The Gates to Lapland

We are finally in Stockholm! After a long wait, caused by university exams, I can finally tell you about the capital of the Swedish nation and all I have gained from this trip in spite of the very short time, two days, that I spent there.

At first glance the city is modern, efficient and surprising, due to its canals and the many islands that are located in the Gulf around the city.
From the architectural point of view, it is in the ‘main island, Gamla Stan, where we find the old town with its narrow streets, small bars, souvenir shops and the Royal Palace that is part of a complex that houses many other government buildings as well, it occupies a third of’ the island and is considered one of the main museums of the city.

You can not define the Royal Palace a unique example local architecture because, although built in the baroque style that animated all the great courts of Europe between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we can trace its roots back to the thirteenth century when, to protect themselves from Danish Norwegian and Viking raids, Birgher Jarl built a fortress that later became the nucleus of what is now the Royal palace.

Unfortunately in the city one cannot find evidence of a distant past mainly because of the fires that regularly destroyed parts of the city, forcing it to gradually modernize.

For a fan of the Middle Ages like myself, not to find the most ancient roots of the city was a bit disappointing but, if you want to rediscover the atmosphere, the colours and the majesty of a Baroque city, Stockholm is unrivalled in the role of the great city of the north, today, as it was in the 1600.

In addition, this city, has another gem: the Wasa Museum. Very often confused with an Icelandic museum, this facility houses a whole warship dating back to 1628. Unfortunately for King Gustavus Adolphus who had commissioned it for the war against Poland, but fortunately for us who can see it today, it sank after less than a mile on her maiden voyage. The ship was to be the flagship of the king’s fleet and for this purpose it had been armed with the best guns and decorated by the finest craftsmen in the kingdom. Because of a serious error in the design, due to the requirements that the king had requested, the ship began to take on water and leaned over, soon after the inauguration shots of her 80 cannons. The wreck was rediscovered around 1950 and brought to light in the course of 30 years, to become a symbol of the city of Stockholm. The museum, in addition to the ship, has a number of detailed reconstructions of the ship environments in addition to several descriptions of the kind of life that men at sea endured in the seventeenth century.

During the tour of the city a stop is required in another of the symbolic places in Stockholm: Grona Lund. Overlooking the harbor of the city, is in fact an amusement park that when the temperatures is above zero, something that never happened during my time there, offers funny roller coaster on the water’s edge giving an incredible view across Gamla Stan and the various waterways of the city.

We could say that these are the main attractions of the city in addition to a lot of small “Swedish experiences” that leave a long lasting impression to those who decide to live them. Don’t forget the sauna and the snow bath, or the fantastic breakfasts and the famous Swedish meatballs…delicious.

Unfortunately, because of the limited time available I was not able to get an extensive experience of the nightlife in this city, but during my walking around during the first night I saw many posters of bars and pubs that, every night of the week, were offering live music from emerging groups. Being a musician myself, this filled my heart with joy, it shows that in this city bar owners have understood (the value and) the commitment that emerging musicians put into their work and promote them. Another example of an attitude from which all can learn a lot from.

The days that followed my stay in Stockholm led me to Kiruna, 250 kilometres in the Arctic Circle, in search of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), so stay tuned for more Arctic adventure !!

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