A Day in Stockholm

Trip Start May 23, 2007
Trip End Jun 03, 2007

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Friday, May 25, 2007

So now I've been here for about 24 hours. I feel a little ambivalent about the trip so far. I mean, it's been fine and I was glad to come to Sweden, I'd never been before. But when it gets right down to it, Stockholm is just another northern European capitol. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Today I went to the "new" royal palace. It was rebuilt in the early 1700s after a major fire destroyed most of the old palace.

It's the largest palace in the world that's still used as a palace. It's got 608 rooms they say. Of course, I only got to see a fraction of them. It wasn't as if the King and Queen of Sweden invited me in for tea or a beer. I did see the State Hall that is used for actual state occasions.
But seriously, up close it looked a little shabby. I'm sure when tourists aren't traipsing through it there are lovely red carpets and stuff everywhere. But without those trappings it looks as if it needs a good coat of paint and the floor needs to be refinished. And don't even get me
started about the state of the upholstery!

My favorite part of the palace (it's divided up into several different museums) was the Tre Korona Museum. It's down in the basement and it's the parts of the old palace that survived the fire. Some of the rooms there were built in the 1200s. I've realized over the last few years that I like really old stuff. I like to try to imagine the original inhabitants and what their daily lives must have been like.

They had a changing of the guard and I managed a pretty decent view even though I didn't wait 45 minutes or more as most of the viewers did. The guards all wear modern uniforms and there aren't any horses or anything. In other words, if you've seen one changing of the guard.... There were dozens of people videoing the entire thing. What boring lives they must have to go home and watch that!

I also went to the Historical Museum (includes exhibits on prehistoric times and the Viking period--remember I said I liked old things!). It was much less crowded than the palace. My favorite part there was the Gold Room, filled with all sorts of gold and silver jewelry and other items from the past 2500 years.

I'm typing this at an Internet cafe called Sidewalk Express at the train station. About 5 USD for 90 minutes of time. At least the computers, connections, and keyboards are better than in the developing world...

The US dollar's weak right now so everything seems expensive even though it isn't really that bad. Last night, I'm embarrassed to admit, I ate dinner at McDonalds. All the nicer restaurants near my hotel were just a lot more money and I was so tired I didn't feel like spending the time and money. I wasn't even very hungry. But tonight's Friday night, so I at
least need to find somewhere to have a beer outside. The sidewalk cafes here are packed! I guess once it warms up enough to sit down outside, the Swedes head for the door...

Tomorrow I'm moving to the hostel and meeting up with the students and professor leading the trip, Christina. It'll be nice to have someone to visit with for a bit. Though I'm sure I'll be ready for some alone time when the week is up!
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