Thursday, September 29, 2011

djurgården: the island of museums, pt. 2

The buildings in Skansen have been taken from all over Sweden and moved to the museum.  Every Swedish region and its way of life is represented here. We were running short on time, so we decided to head to the Skåne farmstead area, as that is where our relatives are from and would be most indicative of the lives led by my great-grandfather and his family.

The cow pictured above is undoubtedly the biggest cow I have ever seen.  The ducks were huge too.  I wonder if this is because of tourists sneaking them food or if they are just some huge breed that I have never see before.

I was drawn to the fences here and how they differ from American styles.  Even the rock wall is different, with so many flat rocks mixed in.  I also love thatched roofs.  My favorite house in Vail boasts one.

This is inside the Skåne farmers' home.  There was wallpaper covering almost every surface of the structure, except for the floors, which were often covered in a collage of multiple small carpets.  The ceilings were drastically shorter than those we are accustomed to - my head almost reached the ceiling! I felt like I was in some fun house at an amusement park.

a very cool compost center

The windmill is a departure from the Skåne region, I blelieve.  However, windmills like this one were quite common all around Sweden.  Newer versions have obviously replaced them and I was surprised at how many there are dotting the countryside.  My relatives said that nobody really likes them and nobody wants to have one nearby, but that everyone understands that they are necessary going into the future.

A view of the city from Skansen

After spending half of our day in Skansen, we walked down the road to the other two museums on the island - the Vasa Museum and the Nordic Museum.

The Vasa Museum tells the story of this HUGE ship. The ship, commissioned by the Swedish king, embarked on her maiden voyage in 1628 and only traveled about 1300 meters before sinking in Stockholm's harbor.  The counterbalance weight in the hull was not enough to balance out the enormous upper part of the ship.  Several attempts to raise the ship take place through 1629, but to no avail.  Aside from a few dives, the Vasa lay relatively forgotten on the ocean floor until the 1950s when two divers, Anders Franzén and Per Edvin Fälting begin a new campaign to rescue the ship.  The Vasa is finally lifted from the waters in 1961.

Upon her resurfacing, Swedish researchers undertake a huge endeavor to preserve the Vasa and learn about the life of the men on board.  The conservation of the wood of the ship, combined with many more dives to uncover anything else left in the harbor, takes years.  In 1988, the Vasa sailed for the final time from the harbor into the museum.  The museum opened in 1990. 

The incredibly story of the Vasa is even more impressive when you can see the enormity of the ship in person.  If you look at the picture above, you can see some people in the frame to give you a sense of scale.  However, I don't believe that even does it justice.  Because of the dimmed lighting in the museum, picture taking was quite difficult.

The Nordic Museum is a Swedish cultural history and ethnographical museum that documents Swedish life from the early 1500s to present day.  There are temporary modern exhibitions as well as permanent as permanent displays about toys, traditions and holidays, and home furnishings and decor among other things.  The museum offers a very comprehensive look at Swedish culture and how it has evolved throughout the centuries.

I love learning about the day to day life of the past, so seeing how Swedish food, religions traditions, and dinnerware have changed over the centuries really intrigued me.

After shutting down the Nordic Museum, we wandered along the waterway back to Stockholm proper. It was the perfect end to a great vacation.  I think we all would wished we didn't have to fly out the next morning.  We will just have to make sure there is a next time.  Skål.

Video of the Vasa resurfacing from the Vasa Museum website.

djurgården: the island of museums, pt. 1

Our last day in Stockholm was spent on Djurgården, an island whose main attractions are three museums.  The first one we visited (also my favorite), Skansen, is an open air museum spread over 75 acres of land and comprised of more than 150 structures that were moved from all over Sweden to the museum.  Founded in 1891, Skansen was constructed to show what life was like in pre-industrialized Sweden.  The name Skansen has become a model for other open-air museums around the world.  Its name is even sometimes used as a noun to refer to this type of museum.  

We arrived just as Skansen opened its gates, but much to our dismay, none of the actual buildings inside the park/museum were open yet.  This seems very typically European to me, "Yeah, we open at 10, but that's when our employees arrive too, so you'll just have to wait for them to get settled in."  In America, employees would have arrived hours before the museum actually opened to ensure everything was in its place and ready to go.  I realize that I might sound more in favor of the American way, and perhaps I am in this specific scenario, however generally speaking I much prefer Europe's laid back attitude when it comes to time.  In America, we rush too much.

While the museum buildings were not yet open, we did find an open cafe, and were able to enjoy the beautiful sunny day over a cup of coffee and gingerbread with homemade whipped cream and lingon berries.  In a sense, we were forced to "stop and smell the roses" and I'm really glad we did.  In hindsight, it was such a wonderful, relaxing break.

Hmm, I didn't realize how blurry this picture was until just now.  Whoops!  Well, after we enjoyed our pastries from the cafe, the 19th Century shops were beginning to open their doors.  The bakery smelled so delicious we couldn't resist purchasing just a couple more pastries to share.  I guess that two dessert rule rubbed off on us :)

Our first and most anticipated stop was at the glass blowing factory.  While we waited for them to open, we discovered a huge mound of glass shards that had been deposited outside.  Again, such a European thing to do.  These small pieces of glass were not extremely sharp, but if you weren't careful , they could definitely cut you.  They were all over the ground, including one walkway and a flight of stairs.  Earlier, we had come across these stairs and turned around to go another way, thinking that they were inaccessible due to the glass.  Later, we watched as multiple European families (including small children!) walked down these stairs.  Again we were confronted with a huge cultural difference.  This glass would never fly in America - talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen!

Lawsuit or not, we very much enjoyed looking at the broken glass.  (Sorry if the Annie Lennox song just popped into your head too...)  We scavenged a lot of it.  It was like the best, most glittery beach of gorgeously colored sea glass we had ever seen.  The picture doesn't do any justice to the glimmer of the sun on the glass.

19th Century potters' studio

Employees dress in traditional 19th Century attire and will tell you about their lives and their work if you ask them too.  I always feel uncomfortable talking to people dressed up like this, because I know they are lying to me.  I realize it's their job and it's meant to be educational, but it still makes me feel awkward.  I still like looking at their outfits though.

Just some proof that I'm probably the coolest person you know.

The printers' shop! Ah, I loved it in here! Talk about typeface drawers! This place had gazillions.  It was SO difficult to take pictures inside the shop with the lack of lighting, but I could have spent hours in here admiring the vintage typeface and printing machines.  Love.

My mom bought a piece of candy from this old-style candy shop.  Unbeknownst to us, it was black licorice.  I almost threw up upon tasting it. Seriously.

An old church steeple.  I love the red color they use so often for traditional buildings in Sweden.  Also, check out that fence! Fences all over Skansen were like this one.  I found it so interesting how they filled in the logs on a diagonal!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

stockholm museums and scenes

Today's post is a bit of a hodge-podge of museum and scenery pictures of which I am especially fond.  I had a great day with my mom, visiting museums, wandering the city and shopping. The first three pictures are from the Museum of Antiquities.  I loved the drama of that hallway.

Me with a view. Ugh, look at the view please, not me and my squishy eye.  Anyway, there is this wonderful walkway along Södermalm, one of the islands that makes up Stockholm, from which you can view Stockholm proper (? I'm not really sure; all of this island business confuses me a bit) and Gamla Stan.  It's the perfect place for a quiet stroll away from the bustle of the city.

Also on the island of Södermalm is this amazing enclave of summer cottages.  Tucked away between a large park and high-rise apartments are these adorable, teeny-tiny cottages surrounded by gorgeous gardens.  I guess the people who own them visit them for a short periods at a time throughout the summer.  What a fun thing to have!

My mom and I took some time to go souvenir one of the stores, I spotted jeans with the best name ever.  I have always wanted someone to name an article of clothing after ever since middle school when I poured over Delia's catalogs.  Now it's happened! Too bad these jeans don't exist in America...

I have read numerous times about art in the subway stations of Stockholm's Tunnelbana.  Preferring to spend my time above ground, I have never been in the stations that are most highly touted for their artistic merits, however the station near our apartment was quite pretty:

Two more gorgeous pictures of blue skies in Stockholm.  The first one is of the water between the islands of Östermalm and Djurgarden. The next one is of the front of the Nordic Museum, a museum that chronicles centuries of Swedish life - from folk art, to religious traditions and holidays, to home design.  I love this museum.

Only one more post on the vacation to come!  For now, anyway.  I might share some other details with you later!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

gamla stan and royal palace

In Stockholm, we spent 3 days wandering around, visiting sites and eating overpriced food :) Nobody ever said Scandinavia was cheap! Although, I think $30 for a slice of quiche and a pastry is a bit much, don't you? Anyway, here are some pictures.

This is Stortorget, the oldest central square in Stockholm.  It is around this square that all of Stockholm was built. The buildings pictured above date back to the 17th century and are the only buildings around the square that are residences.  Tiny streets radiate out of the square filing into Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town.

We ate dinner at a cute little restaurant right on the old square.  Touristy, yes.  But the food was fairly priced and actually quite good.  Plus I was really excited to eat salad after four days of dessert :)  Of course, I ordered pasta too, let's be serious now.  The tables across from us were reserved for some large party of the most gorgeous 20-something year old Swedes you've ever seen.  When they showed up, we couldn't help but stare.  I really wanted to take a picture of them, but couldn't get up the nerve to break my camera out and play paparazzi.

The sun set filled the narrow passageways of the old town with the most beautiful light.  The serene views were the perfect ending to a long day of traveling.  The next day my mom and I headed back to Gamla Stan to tour the Royal Palace and a few other museums, while my aunt took the commuter rail out to the suburbs to go fishing for the day with a guide.

The facade of the Swedish Royal Palace provides a stark contrast to that of the palaces I am used to visiting in France, e.g. Versailles. Another big difference: Sweden still has a monarchy and this palace is their official residence. They have offices here, however their private residence is elsewhere. Construction on the palace began in the 13th century, but sadly, almost immediately upon its completion in 1697, much of it was burned down in a fire.  In addition to the building itself, many of the kingdom's most precious possessions were also lost in this fire.  It took another 63 years to rebuild the palace, which looks quite different from its original version.  The exterior feels somewhat stark, but the inside is very ornate.

I liked how they rolled up the carpet so we don't walk on it, but can still see it in all of its glory.

My favorite things to admire were the chandeliers, the ceilings and the floors.  The room above had my favorite ceilings.

One curious aspect of still having a working monarchy is that some of the rooms in the palace get updated, like the the Jubilee room, pictured above.  This room was first presented in its renovated state in 2001.

We also enjoyed the changing of the guards with a thousand of our closest friends :) We accidentally got the start time wrong, which ended up being lucky, because we got front row spots to view the changing of the guards, even though we did have to wait around for 20 minutes or so for it to start. 

Sweden's army was founded in 1523 making it the oldest continuously operating army in the world.  Everyone serving in the Swedish Army serves rounds on the Royal Guard. I can't imagine being one of these guards, standing around for hours at a time, being so serious.  Aside from being bored, just thinking about being stuck in one spot for such a long time makes me have to pee!

Monday, September 26, 2011

stockholm apartment

We used airbnb again to find the wonderful apartment we stayed in in Stockholm.  It was a bit outside of the city, but really only about 15 minutes from downtown by subway and it was very quiet at night, which is always nice when you're tired after a long day of sightseeing. 

The apartment was all white with lots of bright, colorful, quirky touches.  Very modern Scandinavian.

Excuse our mess of stuff on the kitchen table.  I should have cleaned that off before I took the photo.  Whoops! Check out the framed pieces of paper - what a good idea to create an inexpensive collage wall.

It's kind of hard to understand what's going on in this picture, but this is of the bedroom.  There are mirrors on the wall behind the bed, creating almost almost a negative space headboard, if that makes any sense.  Leaning up against the bed is the air mattress I slept on.

Again with the decorating of windowsills. I love that big decanter.

A wall of bookshelves was opposite the couch.  I loved how she color coordinated her books.  She had pretty good taste in literature, unfortunately, all of the books were in Swedish!  I did however spend plenty of time looking through a ginormous Ikea catalog.

Again, if you are heading to Stockholm and would like to book this apartment, I would be happy to tell you how to find it online!