Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gamla Stan - the historic and colourful heart of old Stockholm

It was another cloudy day as we set off for Gamla Stan with Kate and Matt. Our first stop was to watch the skaters spinning around an artificial rink. We thought about coming back later and renting skates but never quite got round to it. Next to the rink was our first Christmas market with quite an assortment of stalls selling Christmas cards, decorations and some cheeses. You may be the recipient of one of the Christmas cards, something we never see in Spain.

We crossed the bridge to Gamla Stan while admiring all the beautiful buildings. Each stone building stood out from its neighbours. They were all quite magnificent. Gamla Stan is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. All of the narrow cobbled streets were pedestrian friendly. After a quick coffee in an ancient building with a very low roof we explored another Christmas market. This one had the usual Christmas decorations including some quite funny elves to hang on your tree. There were lotteries, a place to throw something and win huge Toblerone bars, lovely cheeses and breads, stalls selling some colourful, quite sheik hats and almonds cooking in sugar and then served hot. A lady was offering samples of chocolate-covered marzipan in various flavours. I must admit I couldn't resist buying the dark chocolate covered raspberry and liquorice marzipan with salt. It may sound odd but it was delicious.

We continued along the narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, stopping to browse in the little shops selling clothing, things for the home, candies, knitwear and souvenirs.

There are several beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral, Stockholm Cathedral, and the Nobel Museum. The largest of the attractions in the district is the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world with over 600 rooms. It was so nice meandering through the streets that we didn't tour any of these buildings. I remembered the Nobel Museum from my last visit to Stockholm but there have been many prize winners since then.

After lunch we headed back towards Matt's place walking through more busy pedestrian shopping areas. H&M are Swedish and there is one in almost every block, something like Starbucks in North America. The stores were busy and people were busy doing their Christmas shopping. Every store and street was filled with Christmas decorations. Again this is something we don't see much of in Spain.

Later that evening we joined up again for dinner. So far I had enjoyed all the Swedish food I had eaten and this was no exception. I felt a bit guilty but I had lovely cooked smoked reindeer for dinner. What a delicious way to end a day.


Country Girl said...

Very nice account of our day! Gamla stan was one of my favorite places during my stay. What an incredible village.

mint said...
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Ken said...

I was in Stockholm earlier this year and absolutely loved it!
Gamla Stan was definitely one of my two big highlights (with the subway art being the other). All the historical buildings, the cobbled streets, the colors - it just makes you feel like you went back in time.

Definitely must make a return trip back someday.