Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Follow Noble Nobel Footsteps

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By Marlene Fanta Shyer

             Mature Life Features

STOCKHOLM —- You walk up the same marble stairs that Nobel Prize winners have climbed every Dec 10, the anniversary of the death of the prize’s namesake, since 1901. You’re in the City Hall in Stockholm and gazing up at the granite pillars and exposed brick walls that stretch 75 feet from floor to ceiling in the Blue Hall.

There’s not a spot of blue anywhere. It was designed by Ragnar Östberg, a Swedish architect inspired by Italian design who envisioned a soaring ceiling-free space with a view of an azure sky. However, the climate demanded a roof be added, but it’s been stuck with the misnomer for more than a century.

Each year some 1,300 carefully chosen citizens from around the world will witness the five-allotted-minutes of winners’ speeches and the bestowing of the big checks. They will dine on menus prepared by dozens of the best chefs in Sweden, and be served by hundreds of waiters dressed in black and white. Then they proceed to the aptly named Golden Room, with its leaded windows and walls of Byzantine gold mosaic tile. This is where, under crystal chandeliers, they will dance away the night.

As you stand on the spot where the most coveted award in the world is celebrated annually, Stockholm comes very much alive, but it’s just part of reason to visit the city. Built on 14 islands and called everything from “image-conscious” to “trend- hungry” to “tech-friendly,” it is richly historical as well, with its Old Town of narrow cobblestone streets and clutter of shops, Royal Palace, and National Museum.

A Viking ship that sank in the Baltic about three miles from the city in 1628 was discovered some 40 years ago. It was pulled out of the deep complete with 27 bodies, casks of spirits, the bones of meat intended to feed the passengers, and personal items, such as toys. After being salvaged and restored, it has become a whopper of an attraction, drawing 800,000 visitors to the museum every year.

Other landmarks can be found at the Storkyrkan, the cathedral famous for its statue of the city’s patron saint, George, or at one of Stockholm’s many parks. These are everywhere, the most popular being Djurgarden, the vast former royal hunting ground, now quiet and scenic. Skansen, an amusement park/zoo well known for its exhibit of Sweden’s 19th-century rural roots, complete with old farmhouses, reindeer, and craftsmen’s shops, offers a livelier experience.

Wherever you head in Stockholm, water views are always close by, as are some of the finest restaurants in Europe. The Operakälleren, for example, offers a choice of casual dining at reasonable prices in one room or, as one diner put it, going into “a food coma” in the lush ambience of red brocade and Victorian oil portraits in adjoining quarters. Folks feast here on such dishes as “Baked Bass with vanilla flavoured sauce and vegetable ragout wrapped in chard” or “saddle of rabbit with olive sauce and a zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies.”  

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

 

 

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 11, 2011 at 12:05 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

Tagged with , , , , ,

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