Helsinki-Overnight Baltic Sea Crossing to Stockholm Sweden
Today we had a city bus tour of the sights of Helsinki. We finished in The Senate Square and had the afternoon free to explore. Pete and I walked over to the Market and had lunch then we walked to a Food Festival near the Central Station. We then sat in a coffee shop and took some time out before our ferry trip to Stockholm.
In the evening, we embarked on the Silja Line Ferry to Stockholm. Our room was really claustrophobic and we were lucky enough to move up a few levels with a window and some air conditioning. We had drinks at the Old Port Pub and then tea in a lovely restuarant. We met up with some of our passengers at the disco and had a great night dancing and having fun.
24th September 2016
We arrived in Stockholm at 9.30am and our coach took us on a City coach tour. We stopped and visited the Stockholm City Hall with its spire featuring the golden Three Crowns. This is one of the most famous silhouettes in Stockholm. The 106 meter tall tower has the three crowns, which is the Swedish national coat of arms, at its apex. Behind the magnificent facades are offices and session halls for politicians and officials, as well as splendid assembly rooms and unique works of art.
The great Nobel banquet is also held in City Hall. After dinner in Blå hallen, the Blue Hall, Nobel Prize laureates, royalty and guests dance in Gyllene salen, the Golden Hall, with its 18 million gold mosaic tiles.
We had a few hours to ourselves so Peter and I walked around the old town or otherwise known as Gamla Stan. We had time to do some souvenir shopping also.
The town dates back to the 13th century, and consists of medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and archaic architecture. Stortorget is the name of the scenic large square in the centre of Gamla Stan, which is surrounded by old merchants' houses including the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building. The square was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath, where Swedish noblemen were massacred by the Danish King Christian II in November, 1520. The following revolt and civil war led to the dissolution of the Kalmar Union and the subsequent election of King Gustav I. We had lunch at an Irish Pub which was quite expensive and then met up with the rest of our group for an optional walking tour of Stockholm. Stockholm is built on 14 islands in a panorama of lakes and sea. It boasts centuries of history and culture. We walked into the Royal Palace, the Parliament, the 13th Century Franciscan monastery church and the main square with the Stock Exchange building which is now the site of the Nobel Museum and the Spanish Acadamy.
As well as being home to the Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum, and the Riddarholm church, Gamla stan also boasts Kungliga slottet, Sweden's baroque Royal Palace, built in the 18th century after the previous palace Tre Kronor burned down. The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset) is on the north-western corner of Gamla stan.
The restaurant Den gyldene freden is located on Österlånggatan. It has been in business since 1722 and according to the Guinness Book of Records is the oldest existing restaurant with an unaltered interior. A statue of St. George and the Dragon (sculpted by Bernt Notke) can be found in the Stockholm Cathedral, while Riddarholmskyrkan is the royal burial church. Bollhustäppan, a small courtyard at Slottsbacken behind the Finnish Church, just south of the main approach to the Royal Palace, is home to one of the smallest statues in Sweden, a little boy in wrought iron. The plaque just below the statue says its name "Järnpojken" ("The Iron Boy"). It was created by Liss Eriksson in 1967.
How skinny can a street be? Pretty skinny! The "Alley of Marten Trotzig" is the narrowest street in Stockholm - a mere 35 inches wide.
Near the Royal Palace, Storkyrkan (literally "the Great Church") has been around for as long as Stockholm. On top is the clock tower, built in 1743 - at 216 feet tall, it's hard to miss!
At the end of our walking tour we visited an underground cafe, I felt claustrophobic and waited outside whilst the others had coffee and cake. We were then taken back to our hotel The Radisson Blu Arlandia which was close to the airport. We were at least a 40 minute drive away from the city centre. We had our final meal as a group back at the hotel and said our goodbyes.