03/23/2014 - 03/24/2014 50 °F
After spending a relaxing night on Jonas’ couch, I was ready for another day of exploration. After staying up late watching a movie with Jonas and penning a blog entry, I headed for Stockholm a little after noon. After thinking about what I still wanted to see, I decided to get a 24-hour Stockholm Card, which is expensive but gives you free transportation and free entry to all of the museums around Stockholm (they have 85!).
After I got that, I went on a great tour of Stockholm City Hall (above). Since it is an active political building, you can only see it with a guided tour, and that is well worth it. After snapping some great pictures of the courtyard and the view from outside, I took off on the tour. The City Hall is a very interestingly designed building, built in 1923, “so it is quite a new building”. That was a quote I found funny from my tour guide. Besides being a government building, it was also designed to be a space for banquets, dinners, etc, of all types, and is most famous as the venue for the annual Nobel Prize Dinner after the presentations of awards. The architect designed the building with a lot of contrast to really make it awe inspiring. This meant that as you walk thru it, you almost always go from a large, grand room to a much smaller room with lower ceilings, and then into another grand room. I had never thought about that before, but that design really underlines those large high-ceiling rooms. Every detail was thought out and the result is one of the few buildings in Sweden that is considered “Gesamtkunstwek” - a work of all arts.
A photo tour is below. The additional fact that I wanted to add is that they host marriages/civil unions to anyone (gay, straight, Swedish or not), but it is so popular that they have 2 versions of the ceremony: the long version is 3 minutes and the short version is about 30 seconds, haha.
This is the main banquet hall, where the Nobel Dinner is held. Ironically known as the Blue Hall, as was the original plan. The plans changed when they liked the red brick, but the name stuck
This is the room where members meet to debate issues. They designed it with seats for the public and press to make sure the government was always open and transparent
Look at the amazing ceiling. Reminiscent of Viking construction centuries past
Known as the Golden Hall, appropriate this time.
The entire hall is made in mosaics and actually contains real 23.5 karat gold! The entire hall is adorned with images of Swedish history
After the City Hall, I headed to the Architecture Museum, trying to take full advantage of my Stockholm Card. Strangely, I someone wandered in some back way and totally bypassed the ticket counter/official entrance, and got in free. I didn’t worry about it because I had the Stockholm card so it would have been free for me anyways, but I found it funny.
The exhibit I liked best was called "Blockholm" in which they created a totally new world in Minecraft by loading all of Stockholm's topographical data and streets, but cleared out any buildings so that they are empty lots. If you're not familiar with it, Minecraft is a computer game created in Sweden and popularized all over the world in which you can create buildings, trees, landscapes using blocks of different color and materials. The top 5 most interesting designs in Blockholm were being built within the museum when I went thru.
I also stopped by the Modern Art Museum, mostly because it was attached to the architecture museum and it was free with the card. I’ve decided that modern art museums aren’t really my thing, but I did like this more than the NYC MoMA that I went to with Colleen last week. It had more things that I would actually consider “art”, haha, though no pictures were allowed
After the architecture and art museum, I set off on a journey to try and find Stockholm’s only brewery within city limits. It is a joint venture by Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg. My mom had found it in her research and I thought that’d be fun to try. It was rather out of the way, but the public transpo to the area was free and I enjoy wandering thru the less touristy areas, so I didn’t mind that. I also was unable to find much info of it online (mentions but no legit site), so I wasn’t sure if I was going to find it. Unfortunately, after circling around the neighborhood where I thought it was, I couldn’t find it and went into the bar/restaurant at the corner.
There I saw Brooklyn and Carlsberg on tap and asked the bartender about it. He told me that the brewery was literally right across the street, but that they had delayed their Grand Opening to 2 weeks from now. Shoot! Oh well, I knew it wasn’t a sure thing so I had a tall beer and some fun conversation with the bartenders. After that, it was back towards Aspudden to meet up with my host and grab some dinner.
After telling Jonas about my failed journey to find the brewery, he thought I might like to go to a pub that specialized in having over 200 different beers available - the Bishop Arms. The dinner itself was good, but uneventful, but I really started to get to know Jonas, who is great. He does marketing & sales for the gay Swedish magazine, UX, and is gay himself. I actually found it funny that when we were first messaging about me staying on his couch, we had set everything up and then he was like “Oh, I should have told you - I’m gay. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?” I very pleasantly told him that I didn’t have any problem with that, but that I was straight - did he have a problem with that? He laughed and said of course not, and that his boyfriend would be happy to hear that. When I asked him about it later, he was like, “Well, you can never be too sure. And you are American.” Damn bigots giving us a bad name.
I tried to make it as early a night as possible so that I could get started early the next day. Since the Stockholm card I bought was good for 24 hours, I wanted to get my moneys worth. So I had until about 3 pm the next day, and I managed to visit the Photography Museum, a museum on the Swedes’ relationship with alcohol (created by Absolut), and Skansen - a unique open-air museum and zoo showing Swedish historical culture and how many Swedes lived 150 - 300 years ago.
Skansen was the coolest of the 3 that I went to, though I think it would be better during peak season as many of their exhibits were closed, including glass blowing, but that was because their oven had just broke . This is another thing that I recommend to anyone going to Stockholm, especially since it was laid out like nothing I had experienced before. The “exhibits” were spread out over a large outdoor area, and the buildings were actual buildings taken from various areas of Sweden and rebuilt in Skansen.
Most buildings were made of the original materials and any repairs that were needed were done using traditional methods. There was a bakery and coffee shop that didn’t use any new technology (besides a credit card reader, haha) and the people in these exhibits were dressed in clothes appropriate for the time, location, and profession that they were expressing.
Below is the inside of a forester’s hut with a man explaining how foresters lived 200 years ago.
They used to put 10-12 men in there at once for 4 winter months at a time. Lumber was a key export for Sweden back in the day.
Skansen also contained a zoo with animals native or once native to Sweden. Pictures are below.
After Skansen, I stumbled across the Absolut Swedish museum of alcohol, which in addition to alcohol, also had a great exhibit called Art Pop, focusing on the art of album covers and the artists that created some of the more iconic covers over the years, and many of those also did works involving Absolut.
My favorite part was the record player with 50 or so records that they encourage you to play. Can anyone tell what I put on?
I’ll give you a hint!
After I finished up at the museums, I tried to hurry to the Royal Palace and get in before my card ran up, but unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. You can see the massive size of the palace in the pictures below. Their seems to be some dispute about if this or Buckingham Palace is the larger palace, depending on how you measure it.
Since I was then in Galma Stan, I set off to try and find the coffee shop that Schepel told me about, which is on the same square as the Nobel Museum (which I had heard wasn’t worth going to). I wandered the streets until I stumbled onto it and had a delicious and huge mocha by candlelight.
I then headed “home” to change and meet up with Jonas. He told me that he was going to take me to a Grand Reopening event for a restaurant/club, but that deserves a post all to its own . Laters!
We busted out of class
And had to get away from these fools
We learned more from a 3 minute record
Than we ever learned in school