Stockholm, Sweden. Wednesday, June 20th.
My full day of exploring in Sweden! My first stop was the Vasa warship, a giant 17th century vessel, the best preserved of its class, that sank only 2km into its maiden journey. Sucks.
My next stop, also located on the island of Djurgården, which used to be used as the royal hunting grounds, was Skansen, the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden. Built in 1891, it was inspired by Oslo’s open air Folk Museum, and consists of buildings from all across Sweden - geographically and from throughout the ages. I even came across a Viking rune stone! In addition, there is a pretty impressive zoo with animals such as bears, reindeer, wolves, etc. in thoughtfully put together habitats, along with a town center featuring craftsmen in traditional dress performing their skills. There is also an “aquarium” that doesn’t feature that much sea life, but has an impressive monkey house; my favorite part was a giant lemur habitat where there was literally no separation between you and the lemurs. They could come right up to you! I was happy to be one of Skansen’s 1.3 million visitors per year.
My next stop was Grona Lund, a tiny amusement park based off of Tivoli in Copenhagen that somehow manages to be the largest amusement park in Sweden. Poor kids. It was honestly about a sixth of what a Darien Lake theme park in the States is like. Kind of depressing.
I came back to the main land and shopped a bit, hitting up the frequent H&Ms and this lovely boutique chain in Scandinavia, Indiska, which is sort of like Urban Outfitters, but with a more bohemian feel. I grabbed dinner at Pizza Hut, since that was all I could afford, but it was actually kind of funny because in Sweden, somehow Pizza Hut is like, a high-ish class restaurant. It’s really weird.
Also, Scandinavia has more 7/11s in a five block radius than the entire city of Boston, for real. It is insane. And expensive. But they have Froyo, so I guess that’s a plus?
I ended the night with a boat cruise. I know it seems like I’ve been doing a lot of those, because I have, but it is because a) the places I’ve been going have a lot of water and the perspective from said water is quite different, obviously and b) the cost of the cruises is included in the Stockholm Card. The Stockholm Card (there is a similar version for most of the major cities I’ve visited) is a pass that comes at a set fee, of approximately $50, that allows you to ride all public transportation for free AND allows you free access to many major sights. Rick Steves recommended it to me, and the man was certainly right; 8 public transport rides alone will run you at least $40, and ONE entrance fee to any museum or attraction is at least $20. The Stockholm Card was worth it.
The cruise was enjoyable, making a trip around Djurgården again and then around Gamla Stan, the tiny island in the center of Stockholm that comprises the Old Town. Immediately after the boat tour, I decided to check it out. It is a quaint area filled with cafes and boutiques, and VERY few cars; I am almost positive that cars need to pay a fee in order to drive into Gamla Stan, so the cobblestone roads are pretty much clear for pedestrians.
The picture I’ve included of Gamla Stan, the very last photo, is of Stortoget Square, the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520, in which the Danish King Christian II had Swedish noblemen killed. This led to a civil war, which resulted in Sweden’s independence. Gamla Stan is also home to the Swedish royal palace.