A very tiring
day. After a warm night curled up in my bed, walking out into the -12C weather
(before wind-chill) was a shock. The Strand
on the Nybroviken inlet, so yachts were moored outside. It is cold enough here
that the Baltic Sea
freezes in the inlets,
locking the yachts into the ice. Flocks of gulls and shearwaters circled around
in the cold morning air. I walked across the bridge from the main island
Norrmalm to Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm
Gamla Stan was beautiful, filled with old buildings separated by tiny lanes,
and littered with small squares. I walked around Kungliga Slottet, the Royal Place (built
in 1734 on the ruins of Tre Kronor, the 13th century castle
destroyed in the fire of 1697). It was closed so I could look inside, but it
was quite impressive from the outside. I then tried to visit the Nobelmuseet,
but that was also closed, so I lost myself in the warren of alleys. There were
very few people out, but it was adorable when I came across parents, harnessed
to a small sled for their child.
Finally I turned a corner and unexpectedly
came out on the Riddarfjärden, the channel between Gamla Stan and Sodermalm.
The cliffs of Sodermalm looked gorgeous, so I walked across to the island of Riddarholmen to take a look.
Riddarholmen has the oldest buildings in Stockholm,
including the church Riddarholmskyrkan, built in the late 13th
century but decommissioned in 1807 to serve as the Swedish royal family
necropolis. As the wind and snow picked up it became painfully cold, and with
the views over the ice flows in Riddarfjärden (complete with seabirds that
looked like penguins from the distance) I felt like I was in the Antarctic.
I visited Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility, then the Postal History of Sweden
museum, dedicated to postmen who delivered through terrible conditions (they
say Spring was the worst, due to the melting snow).
epidemics, the postmen of Sweden
had to follow special rules because people were afraid the illness would spread
by the post. First, the whole mailbag was to be washed in salt-water, then the mailman
had to pick up the letters with tongs, dip them in vinegar, perforate, dry in a
linen press and hold them over smoke of vitriolic (sulphuric) acid for it to
seep in through the holes. After the post museum, I walked up Vasterlanggatan,
the main street of Gamla Stan, with little stores and narrow alleys, including
Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest lane in Stockholm, less than a metre wide
and ending in a steep set of stairs. I walked back to Riddarholmen, then across
the bridge to the island
of Stromparterren. They
had started to build a car park there, but found medieval foundations, so
changed their mind and built a beautiful museum instead.
I had to return to my hotel to defrost, then I visited the National Museum of
Fine Arts. Afterwards I watched the white swans and colour ducks huddle
together icy water, away from the wind in the lee of the bridge, then I walked
around the art museum island
tired to explore further, I am settling in for an early night...