It was so peaceful and calm. There was even a mated pair of swans swimming near the shore. This place could not have been more stately and picturesque.
Apparently the royal family has been living here on and off since the 1600's when the palace was built for Queen Hedvig Eleonora. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside so these pictures of the grounds will have to suffice.
After we toured the palace, we walked around to the back where there was a huge garden full of hedges and fountains.
We also visited the Chinese Pavilion, even though it was closed for the year. It was designed according to what the architects thought would look Chinese.
After this, we had lunch and headed back to the bus so that we could wander around Stockholm's "Gamla Stan" (Old Town) for the rest of the day. Old Town, as evidenced by the name, is full of old buildings, cafes and shops. It was the perfect place to spend an afternoon walking around and taking pictures.
However, the first thing I noticed when we arrived back at the station in Stockholm wasn't its beautiful, old buildings. It was this:
It was 60 degrees out and there were people shoveling snow onto these platforms while a huge crowd was watching. I eventually figured out that this was supposed to be some kind of a snowboarding demonstration sponsored by a company which presumably sold snowboards.
Slide down the ramp, hop onto the handrail, try not to fall off til the end, then make a semi-graceful landing. I'd never seen anything like this back home!
Despite being a capital city, Stockholm was surprisingly clean and tidy. I was also surprised to find that Stockholm seems to have a lot of open harbors and rivers running right through the heart of the city.
We also stopped by Stadshuset (City Hall) to look around. Apparently this building is where they award the Nobel Prizes every year. It's also a very popular place to get married! I plan on returning here soon in order to climb to the top of this tower and get pictures:
Of course after walking around all day, we had to find somewhere to stop, sit, and grab some food. We picked a cafe I spotted that appeared to be serving tuna salad sandwiches, which I am a big fan of.
I need to learn better Swedish.
Somehow ordering a tuna salad sandwich got me this:
It came with 2 slices of a baguette. There was no dressing on it or anything. Apparently the expression on my face was priceless. Apparently there was a separate dish I could have ordered that was just a tuna sandwich, but I guess they got thrown off when I said "salad." It's an understandable mistake to make. Unfortunately, they didn't have the ingredients to make me a tuna sandwich so they let me trade the salad for a Swedish pancake and a delicious cookie with chocolate mousse on it dipped in more chocolate. The salad didn't go to waste; they covered it up and put it up for sale, which is definitely something they could not have gotten away with back home, hahaha.
That about sums up my first day in Stockholm. Hopefully I'll be able to go back this coming weekend to attend the chocolate festival and see some museums!