Sunday, November 4, 2012

In the Lap of Stockholm

First time I went to Stockholm was a period between autumn and winter, when all the leaves had fallen and the air was misty. But through the mist, I could see the colorful buildings that studded the hills right across the bay. I could imagine how stunning the city would be in spring, summer or autumn. But then, it wasn't the time yet.

Second time was early spring, when the snow hadn't completely melted out yet and the trees were still bare. We were just passing by en route to a ferry cruise destined for Tallin, Estonia. So I really didn't see the place so well.

And then my wish materialized this past summer when I finally found myself tramping the streets, alleys, squares and parks of the city.

While we were in Vadstena (July 2), we met a friendly German couple in the camping site who suggested to us a popular and comfortable camping place in Stockholm, which was just a walking-distance to the railway station. That's the first thing we sought upon arriving in Stockholm on July 3. We easily located it, and checked in at once. The camping area was spacious but it was almost fully occupied when we got there. We put up our tents in a corner beside a maple tree.

When everything was in place, I and Raquel took a short walk through the little meadow leading up to a hill with a view to dense forests and a section of a bay. There we took lots of pictures of anything that caught our fancy.

Later, we went to the city center by car to have a brief survey of the ins and outs of the city. The fleeting glimpses that we had during the quick drive fueled our eagerness to walk around, enjoy the sights and take tons of pictures.

Stockholm is indeed a city full of wonders. It may not be as overhyped as Paris, London or New York, but it is regarded as the most beautiful capital city in the world. Like what one travel writer said, it "captures the heart of every visitor." Find out why by following these links:

That day was not our time yet to move around extensively as evening had already fallen, though it was still bright. Back to the camping site, we met campers/tourists/adventurers from different countries, who came to be our "neighbors" and communal kitchen mates. I spent some moments to visually scan and admire the different tent designs and campers lying all over the area. Tents kept on changing as campers would come and go.

Day over, we retired to our tents for the first time in Stockholm. I went to sleep, dreaming about the sightseeing adventures that lay ahead for several days.

The days came with sparkling promises of multi-faceted splendor that studded the city.  My mind was feverish with excitement at the thought of luxuriating in the hub of Sweden's capital. From the camping site, we took the train that conveyed us  right to the city center, where we ambled through the streets, squares and parks.  My heart leaped wildly as I looked  at all the grandeur and the magnificence of the edifices that adorn every corner of the city. The juxtaposition of the ancient and modern architectures appealed to my sense of versatility.

A must-see for all tourists is the Gamla Stan, or Old Town, with its medieval streets, cobblestone alleys, well-preserved houses and the Royal Palace.

The imposing City Hall is another favorite hang-out for tourists and a fascinating subject for photographers because of its awesome architecture and the reposeful atmosphere around it.

A well-loved place for excellent relaxation is Skansen, the world's first open-air museum. This beautifully structured spacious area captivates people of all ages, even those who are not museum fans. I compiled all the things there that have delighted me in this ALBUM.

We also had the chance to climb to the "top of the world" in Globen and savored the panoramic view of the lovely city. From the base of the Globe Arena, we boarded the spherical gondola that slowly glided to the top, where it paused for some minutes to let us feast our eyes on the city's circumferential scenery as seen from above. Afterward the vessel slid down the other side of the Globe. More pictures HERE.

Aside from visiting these main attractions, we also ambled around, pounding every street and alley we could find, eating and snacking in medieval restaurant and cafe, window-shopping for souvernirs in Gamla Stan, strolling along the waterfront, admiring the majestic sceneries and preserving all the things that our eyes found pleasant through our cameras.

More images I captured are stored in these links:

Stockholm 1: Camping, Old Town, City Hall & Some Parks

Stockholm 2: The Royal Palace & Other City Scenics & Architectures

Four days of getting around the city gave enough nourishment to my wanderlust and my fascination for new sights. Those joyous days ended with the dismantling of our tents and a quick drive to Arlanda airport to drop our friend who was scheduled to fly back to Dubai that day.

Undeniably, Stockholm is a place teeming with diverse attractions, natural and man-made, medieval and contemporary;  a place whose splendor is permanently etched in one's memory;  a place one yearns to visit over and over again.

...And I'm still yearning to go back there...

...Someday...and more thereafter....