Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Summer days in Stockholm...
... I was taking photos in the deserted old town district at 07:30 after waking up very early this morning. Worked out very well, because I was at the door for the extraordinary Vasa Museum an hour later, just as it opened, to beat the crowds. As it was I had it pretty much to myself for the first hour, and it is an unmissable experience - it is quite breathtaking to find a whole ship from 1628, 90% of it original, hanging in the dim lights in the huge hall. They have done an excellent job in presenting the artifacts and the ship itself, which is so heavily carved that the first thing I was reminded of was the Geiger spaceship created for the original Alien movie, the one that the doomed crew of the Nostromo board before John Hurt gets a squid attached to his face.
After a long look at scarily realistic reconstructions of the faces of various members of the crew who were trapped in the narrow hull when the newly-launched ship turned over and sank, I watched a very good film explaining how the ship was raised in the early 1960's and subsequently preserved. It is in a better state than our own HMS Victory at Portsmouth in the UK, and was even more gaudily painted when it was new.
Spent the afternoon at the equally good Skansen Museum, which houses a vast number of buildings moved to the site from all over Sweden in the last 200 years. There's enough for several trips, I couldn't have seen it all, but what surprised me most was that the commercial side of it was so restrained. I was expecting fast food stands and the greasy smell of burgers, instead I found staff teaching groups of visitors to do the Swedish equivalent of a Morris Dance. I loved the buildings most; each has a member of staff in the costume associated with the period of the dwelling, very helpfully explaining what the various artefacts on display were used for - they are very keen on people joining in and trying various things out too.
Tonight I have packed everything for an early ride towards Uppsala (sic) tomorrow morning on Swedish Cycle Route #15, which seems to head roughly towards Oslo and promised to give me a reasonable sample of what the countryside here has to offer. I am very excited by the prospect!