Stockholm in May

View of the Stockholm city center from the sea.

Stockholm in May

For my husband’s anniversary gift, last year I organised a weekend trip to Stockholm, Sweden. Why Stockholm? I bought three city guides for European cities we had both never visited (Amsterdam, Budapest and Stockholm) and asked my husband to cover his eyes, gave him the three books and asked him to choose one: he chose Stockholm…

I organised the trip and at the end of May we went to Stockholm. We arrived late on the Friday night and had the next two days to visit the city.

A memory of home in Skansen

Saturday morning the day was splendid so we went to an open air museum: Skansen.

Actually Skansen is the only open air museum in the world that has a zoo. We were not interested in the zoo and petting zoo part and visited the historical section where buildings have been preserved – some of them moved over from other regions in Sweden, in order to show how life was in previous times. 

An old traditional window in Skansen, Stockholm.
A traditional window of a building in Skansen, Stockholm.

When we found a farmstead we went to look inside and found an older lady in traditional dress that was there to explain the traditional way of life to the tourists. What shocked me and made me think was that the typical farm of the end of XIX century in Sweden was almost exactly the same as my grandparents’ house in the Appennine mountains where my mother had grown up more than half a century later! I took pictures and sent them to her and my siblings for them to see the similarities. The buildings were different, but many utensils and tools plus a staircase were exactly the same!

Traditional wooden stairway, Skansen
Traditional wooden stairway in Skansen

The staircase was exactly the same as in my grandmother’s house in the mountains before the renovation in the 1980s when it was taken out, in its place now an iron spiral staircase. When we were kids, my siblings, my cousins and I loved to sit on the top step and then slide down bumping on the other ones till we got to the end. 

To find these similarities was indeed a surprise: miles and miles separate Sweden from Italy after all. 

In one of the rooms a large loom took over almost all the space: my grandmother had one just like that.

My grandmother used to plant flaxseed, process the stalks and then spun yarn before weaving cloth for family use with a loom very similar to this one. She made simple cloth for everyday use, sturdier cloth for wheat flour sacks, very fine cloth for bed sheets and hand towels. She had to dye the yarn first and in the case of bed sheets, once they had been woven and pieced together she would embroider them as well as create beautiful crocheted borders. She wove wonderful patterned blankets – I have one, that I treasure. 

Traditional handwoven blanket.
Traditional blanket woven by my grandmother. At the top of the image you can see the seam where the two pieces of cloth were sewn together to create the width necessary for a king sized blanket.

It is a pity that such skill was lost since she sold her loom at the end of the 1950s and my mother never learnt how to weave. 

A handwoven dishtowel made out of a flour sack.
This dishtowel was originally part of a flour sack woven by my grandmother. Each family would have a signature decoration on the sack to recognise their own flour after milling.

Other skills were passed down, like embroidery, crochet and knitting, but weaving was lost. My kids at school learned the basics of crochet – but never wanted to do anything about it afterwards. 

The park was full of families having fun, attending public readings of Pippi Longstocking, the famous character created by Astrid Lindgren and featured in cartoons and in a TV series.  

Yellow and orange flower.
Beautiful flower

There is a lot of very nice plants and flowers. It was May and a lot of the flowers were in bloom, so I took a picture for my Instagram account.

We ate at one of the many stands in the park and then my daughter and I went to the city center to do some shopping and my husband and my son had fun at the amusement park Gröna Lund, that is just opposite the Skansen main entrance.

 

 

 

 

We went along the Drottninggatan and noticed a ton of stickers and Post-Its on a wall. It was the spontaneous commemoration that people had created on the boards used to cover the damage done in the April 7th 2017 terror attack. In a now terribly familiar practice a truck had hit people on sidewalks and then ended up crashing into the windows of Ahlens City, a very popular department store.  Five people died and fifteen were injured. We stopped by and added our prayers to the multitude of others.

The boards on the site of Ahlens City where the terror attack took place on April 7th, 2017.

Our hotel was very near the main station and it was quite nice. The only problem was that they gave me a room on the same floor as their bar/club/disco, apparently a very popular venue. The room was soundproofed of course but some sounds travel also through the walls… Let’s say that my ever-present migraine noticed. It was a difficult night.

Boat tour of the Stockholm archipelago

On Sunday morning we went for a boat tour of the Stockholm Archipelago and then had a stroll in the city. Stockholm – also called the Venice of northern Europe – sits on 14 islands joined by bridges, while the Stockholm Archipelago has some 30.000! Since we were tired we appreciated the tour – actually my kids napped on the boat!

View of the Stockholm city center from the sea.
View of Stockholm city center from the sea.

We went to see the Royal Castle and the changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard at the Royal Castle in Stockholm.
The Changing of the Guard at the Royal Castle in Stockholm

 

and then saw a folk fest taking place in Gamla Stan.

Folk fest in Gamla Stan, Stockholm
A folk fest in Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

We spent the early afternoon just walking around the city streets and then got ready for our flight back to Zurich.

 

My husband and I liked Stockholm very much, but what I absolutely loved was Skansen. My son loved the amusement park and my daughter loved the shopping (mainly window shopping really). I would like to go back someday.

Useful links if you would like to visit Stockholm:

www.visitstockholm.com

http://www.skansen.se

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