Hey Hey Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town

Stockholm is one of the prettiest cities we have ever seen.  Lots of European cities have old towns (Fribourg, MalmöGeneva, Prague, Annecy).  Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town, charming.  It is an island connected to the rest of the city by bridges.  The buildings date from the 13th century.  We loved strolling Västerlånggatan in Gamla Stan.  There are lots of boutiques, cafés and restaurants.

It is enchanting with cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, old architecture, lanterns, boutiques, antique shops and cafés.   Parts of it are filled
 with souvenir shops and restaurants, and the like.  Yeah, they are a bit of a tourist trap (especially Västerlånggatan), but they don’t make the old town worth writing off.

Wander the side narrow streets.  Look for the signs above doors that indicate the building has paid its fire insurance (thanks Rick Steves).  Notice tons of other period details.  Find places with some Swedes.  Trust me when I tell you, it’s great fun.

For those who get bored after their 20th (or 2nd) palace, Stockholm has some swingin’ history.  Loads of writers and artists pickled themselves here.  It also has some gory history.  In 1520, the bloodbath of Stockholm took place here.  80-90 people were executed in this square (near the Nobel Museum).

Plus, you never know who you might run into at the palace…

Prince Charles leaving Sweden’s Royal Palace

 

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St. Saphorin

St. Saphorin, one of the towns in the Lavaux Vineyards (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is known for its white wine, terraced vineyards and its beauty. It is not false advertising.  This place is insanely beautiful.  They weren’t lying about the terraces or the wine either.  

Lots of things have to come together to make a town this cute.  They include: winding streets, gorgeous views of the lake and mountains,  stone buildings, cute decorations, adorable fountains, narrow alleys, Roman ruins and, of course, free wine.   

Winding streets? Check.
Gorgeous views of the lake and mountains? Hmmm.
Yeah, that’ll do.  Check.
Stone buildings?  Check.
Cute decorations? Check.
The cute decorations were everywhere.
Adorable fountain?  Check.
Narrow alleys?  Check.

St. Saphorin is built on a Roman site.  In the basement of the house where I grew up, there are canned goods, potatoes and onions.  In St. Saphorin, they have excavated Roman ruins in their crypt. 

Roman ruins?  Check.
Free wine?  Check.
The town was handing out free glasses of wine and bread sticks.   It was really good.   Okay, so free wine doesn’t actually make a town cute, but it doesn’t hurt either.   They receive bonus points for the bread sticks.