Last night in our hotel was uncomfortably hot, despite having the windows wide open. The problem with having the windows open, was that it is ‘Gay Pride’ weekend in Stockholm, and the venue for their meeting is just outside our window. Even when the partying quietened down, it was still stiflingly hot. Eventually, there were some loud thunder claps, which actually shook our room, followed by torrential rain. The humidity subsided, but probably only for half an hour, before the rain stopped, and the heat started to rise again. What should have been a restful night in a real bed, turned out to be anything but. I was so hot at one point, I contemplated leaving he room, and going to sleep in Oscar!
After breakfast, we set off to the old town Gamla Stan to meet up with some friends from the UK, the daughter, husband and three year old son of some of our good friends back home. They have been holidaying in Stockholm, and were leaving today. It was absolutely lovely to catch up with them, and see some friendly faces again. We sought out a cafe, and enjoyed a pleasant hour chatting over a coffee, with chocolate ice cream for the lad. I must say, he did a much better job of eating it, than the two little boys yesterday! Apart from family, these are the first friends we have met up with on our trip, and it was really lovely to see some familiar faces again. What was even more special, is that they are expecting their second child early in 2019. Having been to their wedding in St. Andrews, on an equally hot day, when the guests enjoyed ice-creams in St. Salvator’s quad – it was a joy to see them so happy with a family of their own. I have known Sarah since we moved up to Scotland twenty years ago, and it is joyous to see how well life has turned out for her.
After we said our goodbyes, I did feel a pang of missing my own boys, especially Thomas, who is about to start on an adventure of his own in Australia. We peeled off, and Howard and I decided to make the most of our hop on / hop off boat ticket, and take to the water. Frankly, we were so hot, that sitting on the boat gave us wonderful respite from the heat. We sat in the back of the boat, and stuck our heads in the wind – glorious! In fact, it was so cool on the boat, that we went round one and a half times, before eventually disembarking!
We alighted on one of the islands, and took ourselves off for a late lunch. Refreshed, we then weighed up our options. We had the choice of the museum about Nobel Prize winners, the Nordiska Museum about life in the Nordic Countries or the Viking Museum. In the end, we went for the only real choice in Sweden – the Abba Museum!!
It turned out to be brilliant1 Obviously the normal stuff about how they got together, and their early years and their breakthrough in the Eurovision Song Contest, winning with ‘Waterloo’. But then came the good bits – Karaoke with Abba (recorded, of course), and the very best – dancing with Abba. Howard, I have to report, couldn’t resist. He went into the cubicle, scanned in his ticket, and started dancing with Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. i must say, he really went for it! So much so, that he gained an audience from other museum-goers. At the end of his performance, there was a loud round of applause! Soo embarrassing!!!
When I eventually dragged Howard away, we caught the last boat back to near our hotel. We stopped off briefly at the Photography Museum, but I didn’t really have the stamina to give it justice due to the heat.
Back at our hotel, we threw ourselves into cool showers and drank copious amounts of water to re-hydrate. Eventually, we mustered the energy to go out for supper, but even now, at ten o’ clock, the temperatures are still oppressive.
Stockholm is a really attractive city, as are so many of the cities based on water. The old town is stunning, and culturally it is rich in museums. One could probably spend a week here exploring, but for me, a weekend has been fine. It is clearly a place that embraces diversity, as witnessed by their hosting of the Gay Pride event this weekend – all the tour boats and most of the hotels and restaurants have been flying the Gay Pride rainbow flag, and certainly our hotel is welcoming the event with pink balloons in the Sky Bar. It is a lovely city, and I would love to spend more time here – just not when it is so hot and oppressive. We’ll maybe return in the depths of winter to complete our tour. For now, though, we are done. Tomorrow we head for Finland on the early morning ferry.