We had two ‘culture vulture’ days in semi-sunny Stockholm!
Day 1: We drove into the city, picked up two 24 hour Stockholm cards, parked up and walked into Gamla Stan, the old town. We weren’t in a rush to activate the card as the later we left it the longer we had the following day so we pottered about getting a feel for the city. First stop, the Royal Palace…this was where our mad 24 hours began. We rattled around the very fancy Royal Apartments, into the cathedral with the amazing St George and Dragon statue. Then we headed down to the harbour where we picked up the Royal Canal tour, we motored around Djurgården, the large island that sits close to the harbour. After 45 minutes we jumped off and headed to the National Art Museum, where we whipped around the numerous dynamic art & design exhibitions, varying from contemporary furniture design to French art from Renaissance to Impressionist. We crossed the bridge to the small island of Skeppsholmen and walked up to the very Modern art museum, containing a weird temporary exhibition by Yoko Ono, and then hurried through the foyer to the Architecture centre where there was a fab exhibition on Swedish architecture through the ages, cleverly designed as though it was a supermarket with shop shelves, bargain baskets and fluorescent signs. It was now 8pm, we really wanted to go to the Photography Museum but it was right back around the harbour, our feet were screwed and our heads were about to explode with all the art so we reluctantly decided enough was enough and headed home.
Day 2: We woke up seriously early (for us!) and drove back into the city, we had until 1pm left on our Stockholm card. We excitedly headed straight for the Vasa Museum on Djurgården island, it had just opened for the day and was practically empty. We walked into the amazing purpose built exhibition space, where the Vasa ship stood. The ship had sunk less than a nautical mile out of Stockholm harbour in 1628 and 330 years later was pulled, 95% intact, from the mud. The shear size of it was breathtaking. We watched a 20 minute film and then joined a tour that led us around the ship. The tour guide was hilarious, she spoke loudly and enthusiastically with a heavy Swedish accent!! We wondered around the rest of the exhibition and then exited the building to find the most enormous queue had formed outside, thank god we went there first!
Next stop, the Spirit museum…obvs! We entered the lively Absolut Art collection containing a Warhol and a Hirst, then into the Stockholm Spirit exhibition which had been cleverly curated. There were lots of hands on games to play and a dance mat to jump around on. The next room, randomly, had an old caravan with an interesting video playing inside and cool animations, then upstairs there was a quiz game built into a bar, depending on your answer the bar would move or the glasses rattled. We loved the creative use of space, a notch up from some of the Modern Art exhibitions we saw the day before.
It was now midday, so our last stop on the Stockholm card was Skansen, a wildlife park come ‘Black Country Museum’! It covered 70 acres of park land and was described as a mini Sweden. Old buildings from across the country had been placed here to form a large open-air museum to educate people on how Swedish folk once lived. There were old barns, churches, wooden huts etc with people dressed up in traditional clothes acting out tasks from different eras. We loved all the old architecture and the simplicity of some of the barns with the stripped bark roofs. We also popped over to the Scandinavian animal section where we saw a Moose (love them with their long spindly legs!!), a reindeer and big bears fighting. We could have spent all day there but our parking ticket was soon to run out so we headed back to the car through the park, past an amazing cake shop, where we picked up some yummy pastries, under the bright blue gate and over the bridge.
Stockholm… We. Love. You.