Since I had some solo time, Siddhi insisted that I head to Stockholm and take in the city while she stayed somewhere in a small town in Sweden, busy with work. Armed with only a backpack, I boarded a train from Gothenburg to Stockholm.
For those wanting to take the journey at the last-minute, there are multiple trains with a plethora of fares and duration times available. It can take as little as three hours or in my case it took five hours to traverse the approximately 250 miles. The train journey was scenic, with acres upon acres of woods and fields and water, set beautifully against the picture perfect Swedish sky (I have not admired the beauty of the sky as much as I have in last 48 hours). Since it was a slow train, it made stops in a few destinations which were long enough for me to get off, see the area around the station and come back! In fact, a teenager did just that….getting off the train and heading somewhere to grab dinner and bringing it back on the train. Once I got to Stockholm, I dumped my backpack at the hotel and decided to explore the medieval part of the city, Gamla Stan. Since it was late on a holiday evening (Red Day), the stores were closed and the streets were particularly quiet.
I started by walking away from Central Station, veering along a pedestrian only street and headed straight towards Gamla Stan. Gamla Stan is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. With only a few couples strolling the street, it appeared that I had the city to myself. The transition from a regular pedestrian street to the stone walls of the old city was seamless. As I stood on the street with the water gushing beneath me, I noticed the most beautiful night-time scene I might have ever experienced. The sky was a deep shade of blue with clouds and yet so crisp and clear. Against this backdrop were several lit up older buildings. I regretted not being an artiste, unable to take this beauty and transfer it on to some permanent medium. And taking the picture above does not count as any form of artistry!
The cobble stoned streets of Gamla Stan were dotted with handicraft stores, cafes, bars and souvenir shops. At this hour, not one of them was open, and with hardly any people, it was almost like I was part of a historic novel. This was not far-fetched considering that Storget is where many a political prisoner was executed. I walked the streets, taking turns and alleys, happening upon more stores and a few tourists braving a night-time walk. Also along my walk, I paused in front of the Stockholm Cathedral, the Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum.
Returning back to the hotel, I paused again at the spot where the view had left me spellbound. I sat on a bench to admire the old buildings, the beautiful blue sky with the sound of the water running below. It was a moment of solitude that touched the soul.
If you are in Stockholm, please do consider doing the Gamla Stan walk at night. I did it during the day as well and the magic of a night-time viewing is too special to miss. To learn more about Gamla Stan, click here: