Thursday, 4 June 2015

Norrmalm and Vasastan in Stockholm


As we were crossing the Norbro bridge that links Gamla Stan with Norrmalm and Ostermalm in Stockholm, we came across the Gumbo 3,000 event, a 3,000 mile car race that starts from Stockholm and ends in Las Vegas, with stops in Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Reno, St Francisco and Los Angeles on the way. We found out that the race was due to start the following day at 12:30. We had to see it.

Hundreds of people were lining the streets the following day. We joined the onlookers at Hamngatan and watched the cars start for the long race ahead. It was a long, and leisurely start which increased the crowd's excitement. We watched for a while and then moved on.

The earthy-red Gothic St Jacobs Kyrka was our next stop and then we reached - wonderful contrast between the red of the building and the copper roof -

Kungstradgarden, originally a vegetable garden for the royal castle in the 15th century, a popular venue for open-air events and fairs today.

There were various events going on while we visited. The biggest was an exhibition about India

which included food stalls, and even though we were ready for a snack by then, the queues were too long, so we moved on

The European Space Expo was also on - we had seen their tent being set up in Syntagma Square the previous month when we were in Athens


Two tree-lined avenues shade the restaurants and cafes along the park's western and eastern edges

We started looking for the Synagogue, but could not find it. Instead we came upon this building


we were not able to find out anything about it but loved the sculptural friezes

and the massive doors.

Another wonderful building further along the street



We then started walking along Hamnsgaten, a busy shopping street.

Shortly after that we reached Berzelii Park

Stockholm is the greenest city I have ever visited. There are lots of parks everywhere, and all streets are lined with trees. Understandably, given the long, dark winters, the minute the sun comes out, Swedish people take to the parks. Their love of the sun is so great that it's even represented on their flag, as the yellow cross in the middle symbolises the sun.

We then retraced our steps and started walking up Drottninggatan in the district of Vasastan

past Centralbadet, a lovely Art Nouveau bathhouse built in 1906

turned right at the Strindbergsmuseet, August Strindberg's house

and reached another small delightful park, Vasaparken

which has two small pools.

It was a warm, sunny day, so the children had a great time bathing in the pool

while everyone else was basking in the sun.

Wonderful houses surround the park

a church,  

and this apartment building - we thought that the decorations on the balconies is an excellent idea.

Vasaparken is dominated by a huge statue of Strindberg

which includes scenes from his work.

The eastern section of this park has been renamed the Astrid Lindgren's Terrace after the author of the Pippa Longstocking children's book series, who lived across the street.

We then came upon another green oasis,

Spokparken, the gardens of a mansion, Drottninggatan..

The man who owned the house at the end of the 18th century, was so cruel and malicious that it is said that the devil himself came to collect him with a coach and snorting horses at the gate in Drottninggatan. When the man climbed into the coach it set off at an unnatural speed, issuing sparks and flames.

Today the mansion houses the University's art collection and is also used for entertainment, meetings and conferences.


The plan for the day had been to reach Observatorielunden, another park (do you see what I mean?) where the Observatory and the Library stand. But, we had been walking for a long time, and were tired so decided to head back to our hotel.

We walked along Odengatan where the metro station is but also a landmark for fans of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy. This is the area where lawyer Mils Bjurtman, Lisbeth Salander's guardian after Holger Palmgren, and also a rapist, has his five-room apartment, on Upplandsgatan, just off Odengatan. The most serious rape takes place in his apartment, and it is here that Lisbeth takes revenge and tattoos 'I am a rapist'  on his stomach.


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