We left the hostel in a balmy 4 degrees, almost down to T-shirts, and quickly paid the price as we delved into the narrow, shadowed alleys of Gamla Stan.
Brrr. Our sightseeing rapidly became directed by the streets with sunshine rather than any great sights, although we made a point of taking in the various torgets (squares).
We were also careful to sample the fine bakery items Helen remembers so keenly from her visit 25 years hence. Sweden does cream cakes exceptionally well, as Tom found out (Rosie tucking into a meringue).
Again Lee took off on her own, all the better to meander and inspect shops for hidden treasures (a rather fabulous remarkably bright striped rain jacket accompanied her back to base).
One of the reasons we had kept our time in Stockholm to a minimum was the prohibitive costs. Certainly accommodation, public transport and coffees were expensive, but alarmingly we found the cost of food comparable to Australia. For a family who spends most of their money on food, perhaps we should relocate to Sweden! It would take a few years to tire of Stockholm - it is a truly glorious city - we cursed ourselves for affording it just one afternoon.
Making for home, we stumbled across a quite breathtaking courtyard encircled by a building on a circular plan (various residences and boutique businesses) with a perfectly curved interior facade. We declared we could never bore of looking out into this space.
The hostel we chose in Stockholm was the Af Chapman - a ship built in England in 1888, carrying trade for 25 years before being purchased by the Swedish Navy, finally becoming a youth hostel in 1949, after falling out of service after WWII. Coincidentally, Shane and Helen both stayed here (independently of each other of course) for the first time in 1986.
We ate dinner on the deck before the cold became unbearable (down jackets now posted away). Being so close to the North Pole, the sun takes forever to set - we thought we only had 10-15 minutes before sunset and an hour later we were still watching the sun above the horizon. The kids loved their unique playground. (Originally we had booked into the 'Building' part of the hostel as it was significantly cheaper; the kids volunteered money from their bank accounts to upgrade us to the ship.)
Shane, Helen, Rosie, Tom & (last time for a while) Lee