One important station was still missing on our trip to Sweden: the capital Stockholm. Our journey started with a good omen: When I got myself a coffee at the gas station, I got a scratch card, which I handed over to Kevin back at the car. He scratched it off and actually won a sweet treat. So we both got refreshments at the gas station and were able to continue our journey to Stockholm in good spirits.
The journey took quite a long time, but we finally arrived in the late afternoon. Instead of a campsite, we stayed here in an AirBnB a bit away from the city center but with a good subway connection. Here we had the entire lower floor of a family house with kitchen and bathroom practically to ourselves. The owners were an older couple, but we hardly saw them. Since the day was almost over, we still had the opportunity to get tips from them on what else we could do. They recommended an evening stroll to the water’s edge, which was indeed a good suggestion. As the sun slowly set, we watched a group of youngsters get into canoes and paddle through the water. Further back, many nice seating options in the form of wooden planks stretched out between small trees. You could sit here overlooking the water and enjoy the sunset.
Skansen and central Stockholm
The next day our first trip should be to the open-air museum Skansen. However, we got off the subway a few stations earlier to be able to walk a bit through the city center, which was slowly coming to life. Most of the shops were still closed and there were relatively few people on the streets, so the first time we didn’t notice that we were passing the famous colorful houses in Gamla Stan because there were simply no tourists taking photos 😉
Similar to Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, Skansen was also very large. But while the Norsk Folkemuseum really was, and aspired to be, a museum, Skansen felt more like an amusement park. Shortly after the entrance there was an enclosure with lemurs and a house with terrariums, but both of these cost an extra fee, which was almost outrageous given the expensive entrance fee that you generally have to pay for Skansen, so we skipped these stations. Despite the rather negative first impression, we still had a few nice hours here. An exhibition on the north with Sami and reindeer was particularly interesting. So we just came from the north where we had seen some Sami and countless reindeer, but we wondered how many of the Swedes present here had had the same experience that it was on display as an attraction here in the south of the country.
After visiting Skansen we took the ferry to Skeppsholmen. This is a small island connected to the rest of the city by a bridge. There are some museums there, such as the Moderna Museet for contemporary art with some exhibits in front of the building. After our long visit to Skansen, we didn’t really feel like visiting the museum again. Instead, we walked across the island to see a little more of Stockholm and gain more impressions. We then went back over the aforementioned bridge in the direction of the city center, where we also took our obligatory tourist photos in Gamla Stan.
The not-so-glorious Vasa
The next morning we visited the Vasa Museum, which is said to be one of the most popular museums in Stockholm. The whole museum is about a single ship: the Vasa. The Vasa was a magnificently decorated Swedish galleon that, due to a design flaw on its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, overturned after just 1,300 meters, killing numerous people. The ship remained at the bottom of Stockholm harbor until it was salvaged in 1961 and subsequently restored. Because it was so well preserved, it was worth its weight in gold, especially for archaeologists. Based on the finds on board, they were able to gain numerous new insights into the everyday life of people in the 17th century. After the restoration, a kind of building was constructed around the Vasa, which is now the Vasa Museum. We were in this very museum and the first thing that catches everyone’s eye when entering is of course the huge Vasa himself. There are 7 floors around the galleon. On each of these floors one has an unobstructed view of another area of the Vasa and as one circumnavigates the sad yet magnificent ship, there are exhibitions on the outside on various aspects such as the construction, the tragedy itself and the people on board. So it actually felt like a little time travel to the year 1628 and in the end you understood the time and its people much better than you would have thought at the beginning. This educational visit is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, highlight of our visit to Stockholm and is therefore highly recommended.
Another tip from our hosts was a visit to the Hallwyl Museum. As entry is free you have nothing to lose and surprisingly after the Vasa Museum we had enough energy left for another museum. We have not regretted this decision, because it is indeed an interesting place. The Hallwyl Museum is the home of an incredibly wealthy family of Swedish counts who had the house built and lived in it for a long time. It was crazy to see how you can set yourself up when you have the right amount of money. It should be mentioned that it was also the intention of the Hallwyl’s and especially the Countess to make the house particularly impressive, including works of art from all over the world, so that it could later become a museum. I’m not sure if the family did it out of sheer showiness or if they wanted to be transparent with their wealth and give something back (after all, as I said, entry was free). Either way it was an interesting tour. There was staff on all floors, which was noticeably happy to answer questions and was really very friendly. So we made two journeys through time in one day with the Vasa and the Hallwyl Museum.
Since this was our last evening in Sweden, we went out to eat again. Our goal was a small traditional Swedish restaurant near our accommodation. This was again one of the few places where no English was spoken. However, at least there was an English menu so we could show what we wanted to eat in the form of gestures. Kevin had beef sirloin with peppers on hash browns and I had potatoes with fish and clam sauce. Both were once again very tasty.