I actually went and did some proper sightseeing today and NOW I feel like I'm in Europe. It's about a 15 minute walk to the historic area from my hostel, and it's a straight shot down a street with lots of shops and restaurants, which is very convenient for those of us that are directionally challenged.
I'm a lot more confident today. Yesterday I would either stare helplessly at the person until they spoke in English, or communicate with nodding. Today I actually would smile and say "engelska?" Most people at the shops and restaurants speak in Swedish first. I don't know if its because they expect English speakers to ask, or because I look so European they just assume I'm Swedish. I'm going with the latter. Swedish girls are very trendy. They all wear super tight skinny jeans or long leggings or tights with shorts.
The first thing I did today was stop by the antique store and get my reticule.It's so pretty, I am way too excited. Then I walked down to Gamla Stan, which is the island with the royal palace and other interesting things on it. On my way I went down the main shopping street, and stopped by a toursity shop to buy a keychain with a small stuffed moose on it. Or reindeer. Whatever it is that lives in Sweden. I also passed a store playing a work song. As most of you know, I worked at LOFT this past year. We had one CD that played the same songs over and over. And then they'd send s a new CD and we'd get all excited, only to find that it was the same music. I began to refer to this song set as work songs. And recently I've begun hearing work songs everywhere- CVS, Harris Teeter, etc. And then here I am in Stockholm Sweden and I hear a work song. Which did two things. 1. Confirm my suspicions that this is a worldwide conspiracy designed to drive every retail worker on the planet insane, and 2. Gave me a comforting reminder of home.
The historic area of Stockholm has like 50 thousand gorgeous buildings, and I didn't know what was open to tourists and what wasn't. The opera house seemed to be closed, which was a shame because I bet it was gorgeous inside. After eating lunch by a statue of Karl XII (who was pointing at something and looking important but birds kept perching on his outstretched finger and all I could think of was Disney princesses and then Karl XII started singing princess style in my head and I'm sure he was a great monarch but I can never take him seriously again), I visited the first of what I'm sure will be many old churches, then hit up the palace.
I started with the Tre Kronor Museum, which is in the basement and talks about the history of the building. It was very dark and medieval. My favorite part was the medieval shoes. Those were shoes that some one wore in the 1300s! They were alive 700 years ago and here I am looking at their shoes today. History is so cool you guys.
After that I went to the Royal Apartments which featured gilded walls and huge chandeliers and paintings on the ceilings and a hall inspired by the hall of mirrors at Versailles. Basically all my favorite stuff ever. The lighting was really dim so I'm sure my pictures aren't that great, but it was just so PRETTY. Except for the one room remodeled in 1998 for the king's something jubilee, which was just plain and boring in comparison. Rococo and baroque architecture and interior design are sooooo much better.
Then I went to the Treasury which is where all the royal sparklies are kept. I snuck as many pictures as I could before some guy came over a speaker and told everyone that there was NO PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE TREASURY. Of course no photo could show how prettily everything sparkled. There were some swords and pendant thingies, and lots of royal crowns. My favorite was this one from the 17th century which had all these interwoven tiny gold flowers all over it.
Then I went to the Royal Armory, which I should have done first because at that point I was pretty tired and I wish I was more alert because this is where the historic clothing collection is, among other things. I might go again tomorrow. They had the most beautiful stuff on display, including things from the early 17th century! There were all of these court outfits with the most amazing, intricate gold embroidery. And of course there were the silver and gold court gowns and suits from the 18th century that were featured in that Versailles exhibit a couple of years ago. It was so amazing to actually see them in person. It probably would have been even more amazing if I hadn't been so tired. Which means I'm going back! And there was this silver and gold 18th century suit with these stylized mother of pearl clouds and sunbeams made of gold sequins and it was so amazing. The only problem was that they put this blue dress worn by the current princess in 1995 right in the middle of the 18th century stuff which made absolutely no sense. And blocked all the pretty 18th century things.
Then I went upstairs where there was an exhibit about something, I think it was stuff worn by royalty. Most of the clothes were from the 1960s and70s which is BORING, but they did have a couple nice gowns from the early 1900s. The cool thing was that they incorporated scent into the exhibit. They had these jars with a hole in the top and you sniffed and then they asked what colors the scents reminded you of.
My only beef with the Royal Armory is that they had this kids area where you could dress up and sit on a throne or a carriage and have your picture taken. Why don't they have that stuff for adults?!?!?! It's not fair.