Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Stockholm 4 - Storkyrkan and Fika

The Silver Altar, Storkyrkan
Our last day in Stockholm, I had to leave at noon for the airport so we wanted to make the most of the morning. After breakfast we walked the short distance to Storkyrkan (Great Church) which is the city's cathedral. A church is reputed to have been built on this site in the mid 1200s by the founder of Stockholm, Birger Jarl. The oldest part of the present building dates from 1306. One side lies beside the Royal Palace and many royal ceremonies have been held there.

I was surprised when I entered to find that it was, unlike Riddarholm, very ornate and Germanic in style, but apparently the church was Catholic until 1527 when it became Protestant Lutheran. Unlike us in England they did not have a Henry VIII to destroy much of the Catholic ornamentation and so it survived.

The altar was very beautiful, it was made mainly of silver, so different to anything I'd seen before, it was donated by a Stockholm councillor in the 1650s To it's left was a massive (fourteen feet high) wooden sculpture of St George and the Dragon by Berndt Lotke of Lubeck in Germany dated 1489. There was also the largest Torolf Engstrom and has been in the church since 1972, it was a very beautiful creation and we both bought a candle and added it to the globe.

The Candle Globe, Storkyrkan
St George and the Dragon, Storkrykan

One of Gamla Stan's Quiet Alleys
After looking around Storkyrkan we separated for a while and I went for a general exploration of Gamla Stan. The main roads - well that's the wrong word really as most of the Old Town is made up of narrow cobbled alleys and there is no way cars can enter which is rather nice! So, the main alleys are quite touristy, but it is so easy to find quiet alleys and lanes off the tourist track. I wandered through a few of them and was intrigued to see people working on their computers inside these ancient buildings, old and new living side by side. I thought that was wonderful, these old places are still very much part of Stockholm's day to day living.

I went back to the hotel and met up with Yvonne and we checked out and left our cases at reception. We headed out in search of fika. Fika is a Swedish institution, basically it is a break where you have coffee and cake which sounded good to us and we were keen to follow the tradition!

We found a nice looking cafe called Schweizer Konditori just down the road in VĂ€sterlĂ„nggatan. Yes it sounds more Swiss than Swedish but inside it was full of Swedish delights. The fayre on offer at the counter was amazing and beautifully presented, but we went for fika, coffee and cakes, I had a raspberry tart and Yvonne had what they called a princess cake. Both were delicious and it felt a very fitting way to end our short stay in Stockholm.

Part of the Counter at the Schweitzer Konditori
Our Fika Cakes

  All too soon we had to leave. We went back to the hotel, reception ordered a taxi for me, I said my goodbyes to Yvonne (she was leaving later in the day) and walked down the road a little to get the taxi. The cab got stuck behind the changing of the guard for a while and the relatively short trip to the railway station ended up being the most expensive taxi journey I've ever had, but hey I was on holiday!

Soon I was on the Arlanda Express once more hurtling at 200kph through the Swedish countryside towards the airport. I had really enjoyed the few days in Stockholm, it is a gorgeous city and its people are welcoming. I could have done with a week there though as there were things I didn't have time to see and I would have loved a trip outside of the city. It was a kind of life journey for me too, that wish to visit Stockholm was planted in my mind as a fifteen year old girl and it took a long time, but I've finally been there, so this felt like the end of two journeys for me.

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