My aunt’s birthday is on March 5th and from March 1st I could start taking people with me to my layovers with special prices. I thought there would be no better gift than to offer her a trip of her choice! When my planning for April came out, she chose to come to Stockholm from April 29th evening to May 1st in the morning.
Later on, when we were looking for things to do on the 30th, the only day we would have in town, we discovered that it was not only the birthday of the King of Sweden, and consequently there would be parades and feasts around the royal palace, but also that it was the beginning of Spring for swedes, an event they call Walpurgis night, where they light a great fire and sing, in Skansen!
We then started the day with a walk along the lake from the hotel to the Town Hall, a brick building with a tall tower where you will see three golden crowns, national emblem of Sweden. This is where the Nobel Prize banquet is held. I had the opportunity to visit the interior the first time I visited Sweden, in 2007, of huge interest! Unfortunately as the time was short, we decided to continue the walk to the Kungsträdgården Park, where we knew that cherry blossoms were in bloom. These were no longer bright pink, but at the opposite end of the park there was a display of tulips that was worth the “detour”.
We crossed the bridge to Gamla Stan, where the Royal Palace is located and we began to listen to music. The philharmonic band guided us to Parade Square, where they played typical Swedish music, including Abba. With the number of people there it was difficult to see anything and when we were about to give up and continue our way, the king finally appear to rejoice of everyone present!
The beautiful streets of this island had to be seen, which colors the sun got even more vibrant! My aunt walked into the cathedral, where there is a sculpture of St George killing the dragon – then we found exactly the same sculpture on one of the streets of Gamla Stan – and we had lunch in the main square – whose food prices are acceptable (which make us sit ) but then they charge 7€ for each little bottle of water … But at least we ate the typical Swedish meatballs and we took shelter just when it started raining.
After lunch we took the boat to museum island because we wanted to visit the Vasa museum. This museum houses a ship in very good condition because it never came to leave Stockholm. It was commanded to build by the Vasa dynasty to show all the power they had, but as being not well dimensioned it sank 20 minutes after leaving the port. As the waters of Stockholm are not very salty, the boat was kept in top conditions. Three hundred years after sinking it was located and extracted entirely from the seabed. A building that is worth a visit!
We finally went up to the Skansen, an open-air museum (plus zoo) of the typical Swedish buildings over time and where Walpurgis night would also be held. With a mild climate, we spent the whole afternoon strolling through this beautiful park, entertained with the various constructions and especially the flora: reindeers, elks, bears, wolves, peacocks… We loved it!
And when it began to darken everyone gathered in the main square where they sang until it was dark enough to light up the biggest fire I’ve ever seen, shining in front of so many Swedish flags! I was sorry I did not know what was being sung, but it was so beautiful!
We finally returned to the hotel, 13 hours after we left, probably the most enjoyed layover of all!