Today, Helmut took me to Old Town Stockholm! We got there nice and early so we could look around a bit before the changing of the guard. Fortunately, today was a nice day with a beautiful clear sky! We wandered through the old shops, most of which were souvenir shops, but there were also a lot of artisan shops. There was also one amazing shop completely dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy books!
Helmut took me to the Tyska Kyrchan (or German Church), but conveniently enough, it was closed on Tuesdays. These places must know I’m coming.
We passed by a group of tourists on segways.
We then headed for the Stockholms Domkyrkoförsampling (or Stockholm Cathedral), which is smaller than the German church, so ha ha. But it did have a statue of St. George defeating a dragon, an organ that took up the entire upper balcony, and special pews just for the royal family.
After that, we went to the palace for the changing of the guard at 12:15 sharp. There was a group of 8 or so guards who marched to each station around the palace, announced the current role, and changed the guard at that post. We only saw the changes at the main courtyard. There was a wonderful marching band as well, which was easily There was also a large awards ceremony for several Swedish soldiers. The one thing I was really impressed with was the number of women in the guard and the army!
We continued wandering through old town, and looked at a couple more artisan shops.
Once it started to rain a bit, we decided to check out the royal apartments, aka the palace. There they showed us the guest rooms, and several rooms used by and previously used by the royal family. We saw one model of how the palace used to look before it burned down and it looked like something out of The Little Mermaid. The new palace looks a bit boring now, but was very stylish at the time.
We went into the room the King uses to meet with parliament once in a while. There was a very long table decorated with old copies of the constitution. Helmut pointed the long table and said, “From IKEA.”
Looking at the tapestries, the ornate decorations, and gold dotted around the room other decorations, the tour guide made it clear that the King at the time was obsessed with French culture and style. The king also saw a couple traditions in France he thought sounded like good fun: normal people paying to watch the king eat dinner (sometimes lasting over 6 hours with over 20 courses) and watching the king wake up in the morning (which led to railings being installed in his bedroom).
We were also shown the dining room, where the royal family hosts the Nobel dinner, which was inspired by the hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles.
The final room was saw the the royal ballroom, where the king hosts his parties. The current king wanted to host a party for the new millennium, but he wasn’t sure if the room (which is on the second floor) could withstand a real dance party. His solution was to get his royal guard to stand in a line and all jump at the same time while engineers what the ceiling (and chandeliers) of the first floor. It worked well, since he did have a big party in 1999.
Once the tour was over, the apartments were just closing up and it was time for us to head out. As we walked out of the palace, there was another changing of the guard taking place, with one station right by the entrance, we got to see the official changing of the guard, as well as the less-official changing of the walkie-talkie (and quick, quiet update on the post).
With that, we headed back over the bridge to Stockholm Central Station.