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Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
I recently earned my Masters in History at NWMSU and am now working as a language assistant in a Spanish elementary school.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swedish Fish (Stockholm: Part Två)

The next morning I woke up and got some coffee at the café portion of the bed and breakfast. The owner suggested I try a ham sandwich which had a sweet bread baked with lingonberries. It was quite good. The bread slightly reminded me of raisin bread. I then took the tunnel to a stop called Karlaplan and walked to one of the city's islands, known as Djurgården. On my way there I passed this church:
Here is a view from the bridge leading to Djurgården:
Djurgården has many wonderful buildings and places to visit. The first I came across was the Nordiska Museet, a museum of Swedish culture. I didn't go inside, but the exterior was impressive enough:

There were some cool houses near the museum:

Another interesting building on Djurgården is the Biologiska Museet, which was built in the 1800s, during the Romantic era. As a result, the building appears like a medieval Scandanavian wooden church:

However, the biggest and one of the most fascinating locations on Djurgården is the enormous open-air museum of Skansen, a collection of actual houses and farm buildings collected from all over Sweden. The museum gives a good idea of rural Swedish life in the past (from the Middle Ages to the 19th century) by creating a rural village atmosphere without feeling too touristy. Most of the people who visit Skansen are Swedish, so this helped make the place seem more authentic. One of the first things I came across was this runestone from the 1000s. It was written as a memorial to a Viking named Torfast. Runestones were monuments to those who died in battle or civic accomplishments:

I walked through a nineteenth century farmstead, formerly owned by a family named Älvros and got a photo of a Swedish squirrel (which, as you will see, looks a little different than its North American cousins):

The central area of Skansen was nearby with many food stalls and some gardens:
The little girl feeding the geese in the above pictures was soon after frightened by a honk from one of the birds and ran off screaming. Further away from this area was a reproduction of a Sami camp. The Sami (or Laplanders) are a people native to the arctic regions of Sweden and Norway. They are known primarily as reindeer herders and Swedish law gives only the Sami the privledge to control reindeer populations:

Close to the Sami village (and the above-pictured reindeer) was the Vastveit Storehouse, the oldest structure at Skansen, which was built in the 1300s:

Another popular attraction of Skansen is the wildlife refuge. The bear pit is the most popular attraction and I visited at the perfect time as early April is when the new bear cubs arrive. I watched one of the adult bears carry a fish atop a high rock, where it proceeded to eat. Here's a photo of that same adult bear on the rock alongside two cubs:
There was also an area with grey wolves. They were difficult to find as most of them sleep during the day. I found this one lying beside a slushy pond:

From the 1600s to 1901, Swedish law declared that farmers must provide housing for soldiers if necessary. This is a soldier's cottage from the early 1900s:

Through much of the era of the empire, Finland was a part of Sweden. Finnish culture differs greatly from Swedish culture and the Finns have a completely unrelated language. Despite this, during the Swedish Empire, many Finns lived in the lands that now make up Sweden. This is a Finnish settlement from the 1600s complete with a raised storehouse for drying grain:

There were plenty more cool areas in Skansen including the red Seglora Kyrka which was built in 1730 (last picture):

I then decided to get something to eat from one of the stalls. I decided upon a dish which consisted of flatbread rolled into a funnel and filled with mashed potatoes, reindeer meat, cream, and lingonberries. This was all served up with a tea-like drink made from (you guessed it) lingonberries:

The last part of Skansen I visited was a model village complete with workshops, factories, and general stores:

After leaving Skansen I visited another museum on Djurgården, the Vasamuseet, which is probably Sweden's most popular museum. The entire museum is dedicated to the battleship Vasa which was constructed in the seventeenth-century during the height of the Swedish Empire. The ship sank during a storm on 10 August 1628 on what was its maiden voyage, only making it a little more than three-hundred feet away from the port. Somewhere around fifty people died in the disaster. The sinking was due to a poorly-conceived balance in the hull. Over the centuries the wrek was forgotten, lying beneath the Baltic Sea. This would have been a normal wreck save for the low salinity-levels in the harbor and other chemicals which created an unwelcoming atmosphere to the bacteria and worms which eat away at submerged wood. Because of this, the ship remained in near perfect condition. In the 1950s that archaeologists discovered the ship and, in an amazing and dangerous project spanning several years, raised the ship and moved it to its current location inside the museum. And here it is, the Vasa:
The ship was quite amazing. It had been built for Sweden's warrior king, Gustavus Adolphus, and featured much ornamentation symbolizing his reign, such as the lion figurehead and the lions on the stern.

The museum also featured the remains of those who died in the accident as well as forensic models of their faces. This was a man given the name Filip. His actual name is unknown, but the bodies were named alphabetically.

Moored at the harbour outside the Vasamuseet was this icebreaker from 1915 named Sankt Erik ("sankt" is Swedish for "saint").

I walked toward City and stopped at a food stand where I had some meatballs, which were served with lingonberries:

From City, I walked south to the island of Gamla Stan. This is the central part of Stockholm and features some of its oldest and most important buildings. Here is the view of Gamla Stan as I walked in on the bridge from City. The building to the right is Riddarhuset, a private house for the nobility built in 1647:
Here are some street views from Gamla Stan:

One of the most famous buildings in Stockholm is Storkyrkan, a church built in 1306. The tower of the church was added in 1743 when the royal palace was built beside the church. The interior was closed due to restoration and church services were moved to a nearby church. Here is a view of the front of Storkyrkan from the narrow streets of Gamla Stan:

Here is the palace and a view of Storkyrkan from the palace's entrance:

I walked further into the streets of Gamla Stan and came across Stortorget. This is an old square with many connections to Stockholm's history. A jailhouse once stood nearby and for centuries a pillory stood in the center of the square. A well also rests in the square with a decorative cover added in the late 1700s. Stortorget is most closely associated with the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520. During a war with Denmark, the Danish king Kristian II attacked the Swedish capital and overthrew Sten Sture the Younger, making himself king of Sweden. Kristian declared a truce with the nobility of Sweden who had fought against his invasion and organized a feast which lasted three days. At the end of the feast, the noblemen were locked in, arrested, and charged with heresy. More than eighty nobles were beheaded in Stortorget the next day. Today, due to urban revitalization, Stortorget is a quiet and beautiful center of the old city:

The narrow, winding streets of Gamla Stan were one of my favorite parts of Stockholm. There were many interesting side streets and one very important window display:

I then walked toward Evert Taubes Terrass, a terrace on the western shore of Gamla Stan's small, neighboring island, Riddarholmen. Along the way, I passed Riddarholmskyrkan, a church in which the Swedish kings and queens are buried:

I reached Evert Taubes Terrass where this statue of the twentieth-century troubadour, Evert Taube stood:

Also on the terrace is Birger Jarls Torn, a defensive tower built in 1527 by King Gustav Vasa. In the 1800s, local legends placed the construction of the building 300 years earlier, claiming it to be built by Stockholm's founder Birger Jarl:

However, the best part of Evert Taubes Terrass was the great view of the sunset behind the Stadshuset:


  1. Wow, great post and photos. I think they spelled your name wrong on the icebreaker ship. Looked like the wolf was keeping an eye on the goose on the rock in front of him.

  2. It's so much fun to see the photos and read about each trip. I love the "Very Important Clothes" store. Amber should get a kick out of that!