the royal city.

Last weekend we finally made our first trip to this country’s capital. After being one of the people who spearheaded the trip and figured out the train schedules, I had an inauspicious start to Saturday: Min Ya, Katie and I had gone to our very first gasque, a fancy dinner with lots of drinks. I stayed out quite late and had a bit of a hangover… but made it to the train station nonetheless and tried to sleep on the train. Which is great, because nothing can go wrong – well, too wrong – when you have our lovely crew. Here’s a photo Andrès’ girlfriend took of us, which I think could be used as a sitcom promo. I mean, we’re basically a walking ensemble comedy.

Anyway, it was a beautiful fall day, and so we spent the morning mostly just walking around the city, which was also beautiful. Stockholm has about a million museums, but it seemed silly to waste such a sunny day – there are fewer and fewer as the fall progresses – inside looking at exhibits. So we we walked around the royal palace (I imagined what it would be like to be here for the World Cup city sprint in the winter, when they truck in snow, and sighed again) and the rest of the old city on an island referred to as Gamla Stan, along the waterfront, and around the island of Skeppsholmen, which is part of the Royal National City Park. It was nice.

We did break our museum rules a bit. We had been told that there was a great cafe at the Moderna Museet, a modern art museum that just happened to be on Skeppsholmen, where were already. So although we didn’t pay the hefty fee to actually see the museum itself, we checked it out and saw some of the cool artwork that was outside. One particularly intriguing part was a courtyard with mirrors and pools of colored liquid hanging above your head. It made for good pictures.

We also went to the Nordiska Museet, a culture museum in quite the amazing building. They were having their annual chocolate festival, which is why we splurged and payed admission. The chocolate itself was kind of a bust – very few free samples! – but we got to check out the museum, which was pretty cool. Lots of history, handcrafts, furniture, and an exhibit on the Sami. But even just being inside was a treat – here’s a view of the main hall from the top floor.

The whole time we were wandering around, we were kept company by our good friend Carl Linnaeus, who popped up in a surprising number of different places around the city. This one was in the Humlegården park.

Late in the afternoon, we wandered by what has to be my favorite church I have seen so far in Sweden: St. Johannes Kyrka. It was closed, so we couldn’t check out the inside, but I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the outside. I love the bright green of the copper against the bricks, and the unusual shapes of some of the building’s lines. The details were pretty great, too.

After a lot more walking around and dinner at an Indian restaurant, we called it a day and got back on the train. We had thought about staying later to check out the city’s nightlife, but Min Ya and I were pretty much toast and it was a struggle for me just to stay awake until nine. It was probably a good decision for our pocketbooks, too. But at the end of the day, we all were left thinking, wow: Stockholm is a really great, beautiful city. I already know I’ll be back. There’s museums I want to see, and I’d like to just spend more time there. Until then, Stockholm, goodbye.

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