This weekend has been phenomenal and I am just warming up. I have finally been able to experience Stockholm in the tourist ways and I am hooked.
The weekend started with a tour of the Konserthuset which hosts the Nobel Prize Ceremony each year on December 10th. There are six categories that the Swedish Royalty hand out: physiology/medicine, chemistry, physics, literature, economic science, and peace. The fund was started by Alfred Nobel in 1895 and has since been awarded to around 800 individuals. Sitting in the hall where many major names accepted their prize- from Barbara McClintock to Maurice, Watson, and Crick to Albert Einstein- was quite the experience. Who knows what future names await.
So far, my favorite part of Stockholm has been the open air museum of Skansen. After taking a ferry to a small island, you arrive at a historic park which looks like a deserted horror theme park. Besides that, the park boasts some of the coolest Nordiska djur (Scandinavian animals). These range from bison, lynx, elk, reindeers, brown bears, wolverines and great horned owls. The exhibits are sprawling, and natural. I got to see a Swedish moose, but he wasn’t very personal and outside his barn long. There is nothing like taking a selfie with a reindeer and when you look back at it later, you realize he photobombed you by sticking his tongue out. There is a special part of the park called the Aquarium where you are allowed to get up close and personal with the animals. You could walk into the exhibit with the Madagascar lemurs and there is no better experience. Within minutes, lemurs approach you and stare into your soul with their beady auburn eyes. They loved to sit in yoga-like positions, hug each other, and most of all, hug visitors. Most of the lemurs were larger, but there were two babies who had the energy of a million suns. They would fly from tree to tree, and I just happened to by standing in the right place at the right time where they flew onto me. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing that there are two baby lemurs sitting on your back pack. (I think the lemurs were attracted to my black and white shirt and backpack.) For a split second, I felt like I was invited into their lemur family and I will never forget them. I will always like to move it, move it. King Julien would be proud.
On one morning, we took a hike through the Swedish forest at the Hellasgården Nature Center (hella-garden since I am a Norcali girl.) It is only fifteen minutes from downtown central Stockholm, but it feels like thousands of miles away. This center is known for wild animal spottings such as moose, but unfortunately we didn’t see any on our adventure. The five kilometer (3.1 miles for you Americans) loop took us on a pleasant walking trail through the wilderness. The weather was beautiful, and we reached a pleasant photography spot at a small ravine dotted with water lilies. This place was so surreal we had to take a couple minutes to play with the old Viking-like weights and do yoga poses.
The Aquaria Water Museum took you on a magical safari through rainforest land leading to a tropical underwater aquarium. The animals ranged from large gigantic catfish and poison dart frogs to jellyfish, sharks, and sea horses. The sea horses had their own little room as a tribute to their amazing species-sea horses are the only creature that has reverse pregnancy where the male gives birth. The video of a sea horse birth was quite unique and entertaining, so I suggest googling it. The Aquaria also had a built in tunnel traveling into one of the aquariums to crawl through and feel like you are “under the sea.” I attempted to do some swimming dance moves, and now I just realize I should have done the worm. :P
The Vasa Museum is a tribute to a very large vessel that sank on August 10, 1628 on its maiden voyage in the Stockholm Harbor. It had been long forgotten until around 1920 when divers rediscovered it. Anders Franzen decided that he would bring the ship back to the surface, so that people would be able to enjoy her forgotten beauty. Usually ships are broken down at the bottom of the sea by wood worms, but the Baltic Sea to not salty enough to be a prime habitat for this type of worm. This means that the Vasa that had been sitting underwater for 322 years was almost perfectly preserved. A wooden fossil. At one time, the ship could have housed 300 soldiers and 64 cannons. Now the ship resides in a seven story indoor museum above water where visitors can see her whole body and beauty. The Vasa was named after corn sheaf which seems a little misleading for this gigantic ship. The boat is decorated with fine wood working of lions, small roman soldiers, and cats. Yes, cats. My spirit ship. And even more relating to my spirit, it just constantly reminded me of How to Train Your Dragon. This wasn’t quite what one would call a “Viking ship,” but it was close enough. (I will go to another museum to fulfil the Viking void.) I pretty much did my “Nightfury get down!” pose all over the exhibit, and I think people were beginning to think I was crazy. Or we under attack by dragons. I’ll take the later. I was so inspired, I am watching HTTYD while typing this. “We’re Vikings. It’s an occupational hazard.” – Hiccup, 2015
Another site that was seen this weekend, was the amusement park called the Gröna Lund. We were able to use our Stockholm passes to get into the park, but any rides or attractions were extra. And very expensive. In that case, we only did one ride and it was very worth it. It was called ‘Insane’ and it was very insane; it was a contraption of a rollercoaster mixed with a spinning death trap. That sounds bad, but it was extremely fun and gave us beautiful views of Stockholm city. Another perfect end to a fun day off.
Our second day off started with a two hour kayaking trip through the Baltic Rivers surrounding Stockholm. It was absolutely beautiful and was nice to see the city from a different point of view on the water. Luckily, the waves were not as choppy and white capped as the day before. It happened to be smooth ‘sailing’ and brought me back to my rowing days. I couldn’t help but hear the word ‘PULL!’ in my ear. It was a very romantic time that I got to share in the tandem kayak with Petra, my other half. We never flipped, and were perfectly ‘N’sync.’ I guess that is what happens when you get to know someone so well.
I spent the rest of the day at a Swedish football (soccer for you Americans) game of Allmänna Idrottsklubben (AIK) vs Atvidabergs Fotbollförening (AFF). The AIK club was the home team at the Friends Arena in Solna, playing another Swedish team from Åtvidaberg. It was a show of true Swedish spirit, and the crowd never stopped chanting Swedish fight songs. I had no idea what they were saying, but it felt like we were going to war. I tried to mumble similar sounds, but it did not have the same feel. They literally all chanted and clapped together. It was not just their spirit squad, it was EVERYONE. There was not one person in the crowd was not passionate about it. Even the young child in front of me sounded as dangerous and intimidating as the rest. The home team ended up winning the game 1-0 and the crowd went wild. The game was beautiful and I was so happy I was able to make it to a European football game.
This marks the end of my weekend adventures. I am entering the last week of my program, and finals are approaching. But I hope to still explore Stockholm in between class and studying!
Bye for now,