Gamla Stan – Last Day in Stockholm

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When you take the Red Line Southbound from Stockholm’s Central Station – the first thing you notice is that the train leaves the underground and rises to the surface, a necessity to cross over the water by a bridge for a train. Actually there are three bridges. One for the T-Bana or subway trains. The second is for the commuter, regional, and inter-city rail lines, Of course the 3rd bridge is for automobiles.

So the very next station from Stockholm Central Station is Gamla Stan. I think that in the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well as the 2nd film in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire – when you see the shot of the train out under the sky – that’s what I’m talking about.

The recorded woman’s voice announcing the next station says Nasta Gamla Stan – only when she says it, it sounds more like Gamla Stawn (like lawn), At least that was my impression, and however it is said, it means Next [is] Gamla Stan.

So I exited the T-Bana at Gamla Stan. I was near the front of the train, so I took the south exit (utgang) and found myself on a waterfront park. It wasn’t the best time of the day for shooting across the water toward Sodermalm. I wanted to shoot that big apartment house, high up on a hilltop – it looked like the highest point across the water and it is the building that appears on the cover of Rick Steves‘ book called Stockholm – Snapshot. But likely I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time of day and the sun was behind the building – so I couldn’t get the shot I wanted. i took the shot but it should have been better.

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So I abandoned that plan and followed along the waterfront promenade. There wasn’t a lot of people about – mid-late afternoon so most folks were still working, But there were some couples strolling or sitting, some younger people who had finished school for the day, and some unemployed just killing off another day.

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Continuing, I came upon a huge church.

It is called Riddarholmskyrkan (The Riddarholmen Church) and is actually on a tiny adjacent island (Riddarholmen) that connects via a small bridge to Gamla Stan. I didn’t know it at the time, but this church is the final resting place for a long line of Swedish Monarchs and Kings. It is the oldest preserved medieval monastery in Stockholm. For the winter months, the church is closed, so I wasn’t able to get a glimpse inside.

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But it hasn’t been used as anything other that a final resting place for Swedish Monarchs since the congregation dissolved in 1832. With one exception, every Swedish ruler from 1632 to 1950 is buried there.

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Moving on to more lively topics, I soon left Riddarholm for the actual Gamla Stan. I found myself on a main shopping street, pedestrians only. Gamla Stan has a large square in the center of town, as well as The Swedish Royal Palace – which I did not see or visit. The commerce seemed to be both in restaurants and occasional small boutiques. And spaced out – definitely no wall-to-wall stores and shops.

Wear good shoes in Gamla Stan. The road is cobblestone. The sidewalk is cobblestone. Only the curb are not. Walking on cobblestones for long stretches will hurt by the end of the day.

Wear good shoes in Gamla Stan. The road is cobblestone. The sidewalk is cobblestone. Only the curbs are not. Walking on cobblestones for long stretches will hurt by the end of the day.

Running off the main shopping street were these small and very narrow lanes.

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Reminded me of the Barrio Gotica in Barcelona, and some of the more narrow alleys and lanes in Genoa.

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While the buildings were not that tall, it seemed as though the sun would have to be directly overhead for maximum warmth.

Not the sidewalk cafes I mentioned but - What good is the dawn that grows into day The sunset at night or living this way For I have the warmth of the sun, within me at night The Beach Boys - 2007

Not the sidewalk cafes I mentioned but –
What good is the dawn that grows into day
The sunset at night or living this way
For I have the warmth of the sun, within me at night
The Beach Boys – 2007

Eventually I found myself on the eastern waterfront of Gamla Stan. Sidewalk cafés were numerous, and even though it was a Friday afternoon, every seat for every sidewalk café that faced into the western sun was taken. It seemed as if the Stockholm folks or visitors had no problem sitting outside facing directly in the sun. After the long and coldest days of winter – temps in the 40″s seemed almost balmy.

Not to me. I live in Sarasota, Florida. But I was properly dressed – thermal long sleeve top, knit hat, bulky scarf, and a parka  did the job just fine. I had even brought gloves, but they remained in the luggage.

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People were drinking white wines, beers in glasses or sipping coffee. Virtually every seat at the sidewalk cafes has a faux fur throw on it. To cut the shock of sitting on a cold metal chair, or to save you from any cold breezes that decided to hit you in the back..

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I walked up onto the bridge to Slussen, a neighborhood in Sodermalm, and the next stop on the T-Bana. From the vantage point, looking east, I was facing a body of water. Here I saw ocean-going cruise ships. Big behemoths of the boat variety – otherwise known as floating hotels. By the way, in The Girl Who Played With Fire, you can see the back of the ship pictured above when Lisbeth is sitting in her apartment high above the water smoking a cigarette. So her swanky apartment building might even be in the photo.

To be honest, I didn’t know that when I took the photo. I only learned it later on.

PoliceThere were smaller craft of course, like local ferries, and tourist boats filled with tourists all excited and crowing about seeing Stockholm from the water. But, when the temps are in the low 40’s, this Floridian deemed it unwise to ride into the wind to cross the waters of Stockholm.

Last thing to note – I found The English Book Store on Lilla Nygatan 11, in Gamla Stan. I picked up a copy of Jo Nesbo – though he is Norwegian, he is popular world wide, and is one of Sweden’s most popular authors – Police – which is the 10th in the series of Harry Hole detective stories. Only 110 Swedish Kroner – about $12.70 US dollars. A good book should come in handy. I expect my return flight from Oslo to Orlando to take about 9+ hours.

The next day was Saturday, the 14th. I was to leave the apartment at Telebruksvagen and make my way from Sodermalm back up the T-Bana Red Line to Stockholm Central Station. In the short time I was there I was able to memorize the names of the stops between Midsommerkransen and Stockholm Central Station.

You see I had purchased the 72 hour travel card – so when I left the apartment at 7:00 AM,  this last trip on the Stockholm T-Bana was already paid for. Midsommerkransen, Liljeholmen, Hornstull, Zinkensdamm, Mariatorget, Slussen, Gamla Stan and the Stockholm Central Station were the station names. Seven stops and it took about 9 minutes.

Not that crowded on Saturday morning. Far fewer commuters rushing to work.

Not that crowded on Saturday morning. Far fewer commuters rushing to work.

I even had time for an early morning cappuccino at the Expresso Bar in Stockholm Central Station.

So that’s it for Stockholm. My train departed at exactly 8:06 AM – No Wi-Fi. So we took off rolling southward before turning westward. Six hours later – I arrived at Oslo Central Station.

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4 thoughts on “Gamla Stan – Last Day in Stockholm

  1. My Norwegian mother would never let me sleep if I didn’t correct your claim that Nesbo is Swedish…no, no he is Norwegian.

    • Thank you for the correction. Technically I said he was one of Sweden’s favorite authors. He can be that and still be Norwegian. In any event, thanks, and I will make an editorial clarification.

    • Thank you (tak) –

      I am fortunate to have chosen Sweden and Stockholm. I still have one more piece to write about Stockholm/Sweden – sort of an over view with particular mention of a few restaurants I liked. Please be sure to read about them.

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