Another country, another Changing of the Guard
25.10.2014 - 25.10.2014 12 °C
My hotel was in the heart of the Gamla Stan, Stockholm's historic old town full of cobbled streets and quaint narrow alleyways. My hotel (the Lord Nelson) must be the most eccentric place I've ever stayed - the outside is painted pink and it's only 6 metres wide, it proudly boasts it's narrowest hotel in Sweden. My room is 5 metres of the width (so it's small) and each room is called a 'cabin' with a nautical them and Nelson memorabilia everywhere. Mind you it has everything I could want, the Royal Palace is almost next door and there's a nice family hotel feel to the place.
As with Copenhagen, there's a 'Stockholm Card' giving free entry to most tourist attractions and unlimited travel on public transport so I again bought a 48 hour pass determined to squeeze in as much as I could. First up was the Royal Palace as it was so close and I worked my way around the building visiting the State Apartments, the Treasury, the Armoury and the Tre Konor History Museum; stopping half way to make sure I caught the Changing of the Guard parade outside the front at midday. I expected guardsman like elsewhere but in Sweden since the 1960s all units of the armed services take turns guarding the royal palaces so I watched the Engineers taking over from the Air Defence Regiment. Still all very smart but the other shock was there were women on guard as well as men. I suppose why not in our enlightened times, I just wasn't expecting it!
Having done the Royal Palace I moved onto the nearby Nobel Museum housed in the old Swedish Stock Exchange Building in the heart of Gamla Stan. Here there was an explanation of who Alfred Nobel was and the annual prizes awarded from the income on his kegacy. Apparently in addition to Annual awards for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace there might also have been a prize for mathematics but myth has it he lost a girl to a mathemation love rival so Mathematics was left out of his will! A prize for Economics was added later at the behest of the Swedish National Bank on its 300th Birthday but strictly speaking its not a Nobel Prize but a Bank of Sweden Prize awarded in Alfred Nobel's memory.
Next up was to have been the Abba Museum but it turns out they are not part of the Stockholm Card so I moved onto the nearby Vasa Museum; the cultural icon that is Abba will have to wait until Monday! The Vasa when it was built in 1628 was the most expensive and richly ornamented naval vessel ever built in Sweden but was top heavy and got caught out by a gust of wind with its lower gun ports open after firing a salute passing the royal palace and capsized. It's much larger than I expected and remarkably well preserved; it took my breath away. Unfortunately although photos and flash were allowed, my camera was unable to do it justice with the dim light and sheer size of the boat.