Tuesday, September 27, 2011

gamla stan and royal palace

In Stockholm, we spent 3 days wandering around, visiting sites and eating overpriced food :) Nobody ever said Scandinavia was cheap! Although, I think $30 for a slice of quiche and a pastry is a bit much, don't you? Anyway, here are some pictures.

This is Stortorget, the oldest central square in Stockholm.  It is around this square that all of Stockholm was built. The buildings pictured above date back to the 17th century and are the only buildings around the square that are residences.  Tiny streets radiate out of the square filing into Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town.

We ate dinner at a cute little restaurant right on the old square.  Touristy, yes.  But the food was fairly priced and actually quite good.  Plus I was really excited to eat salad after four days of dessert :)  Of course, I ordered pasta too, let's be serious now.  The tables across from us were reserved for some large party of the most gorgeous 20-something year old Swedes you've ever seen.  When they showed up, we couldn't help but stare.  I really wanted to take a picture of them, but couldn't get up the nerve to break my camera out and play paparazzi.

The sun set filled the narrow passageways of the old town with the most beautiful light.  The serene views were the perfect ending to a long day of traveling.  The next day my mom and I headed back to Gamla Stan to tour the Royal Palace and a few other museums, while my aunt took the commuter rail out to the suburbs to go fishing for the day with a guide.

The facade of the Swedish Royal Palace provides a stark contrast to that of the palaces I am used to visiting in France, e.g. Versailles. Another big difference: Sweden still has a monarchy and this palace is their official residence. They have offices here, however their private residence is elsewhere. Construction on the palace began in the 13th century, but sadly, almost immediately upon its completion in 1697, much of it was burned down in a fire.  In addition to the building itself, many of the kingdom's most precious possessions were also lost in this fire.  It took another 63 years to rebuild the palace, which looks quite different from its original version.  The exterior feels somewhat stark, but the inside is very ornate.

I liked how they rolled up the carpet so we don't walk on it, but can still see it in all of its glory.

My favorite things to admire were the chandeliers, the ceilings and the floors.  The room above had my favorite ceilings.

One curious aspect of still having a working monarchy is that some of the rooms in the palace get updated, like the the Jubilee room, pictured above.  This room was first presented in its renovated state in 2001.

We also enjoyed the changing of the guards with a thousand of our closest friends :) We accidentally got the start time wrong, which ended up being lucky, because we got front row spots to view the changing of the guards, even though we did have to wait around for 20 minutes or so for it to start. 

Sweden's army was founded in 1523 making it the oldest continuously operating army in the world.  Everyone serving in the Swedish Army serves rounds on the Royal Guard. I can't imagine being one of these guards, standing around for hours at a time, being so serious.  Aside from being bored, just thinking about being stuck in one spot for such a long time makes me have to pee!

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