It was another slow Monday morning for us. Eventually we ended up back at Cafe Albert for a latte and kanelbulle. The goal for this day was to explore Gamla Stan, the old town. It claims to be one of the best preserved old towns in all of Europe. It was the original entirety of Stockholm before the city began to expand to other islands, and also houses the Royal Palaces which were previously the royal residences, but are now a museum of those instead.
So we walked over there and got our tickets for the day. On the way we watched a bus completely clip a walk signal post as it went through an intersection. It hit hard enough to make sparks and also crack off a third of its rear bumper. The post was at a good angle after that but still functioning. While everyone was still in shock in from that happening the bus coming right behind drove over the piece of bumper from the first one and got it stuck under its own tire such that it was now dragging along with that bus for the foreseeable future. So much excitement before noon.
We first toured the Royal Apartments which were a very cool 45 minute walk through a number of palace rooms. When we exited that into a courtyard we were just in time to witness a 45 minute changing of the guard ceremony complete with military marching band. That was unique.
After that it was lunch time so we headed into the old town and found a small restaurant called Slingerbulten. It served old style Swedish food like someone’s great-grandmother may have cooked at home. What that secretly means is it is very simple and very bland. We were aware of that going into it. Eric got meatballs and mashed potatoes with lingonberries. I got baked cod with boiled potatoes. I was prepared for plain baked cod and skinless tasteless boiled potatoes. What caught me off guard was all the horseradish grated all over the fish. I guess that’s how they added flavor aside from generally drowning things in butter and salt. Unfortunately I discovered I detest horseradish. I couldn’t scrape it off enough to eat more than about a third of the cod. At least the boiled potatoes were safe.
The second major stop of the day was to Riddarholmen, an even smaller island next to Gamla Stan, where a church of the same name stands. It claims to be the oldest building in Stockholm, built originally in the 1200s as a church and an abbey. It has, for at least several hundred years, been where all royal family members are buried. So inside the church are many many tombs, mostly divided into separate chapels by family. There were many different styles of sarcophagi and tombs over the centuries, and we enjoyed our walk around there.
We headed back through the streets of the old town to the palace where we toured an exhibit about the excavation of the original palace that stood there. It was built in the 1300s, and burned down in the 1600s. It was pretty cool to see what they have recovered and found underneath the current palace on the site. We also toured the treasury which housed very old Crown Jewels, royal regalia, and swords from the 1500s-1700s. No photos were allowed in there.
On our walk back to the hotel we stopped by the Stockholm Synagogue to take pictures. It is very large from the outside and also behind a large gate like the one in Copenhagen. I believe this one to be more currently active, and they have a regularly scheduled tour you can pay to go on. I also read they just finished building a new mikva, so they must have a use for one. We didn’t take the tour, just some photos from the outside. It happened to be right across the street from our hotel.
Some afternoon rain rolled in as we got back so it was nice to take a rest in the room after all the touring of the day. Around 7 we had dinner reservations at a restaurant called Riche that was also behind our hotel, actually straight across the road looking at Cafe Albert! Riche was a Swedish/French fusion restaurant with a full bar and specialized in seafood. We chose it because it had a varied menu and was conveniently located. Eric ended up getting the meatballs again, actually exactly like his lunch dish just from this place. I ordered a vegetarian falafel dish that said it came with a “primeur summer salad”. I expected it to be a light dinner. Maybe a plate of a few falafel balls and some spring greens on the side. It was indeed 4 falafel balls with some hummus in a small dish, and those were very tasty. The salad came out on a huge platter, though. It turned out to be a gorgeous summer salad of fresh green beans, green peas, and radishes. At first I was super excited because that was way more than I had hoped for and I was about to give this restaurant high marks for doing vegetarian right. Then I realized the salad was swimming in grainy spicy mustard. I had been prepared for vinegar. Maybe a balsamic or a lemon dressing. Even though I don’t enjoy dressing I figured I could handle whatever came out, especially as I expected it to just a small side salad anyway. But I could never ever have seen thick grainy mustard coming. It was vile. It was yet another disgusting surprise, much like the horseradish at lunch. Eric offered me his lingonberries to see if their sweetness would help cut the spiciness and bitterness of the mustard. It did a little, but not enough to help me through more than about 4 small bites. Thankfully there was plenty of bread to fill up on, and the falafel was very good. When we got the bill the total was 666.00 SEK… the mustard was evil.
We already knew Cafe Albert had selections of cakes from our previous visits there so after dinner we just hopped across the street for dessert. Got a coffee and a slice of a very thick and rich white chocolate cream cake. Eric tried their apple cake. We were both quite happy and satisfied with our dessert, and went back to the hotel to make sure we were all packed to leave Stockholm the next morning.