Wednesday, October 31, 2012

European Zen Navigation Tour 2012 - Part1 - Stockholm

So.  Another last minute European adventure.  Honestly, we're getting worse rather than better.  I think flights were booked less than two weeks before we left.  We spent so much time booking critical items (Stockholm hotel, Sardinia rental car, Geneva hotel) that we didn't really research anything until we arrived.  Driving while reading a guide book deciding where you are going can get a bit stressful.  We start with Stockholm.

Stockholm is my new city for "What is wrong with Vancouver?"  It's so nice.  There's so much culture.  It's old.  It's new.  It has fantastic transportation.  Lots of Swedish people.  You quickly start to wonder why anybody would pay for our real estate.  Points about Stockholm:
- It's expensive.  Booze and hotels especially.
- Food is expensive but it's generally really good.
- The Stockholm Card has to be bought if you visit.  Free transit and entry into every museum.  Seeing as there must be 60 or so museums, it's pretty easy to pay this sucker off

Museums (and attractions)

Let's talk about those museums (and attractions).  My favourite was the armoury, located in the basement of the Royal Palace.  Honestly, Swedes are so weird.  Where else could you have a display showing:
- The weaponry used to assassinate your king
- The outfit worn by the assassin to the masquerade ball (site of the assassination)
- The bloody clothing worn by the assassinated king
Well, here it all is.

Then, you have some other King's stuffed warhorse.  The actual horse.  Stuffed!

 The sub basement is filled with fancy royal horse carriages.

Then you have all sorts of armour.  Look at the feet on this guy.

And even interactive displays.

As well, you can tour through a part of the Royal Palace.  Supposedly, this section is actually used for state visits and whatnot at some point.  It all seems very uncomfortable.

You also can visit the large ballroom that is the site of coronation feasts and whatnot (but can't take pictures).  Google images helps us out.

Since we're looking...what other country would allow their royal family to have their picture taken in this clothing?

Out in front of the Palace is the Royal Guard.  We stumbled upon the changing of the guard.  The most interesting part was their crazy shoe covers.

From there, you can make your way to the main Cathedral for Stockholm.  Royal Pews, etc.  Pretty exciting as far as churches are concerned.

All of these are within about a 2 minute walk of one another.

A little ways from here is the recently refurbished photography museum.  It's large and full of photographs.  We hit this on our first day and actually fell asleep on a bench for an hour or two in a jet lag recovery nap.  There are photos of this, but I probably shouldn't post them.

Our next batch of museums (and sights) was off near Skansen.  Skansen translates as "A collection of all things Swedish crammed into one place".  I think.  There are all kind of "cultural" type things: ladies in traditional garb, homestead displays, etc.  We were really only interested in Swedish animals.

First, a wooden horse.
Some kind of rare Swedish goat.  Honestly.
Owls.  You can actually get right in the owl cage.  They were only a few feet away and it was feeding time.

 Bears.  Lots of bears.


Near Skansen is many more museums.  You have the Swedish Cultural Museum, where the building is more interesting than the exhibits.

Beyond that, you have the Spirit museum, the majority of which is a display of Absolut vodka art and a bunch of displays that don't make much sense if you can't read Swedish.  They do have odour receptacles all over the place that let you smell various essences.  This technology may lead to smell-o-vision.
Beyond that, you have the Vasa museum.  Once again, only in Sweden would you have a giant museum dedicated to one of your grandest engineering failures.  Long story short - Vasa: The grandest warship ever built.  That sank several minutes into its maiden voyage.  It remained preserved in the mud and was raised largely intact in the 60's.

Food and Other Stuff

I mentioned that food is generally pretty good but very expensive.  After a couple of nights we started to ignore the prices and just went for it.  We ended up at the Matthias Dahlgren restaurant.  We sat down and I slowly wrapped my head around the prices.  And the fact that they were small plates.  And 2-3 of them were required for a meal.  There was an American girl sitting near us loudly talking about nothing.  Sort of in that way that makes you feel kind of terrible about your life.  She was obviously wealthy, not very old and super obnoxious.  Her dinner companions were a weird Gene Simmons looking dude, and a quiet European couple.  We resigned ourselves to a long evening of yammering and tuckered into our menu.  And then...I'm not making this walks Lionel Richie.  And the girl is his girlfriend.  And the rest of the night was a surreal experience of listening in on the conversations of Lionel Richie and his entourage while eating the 2nd most expensive meal I've ever purchased.  Crazy.

Other than that, the food highlights (for me):

Pelikan - Really well done traditional Swedish grub.  This photo sucks but I can't even begin to describe how awesome these meatballs were.

Smorgasbord at the Grand Hotel.  The warm dishes were kind of mediocre, but the acre of herring, smoked salmon and other cold dishes was amazing.
Other food highlights...Tubes of stuff!  There is an entire grocery aisle designated for food in tube form.

They also have an entire aisle for crisp flatbreads.
And I just thought that this was funny.
All over the place, there seems to be mushrooms and lingonberries.  This was from a market that we stumbled upon early on our first day.
They really take their food seriously.

1 comment:

Ruth Homberg said...

We've decided that Stockholm is a city for 'What's wrong with every other city in the world'.