Fortified with the grogg, let’s wander around the market a little more.
As we go, remember to look up and see the beautiful buildings in the square. Set off by that bright blue sky, they really are lovely.
We browse the stalls, accompanied by a loudspeaker rendition of “When a Child is born” which somehow detracts from rather than enhances the experience! Strangely, in this Christmassy place, we don’t feel we’re in the spirit of it all yet.
So, let’s move on towards the Kungliga Slottet – the Royal Palace. We’re treading a well worn path here and the voices we hear are speaking many languages – German and Russian predominate, it seems.
Oh, look – those guardsmen appear to be putting out some rope barriers for crowd control. What’s happening?
Funny how, no sooner than a rope is assembled, a crowd forms behind it! Shall we join them? It’s almost 12 noon and perhaps they’re going to change the guard?
It’s now 12.15 and my feet are getting cold. Was this a good idea?
Ohoh, there’s a man about to say something!
He’s reading – in both English and Swedish – some information about the guards, the palace opening hours and what there is to see.
The crowd are restless. We didn’t come to listen to announcements!
Oh, look, there’s a flag in that corner, surely it can’t be long now!
A drum and a bugle call heralds the arrival of around twenty guards who march out into the yard, breaking into a peculiar trot as they form an opposing formation to greet the incoming bunch.
I have to say, it’s not very exciting, is it? But we’ve stood for a long time and we can’t go now – we might miss the fun part!
A surprising number of the guards are young women, though of course, it’s not easy to distinguish one gender from another until they march past.
We’ll stay until the main ceremony is over, listen to one or two bugle calls and then let’s go and warm our feet by walking a little.
Ouch – these cobbled streets don’t make for comfortable walking, do they?
Taking the Riksbron over the river, we have a decision to make. Shall we go straight ahead and wander up the Drottningsgatan shopping street or turn right and head for the Opera and the Kungstradgarden?
Let’s leave the shopping till later and see if we can find a bite to eat.
Now we’re talking! The little Bakfikan at the rear of the Opera House suits us perfectly.
What to choose?
Easy peasy! Delicious smoked salmon with dill cream potatoes. Perfect.
From here it’s just a step into the garden, where families are out for an afternoon stroll and the ice rink is being prepared for the winter.
Over on the far side of the garden is another small Christmas market where this chocolate stand is creating a little hubbub. Shall we take a look and see if we can work out what’s going on?
Looks like people are buying tickets for a draw to win a huge bar of chocolate. Each pays some money and places their ticket on a number from 1 to 100. Most buy a strip of five numbers and because the electronics aren’t quite working, the woman operating the stand uses her imagination and covers the numbers with anything she can find under the counter – a plastic box comes out, a few pens and pencils, a notebook…none of this is making it very easy for us to work out what’s going on, is it?
But there’s a sudden hiatus as she calls time and starts the wheel going. The punters hold their breath and wait…the wheel slows and stops at number 98.
The women in front of us sigh and shuffle off as the smallest boy at the other end gasps as he realises he’s won the most enormous bar of chocolate! What a result!
His kind and devoted friends help him carry it off…
At the end of the gardens there’s a small brass group playing Christmas carols. Do you feel Christmassy yet? Me neither.
The workmen are still putting up the street lights for the holiday season here.
But the shops are definitely in full swing. Look at this huge tree in NK department store!
One of these little chaps might join us on the way home. Shall we pick out a cheeky one?
It’s mid afternoon now and our feet are beginning to complain. How are yours?
Suddenly the crowds of Drottninggatan hold little appeal and my hero decides he’s had enough. He’s going to head back to the hotel and enjoy a little peace and quiet before tonight’s party.
Will you go with him or stay with me?
I’m glad you decided to stick around, although I’m not sure I’m going to spend much longer here. The Saturday afternoon crowds make it difficult to meander, don’t they?
We’ll take another look in a Christmas department, browse a little in Ahlens department store before doing a last bit of window shopping along the street.
It’s 3pm and the sun is already going down.
Suddenly the sight of the hotel with the sun shining on it makes me feel rather weary! Come on, let’s head back.
I think we’ve earned dessert, don’t you?
(sadly it’s a normal size bar and because I didn’t win a draw, I had to buy it from the newsagent!)