Day 10, Stockholm, January 19th 2012

Tea 10: Power Te, Jessica and Tiffany’s apartment, Stockholm. (photo taken elsewhere)

My first belated post!  Sorry!  Yesterday and overnight was spent traveling or any of the other associated things, like waiting or sleeping or without internet.  So today’s post comes a little late, being as it is now tomorrow and today is yesterday.

Anyway, before I confuse myself any further, as I said, yesterday was a travel day.  I spent the morning packing, unpacking and repacking, losing things, finding things again and suchlike, so I don’t have great deal to say about Stockholm, other than I did take a quick visit to SKHLM, apparently Stockholm’s ‘capital of shopping’….. well, need I say more?  Apart from that that should be read with a degree of sarcasm in it’s tone.  This wasted about 30 minutes, including the time it took to walk there and back.  I ventured back to the flat and packed up again, had a quick bit of lunch and headed off on my way to the ferry port.  I took the T-banan to Ropsten and then three friendly assistants showed me where to get the bus to the terminal.  It was simple and easy, I arrived, paid for my ticket, waited about 45minutes, lost in the delights of Tallink Silja terminals number 1 attraction, the fish tank, and then boarded the boat, the ‘Silja Symphony’. A string quartet was setting up as I entered ‘The Promenade‘ deck.  After eventually figuring out which lift to take to get to my deck I found my cabin and dumped my stuff.

I did the usual wandering around to see what looked good on the boat.  Then headed outside as we began to leave the port.  And that was about that, I bought some iced tea (in a can) and some sweets and settled down.  The ship was pleasant enough, a Casino, a pub, a few restaurants and buffets, the usual really.  After a last minute emergency run to the shop before it closed for some chap-stick, I went to sleep, and woke up in Finland.

The tea that kept me going was the good old POWER TE!  I know I mentioned this days ago, but until now other teas have taken precedent, it is a very good tea though.  smooth and just the right amount of bitterness.  It also has liquorice pieces so it has that strange sweetness that hits the side of your tongue. It has also got Guarana and Gingko Biloba so it certainly does the job on those clouded headed mornings.  It is, actually, a brilliant tea.

Day 9, Stockholm, January 18th 2012

Tea 9: Not Tea, but Hot Chocolate!!!  Chokladkoppen, Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

Sorry for deviation from the tea topic but this is necessary and essential! Today, as I mentioned yesterday, was the chocolate plan of action, after scoping out Gamla Stan yesterday I returned to Stortorget to try out the chocolate cafe.  And I was not disappointed!  The chocolate was warm, rich, smooth and gloriously creamy.  It was, like yesterday’s tea, perfectly served, not too hot or cold, just right.  I also endulged in a Valrhona Chocolate Ball.  This was sticky, rich, and wonderfully sweet.  It was a great portion too, I was almost defeated, but I made it to the end.  It wasn’t cheap, nowhere in Stockholm is cheap, but it was most definitely worth it!  If you are visiting Stockholm, or if you live there and haven’t been, GO!

After my bout of pure gluttony, I wandered along the coastline around Gamla Stan, along Strandvägen, past all the beautiful old boats, some seeming to be house boats, and onto Djurgården. This little island has various museums and attractions, it is one of the greener parts of the city, basically one big park.  On it is the Nordiska Museet, the Aquarium, Gröna Lund (the theme park), Skansen (an open air museum and zoo), the Vasamuseet.  But I just went for a wander around the park areas.  The island is very beautiful, and was made more so by the first snowfall of the trip so far.  After I’d finished my wandering I headed up to Östermalm, the eastern borough of the city.  This end of town is pretty affluent, with a Ferrari and Maserati store, various commercial ‘art galleries’ and, the stalwart of any high-end district….. Laura Ashley!  I ended up inside a bookstore specialising in Theology, Zen and Buddhism, albeit briefly as the shop was actually closed for stocktake.  After a quick check with her husband the lady invited me in a chatted quietly to me so as not to disturb her husband about Theology and asked me about my trip.  I left the store after a short whistle-stop introduction to the notion of Theology and with a number of Theology magazine publications under my arm.

I made my way back into the city centre and onto the T-Bana home. Tonight we are having a traditional Swedish dinner of Meatballs, Potatoes, Lingonsylt and sauce.  My stomach is already looking forward to it!  Jess and Tiffany are really great hosts!

Dessert is more chocolate balls!

Day 8, Stockholm, January 17th 2012

Tea 8: Korean Seju OP, from Himalaya tea and coffee house, Hötorgshallen, Stockholm.

Today was my first proper day in Stockholm, I awoke to a misty, heavy sky threatening snow. However this didn’t happen and I successfully managed to wander to the Metro station without slipping on the ice or getting lost.  Although I did almost walk straight past the entrance to the Metro.  I took the train into Stockholm Central and entered the city from there.  I wandered fairly aimlessly for most of the day, starting off, accidently, towards Gamla Stan (Old Town). The streets were cobbled, the buildings various shades of yellow and orange, I felt that if the weather were warm and sunny it could easily be mistaken for some mediterranean town. I looked into the windows of a number of tempting chocolate shops and came up with a plan of attack for tomorrow and continued my wandering.  My plan for the day had been to visit Hötorgshallen, the old food market, but had managed to turn in the wrong direction after leaving the station, so I headed back Northwards after making it out the other side of Gamla Stan and walking along the edge of the water, past Stockholm palace and through the shopping district.

 I eventually made it to the Hötorgshallen and wandered around inside.  It reminded me strongly of a Singaporean Hawker Centre mixed with open fresh food market.  In the basement tucked on a corner was Himalaya, a promising looking tea house / emporium, with a friendly and smiling assistant.  I spoke to her about the wall of teas and eventually we picked out Korena Seju OP.  This is by far the most perfectly served tea I have had on my trip, she advised me to leave the tea-bag in for just 1 and a half minutes and once it was brewed and I took my first tentative sip I instantly knew she had made it perfect.  The water temperature was spot on, the leaves had not been burned and neither had my tongue!  The tea was delicate and smooth, ever so slightly creamy and very moreish, I drunk it down much too quickly, but it was simply perfect.

After some more meandering through the market and in the shopping district I continued north at ended up at the Observatory Museum (Observatoriemuseet), I wandered up the icey slope and took in good views of the city, it seems much larger than Copenhagen and definitely different in many ways.  After a rest I decided to give in to the hunger pangs in my stomach and grabbed a small snack before heading for Hermans.  This is a vegetarian all-you-can eat buffet and had been recommended by a number of friends and tourist guides.  One problem was it was all the way back past Gamla Stan and next to two of the major ferry/cruise ports.  But i was determined.

After making it back past Gamla Stan with a short comfort break that cost me the princely sum of 10Krone, something I very much resented! I climbed the long staircase up to Renstiemas gata, where I was greeted with a fabulous view of the city that blew the view from the observatory hill out of the water (image below).  I walked past the little boutique shops and cafes and got lost again, but eventually found my way to Hermans, yes, I had to double back on myself, but I made it with 15minutes to spare on their lunchtime deal.  I ate veggie chili with salad and beetroot and excellent fresh bread and followed it up with a Pesto Lasagne,  more salad and a helping of a great marinated Pak Choi.  I spent the time eating and daydreaming and watching the sky gently turn from light to dark and the twinkling lights of the city slowly begin to glimmer.