Goodbye Stockholm, Hello Skara
I got myself up for breakfast just before it closed at 10am, got myself packed to check out before 11, had them hold my suitcase and jackets at the hotel for my daytime wanderings, then left for my last day in Stockholm. I found the Nordic Sea Hotel RIGHT by my hotel and made myself a reservation at the Absolut Ice Bar for 4:30pm, thinking that would give me plenty of time to get my luggage and catch my 6:10pm train. Then I stood in line at the train station to buy my ticket and make sure the time was still correct, which it was, so that was settled. I set out for Stadthuset while it was overcast & muggy, then it started sprinkling along the way but not enough to bother with my umbrella...then when I got to the building, it started pouring with thunder and even lightning! In case it was a quick summer storm, I scrambled for cover along with a gaggle of tourists, but when it wasn't letting up, I took out my free poncho I got in Trondheim, got out my umbrella, and headed for the Riddarholmskyrkan anyway, drenching the bottom of my skirt of course, but at least my sandals would dry eventually so they're probably the best shoes I could have worn. By the time I walked halfway to the church, past Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility, the rain had stopped and the sun had peeked out again, so after I was done touring the church, I was able to put away my poncho and umbrella and thankfully didn't need them the rest of the day. My skirt was even dry by the afternoon, which surprised me because it was still really humid all day. I kept strolling, in the now hot sun, stopping for an ice cream and sitting a bit to wipe all the puddle-crud off my feet before the tiny rocks and dirt gave me blisters! ;)
I continued to Kungliga Slottet, the royal palace, and figured I had time to pay to tour the inside, so after losing the cruise ship tour crowds making it horribly stuffy in the guest apartments, meeting a girl visiting from Boston trying to do the same, she & I found the Tre Kronor exhibit, which was thankfully cool, and interesting since it was about the old parts of the original castle which burned in 1697. She had already seen the crown jewels but recommended them, so I saw the sparkly shiny things myself, then just missed getting to see the Royal Chapel by 30 seconds after closing time! I begged for just one minute to look in, but the lady closing the ropes was firm in her no, so I was done with the palace! Hrmph!
Since it was 3:30, and I had already seen plenty of Gamla Stan on Monday night and was afraid it might be as packed with more tourists to ruin my previous pleasant evening experience, I decided to see if I could hike all the way north to Hard Rock Cafe and still make it to the Absolut Ice Bar in time for my 4:30 reservation. It was quite a hike in the humidity, past Kungsträdgården, the large garden at least which was pretty, but I got to HRC, got my shot glass (why not continue the collection since I was in town?) and thankfully used their restroom, then the challenge was to find my way back, since I was now off the map in my guidebook and my other map from the hotel had disappeared I assume in the wind of the thunderstorm somehow, since I hadn't found it since then. I did find my way even early, and I can tell you that inside the ice bar was the first time I actually felt cool & comfortable all day...haha! They give you silver parkas to wear inside, and the whole "bar" is about the size of my living room, with one bench covered in reindeer skins with a couple low tables, a few tall bar height tables, a flatscreen TV functioning behind the ice walls, and the bar with two bartenders in cute fake fur hats. Even though the glasses you use at the bar are completely made of ice, you can buy glass copies at the shop, so of course I did! I had an Absolut Icebar Stockholm, which was Absolut Apeach, pineapple juice, orange juice & blue curacao, but unfortunately wasn't mixed so the blue stayed at the bottom instead of creating a teal drink. ;) It was tasty though! Since you were allowed two drinks, I also had the Absolut Wolf Paw, since I had to have the lingonberry drink! They even put fresh lingonberries in it, nice and tart...yum! We were all tourists of course, so we were all taking photos of each other and laughing at ourselves being the silly ones who pay money for a place like that. The last people in there with me were a couple from Valencia, CA, and he had stopped taking photos with his fancy professional-style model, and he started taking photos of her with his iPhone, so I had to tease him! haha...He's been using the internet service for maps and such their whole trip, but I'm pretty sure international data roaming is not included in the iPhone plans, so he thinks he might have an unhappy surprise when he gets home!
Britta at the Absolut Icebar Stockholm
I collected my luggage, grabbed a sandwich, and caught my train with no problems. Teje, Tobias & little Sixten met me at the train station in Skövde, and drove me the scenic way to Skara, which included the best sunset I've seen yet! While Tobias went to hang out with some friends, Teje & I strolled the town with her pointing out sights for me in the fading light, trying unsuccessfully to avoid mosquitos, but seeing a few bats flying around, and even seeing my first live wild porcupine. Why the poor guy was on the sidewalk in town we don't know, so we hope he finds his way back home. The restaurant & bar at my hotel is one of the best in town, so we went back there and Tobias came with his friend Jimmy, so we all had a drink and talked for a bit. It seems Teje told Tobias how I seem to have a high tolerance for alcohol, so he & his friends are planning on making me do shots of aquavit at a "crayfish party" tomorrow night...every time you eat a crayfish claw you have to take a shot! Wish me luck! :-o