Friday, July 19, 2013

Scandinavia, Part 6: Stockholm, Sweden

 The reason we took our first all-family European vacation was because of this city of dreams, Stockholm. Mark had been asked to deliver a talk there at a conference. For big cities, Stockholm, with all its parks and medieval wonders and smattering of bridges and islands--along with a tremendously vibrant history--was a charmer.
And we got in the day after the royal wedding. Who doesn't love a royal wedding?
The bridge connecting past parliament onto the island of Gamla Stan, location of the royal palace.

 We arrived with just enough time to get the best spot for the changing of the guard.
It was a sight to behold, and I'd venture to say it was more entertaining than the one at Buckingham Palace. The Swedes really did it up.
 In front of the Palace before the changing of the guard.
 Palace courtyard.

After the Protestant Reformation, church services were no longer held in Latin. Since there were so many merchants here in Stockholm, each community needed its own church, in its own language.
Iron Boy, a statue honoring orphans who used to move cargo on ships. Swedish grandmas knit the little guy caps in the cold winters.
Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan, the heart of Stockholm. The Stockholm Bloodbath took place here in 1520. The Danes rounded up Swedish aristocracy, priests, and merchants in a power grab, and beheaded 80 of them in this very spot. The 80 white squares in the red building behind the kids represent each of the lives lost on that macabre day.

Stockholm's Cathedral, dating from the 13th century.
St. George and the Dragon, which represents the fight against evil (and, for the Swedes, overcoming the Danes).
15th century Priests Lane

Our viking in front of a real Viking-Age Rune Stone (guarded by a cannon barrel).
Steeple of the German Church, the first German Lutheran Church in the world (Sweden formally adopted Lutheranism even before Northern Germany).

Lorelei adored watching this talented artist paint Dala horses. Daddy ordered Lulu a wooden one to paint at home.
One of our favorite places (and the most touristed spot in Sweden) was the Skansen Open-Air Folk Museum.

Can you spot the peacock we were chasing?
I adored this mama bear and cubs. I can totally relate to how she feels about her babies.

At Skansen, the north end of the museum represents northern Sweden, the south end southern Sweden, etc., and the architecture follows.

We stayed in a hotel right off this busy pedestrian drag, which leads directly into the medieval city.
Lorelei just loves her little brother to death. :) "He's so fluffy!" (Despicable Me reference.)

The archipelago of Stockholm is breathtaking, with little homes tucked all around for miles and miles. Despite the beautiful simplicity, it's a very posh place to live.

The Vasa Museum was a wonder to behold.
The ship, top heavy with so many cannons, sank on its maiden voyage.

And the nearby Nordic Museum was gorgeous from the outside, but we never made it in.
I had to snap a shot of this--hands down world's best hostel.
That's right, it's an airplane you actually sleep in, right at the Stockholm airport.
I had to steal this photo from the Internet, but while the kids and I took a little side trip adventure (more about that in the next post), Mark had the honor of eating dinner in this very room, the venue of the Nobel Prize Banquet.
Pretty dang cool.  
As far as cities go, Stockholm is the queen of Scandinavia. Equal parts water, park, and city, we loved this vibrant capital.
Our Scandinavian adventures are not quite done. I was feeling rather independent and, on a whim, decided to brave the Baltics with the kids. More on that soon...

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