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Stockholm and Sigtuna on a sunny day

by on March 20, 2008

sigtuna.jpgSigtuna is a quiet village, dotted with boutiques and runic stones. The town history is mesmerizing. It dates back to AD 980 when King Erik Segersall founded it as a religious town, and it was here the Sweedish coin was minted. There were churches made of granite, and stunning castles and palaces, where the peasants were once meek, the kings munificent and the Vikings gallant.

The kings are dead and the churches in ruins, but even today, Sigtuna is full of old world charm. Walk around the cobbled paths and you will find moss sticks shaped like bells and museums. That day votive lamps lined Sigtuna’s wiry street. The village is so small that you can walk the entire stretch to whip up an appetite for the absolutey scrumptious dinner at the imaginatively titled restaurant and bar, which serves up the best cheese and crabs. At night this village and its Sigtuna’s reputation as the country’s oldest town, noy even a acrawny Swede in his mile long convertible.

The next day I stepped into Stockholm, leaving all thoughts of Swedes behind. I drove past the immense sea, past Alfred Nobel’s yellow brick home. And as the landscape changed and cars screeched all around me, Stockholm started to get under my skin.

stockholm-city-hall.jpgOne of my first stops here was City Hall, which I learnt was made of eight million deep red bricks. Standing inside the blue room was intimidating natural, I suppose, given that it is here that the Nobel Prize is handed over by the king. I looked around and all I saw were apparitions of literatures, scientists, men in their grey hair and tuxedos, women in plaid skirts and moussed hair. Tradition has it that nobody can leave the banquet hall after King has entered, not even to answer the nature sudden call. I was distracted by the Gold hall, where 19 million shimmering gold mosaic tiles narrate fasicinating stories. Good thing too, considering if I would actually ordered the Nobel dinner, I would be burning holes in my pocket. My other options included surstomming which is fermented herring, which can only be eaten if you get past its putrid smell, crayfish and julskiks which is a large lumps of salted and boiled ham. I didn’t fancy the though of smelly, boiled meat and was happy to settle for hunger. Until I discovered the smorgasbord, a Swedish specialty that consists of many small dishes. Swedish meatballs, pies, salads, eggs, bread, boiled or fried potatoes and so on. Its popular mostly during Easster and Christmas and rare to find.

Istockholm-gamla-stan.jpgIn the evening I walked through the winding lanes of Gamla Stan, the old town. Known for its boutiques, cafes and the classy beer bar, Glenfiddich warehouse No 68, Gamla Stan is the best place to pick up souvenirs. It’s convenient to tire quickly, for then you have the perfect excuse to kick back and relax with some chilled beer at Glenfiddich. When you are hungry and craving some old Indian food, pop by Anna Khan. A little India seems to appear out of nowhere in Stockholm on Friday and Saturday nights, queing outside Anna Khan and the other nearly 20 Indian – Pakistani restaurants that dot this beautiful city.

I still hadn’t seen wnough of Stockholm. There was Sweden’s smallest theatre to be visited on e that can only seat 18 and Skansen, the oldest open air museum in the world. I also made a trip to stockholm-vasa-museum.jpgVasa Museum, a ship shaped museum that houses, well a ship. My guide was indigant and tried hard to make me understand that this ship was supposed to rescue the king. He was incensed at the oak and birch ship that sank on its maiden journey. For 333 years, the ship lay at the bottom of the sea until it was fished out. Surprisingly intact, not a chip nibbled by the shipworms. Painted afresh and standing tall, almost arrogant, it is now Stockholm’s most prized artifact, generating millions in tickets. These jingling coffers failed to modify the guide, who seemed genuinely distraught for the king who waited to be rescued. As I made my way to the airport, I wasn’t really quite ready to leave. Perhaps I need to go back a hundred times to do it al again perfectly.

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2 Comments
  1. Navneet permalink

    Dear Ram,

    I wanted to know whether it would be a good idea to stay at Stockholm for a few days while making trips to Sigtuna.
    I’m making a weekend trip to Stockholm and really want to look around Sigtuna.
    Are there any other places I can visit around Stockholm?

    Thanks
    Navneet

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