The sun rose on a new chapter in my adventure and, quite literally, my new day. The sun shone bright and the spectacularly beautiful buildings of the city bask in the morning light. I step out into the streets and soak up the sun myself with a smile starting to form itself and I begin to venture out into the Old Town. Stockholm is a very magical place. Within a stones throw from where I am staying there is the Old Town. Small cobble stone streets create my path into a world that I have only seen pictures. I cannot contain my excitement as I walk, holding back a skip that I am sure would draw negative attention! I walk down these streets and feel as though I am in a dream. Everything seems to be centuries old, yet still contains an shimmer as if built yesterday. My head turns from left to right and straight up to the towers of the curches all around at a pace that I will regret this evening. Sweet shops, cafe's, and pubs surround me and I want to look into every window. Suddenly I exit the Old Town street and am placed on the edge of the frozen water that surrounds the city. I stare in awe of the beauty of the broken ice upon the water and the bridges above. Here from my perch I can see just how magnificent the city is. There is history and beauty in every direction I look. Excitement rises as I think of how I will be able to surround myself with this anytime I want! I look forward to getting lost in this city very often. I begin to walk again toward a cathedral and what appears to be a crowd gathered at the Palace.
It may be my American need for immediacy or the fact that my ear drums are on the brink of collapse from the frigid Archipelago wind but I begin to grow impatient as I stand in the crowd and wait for what I assume will be the changing of the guard. A soldier begins to speak into a furry microphone in Swedish, so I am still no closer to figuring out the mystery of the crowd, and it is no warmer. My mind has to fight my feet in there desire to flee and take me somewhere more warm. I am glad that my mind won this battle because the man and the furry microphone were finished and the changing of the guards was soon to begin. A silence fell upon the crowd seconds before a cheer came from a group of young Swedish soldiers standing at the ready. They began their march to the center of the courtyard as the twelve o'clock bells rang freedom and echoed through the streets. A distant sound of steady drumming could be heard marching closer to the rhythm of a hundred soldiers heartbeats. My anticipation rose to a climax as many more soldiers entered the Palace courtyard beating drums and marching with the Swedish colors flying beautifully in that same frigid wind. Immersed in this history and rich culture I can only think that I am very lucky to have chanced upon this moment. My heart beats, now, to the same sound of the drumming and I smile and stand in awe of the history that surrounds me. Staring into the colors of the guard at changing I am happy, I am reminded again why I travel. In that moment I am overcome by luck that I have to be able to stand there healthy and free and full of life.