Djurgården is My Garden

We began our Thursday with a free walking tour that conveniently met at the Gamla Stan T-bana station (a ~5 minute walk from Castle House Inn). With only a bit of Gamla Stan, and some great pointers for future visits along the way, our guide, Stephanie (a Chicago original, like us!), led a nice little tour of Stockholm’s major points of interest.

Ending on the waterfront along the Norrmalm/Ostermalm border, Stephanie suggested we make the venture to Vasa after lunch, rather than schlepping down to Södermalm for Fotografiska, which is open till 1am Thursday-Saturday (a great option for a late-night-non-drinking activity).

Immediately afters crossing the bridge onto Djurgården (pronounced: your-garden), you are met with a visitors’ shop and restaurant on the right. The largest title on the building is “Visit Djurgården,” though the restaurant may be differently named. Whatever it’s properly called, it’s amazing! Multiple times my mother commented, “best meal in Stockholm!” They’ve got nice views over the harbor, with rather affordable prices at 150kr for a lunch item and salad bar included, offering warm breads, veggies and my favorite: carbs! We split a salmon and a lobster-shrimp soup. Both were so very delicious! I would certainly return on my next trip to Stockholm (which will certainly have to be in Summer!)

Bellies full and feet rested, we wandered the island a bit, only to find that the Vasa was essentially right behind the restaurant! All the same, we got in saw the boat and watched a couple of their cycling videos on the sinking and un-sinking of the Vasa, an enormous ship that spent 333 years over 30 meters below the surface of the Stockholm harbor! It has been restored to an impressive state, and much of the detail of the the ship’s original woodwork still shines clearly, as the cold brackish water it sunk into acted as a tremendously good preservative! Though I may not consider the Vasa Museum as the must-do activity that most people we’ve talked to seemed to believe, it is absolutely impressive and an enjoyable visit!

The SpiritMuseum, on the other hand, is not. The short of it: it’s odd, it’s confusing, and its most interesting feature, the many squeeze-and-sniff containers of different alcohols and alcohol flavorings, leave you with a headache. Perhaps too much has been lost in translation? Their “hangover room” is an insult to truly horrendous experience of a hangover. Their “drink quiz” is a quiz on drinks-in-film, and the annoying mechanical clanking of racked glasses starts it off on a sour note. Furthermore, one of their questions wrongly claims Sex and the City popularized Manhattans, not Cosmos. Sigh.

 There is a single winding path through the small museum, beginning in “Actualities,” a fully Swedish exhibit of Dan Wolgers’ objects that (I think) were once used in Absolut Vodka ads, alongside Swedish commentary by Lena Andersson. There was an English guide, which I couldn’t find useful. Next, you’re onto a world of Rocky the comic; the relevance is lost on me. A quick tour through the cartoon world (the highlight of which was a funky-and-fitting velour couch), then we were onto the main exhibit, and relative highlight of the museum on the whole: “Sweden: Spirits of a Nation.” Here is where you can find those many sniff-boxes, and watch the process of liqueur-making in-house (I think, still a lot in Swedish). There are considerably more English translations in this exhibit, but still, those seemed nonsensical, even if grammatical.

Perhaps a visit to the SpiritMuseum would be best spent in the bar, learning about Swedish alcohol the fun way!

The walk back over the bridge at sunset is a really great view of the city lights over the water!

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