There is nothing, NOTHING like a productive day when you’re traveling. Far too often I find my plans taking much more time than anticipated, and I’m left either rushing through the end pieces or skipping them entirely. But despite the full force gales that kept us walkers pinned against the bridge railings, ripping the scarves right off our necks, I was able to do, well, pretty much everything I wanted to do in Stockholm. And it’s only my first full day!
I took the 45 minute or so walk to Djurgården to visit the Vasamuseet first (Galärvarvsvägen 14; vasamuseet.se), and let me tell you. This was by far the best SEK 100 I’ve spent so far. For those who don’t already know, the Vasa was a Swedish warship built in the 17th century that, on its maiden voyage, sailed less than a mile before sinking by its own weight. It lay at the bottom of Stockholm Harbor for 333 years before it was found in 1956 and was, for the next 17 years, painstakingly conserved and pieced together (likened to the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle) until it became what it is today. Seriously, fascinating.
The pictures won’t do it justice, because the thing is unbelievably massive.
They have to keep the museum under climate control to stabilize temperature/humidity and help with its preservation.
I only wish we were allowed to go inside! You could see workers through the cannon portholes, so perhaps it will happen sometime in the future?
And since I was already on Djurgården, with the Nordiska Museum (Djurgårdsvägen 6-16; nordiskamuseet.se) literally next door, I just had to visit it. What a piece of architecture.
The lobby looked like two cathedral interiors seamed together. All the windows at the top really opened up the space, letting in a refreshing amount of light (as opposed to the dark and overwhelmingly closed-in feeling many churches tend to have).
There weren’t so many paintings here as there were cultural exhibits and displays about Swedish tradition, design, and family living. (Notice the Saint Lucia garb at the right!)
It was around lunchtime by the time I got through everything, so I stopped in the café for a hot chocolate and a slice of kanelkaka, one of the BEST pieces of pastry I’ve ever had in my life. Wow. So delicious.
Then, of course, a browse through the gift shop. The museum stores here are really lacking in quality Swedish goods other than soaps and paper dolls, which makes it very time consuming to try and find something good to take home without regretting the silliness of it on the return flight. But, in the end, I got what I’ve always wanted from Sweden 🙂 Ten points to the person who guesses what it is!
Another trip out into the wind led me to the Nationalmuseum on the peninsula Blasieholmen (Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2; nationalmuseum.se), where, along with their nice collection of Courbets, Manets, Rembrandts, sculptures, and portrait miniatures, a really provocative exhibit titled Lust & Vice was showing (which wouldn’t have been so awkward passing through if there weren’t so many older people crowding inside).
The hallway in my future apartment is going to look like this.
As you’d expect, I was pretty museum-ed out after that. Luckily, by the time I worked up the leg strength to leave, the sun was out.
One thing I’ve noticed since arriving here: the sky dominates Stockholm. It’s mesmerizing to watch as the wind rips the clouds forward like some floating avalanche tearing through the heavens. It’s constantly overcast here, and the wind having its merry way with the upward world makes it nearly impossible to know when those rare pockets of blue will open up. Being present during one of those sun-revealing moments is truly an event all its own in this city.