Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scandinavian Odyssey, Part 4

the view from our hotel room at
the Radisson Blu Strand
            We drove into Stockholm on Monday, July 18, both helped and hindered by the GPS.  And thanks to our GPS, we got a little extra tour of the city, although we were too stressed (i.e. lost) to enjoy it.  We finally located our hotel and our spectacular room: the only room on the 8th floor (the bottom of a 3 floor tower, each floor only having one room).  After dropping off the car at the rental shop, we spent the rest of the day shopping and trying to avoid small rain storms.
An old house at Skansen with a great harvest
of Lilies.  
            The second day in Stockholm was a little more tourist-y; we walked over to the Djurgarden, with the intention of visiting Juribachen, the Astrid Lindgren theme park, but one quick look at the child-infested ticket line convinced us to spend our time elsewhere.  We ended up at the Nordic Museum, where we enjoyed exhibits of Nordic folk art, textiles, and the history of local interior design through the decades.  After that, we were off to Skansen, which mom had fond 35-year-old memories of, which turned out to be mostly false.  It ended up being a little too commercial for our tastes - more outdoor rock concerts than historical reenactments.
Mom, enjoying our boat ride on a perfect, sunny afternoon.
             Daunted by the prospect of having to walk all the way back to the hotel, we braved the ferry crowds and were rewarded with a very pleasant ride around the harbor.
Long hallway at the Stockholm Palace,
recognizably inspired by Versailles'
Hall of Mirrors.  
            The third day in Stockholm started on Gamlastan (the old town).  We spent a few minutes in the Stockholm Cathedral before taking a tour of the royal apartments in the Palace.  Some very impressive rooms, though nothing that made us too jealous of the royals.  We put off our lunch again and again in favor of shopping with the rest of the world, first in the Dalarna horse "museum," then some Norwegian sweater stores, then Scandinavian design stores, and on and on.
The Blue Hall at the Stadshuset.
            After our late lunch, we made our way over to the Stadshuset, and snuck in on the last tour of the day.  The impressive statehouse, built from 1911-1923, was designed by Ragnar Ostberg for the competition which took place in 1907, but some aspects of its design made it seem a lot more recent than that.  The most famous room is probably the Blue Hall (which was meant to be painted blue, but Ostberg decided he liked the color of the bricks just fine), where the annual banquet takes place after the Nobel prizes are awarded.  It was designed to emulate an Italian piazza.  Once our tour had ended, and we went through a little more afternoon shopping, we ended up having dinner outdoors in the Kingsgarden, while listening to a free concert.
We got back to the hotel early that night, and were rewarded with a great sunset view of some hot air balloons touring the city.
            Our final day in Stockholm was a little rainy, but we had kept our indoor stuff for that day, so it didn't matter too much.  We headed over to the island of Skeppsholmen, where the Modern Museum and  Architecture Museum are located.  The Architecture museum had a great exhibit on the history of living standards (apartment sizes and accommodations, etc.) for Swedish families.
Tatlin's Monument . . .
            At the Modern Museum, we enjoyed an extensive exhibit on the Swedish drawer/painter/clothing designer, Siri Derkert.  In another room I recognized Vladimir Tatlin's Monument to the Third International, which I had learned about in my Arch. History class.
Stockholm Stadbibliotek
           Later that afternoon, we braved the Stockholm bus line for a trip to Gunnar Asplund's Stockholm Stadbibliotek (public library, completed in 1931).  I suspect that Mom was a little unsure that this modern building would really be worth the bus trip, but I think that she was quickly convinced that it was.  We even enjoyed poking around in the stacks, and looked through a great picture book of the Swedish countryside.
At the Saluhall
            We made a stop at the Ostermalm's Saluhall for a small snack and a pear cider (my new favorite drink), before heading back to the hotel, where we had an early dinner and spent the rest of the night packing.  The next day we would be off to Finland!

If you would like to see more pictures from our time in Sweden, you can check out my facebook album here.