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As soon as I found out that I was going to northern Sweden on a work trip, I started planning a side trip to Stockholm to see my friend Petrine. I was lucky that I got to see her at all, since she had only just returned from a family Christmas in Texas; as it was, I only got to see her for a little under 24 hours.
Usually, I do at least a little research on a city before arriving there, but I did virtually nothing before arriving in Stockholm. I’d spent so much time planning my trip to London, my arctic adventure, and my time working in Skellefteå that Stockholm sort of fell through the cracks.
The guys I was working with in Skellefteå were a bit surprised that I hadn’t even heard of Stockholm’s old town — Gamla Stan — and recommended that I go there and maybe hide in a museum if the weather got too miserable. I guess it shows what a popular location Gamla Stan really is that Petrine suggested almost the exact same thing when I arrived in Stockholm.
Even though the weather was pretty miserable — raining and a temperature around freezing — we ventured out onto the cobblestone streets of the old town, the site of Stockholm’s founding in 1252.
The ancient buildings, painted in various shades of gold and orange, towered over us and blocked out a bit of the rain. The Christmas lights hanging between the buildings were already turned on, such was the dimness of the light at 10am. Damp bikes lined the streets, the owners obviously taking a break from sitting on their soaked seats.
I really wanted the fantastical creatures on this fountain to breathe fire instead of water. I thought it would be much more convenient for the Stockholm winter!
Little alleyways crawled between buildings, barely large enough for two people to pass by one another.
It was the perfect day for moody black & white photos, even if rain did keep getting on the lens!
I couldn’t take all my photos in black & white though, because the buildings were so many beautiful colours. I thought the vines and trees added a really nice touch too.
There were other examples of interesting architecture other than just the colourful buildings, including brickwork and steepled churches. We also walked past the Nobel Museum, where you can learn about the ideas and achievements of previous Nobel Prize winners.
I really enjoyed window shopping in the myriad of shops we passed by. From some, massive trolls glared down at us, holding their maces as though they would attack if we walked in. In amongst the souvenir shops offering blue & yellow shirts and snow globes were “real” shops, advertising ‘Antikt,’ leather shoes, and even bike accessories.
My favourite shop was a science fiction store that I just had to browse around. Not only did they have a huge selection of sci-fi and fantasy (in both Swedish and English sections), but they had toys, bags, and various other memorabilia. Some weren’t even “sci-fi,” like a “Soft Kitty” stuffed toy from Big Bang Theory and canvas bags emblazoned with Tin Tin, one of which now graces the back of Petrine’s bike.
This really was a whirlwind visit, and I’m sure I only saw a portion of what Gamla Stan had to offer, but the warm confines of the bookstore made us realise just how cold and damp it was outside. So, just as the guys in Skellefteå suggested, we ended up in a warm museum for the rest of the afternoon vying to see Monet’s paintings with a large crowd of other people who had the same idea!