Rounding up our last days in Sweden, we went back to Stockholm to stay with L & L and decided to have our first crack being proper tourists in a Large European City (sorry Norrköping). We bought a 3-day Stockholm Card, which gives you free travel on public transport and free entry to around 80 different museums and attractions.
There’s different formulas – you can buy a one-day card or up to a five-day card. Basically the way the maths is going to work is, if you can fit three things into a day, you’re going to save money. If you can only fit two things in, you’re going to break even.
The crucial part of this formula is Children. Are the kids going to be up for three attractions a day? So we pitched it to them, told them they had to commit to 3 a day and they said yes. Because that’s usually what kids say. It doesn’t really mean anything. All they’re really signing up for is a begrudging acceptance that they aren’t allowed to complain too loudly when you’re walking three blocks to Museum number 2, or hurrying them out of Museum number 2 so you can get to Museum number 3 before it shuts.
Anyway, it turns out most of the museums that could look boring are actually pretty cool and have an engaging, intelligent focus on young visitors. Below is a quick run-down of what we did and how the kids found it. Meanwhile, treat yourself to a picture of Stortoget, the main square in Gamla Stan which is the old town of Stockholm – around 850 years old in fact.
I’ll just throw in that we started the day by getting off at Stockholm south station and walking up Mosebacke (a large hill) to get a nice view over all of Stockholm. Mosebacke’s quite funky too – recommend. Anyway, on with the Museum Round-Up:
Royal Castle – Treasury
The English tour guide gives you a good potted history of the castle itself, and then shows you the treasury which contains crowns, swords, orbs, sceptres and other shiny things. That can go on for a bit, but the kids can just drop out of the audience and cruise around the cabinets of shiny things independently. The highlight is probably Gustav Vasa’s sword which is around 500 years old. We also learned that no Swedish monarch has had a coronation ceremony since the 1870s. The reason is when that king died in 1907, Sweden was very poor, struggling to feed its own people, and the king decided an expensive coronation probably wasn’t the best use of public funds. Since then, no monarch has decided it’s a good use of public funds, and they are crowned in a simple ceremony up there with a Town Hall wedding. Go Swedes!
Royal Castle – Armoury
Sounds like it’s all going to be swords and armour (yawn), actually there’s all sorts of surprises in here! The vest that Gustav III was wearing when he was shot in the Royal Theatre in 1792 – complete with bullet hole! A stuffed horse! The cuuuuuuute little baby clothes worn by various 20th century Swedish monarchs as children! A room with dress-up clothes for kids and a throne for them to sit on. As well as bucket-loads of old swords, guns, halberds, crossbows, etc.
Royal Canal Boat Trip
This is really an excuse to rest the feet, but it’s pretty interesting and on a nice weather day you can see everything from the Royal Theatre (yep, where Gustav III was shot) to the pretty island of Djurgården and out into the larger harbour where you can see that Swedes are really into their boating.
Has a really good kids activity sheet, of the “go and find who invented the …” sort of thing. And if you fill it all in, you get a gold-covered chocolate Nobel medal! Alright!
This is to get your Viking Fix. Very interesting displays, including how they layout grave sites that have been discovered and the items recovered from them. Then in the courtyard they had a “meet a Viking” day for kids with a Viking village set up, you could do pottery, make jewellery, story time (in Swedish) and the people stationed at the activities all had interesting stories as well. We spent ages there, the kids were right into it. We had to drag them out to get to…
The absolute highlight for me, and I want to go back again. Skansen says that it is an “outdoor museum”. Okay. What it means is that they have recreated old Swedish towns, farms, schools … and it takes a while to dawn on you why it’s so good. Basically for most Ye Olde Themee Parke places they have knocked up facsimiles of what Ye Olde Buildinges looked like. At Skansen they are the real deal – actual houses, shops, barns, all picked up and moved on site. Not just wooden buildings – huge stone mansions that made you wonder how the heck they got it there. But the overall effect is that it’s convincing, it’s good, you really feel like you have stepped back in time.
And then, as if that wasn’t good enough, there is a zoo dedicated to Nordic animals. We got to see wolves, elk, owls and best of all – reindeer. They were quite excellent. Fairly small, furry, some with ridiculous antlers, you really did want to sneak one out of the park and take it home.
The only negative thing about Skansen was that was where we happened to be when we rang the garage about Car, and learned that its diagnosis was terminal. That sort of took the gloss of that day a bit, and that’s why I really want to go back to Skansen. That and the fact I’ve been working on my reindeer disguise…
It might be quite good. Unfortunately the queue to get in looked about 2 hours long. So, we didn’t. Instead we caught a bus to …
The kids could have spent A L L D A Y here because they had a special exhibition on: The History Of Computer Games. You name it, it was here, everything from Pong to World of Warcraft, Atari consoles, Donkey Kong, even this crazy blue and white game thing we had at home called Earth Invaders. We literally had to drag them out to carry on to …
SkyView at Globen
South of central Stockholm, the Globen is a multi-sport (ie, ice hockey and maybe something else) arena next door to a shopping centre and FC Hammarby’s brand new stadium with the artificial grass that’s heaps better than AIK’s artificial that goes mouldy… (oops). Anyways, the Skyview is a small dome that scoots up the side of the bigger dome so you can get a view over Stockholm. It’s OK – you wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t free on your Stockholm card. Oh but in the shopping mall downstairs, the little sweetshop in there has the best, biggest and cheapest GB ice creams. That might be worth the trip out to Globen.
And that’s Hej då from us
Really the last “thing” we did in Sweden is what has been the kids’ favourite activity all along: swimming. This last swim in the lake at Skogås near L & L’s place. Apparently this lake freezes over in winter, so we can come back and go skating or ice fishing.
Here you go, here’s your snaps:
One of the buildings that got, oh, casually picked up and taken to Skansen. No biggie:
Reindeer!!! Love them…
Funky outdoor bar and amazing view from Mosebacke:
Molly playing Phoenix at the Technology Museum:
The Technology Museum also has a recreation of a mine. In the basement. Obviously.
Skyview at Globen, and the view from Skyview: