Friday, May 23, 2008

Stockholm Sojourn

I spent my last day in Riga in cold, dull conditions although things began to improve during the afternoon and I sailed down the river in sunshine.
I went to the markets which are in old aeroplane hangars and are huge although the guide books said I would see rows and rows of meat carcasses on hooks but instead it was rows and rows of refrigerated display cabinets with meat. These countries are fast catching up to the west. Despite the weather I took a river cruise for an hour , just 1 Lat or $A2.40 and soon took the captain's advice and took shelter in the downstairs cabin only going up for occasional photos. I was able to take a photo of the Regina Baltica which brought me to Stockholm that nightAfter lunch as the weather improved, I headed for the new town which has wide streets and upmarket shops. It is dominated by the Freedom Monument. Although built in 1935, it became the focus of the independence movement in the 80's and early 90's. The statue of Lenin, put up by the communists nearby has been removed. Soldiers guard the Monument.
Visited another Jewish Museum and the Russian Orthodox cathedral before wandering the parks and squares until it was time to drag my bags to the Ferry terminal.

On Tuesday morning I went up on deck to a beautiful sight. We glided for several hours in brilliant sunshine through the Stockholm Archipelago. it is certainly a wonderful way to approach the city and I am looking forward to passing through it again this evening on the way to Helsinki.
Later in the day, the weather was not so kind as there were several heavy showers and as I did not want to activate my 3 day museum pass until the next morning and my hotel room was not ready, I had to spent time in large shopping malls in the city. Despite this, I have been lucky as although Wednesday was threatening but no rain, Thursday and Friday have been beautiful blue sunny skies and today looks to be the same. However there is a nip in the air in the evenings which is strange when the sun does not set until 9.30 and rises just before 4.
Prices in Stockholm have been even higher than I imagined. A Big mac was 55Kronor, nearly $10 Australian. I used my Museum card a lot and visited many museums. Luckily most have explanations in English and English is widely understood in the city. None of the problems I had in Warsaw. The Coin musuem would have been better with more English but I did see the Australian note as the first polymer note in the world. I was disappointed the Royal apartments are closed for the year but filmed the changing of the guard. The Nobel Museum was very interesting and the Vassa Museum which displays an documents the raising of a 300 year oldwarship which sunk in the harbour on its maiden voyage was very worthwhile. On Friday I was shown around by Marleen an internet contact and some other friends and we spent a lot of time at the Skansen outdoor museum. We later went to Jan's house where her husband had cooked us a meal. Marleen is American, Jan, South African, Mark, Irish and Julie, Ukrainian. So we made up a United nations group, sadly no Swedes, although all the others have lived in Sweden for quite a while.
My other highlight was a visit to the KonzertHuis where the Nobel Prize awards are held in December. I , however, heard the Stockholm Philharmonic play Tchaikovsky's piano concerto number 2 and Rachmaninov's Symphony number 1 The pianist was the English, classical pianist John Lill. (I have just researched him and found he was born on the same day as me in the same year, that is where the piano talent went that day)

Photos below are of streets in Gamla Stan, the most historic part of Stockholm around the Palace and a cottage in the Skansen Open air, historic museum.
Now, off to Helsinki.


Doorman-Priest said...

I remember it all. Go up the City Hall tower.

June Butler said...

An occasion of sin surely to read all of this. Color me green, Brian. It sounds absolutely marvelous.

Davis said...

Give Jari a hug for me. I'll be in Paris for the week, but haven't time to head up that way.

Brian R said...

Lucky you Davis, off to Paris again. As you know it is still my favourite city. After 6 weeks away now, home seems very attractive but I know, given a month or even less, I will be wanting to go again and Paris would have to be on any new itinerary. To have you guide me around the art galleries would be bliss.