Today, I’ve been feeling a bit restless.
My last full day in Stockholm was today, so I tried to fit a lot in. There were actually a lot of things I didn’t get to today and unfortunately won’t get to tomorrow either because I’ll be lugging around a suitcase everywhere, but what can you do. I think Stockholm is definitely a city where you’ll need to plan a bit more time than you think you’ll need just because there’s a lot to explore even outside the normal “touristy” things.
The first thing I did today was head back to Gamla Stan. There were a few things I wanted to see there today which was why it was my first stop. I got there around 11AM, and the Changing of the Guards doesn’t start until 12:15PM, so I tried to kill some time. I went to Storkyrkan first. Storkyrkan is the Stockholm Cathedral and the first time I saw it (yesterday when I went to the Nobel Museum), it was unfortunately already closed. The doors were wide open when I got there which was great. There is a 40SEK entrance fee, but I only have card and there was no one at the register so I couldn’t pay it. I felt a bit bad, but it did say that prayer and church services were free, so I felt a little less bad since I always visit churches and then pray at them afterwards. I’m not a very religious person, but it kept me safe in Italy so I’ve been doing it ever since. Even when we visited shrines in Japan, I would pray there too.
I have to say, Stockholm Cathedral is hands down one of the best churches I’ve been into across my entire trip. While churches are usually calming places for me, the inside of Storkyrkan was breathtaking. The vaulted ceilings and sun definitely added to the effect, but I think the fact that most of the inside was wood and brick instead of gray stone really made it stand out. There’s also a famous sculpture on display in the church called St. George and the Dragon. It’s a really beautiful piece. The story goes that a town was terrorized by a dragon who wanted the town to sacrifice a young girl each year in exchange for the dragon not leveling the town. When the king’s daughter was to be sacrificed, St. George was passing through the town and offered to get rid of the dragon if the townspeople converted to Christianity. The sculpture shows him in the act of killing the dragon, with the princess watching from the sidelines.
I probably could keep talking about the church, but the pictures don’t do it justice. Maybe I’m just an odd person. After leaving the church, I still had some time so I went in search of food. Lucky for me, there was a bakery near the Nobel Museum that I had saw before. It’s part of Grillska Huset which also includes a cafe in a building close by. I ended up getting this really really delicious apple juice that I’ll probably have dreams about and something called a “Princess Cake” or prinsesstarta. I’ve been eying this cake since I first saw it in a Helsinki bakery, so it’s no surprise I finally caved. It was really good!
It was nearing the time for the Changing of the Guards, so I headed towards the Royal Palace which was only a few minutes away. It took a while for them to set up, and I didn’t understand any of the calls during the ceremony, but it was still incredibly cool to watch. What really impressed me was the fact that there were both men and women guards which for some reason surprised me. I actually shouldn’t be surprised about this, but it was nice to see nonetheless. Also, apparently this guard that was changing in (I think) was from Lulea and I was like “Hey! I was just there a day ago that’s so cool!”
My last stop in Gamla Stan was at the Royal Coin Cabinet or Kungl. Myntkabinettet. This museum is free to enter which was the reason I looked into it, but it was also about money, so I couldn’t resist going to take a look. I collect foreign coins (although unfortunately I probably won’t be having any SEK since the Swedish have a mostly cashless society) which meant I was particularly interested in the large collection of coins they had on display.
At first glace, this museum felt much like the Bank of Finland museum in Helsinki except much larger. One really impressive thing is the fact that you can have your own guided tour right from the comfort of your own cellphone. I thought the tour was pretty well put together, although it was not always clear when you should move on or not within the museum. Additionally, the museum is only partially English friendly; the guided tour is in English, but many of the displays are in Swedish only which can be frustrating if you’re like me and want to read everything. This differs from the Helsinki museum which had English translations for everything (except the exhibit videos by the secondary school which was understandable). I think the tour definitely provides enough context for this not to be an issue though.
I only went through the first and second floor because I was a bit low on time, but there are three floors of exhibits. The first floor is a bit like a “History of Money” type of exhibit where you see the history of how our money has come to be today as well as some history that’s particular to Swedish money. The second floor was a bit more on the history, except mostly focused on Swedish currency, in particular, the plates they would have for coins. The second floor also had an entrepreneurship exhibit which I was super excited for! The exhibit itself was pretty interesting and focused mostly on Swedish entrepreneurs (of which there were many). I really enjoyed this museum, and would probably spend more time next time so I can go through all the exhibits and actually read everything that is in English.
The next part of my day put me in a bit of a bad mood. I attempted to get an Access Card (similar to a MARTA card for the Atlanta Subway) because I wanted to load on trips and be able to scan it to go. It’s also cheaper in the long run to have one. Unfortunately, apparently they don’t take credit cards (only debit) at the desk? So I was told to go buy from the machine and guaranteed it would give me a card (and I knew it wouldn’t because I had already tried, but still went anyway). The machine didn’t have an option for an access card, so I ended up getting a single journey ticket and then there was this whole which gate do I go in issue since I don’t have a card I can swipe…basically it was a huge pain and I was in my head doubting my decision to go to Skogskyrkogarden. I’m sure this isn’t the experience all the time for people. I think I just get easily frustrated when I already know the course of action I need to take.
Lucky for me, Skogskyrkogarden was definitely worth it. Similar to how walking into Storkyrkan was breathtaking, Skogskyrkogarden was equally so. I mean, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason. The weather was a mix between “It’s about to rain” and “It’s a nice and sunny day”, which gave this really eerie glow over the place. Kinda fitting for a graveyard with large chapels. I especially enjoyed the large hills that had these small clusters of trees on them. There is not really a ton to see there, but I think the feeling one gets walking around the grounds is something that makes it worth going to see. I wanted to spend more time there just to soak in that calming feeling, but I also wanted to use my ticket before my 75 min ran out, so I had to cut my trip a bit short.
My last stop for the day (although it wasn’t supposed to be my last), was the Ostermalms Saluhall which is basically a market hall (like the ones I’ve one to in every other city before…). When I first got out of the subway station, I saw a large old building that said “Saluhall” on it and got excited. It looked just like every other market hall I had seen in Scandinavia so far after all so I was proud of my ability to discern them from the crowd. It was weird because it had all these construction walls surrounding it, making it impossible to get into. I turned around and got the shock of my life; there, behind me, was another, more modern looking, building also labeled “Saluhall”. This, obviously, was the currently working Saluhall.
It was just like any other market I’ve been to, although I will say I think this one had a larger proportion of “restaurant” type stores than just “raw ingredients” type stores. I really wanted some Toast Skagen, but decided to get a wrap because 1) it was cheaper and b) the skagen was all criminally high priced. I mean, at least compared to the Toast Skagen I had in Helsinki. The wrap was actually really good, but a bit too spicy for me.
I tried to go to Djurgarden after this, but somehow managed to walk in the entirely opposite direction (which explains why nothing was looking like the map told me it was supposed to look like). Because I was so far off, I decided it was time to just walk home. I did manage to at least walk by the National Archives Library, but I didn’t go in (which I regret now).
Tomorrow, I’ll be in Stockholm for a while before I fly to Bergen, Norway. I split up my Sweden trip because at the time I was planning, I wanted to not double back too much for time’s sake. Looking back on this now, I probably could’ve swung some things differently, but that’s fine. I’ll be back in Sweden before I know it.
By the way, for my list of places I wanted to visit today, you can see it here.