After the museum, I made my way back to Jägargatan to change and get ready to go to the Royal Opera House to see the Nutcracker Ballet. I was running a bit late and thought I would just make it in time when an announcement was made on the bus. Of course, I didn't understand Swedish so I asked the woman sitting in front of me and found out that because of the Nobel Banquet, no busses were allowed to cross Gamla Stan - the island between Södermalm where I live and Norrmalm where the Opera is. The last stop before the bus took a giant detour was Slussen on Södermalm. I got off at that stop and had about 15 minutes to run across Gamla Stan to the Opera about a mile away. I was wearing dress and new pair of heeled boots that I had just purchased for the occasion. But what is a girl to do? So, I ran. Red in the face and drenched in sweat, I made it to the Opera House and in the vicinity of my seat when the ballet started. I sat in the back and cooled off then moved to my seat during the intermission. The music was beautiful and the dancers were quite talented. The only problem I had was that the nutcracker, instead of being the soldier doll-like nutcracker of the story, was a modern Ikea-looking metal nutcracker with a ram's head stuck on top. Totally wrong, but I tried to let it go and just enjoyed the music and the dancing. I only paid 50 SEK (less than $10 for my student obstructed seat) and it was probably worth that since I didn't have a great view, but I enjoyed what I could hear and see nonetheless. At the end of the show (around 8 pm) I made my way back home and crashed.
Sunday morning started very similarly to Saturday - got up, got dressed, had a fica from Pressbryån, and made my way to the city center to do a little Christmas shopping and see the Christmas market and outdoor skating rink at Kunstragården before heading to Gamla Stan for a tour of the Royal Palace. While shopping, I was most impressed with the window displays of the department store NK. They were so creative and well done that I found myself crowding up to the window with the children to look at Santa and his elves. Speaking of the children, there is not much cuter than Scandinavian children bundled up in their one piece snowsuits, hats, boots, and mittens waddling around with their parents are snuggled up in their strollers wrapped up in a down miniature sleeping bag. Watching the kids skate at the outdoor skating rink while I ate my lunch of muffins and hot chocolate from the Christmas Market was completely endearing. Most of the kids wear helmets on top of their hats and it was so cute watching them try to skate and fall done - obviously not hurt because of their vast amount of padding from their snowsuits. I could have sat and watched for hours.
A little after 12 I wandered over to the Royal Palace at Gamla Stan. We were not allowed to take pictures within any of the museums. This Royal Palace is the third that has stood in that spot since Sweden has had a monarchy (over 1000 years). There are several palaces and the main one is not where the royal family lives, but it is the working palace where the offices are and the business of the state is conducted (in addition to City Hall). The Royal Palace consists of several museums and I started with a tour of the Royal Treasury. Apparently the Swedish regalia has never been stolen so all of the original pieces are on display. My tour guide was excellent and for an hour, I learned a ton about Swedish royal history while touring the small museum. At the conclusion of that tour, I made my way to the Royal Apartments for another tour and discovered that my same tour guide was leading this one as well. For an hour and a half, I learned even more about the monarchy of Sweden and Swedish royal history and saw a tour of only a small number of the 680+ rooms of the palace. (680 actual rooms not counting halls and stairways which are also very impressive - a total of nearly 1200 total room-like spaces within the palace). The palace was not nearly as gaudy as Versailles and the grounds not as expansive or beautiful, but the rooms on the inside I like much more - they were simpler and elegant in their simplicity. I also learned that the royal Swedish Silver Throne has been featured in two Hollywood movies - one a 1933 film about Queen Christina and the second, the 1989 version of Batman where Warner Bros rediscovered the remade Swedish throne and not realizing that it was a replica of the actual throne of Sweden, used it as the fancy chair for Jack Nicholson to sit in when playing the Joker. After this tour, I made a quick pass through the Tre Kronor museum which is a tour through the remnants of the previous medieval castle that survived the fire of 1697.
After my tour of through Swedish royal history, I made my way back to Jägargatan to get ready for the largest Lucia Concert in the world at the Ericsson Globe Arena. I met my Swedish friend Sara whom I had met on my first two weeks of internal medicine. We took a glögg in the Swedish tradition with ginger snaps before the show then enjoyed the concert of over 1200 Swedish children dressed in white and singing the music of Lucia and Christmas. It was very impressive and quite magical especially when all the lights were turned out and the floor of the arena was lit with the candles held by the 1200 children and Lucia walked toward center stage with a crown of real lighted candles on her head. Simply amazing.
It was a great weekend in Stockholm and I was able to see and do all the things on my itinerary except see the lights in City Center at night - although since it is now night most of the day, I shouldn't have a problem hopping over there before I leave on the 20th. Now for my last week at the hospital before my final excursion across the Arctic Circle to hopefully see some Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden. Tack så mycket! Hej då!
|Schoolhouse - Skansen|
|traditional Swedish food|
|window display at NK|