It is the Sunday of the long Midsommer weekend
and the streets of Stockholm are teeming with mostly tourists enjoying the sunny weather and their first ice cream of the summer. We are told that many of the locals are out of town at their cottages. We have a leisurely morning of free internet access – at one point the night before, John, on a whim, plugs in the wireless connection on our computer and voila – free wireless access thanks to someone else’s network! The morning has started cloudy but around 11 the sun breaks out and brings everyone into the streets.
Our Starting Point
We grab the Tunnelbana (the metro or “T”) at Hornstull and head to Stockholm’s Centralstationen as our starting point. It is a quick walk across the water to one of the 24,000 islands that make up the archipelago and protect the inner islands from the open seas. We are in Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm and certainly the most attractive. These small islands include the Riddarholmen, which has some of the oldest buildings in Sweden, the Royal Palaces, and the Royal Cathedral, all within a short walk of each other. We stop at a square and listen to a brass marching band playing some traditional songs, the music echoing from the old buildings, lifting everyone’s winter blues away.
On Midsommer Sunday
We continue our amble, sometimes straying from an unofficial walking tour the city has provided and wander back to the newer part of Stockholm and share a hot dog with some of the street kids, backpackers and budget shoppers huddled in the hurdy-gurdy (and somewhat ugly) square known as Sergels Torg. Everyone is out enjoying the first days of summer. We grab some western food at a café that is actually open on the holiday weekend and head back to the apartment, walking almost the entire way home through green belts and church backyards. The sun is still blazing in the sky until after 11 pm these days and will be shining again by 3 a.m. tomorrow.
I have enjoyed Stockholm and would return. John is somewhat less impressed than I am but he is saving himself for Helsinki, I think.