Monday, July 30, 2007

Our first days in Stockholm

We have been in Stockholm for three days now, so time to write something about our stay here while waiting for Fred to come back to the hotel, after a day out, whilst I have spent the day in our office just outside the centre. Not much to write about the day in the office save to say that I did not get one straight answer to any question the whole day, which was a bit frustrating. Oh well, I have another two days to get the information which I came here to find out.

The other two days were a lot better, getting to know the city of Stockholm, walking around our area Soderholm at the south of the city and up to the old city of Gamla Stam, just over the railway bridge. We have been very lucky in that the Tall Ships Race came to Stockholm this weekend and the quays were packed with colourful Tall Ships with their flags flying. Yesterday, there was a very colourful procession through town of all the crew members, mainly young people in uniform and also volunteers who all dressed up for the occasion. The crews were mostly very young, very handsome in their uniforms, the biggest crews coming from Russia, Poland, Malaysia and Mexico. Great photo opportunities!

Other than that we have been the typical middle aged European gay couple on a city break, armed with our gay maps to Stockholm, drinking our coffee in a gay café on the main square and eating two delicious meals in a gay run restaurant and even venturing on Saturday evening to a gay/mixed disco called Connection. So, very stereotyped as we stood on street corners looking at our maps, trying to find the way!

One thing which surprised us about Stockholm were the hills, as we had expected the country to be flat and forested. Well, maybe there are no mountains, but there are some steep climbs up from the water, notably just above our hotel – a boat quayed on the water, with tiny cabins making do as budget accommodation at over 100 euro a night. It wasn’t too bad, only we did not have any hot water and the fact there was almost zero atmosphere in the place – so much for the fun rating of 7.5…

From the tops of the climbs there are some beautiful views across the city, the islands surrounded by clear blue or sheet grey water, depending on whether or not the sun is shining. There is a vast array or architectural styles in Stockholm, hard to describe, but there are elements of Venice, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin here, but also some local styles, neo-Gothic and so on. The streets tend to be wide, outside of the Gamla Stam area and there are lots of parks, many crammed full with sculptures and the odd fountain. Altogether it is a nice place to walk around, always some thing new to see and have a look at. Lots of information signs for Fred to read, detailing the history associated with a particular building or sculpture or whatever.

Fred is back now, so I will give him some attention, poor chap has been out enjoying himself all day…

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