Stockholm, capital for the good-lookings

Stockholm, capital for the good-lookings

Chapter II Part II

Stockholm, capital of the good-lookings

City: Stockholm
Country: Sweden

Currency: Swedish Krona (1€ = 9.4 SEK)

Travel dates: 27 Dec 2007 – 30 Dec 2007

Accommodation: Archipelago Hostel

Travel buddies: Egon, Clare, Rahma, Siddharth, Stella, Meghan

Caption: Stadhuset, the most famous Stockholm's landmark

A good night sleep had totally recharged the seven souls. Second day in Stockholm, we were both physically and mentally ready for the capital once again. Travel time allocated for Stockholm was only a measly two days from the one-month winter trip. After the first day, we were deeply regretted on such idiotic decision.

Therefore, to seize the day, we kick-started with Stadhuset (the city hall), the most important landmark of the capital. Located at the edge of Kungsholmen island, the Stadhuset is arguably the most visited spot in Stockholm, if not the most film killing (or memory card eating) monument. I bet it would definitely be stunning during summer time. However, the waterfront city hall in front of my eyes looked coldly inactive during winter time.

Walked into the city hall centre square, we could hardly see anyone, although a crowd of guided tour was spotted occasionally. For one moment, we could even take picture with no tourist interruption. It was definitely the perfect opportunity to shoot some captivating landscape photos, only if the weather was supportive.

Since ascending to the top of the city hall tower, which allow you to grab the entire panoramic Stockholm city view, was impossible during winter period, due to the so called windy condition even in this calm slightly sunny day, we were only loitering at the garden in between the city hall and Riddarfjärden (river or lake, I’m not sure).

Caption: Inside Stadhuset (left) and waterfront view from Stadhuset

Bored after 10 minutes, we continued our journey to the so-far-untouched island located at the south, Södermalm, via Gamla Stan. I think by now, the walking capacity of us is unquestionable anymore, right? We had been told by the lovely lady at the reception of our hostel that Södermalm is the hub for pubs and clubs in Stockholm. Of course, this wasn’t something we witnessed in the morning time.

I was not feeling disappointed, even though I was really eager to spend huge bucks entrance fee just to visit the famous ice bar, because after all pubs remain as pubs. Södermalm in the morning is purely a living quarter for Swedish. Climbing up various highly steep bricks-paved roads, it was certainly an eerily tiring walk (or climb). While I was walking, I couldn’t help but wondering whether one needs extremely excellent driving skill or highly powerful motors to reach this place.

Södermalm has nothing special for tourists in the morning. However, compared to Stadhuset in winter time, it was slightly worthy as we were able to capture the whole Stadhuset-Gamla Stan view from this hill. Again, the depressing cloudy weather killed our pictures. *puzzled*

Caption: Steep slope at Södermalm (left) and a view from Gamla Stan to Södermalm

It was Saturday, one of three days when a changing of guards at the Royal Palace took place during winter time. For those who are travelling to Stockholm during summer time, it would be a daily event. Since this changing of guards is claimed to be the best in Scandinavia, we have had this plan well under penned months before. However, from our experience in Oslo, we were not having huge expectation to it.

Ten minutes before the event begun, we waited at the square of Royal Palace. It was clear to us that the square was well prepared for its tourist. Fenced with a huge circle in the middle, tourists were restricted in entering the main square where the changing of guards took place. It was a surprise to us. Surprise was not because of the fences, it was the crowd.

Caption: Part of the crowd during the changing of guards (left) and the later featured guard

Naïvely thinking that this would be just another lame changing of guards which attracts no tourists, except the seven bored and having-too-much-time-to-waste wanderers, we were shocked to learn that some hundreds of tourists if not thousands were waiting for the event.

Another surprise was the event wasn’t started on time. It was definitely unusual. But no man left. After a few false crowd movements, the real event was finally started with the company of two-man musical band. Oh yea, only a two-man band.

We saw a team of guards marching through the gate. They were only about 20. It was pretty obvious that the seven of us were concluding silently in our hearts with the ‘as expected’ expression on the face. It wasn’t long enough before soon when we were slapped on the face with two more teams of guards marching in to the square. Everyone started to feel grateful that no one uttered the like-that-only words. But very soon, we focused on the two-man band as a way of self-ascertain.

Caption: The marching guards (left) and guards in action

Nothing special to describe about the event since it was conducted in a language we have absolutely zero idea, except for the highly hilarious jumping-running-marching movement.

It sounds very boring. But it was also at this time when the cruelty of human being was demonstrated nakedly in front of us. The crowd dissolved, with some headed to ticket counter, some headed out of the square, and some busy taking photos with guards.

I wasn’t really fond of taking photos with guard since we were restricted to stand outside a circle which is simply a long gun radius from the guard. But it was an exception to me this time. The guard was so good looking. I started to shoot photos of the guard, so as many other tourists. Sounds like a very normal process. But what was not normal was, out of so many cameras focusing at him, the guard was only looking into my camera.

If you are thinking I was standing right in the middle, you are wrong. In fact, this was also my initial thought. But from the pair of glance in my camera, I was assured that it was indeed a too shallow thought. I deliberately walked to different directions and started shooting. Not to my surprise, the pair of eyes followed my camera. A sense of victory surged in my heart, quietly whispering to me that I’ve won him. Ha.

Caption: Okay, this is the result when I couldn't help myself but taking too many photos. Look! He cracked!

My own arrogance took control of my logical sense until I missed the chance of taking photo with the guard as he was replaced by another guard. Thinking of taking photo with this newly placed guard as compensation, I quickly learnt how rapidly the photo shooting crowd disappeared. I took a glimpse at the guard, obviously, he was not as good looking as the previous one, and that explained everything.

I couldn’t help myself but wondered, is this a place only for the good-lookings? Life is cruel, isn’t it? What? Did I take photo with the guard? You bet I didn’t. What?! Peers pressure.

It was a visit to the inside of Royal Palace after the changing of guards. It was very similar to a museum, which of course was not my cup of tea. So, I was literally walked through the many different halls. The rest of the day was purely hunting for souvenirs for some while it was just a relaxing afternoon to me.

Back to hostel at night, nothing much going on as everyone has an early flight to our third country, Poland, the post-war capital.