Night location: Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm has absolutely charmed us today. Admittedly, it helped that we started our day with the most delicious breakfast buffet that we have ever had, but even so, the striking church spires, grand buildings, glassy waters and stunning gardens would be enough to woo regardless. The temperature has ranged between zero and six degrees so it was a bit brisk, but we were rugged up and ready to explore.
The city is made up of many islands, some bigger than others, all connected with bridges so we made our way around by walking, a ferry, two trams and a bus. One of the most interesting churches that we have ever seen, but unfortunately couldn't go inside was the Riddarholmen Church. Built by the Franciscan friars in 1290, it is the oldest preserved building and the only surviving monastery church in the city. Known as the church of the Order of Seraphim, it has been used as a royal burial church from the 17th century until 1950. In 1835 the original spire burned down and was replaced by a neo-Gothic cast iron spire that looks like delicate lace.
We wandered through the lanes of the old town on Gamlastan Island before catching a ferry across the smooth waters to Djurgarden Island. From the fully automated ferry terminal we caught the tram to a beautiful avenue lined with trees that led to the tranquil Rosendals Trädgård. In 1817 this area was sold to the Swedish king Karl XIV Johan (Charles XIV John of Sweden) who commissioned a castle and started the garden that can be visited today. There are various sections of this extensive garden including an orchard of famed apple trees dating back to the mid 1800s, an orangery overlooking a vineyard, hedged lawn areas with featured deciduous trees, and overflowing flowerbeds. We stopped in the delightful bakery cafe that is situated in one of the greenhouses and enjoyed a cup of tea with some delicious homemade sweets.
After soaking in the serenity of this place we caught a tram and then a bus back to Ostermalm before walking back over a bridge and through the old town again. Our hotel is built on top of a light filled Gallerina shopping mall so we walked through it and then made our way to NK, a grand department store opened in 1915 by Josef Sachs. The Art Deco building was glamorous in every way and definitely worth the visit.
For dinner David had booked us into Rutabaga, a vegetarian restaurant by leading Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren. We enjoyed a set six course menu that included dishes like Jerusalem artichoke served with pear and black lime, and the pre-dessert rosehip soup with almond biscuits. An absolute triumph of a meal!