Off late travels have been more related to work wherein trips are short (mostly day trips in each city or country) and only available free time for exploration being a couple of hours in the evenings. But I am not complaining as I am happy with just the chance to be able to spend some time in these new places, get a sense of the place and plan my future trips. And one such place that I recently landed up in was Stockholm. Being a hectic trip, I only had a couple of hours to explore (definitely not enough to do justice) but still decided to walk around their old town (also called Gamla Stan) and see as much as I could. I had not done any research and didn’t have a guide books or maps. Hence just wandered around exploring the various nooks and corners and sharing my impressions via a quick photo essay below.Gamla Stan or the Old Town, is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe. It is supposed to be the area that Stockholm was founded in in 1252 and till date retains a flavor of old time Europe in its buildings and its facades. We were staying pretty close to the old town and had to just cross the river (via a quaint bridge with beautiful lampposts) to enter this area. Just at the entrance was the Swedish Parliament with the Old Parliament on the left and the modern circular building of the new Parliament on the right. Walking a bit further we saw the German Church belonging to the German Saint Gertrude Parish of the Church of Sweden. This church is called the German Church as in the Middel Ages it used to be in the centre of the German neighbourhood of Stockholm. It still retains its old world charm and I would have loved to see the interiors, but sadly it was closed. We then walked further through the streets of old town that was full of restaurants, cafés, bars and many many places to shop for handicrafts, curios and souvenirs. The streets are narrow winding cobblestones with even narrower bylanes with many buildings in different shades of yellow. Apparently this is what give Gamla Stan its unique character. Many facades and windows have some unique motifs and carvings but my favorite was the one below with some really funny expressions. I loved the detailing of these carvings especially the folds in the sullen cheeks of the bearded guys in the centre. We had a quick dinner here and then walked further towards the river to see the views on the other side of the river. I was mesmerized by the way sunlight fell on these buildings thereby giving them all a beautiful golden tan or glow.
It was then that I noticed the full moon. I was quite taken aback by the nearness of it (it actually seemed as close as the sun seems to be to us in Mumbai) and it was huge. You don’t get a sense of the size in this picture, as there is no point of reference, but it was really huge. And while on our way back to our hotel we ran into this huge fellow running off somewhere. Do you recognize him? Though he is without his Snowy, I still think it’s Tintin. In Gamla Stan there is a Tintin shop with some amazing collectibles and paraphernalia on Tintin and the other characters in that comic series. I so wanted to visit it but unfortunately they too had closed for the day. Stockholm also has some beautiful squares but we just saw this one below.
But my favourite pic and memory of Stockholm is of a beautiful sunset against the old town. This picture was taken around 11pm in the night and it was total darkness only by 12am. Though I missed many main sights here such as the Royal Palace, the Stortorget (the oldest square), the Riddarholmen Church, the Nobel Musuem etc etc but I am still happy to have been able to see a small part of this beautiful city. I would definitely visit again and until then its “hasta la vista” Stockholm 🙂