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Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
I recently earned my Masters in History at NWMSU and am now working as a language assistant in a Spanish elementary school.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Swedish Fish (Stockholm: Part Tre)

The next morning I ate in the bed and breakfast and spoke with the owners who told me a little about life in Stockholm. They said the Swedish tend to stay indoors during the winter months, but spend most of their time outside in the summer. They spoke of the Midsummer Festival and how, at that time of year, there are only a few hours of night with the sun setting well after midnight. I wandered around the area near my bed and breakfast on Kungsholmen, visiting this church courtyard:
and this police station flying the Swedish and European Union flags:

I was concerned about things being closed this day, because it was Easter Sunday, but this was not the case. All the shops were open and people seemed to be going about their everyday business. There was this Easter-themed display in the shopping center in City:

Also on display in the shopping center were several pictures of the recently married crown prince and his wife which declared 2010 to be the "Year of Love." This didn't seem to distract the Swedes from their daily routines either. I returned to Kungsträdgården in the heart of City and took some pictures of the Karl XII statue:

I also found this interesting doorway at one of the buildings surrounding Kungsträdgården:

From City, I walked through the area of Blasieholmen, past the National Museum and crossed a bridge to the island of Skeppsholmen. I took some photos from the northern coastline of this island:

I walked past the Admiralty House on Skeppsholmen:

and the Moderna Museet which has several sculptures by French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalles outside:

From Skeppsholmen I walked to the tiny island of Kastellholmen named after the castle where four cannons are located to salute visiting naval ships. The first building I came across here was the former Skating Pavillion which was used in the late 1800s by a club which organized skating on the frozen waters between Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen:

Uphill from here was the castle, which was built in the 1840s over the foundation of an older structure:

On my way back, I stopped to admire the view of Gamla Stan from across the waters and to watch the swans swim near the shore:
I returned to Gamla Stan and walked along the shoreline behind the royal palace where I saw this statue of King Gustav III who reigned from 1771-1792:

Gustav III is one of the most colorful figures in Swedish royal history. When he became king, the role of the monarch was essentially that of a figurehead, yet he led a coup which resulted in the capitulation of the Swedish parliament and the return to an absolute monarchy. Gustav was inspired by the French Enlightenment philosophers, maintained an elaborate court, supported the arts, and led a long and costly war against Russia. He gained many enemies among the nobility thanks to his laws which restricted their role in the government. In 1792, Captain Anckarström of the Swedish navy, along with other members of the nobility, conspired against the crown. Gustav attended a masked ball at the Stockholm Opera House along with much of the nobility. During the festivities, the king was surrounded by the masked conspirators and shot to death by Anckarström. Gustav's son claimed the throne and the country was soon dragged into the Napoleonic Wars against France, during which much of the lands of the Swedish Empire were lost (most importantly, Finland). The statue of Gustav III is facing this view of the square beside the royal palace and Storkyrkan (the second image is of the large window on the steeple of Storkyrkan):

I walked through the narrow streets of Gamla Stan where I bought this soda because of its label. Here's a good tip to follow when travelling in Europe: don't buy an unknown soda because you want to try something new. It almost never turns out well. Europe isn't known for tasty local brands of soda (unless it's Fanta). This one was cinnamon flavored:

I came across many mysteries in Gamla Stan:

That cat's face was peering from several places through Gamla Stan. At the south of the island I came across this strange sculpture by Carl Milles:
I walked across the bridge connecting Gamla Stan to the southern part of the city, Södermalm:

I later visited the top of the tower in the first picture for some great views of the city. Södermalm has a much different feel than the rest of Stockholm. It's more like a neighborhood and includes many trendy bars and stores. The Globen sports arena (used primarily for ice hockey) is visible from the highest hill in Södermalm:

These telephone booths could be found throughout Södermalm. This one was near the Mosebacke Theatre:

Here is the back of the Mosebacke Theatre, which doubles as a restaurant, the seating of which is located on a patio above:

I finally came upon the street named Fjällgatan, which was the main reason I had in going to Södermalm. Fjällgatan is an old street, with most of the houses dating back to the mid-1700s. It is a good indication of what Södermalm looked like centuries ago. The area has a dark history, however. Before Södermalm was populated, Fjällgatan was known as Galgberget, or "Gallows Hill." This hilltop overlooking much of the city was where many criminals were hanged. As the population of Stockholm spread south, Gallows Hill moved and the area became a neighborhood inhabited by artisans and fishermen. Here are some pictures of Fjällgatan:

Behind this street is the Katarina Kyrka, which was originally built in 1695, but was recently restored after being severely damaged by fire in 1990. A graveyard surrounded the church with many of the tombs dating back to the time of Gustav III:

I returned to the northern coast of Södermalm where I crossed a platform linking the hill to the tall tower, Katarinahissen. I took several pictures of the city from here (including Södermalm's first electric sign, an advertisement for a now-defunct brand of toothpaste):

As I walked back through Gamla Stan, I came across this strange sight, Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest street in Stockholm (three feet wide):

At the top of the stairway at the end of this narrow street was a marker indicating the birthplace of the artist Carl Larsson. On my way back, I came across a strange coincidence. This sticker for a Barcelona hostal I considered staying at earlier in the week was on an informational plaque:

The area that connects Gamla Stan to City offered some nice photos:

I walked to Kungsträdgården and went to the tunnel station for a tour of the different, elaborately-decorated stations. Here are some pictures of that station:
Another tunnel station was dedicated to the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné. The sculptures reminded me of Super Mario Brothers for some reason:
This station let me off in the west of Kungsholmen where my bed and breakfast was located. I decided to explore some of the area. My favorite part was this frozen river and two fairly new buildings at the coast which have been integrated well into the surrounding architecture:

I visited a grocery store near this area and looked around at all the Swedish products. I bought some of the famous Swedish gummies and headed back to the bed and breakfast. On the way, I passed this store specializing in one of Sweden's greatest exports: Swedish design (which is found worldwide in any IKEA):

I sat again in the dark, empty storefront of the bed and breakfast and had tea and gummies left behind by the owners before going to bed and thinking about my return to Madrid the following day:


  1. Sweden looks and sounds amazing! Carl Larsson is one of my favorite artists.