Friday, June 3, 2011

Scandinavia Trip Day 8: Uppsala, Stockholm


Despite all the big booboos we encountered coming here, Stockholm remains my favorite of all cities this trip.

Our tour guide Nicklaus greets us this morning by giving us a brief introduction of Sweden. It is the country of the midnight sun (there are times when the nights are as bright as day), it is the 3rd biggest country in Europe, it has a population of about 10 million people, etc. etc. etc…

He also mentions something about not asking Swedish people where their mushrooms are. Apparently, fungi are very big things in Sweden. Swedish families go on mushroom-picking trips every year and it is a big deal for them to keep their favorite hunting spots top secret. If they tell you, they’d have to kill you. So remember, do NOT ask.

I wish our guide took us mushroom-hunting this morning. It would have been swell to feast on chanterelles for brunch.

Instead, he takes us to Stockholm City Hall. Yawn.

Where's your mushrooms, Nicklaus? Where???


stockholm city hallIn fairness, Stockholm City Hall is a sight to behold. Built using eight million bricks and adorned with statues and decorated balconies, it makes me feel like I’m inside a
medieval Venetian castle


stockholm city hallOne of the many rooms


radssalen at stockholm city hallThe Rådssalen or the Council Chamber is where Stockholm’s municipal council meet


Erwin and Frances at the entrance to the Golden Room


golden room at stockholm city hallThe Golden Room or “Gyllene salen” is…. well, very gold. This is where the Nobel Prize winners, royalty and guests dance after the Nobel Banquet at the Blue Hall.


golden room at stockholm city hall18 million gold mosaic tiles decorate the Golden Room, depicting scenes from
Swedish history


stockholm city hallThis is national romanticism in architecture


And this is Felisse feeling romantic


226016_10150172645904570_510889569_6595231_156738_nAt the start of the tour, everyone is given a City Hall sticker pass. At the end of the tour, 
everyone sticks the used passes on this board.


Stockholm Waterfront Building


Statue of Charles XIV John, former king of Sweden, in front of the Royal Palace


Beautiful art nouveau buildings


vasa ship museumOur next stop is the Vasa Ship Museum


vasa ship museumThe Vasa is a Swedish warship built in 1626. The 69-meter ship is a thing of extreme beauty, my jaw drops at my very first sight of it. Unfortunately, beauty is all there is to the ship. Vasa was built top-heavy and had insufficient ballast. Despite an obvious lack of stability in port, King Gustavus Adolphus allowed her to set sail in August 1628 as he was impatient to see her join the Baltic fleet in the Thirty Years' War. He also gave instructions to load 100 more canons than the ship can take, and so less than a nautical mile into her maiden voyage, the beautiful Vasa foundered at her first encounter with a wind stronger than a breeze. It’s tragic.


vasa ship museumPoor, beautiful Vasa


vasa ship museumLike most warships at the time, Vasa was heavily decorated with sculptures intended to glorify the monarch and taunt the enemy. The 500-something sculptures carved out
of oak, pine and linden added considerably to Vasa’s weight, thereby hampering its maneuverability.


A 1:10 scale model of the Vasa Ship


The bold and vivid colors on the model is believed to be the original colors
the entire ornamentation was painted in


223587_10150172647494570_510889569_6595291_7682364_nThe aunties pose in front of modern replicas of some of the sculptures


230364_10150166397277293_718632292_6929111_954611_nFrances and Felisse time-travels to Sweden in 1628


Lunch is at Trattoria Romana, the restaurant that didn’t want to
serve us food yesterday. Hmp.


Ham and avocado salad with what feels like a whole jar of mayonnaise. Eeew!!!


A very tough piece of steak


Fish for the non-beef eaters




IKEA, my favorite!


After lunch we travel about 70km north of Stockholm to Uppsala, the ecclesiastical center of Sweden. That is our tour bus with free wifi connection (iloveit!!!), and towering over it is Gustavianum, the former main building of Uppsala University


uppsala cathedralThe Uppsala Cathedral is the tallest church in all of Scandinavia. It is so tall you can see it from almost all parts of town. And it is so tall that taking a photo of the façade requires a lot of strenuous kneeling, squatting and back-bending. Ouch.


uppsala cathedralThe construction of the cathedral began in 1287 and took a more than a century to complete


225068_10150172647069570_510889569_6595274_4856731_nFelisse and I light candles and say our secret prayers



228505_10150172647649570_510889569_6595295_1303691_nTomb of King Gustav Vasa


224355_10150166400492293_718632292_6929149_7114156_nCreepy statues on display


We are given some free time to walk around the city center and experience Uppsala. Here are some of the sights I love:






228451_10150166406402293_718632292_6929197_4082310_nI couldn’t resist going in the convenience store and a trying out this mixed berries
smoothie (leftmost) that is oh so good!


Then Stephanie buys ice cream for everyone because today is her special day.
Happy birthday, Stephanie! May it be your birthday everyday! Hehehe.


227000_10150172648324570_510889569_6595322_2342364_nUppsala Botanical Gardens






229491_10150166403412293_718632292_6929171_211369_nUppsala Cathedral behind me, and a canon pointing at me. Yikes.


And we’re back in Stockholm, and back to Trattoria Romana for dinner


Bruschetta a la Romana is as fresh and delicious as it looks


Poached salmon is disastrously overcooked


Aside from the set dinner arranged for us, we order an additional plate of cannelloni with ricotta, mushrooms and truffle. There is no taste of truffle but the richness and creaminess just hits the spot.


Vanilla and strawberry ice cream


After dinner, we refuse to go back to the hotel with the rest of the tour group. We stay on and explore the streets of Gamla Stan on our own.


I explore Lisa’s


I zoom in


I zoom in more. Drools.


There are so many shops and nice buildings


And rows and rows of restaurants


And more restaurants. Why do we have to eat in Trattoria Romana three times
during our 2-day stay in Stockholm. WHY?!?!?!!!!


226521_10150166408627293_718632292_6929219_30486_nThe famous children’s book and TV series character Pippi Longstocking is born in Sweden


229734_10150166414447293_718632292_6929224_1910268_nMore Pippi stuff


224663_10150166415762293_718632292_6929231_4836682_nI swear, they are Viking hat whores!


Sundbergs Konditori, the oldest confectionary in Stockholm


Café at the corner


Please! Do not close on me! Pleeeeaasssssseee!!!


Goodbye, pies. Sniff.


224379_10150166416542293_718632292_6929237_3547742_nFlorence imitating the statue (but overdoing it a little)


From Gamla stan, we walk to the city center and we pass by…


One of the fountains at the back of the Royal Palace


228679_10150172650054570_510889569_6595355_1391262_nThe National Museum


St. Jacob’s Church, popularly known as The Red Church


A building I can’t identify…


that has these beautiful wall lamps


And then we see this local burger fast food chain


Of course we just HAVE to go in and try


Grand deluxe burger with UMAMI dressing. Really, how can we resist?


The burger is rather ordinary, and the dressing isn’t THAT umami


But I love the cheesy fries with mushrooms and jalapenos


225917_10150166417022293_718632292_6929247_6916020_nErnest, Felisse, Erwin, Me, Frances


226722_10150166417182293_718632292_6929250_339132_nVibson, Florence, Sarah, Stephanie


230078_10150166417617293_718632292_6929254_1281244_nNightlife and alfresco bars


Do you know that education is Sweden is free? Yes, all levels from kindergarten to university. Social welfare pays out 6,000-7,000/month to the unemployed. Medicare is free. Pregnant women get 480 days maternity leave. They can choose to share this with their husbands.


222607_10150172650139570_510889569_6595357_4393660_nI love Stockholm. I want to live here forever.

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