29/03/2017

4 Hours In Stockholm

Or the fastest trip ever. Because apparently everything is justified in the name of saving money!
Following this mantra, me and my usual group of friends took a ferry to Stockholm... and the ferry back was scheduled for that same afternoon, roughly 4 hours after our arrival! I swear I never went through a capital city so fast in my life.
Of course, being in such a hurry meant that (sadly) we couldn't get into any museum or go further than the city centre - but it was anyway an amazing experience!
Having slept in the Viking Line ferry from Helsinki, we woke up like this:
View of Stockholm Archipelago
Stockholm is preceded by an enormous archipelago (in Swedish skärgården) composed of about 30.000 between small islands and rocks, and it extends for 80 km east of the city; the main way of exploring it is, of course, by boat.

It is an amazing view to have while eating a simple, poor-student like breakfast (read: plain biscuits) sitting at a wooden picnic table on a ferry deck with no one around but loud seagulls.
Dawn on the sea
At 10:30 (Swedish time) we finally docked at Stockholm harbor, after about 16 hours of sailing through the Baltic Sea - which we spent mostly eating, sleeping and looking at the stars from the deck. Time to start the coutdown!
Stockholm harbor
Luckily enough, our arrival was greeted by a shining sun and a climate that I would call "hot" for Latvian standards (while my Italian standards would call me crazy and disown me), but still fiercely windy: never forget to wear a hot cap when visiting Sweden!
Our strict plan didn't allow us to leave Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm. It is situated in one of the 14 islands that compose the capital city of the Kingdom of Sweden, Stadsholmen - even though it officially includes also the surroundung islets Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen and Strömsborg.
(Yes, it's the small part in the middle of the city)
Dating back to the 13th century, the town is a little medieval jewel, filled in with narrow cobbled streets, old-style shops and beautiful churches. It is also home to the Nobel Prize Museum (since Nobel Prizes are awarded every year by the Swedish Academy) and the Royal Palace. Sweden is, in fact, officially governed by one of the oldest royal houses in Europe, the House of Bernardotte. However, most of the King's tasks are merely representative - Sweden is a Parliamentary Consitutional Monarchy.
Swedish Royal Palace
Gamla Stan's main square
Swedish Academy
Gamla Stan's street names - they are all both in Swedish and Latin, no clue why!
Stockholm narrow medieval streets
After wandering around for hours and indulging ourself with fika, without doubts my favourite Swedish custom so far - consisting simply in havng a coffe break with a cinnamon roll, and relax - we made our last stop at the town hall which, based on my friend Mattia's research, is "the most photographed spot in Stockholm". Well, you can't deny that the view is spectacular:
Stockholm view
Stockholm view
...and then we had to run away towards the harbor, because when you're having fun time is never enough. I hope next time we'll take at least a couple of days to get lost in this colorful, fascinating city. Goodbye Stockholm!

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