Stockholm

Drottningholm Palace

On the way to Drottningholm Palace
On the way to Drottningholm Palace

There is a road that leads to Drottningholm Palace from central Stockholm. Buses, including tour and transit buses, travel the road. However, if you make the trip, don’t use that mode of transit. Take the boat instead. The journey is part of the experience.

The boat ride between the Stadshusbron jetty in Stockholm and Drottningholm takes about one hour each way. The cruise is picturesque and makes a few stops in both directions. Although, unless my memory failed between my inbound and outbound journeys (always a possibility), they were different stops in each direction.

The stops were at what looked like small outposts of humanity among forests. One didn’t appear to be even that. There was a dock and nothing but trees visible behind it.

Once out of the greater Stockholm area, the journey took in lush, green views. Occasional cottages and homes were plunked in the midst of woodland settings. Most, or possibly all, of the people with places by the water had boats. There was a mix of sail and motor boats, but based on my totally unscientific observation I believe that motor boats had a slight edge.

At the end of the outbound journey, I was presented with what’s probably the best view of Drottnignholm Palace, namely, the view from the water. The palace is just a short walk from the small pier.

Not picture-perfect, or at all

Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm Palace

You’re not allowed to take pictures inside Drottningholm Palace (or the Royal Palace in Stockholm, but I’ll get to that in a later post). I don’t know why that is. You don’t get to visit the royal bedrooms or bathrooms while the royals are present, so what’s the great need for privacy?

Oh, wait. There’s a gift shop. The gift shop sells expensive books about the palace. The books have lots of pictures. Maybe they’re afraid that letting people take pictures would cut down on book sales. Are the royals really that hard up for cash that they need to eliminate the competition from picture-taking tourists?

So, when it comes to my interior, you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s gorgeous. Or you can not take my word for it and go for yourself and then call me a liar. Or, if you have already been there, you can call me a liar now. Or you can call me a liar on the basis of absolutely nothing whenever you wish. Nonetheless, I still contend that it’s gorgeous. What’s more, I am deeply offended by you accusing me of me being a liar.

But, never mind. I digress.

Just inside the palace’s front door is a beautiful marble stair case that splits off in two directions to reach the same second-floor landing. There are statues along the staircases and resting on balustrade at the top.

Gate to the grounds
Gate to the grounds

The public is allowed to visit a dozen or so rooms in the palace, all of them richly decorated and appointed. Or at least I assume those are the restrictions for the general public. I’m a little paranoid and can’t help thinking that when they saw me boarding the boat in Stockholm they quickly closed off large sections of the palace. You know what they say; just because you’re paranoid that doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t out to get you. But probably not. Maybe.

The rooms I wandered through had a variety of floor treatments. One looked like marble tiles. Another had plain wood wood floors. While yet another had rich-looking wood parquet flooring.

Grounds

To my mind, the gem of Drottningholm Palace is the grounds out back.

There were fountains, beautiful gardens, well-trimmed bushes and lots of trees. It was, for me, reminiscent of Versailles, including the presence of a couple of small hedge mazes, although, unlike at Versailles, these mazes were made of what appeared to my untrained eye to be grape vines. (I know; I know. Yes, I was bragging there about having been to Versailles. But I’m far from the only person who’s ever been there—many tourists who’ve allotted themselves enough time in Paris go. So it’s not all that big a deal, he said snobbishly.)

Behind the mazes are more trees and expansive lawns.

Chinese Paviliion

Chinese Pavilion
Chinese Pavilion

As I strolled around I came to various attractions scattered throughout the grounds, including the Chinese Pavilion.

Guidebooks tell you to visit the Chinese Pavilion so, not knowing if I would ever make it back to Stockholm, let alone Drottningholm Palace, I hunted for it. The keepers of the palace didn’t make the hunt easy. I was looking for signs saying “Chinese Pavilion.” That was a mistake. Instead, I should have been looking for signs that said, “Kina slott.”

Despite the Swedes’ best efforts to confound non-Swedish tourists, such as myself, I still managed to stumble on the Chinese Pavilion, or Kina slott. Fortunately, there was a sign out front with descriptive text with Swedish and English versions.

Had it not been for that, I probably wouldn’t have known where I was because the Chinese Pavilion didn’t, to my eyes, look all that Chinese. I certainly wouldn’t expect to be able to get egg rolls and Kung Pao Chicken at a place that looked like Drottnigholm’s Chinese Pavillion. That’s a good thing, because you can’t. There’s no food inside.

Instead, what you will find inside is stuff from a “Chinese paradise” (that’s what the sign called it, except it didn’t refer to it as “stuff”) spread across ten or so rooms. The stuff included a sizable collection of Chinese objects d’art, vases, decorated boxes, tables, and chests of drawers. Oh, and there was china from China. Quelle surprise, as they say; although they’re more likely to say it in Paris than Stockholm.

Dining pavilion
Dining pavilion

Again, you’ll have to take my word for what’s inside the Chinese Pavilion because you’re not supposed to take pictures in there either. And, yes, you guessed it. The Chinese Pavilion had its own gift shop with picture-laden books for sale.

Near the Chinese Pavilion was another pavilion that used to be employed by the royals as a place to dine out of earshot of the servants. A table could be set in a room below the dining area and then be hoisted up so the royals could enjoy their repast without those pesky servants hanging around.

There was also a billiards pavilion nearby. I knew it was a billiards pavilion only because a sign told me so. There wasn’t a billiards table to be seen there when I visited. Instead, there was a display of carpenters’ tools. There was also a marble-floored room full of battlefield paintings on the walls. The walls in other rooms displayed tapestries, portraits and other paintings.

Lunch fit for …

During my visit to Drottningholm Palace I had lunch not in the main café, but rather in a smaller café with outdoor tables that was near the Chinese Pavilion. I would like to say that the ham and cheese sandwich I had there was fit for a king. It wasn’t. At least, it was not fit for a king that had any sense of taste and mouth-feel whatsoever. Had it been served to an old-time king, queen, prince, princess, duke, duchess, earl or just a royalty-hanger-on it would have been a sandwich fit for having the cook’s head chopped off. Ah, the good old days.

Back from Drottningholm Palace
Back from Drottningholm Palace

That was the only weak spot in my visit. So, if you find yourself with some time on your hands while in Stockholm, a journey to Drottningholm Palace is a worthwhile way to spend it. And, if you feel like a nosh while you’re there, try eating at the main café rather than the one near the Chinese Pavilion. Let me know how it is.


Been there? Done that? Do tell.