Last weekend turned out to be so packed full of activities, that I’m still catching up with posts and pictures! As mentioned, we were blessed with only one sunny day during the entire holiday weekend, so we literally had to seize the day! Gripsholm Castle in the town of Mariefred was on the agenda, about 40 minutes outside of Stockholm. So on Saturday morning, after some waffling back and forth over whether to take an earlier vs. later train, we decided at the last minute to try to catch the earlier one – which, by some miracle we managed, by the skin of our teeth! The train pulled out of the station just a minute or 2 after we jumped on, sweating and huffing and puffing. But in the end it was well worth it to have gotten out the door on the earlier side, since it was such a beautiful day and there was so much to see.
I’ll be honest – I knew very little about our chosen destination, except that we could get there without renting a car, and lots of people said it was pretty. Now after the visit, I actually don’t know that much more since one has limited capacity to read signposts and absorb details when taking in such places with a 3-year old. But I do know that it was built in the 1500s and is one of the oldest remaining castles in Sweden, and also the loveliest historical site that I’ve seen here so far. Actually, I was really blown away by so many things – the frescoed walls, the complex yet intimate maze of rooms, the shapes and patterns on the ceilings and windowpanes, the light, and perhaps most of all, the endless windowed alcoves where I could imagine spending all my days, looking out over Lake Mälaren – if I were a medieval lady of leisure. The upper floor also houses an incredible theatre, which was absolutely stunning, and perhaps even more so because it came as such a surprise due to my ignorance of what to expect. There was a lot to take in, not to mention an entire portrait gallery which I only glimpsed out of the corner of my eye while running after Ania, trying to keep her within eyesight and making sure she didn’t start swinging from one of the tapestries. Luckily it was not crowded at all, nor was it overly staffed, and the rooms were either quite sparsely furnished (or cordoned off) – so some degree of running and dancing around was actually possible without too much anxiety on our part! We did have to be creative to try to hold her interest – which was most successful when it involved imagining scenarios with various princesses and what they might have been doing in all the different rooms.. She loved seeing “where the princesses sleep” as well as some of the funny portraits of men in wigs – but it was perhaps the romance of the windowsills that also captured her fancy the most.
But it was hard to compete with the sunshine outside, and the fact that there was a very interesting, very climb-able set of cannons in the entrance courtyard, which TLP had been introduced to on the way in, and had clearly not gotten enough of. So we more or less raced through Gripsholm at lightning speed, but it was still really enjoyable and made a huge impression on me anyway. After a walk around the grounds and a brief stroll through the town of Mariefred (also very charming, reminded us a lot of Gränna!) – it was time to head home. They operate an old steam train back and forth between Mariefred and the train station, so of course we had to try that. Again, an extremely charming experience – all the details from the original station have been preserved – from the station to the train staff’s outfits, to the way the tickets themselves are printed. When we arrived home that evening, we were completely flat-out exhausted, but it was so worth it. We agreed that this was perfect inspiration to get out of town more often to explore!
Greeted by green fields…
Sunny days = ice cream
Upside-down ice cream eating…
Love these huge, round brick towers
Crossing the drawbridge
We all appreciated the beautiful glass details
Imagining life as a castle princess….
Our ride back to the station…
Satisfied with the day