But a little thing like cold weather can't stop me in a city this beautiful. I've been out walking around most of the day taking in the sights. My first order of business was to find myself a warm hat to cover my ears. You'd think that would be easy in a place this cold, but to the Swedes hat season is over. I was told that by two different clerks in the city's largest department store. They suggested I try a sporting goods store instead. I did check out a couple of sports outfitters, but finally made my purchase at an accessories store. My hat was advertised at 149 krona, but on sale for only 29 krona. That's less than $5. And my ears have been toasty warm all day!
Which brings us to currency. I currently have 4 different kinds of currency in my possession: dollars, euros (from Ireland), pounds (from Scotland), and now krona (Sweden). I've been exchanging out whatever I have at the airport for the currency of the place I'm heading, but it's never an even, complete exchange so I'm always left with something from the place I am leaving. It get's very confusing when you're changing countries as often as I am. The krona is especially confusing to me. One krona is equal to about 16 cents...or 6.45 krona is equal to about 1 dollar. Either way, try doing the math for that quickly in your head when contemplating a purchase. Not easy! I must have seriously over-tipped my waitress at lunch because she couldn't stop thanking me.
This may be the most gorgeous city I have ever seen. It's a huge, modern city in many ways, but it still retains the charm of an old European town. Stockholm is, technically, made up of 14 different islands. You can turn down almost any street and eventually you will come up on a waterway. This makes getting oriented to where you are difficult (I often navigate in an unknown city by keeping up with where I am in relation to its river or waterfront), but offers astounding views. Some of the waterways are completely frozen right now. It's funny to see docks leading to...ice. I wonder where they park the boats in winter?
I spent a good part of the day in Gamla Stan, the oldest part of the city. It still retains its original 13th century architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. I also went to Klara Church in the city center. You can see its spire from all over the city. At over 100 meters, it is the second highest tower in Scandinavia. The inside is bright and ornate, unlike the gothic churches in most of Europe from the same period. I also wandered in the shopping district and strolled around the neighborhood where I'm staying. See pics below.
This is the hostel where I'm staying. Swanky digs for a hostel! The apt I'm in has a street entrance (on the far left of the photo).
This is a statue of August Palm (one of the founders of the democratic socialist party in Sweden) right across the street from my hostel. My question: was he really this short? Note: no snow yet and blue skies without a cloud in sight when this pic was taken.
Inside Klara Church
The altar at Klara
A view of one of the many, many squares in Stockholm from across one of the many, many rivers.
A main, wide street in Gamla Stan. You can see a little snow falling, but not much...yet.
Looking from the edge of Gamla Stan across the river. Notice the gray skies and heavy snow. This was taken about 15 minutes after the previous photo.
This picture in the center square of Gamla Stan was taken about 10 minutes later. No snow! These were once rich merchant homes in the 14th century.
Many of the side streets in Gamla Stan are entered through these short, arched tunnels.
I thought this sign was funny. It's "probably" the best. Maybe. Sort of.
These little ones were walking in front of me, older sis holding little brother's hand. All the small children I've seen are wearing these one-piece snow suits. Can I get one in my size, please?
This street is pretty typical of a residential area. Every building is a slightly different color.
I took this from a high bridge. This waterway is completely frozen and covered in snow. this pic was taken about 10 mins after the one directly above it. The weather changes fast!
This is called "yarn bombing" and is a type of graffiti. Stockholm has a zero tolerance policy against typical graffiti (they clean or paint over it in 24 hours) but this knit graffiti seems to be tolerated. There are 2 groups of women (the Stickkontakt and Masquerade) who put this up all over the city. Some of it is political, but most is just fun, like these birds on a lamp post. This one was tagged and done by someone called the "knittin ninja"...all are anonymous since it's illegal. Someone please show this to Cathy Grooms!
This is the outside of my apt at the hostel.
This is the view up the street from my doorway. Snow on the ground, but the sun is peaking back out again. It went back and forth like this all day.
And this is my bunk inside (on the bottom). I don't have any roommates yet! On the downside, it's not really the full hostel experience. On the upside, private bath. I'm leaning towards the upside...I can go into the kitchen or common room for the hostel atmosphere. I'm way past the age where sharing showers with strangers is something I need to experience.
I'm heading out now for dinner...probably some place close by because it's snowing again and the temp is now down to -10C (that's about 14F for those of you playing the home game)...BRRRR! Oh well, I need to stay in and do laundry anyway (luckily, there's one on site here at the hostel).