide, Zack from the Czech Republic was entertaining and funny. He kicked off with a little history of the city and how Stockholm got its name. He managed to weave the monarchy into rest of the tour pointing out locations that were related to the kingdom. Starting with the lesbian princess who gave all the country’s crown jewels to the Vatican, and ending with the gym instructor who became a royal he managed to weave in tales of espionage, war, patriotism and religion.
In between the royal family history, he took us the Stockholm Concert Hall where the Nobel prize started and told us why Alfred Nobel started each prize, and then to the building where the Stockholm syndrome got its name and how it got its name. I am dubious about some of what he told us but he was very entertaining and the tour was worth braving the cold for. The tour ended in, the Old Town, which is also where I spent the rest of the day.
Around the Gamla Stan(Old Town)
The Gamla Stan is considered to be one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm. It’s not surprising to see why.
After the tour I walked along the narrow winding cobble stoned streets, in search of a hot drink and the famous kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) and I was not disappointed. They are absolutely scrumptious.
After a whistle-stop tour around the Nobel Museum, I went to the Royal Palace(one of the largest in Europe with over 600 rooms) to see the parade of soldiers and the changing of the guard. The poor soldiers, I don’t know how they can stand in the cold weather for hours on end not moving. In the twenty minutes I spent watching them, I felt like my fingers were going to fall off and when the snow began to fall, I couldn’t take the cold anymore. I escaped to a restaurant where I met some friends and spent the rest of the afternoon with friends doing what we do best, eating, drinking, debating and laughing.
Despite the snow fall and low temperatures, I enjoyed Stockholm and will definitely return but perhaps during the summer months.