Södermalm & Djurgården
After 2 days in Gamla Stan I moved to my next accommodation, a floating hostel (a boat!) in Södermalm. I arrived just before lunchtime and then took the ferry across the water to spend the day exploring the museums of Djurgården.
There was a lot of construction happening in Stockholm this time last year. Arriving in the Slussen metro station in Södermalm things were quite chaotic. Detours and diversions were no doubt inconvenient to locals but they were downright confusing to me as a first-timer.
I checked into my room/cabin in the M/S Birger Jarl hostel, which was apparently an upgrade from the one I booked as it had an en-suite bathroom. This turned out to be super helpful for an unexpected reason – half the power in my cabin didn’t work…2 of the main lights and all the plug points seemed to be dead. But the bathroom light worked. So I wedged the door open and it did the trick of lightening the room. I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of changing rooms so I just lived with it for 2 days.
Much like when I stayed on the 747, I’d chosen this accommodation for the novelty of it. But the location was brilliant too. It was a short work from the Fotografiska (which I didn’t visit, because time and money were short), the metro and the ferry station (port?).
The skies were pretty miserable during all my time in Stockholm but even so the famous view of the reflecting buildings looked beautiful.
I noticed these strange white cups stuck into a few fences, took me some time to work out that they were messages, visible from a distance.
Ferries are included in the Stockholm travel card so it was super easy to hop on and off…which is just as well because I got off at the wrong stop on my first try and wound up in Skeppsholmen. It was super pretty though so no regrets.
I then got on the wrong ferry again and ended up back at the starting pier…where I went out and back down the queue straight back on the boat. The conductor (if that’s what you call them on ferries?) was very confused…he told me we were going back where I just was, and I sheepishly agreed and told him I’d forgotten to do something, because the nuances of my dumbness were hard to articulate in Swedish…
This time I stayed on the ferry till it arrived at Djurgården. The place was huge! Being the off season it was relatively quiet and the theme park was closed, which suited me fine. I had a vague mental list of the places I wanted to check out but didn’t know where to start, so I followed the signs to the first place name I recognised – Skansen.
I’d hoped to go in but it was quite late in the day and too expensive for a short visit. I checked out the gift shop though which had super lovely things but again, super expensive. Luckily by this point I’d gotten all my souvenirs already so I wasn’t overly tempted by anything.
Unfortunately the alcohol museum looked very closed…luckily however Vasa was right next door so I headed towards it, through a lovely garden of hops.
It’s just as well the other places weren’t options as the Vasa Museum was amazing and needed a decent amount of time to be appreciated. As it is I moved through quite quickly and only spent around 1.5 hours there. You could easily be there half a day and still not fully absorb it all.
The Museum is (literally) built around the sunken and salvaged wreck of the Vasa, a ship so massive it sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm in 1627. Several attempts to salvage it were made over the years and were finally successful in 1961. The museum houses the ship, the artifacts recovered from it and loads of historical information. The details of the ship are incredible and it is amazingly well-preserved. Over several floors you get a brilliant view of the ship and it’s truly an amazing sight to behold.
Much like classical statues that look so tasteful in white but in all likelihood were actually garishly painted, the beautiful brown wood of the Vasa was believed to have been quite lurid at the time.
I didn’t have time to properly read about the salvaging operations but subsequent reading has been fascinating.
There’s just so much to see in the Vasamuseet and I’m so glad I checked it out.By the time I went outside it was after 5 so I rounded the corner to the Nordiska Museet. On the way I stopped for a hotdog, which was the only food on sale in the area. The guy at the stand was really friendly, a real blonde viking type who was even listening to metal. Most of the times I attempted to speak Swedish I was instantly identified as a foreigner, weirdly though the viking said it wasn’t my dåliga svenska but the fact that I seemed happy…evidently the locals are not an overly smiley bunch. I’m not overly smiley in general either but it was such a beautiful place I couldn’t help it. The viking was really sweet, and gave me some extra bread to feed the crows as I was so enamoured with them and then gave me the hotdog for free too. Tack från Sydafrika!
I didn’t spend too long in the Nordic Museum either, mainly because it was getting late. I’d expected more ancient history (ie. vikings) but it was all modern. Still, fascinating place and some really cool exhibits. I blitzed my way through as many floors and sections as possible.
There was an area dedicated to the history of Scandinavian table-dressing and meals over the centuries.
…and a section about holiday celebrations including Christmas and midsummer.
I particularly enjoyed the fashion section – some of the models looked unintentionally hilarious, from their expressions to their juxtaposing placements. The time-travelling punk guy was probably my favourite.
My non-sarcastic favourite area overall was probably the traditional textiles and crafts section – beautiful stuff, especially the tapestries.
By the time I left it was dark and cold outside. Lost my barings again and took a tram to Skansen. The ferries had stopped running and the buses seemed irregular. Looking at the tram timetables it was clear they’d changed some of the routes temporarily due to construction or something. It took me several attempts to get the right bus but luckily I made it back in the end, and evidently I wasn’t the only one confused – it wasn’t busy on the bus and I heard a few locals complaining and confused about the changes to stops and times.
I had a way to go, as I’d been dropped back in Central Stockholm, but I recognised a few places from my walk with Annabella the previous day so didn’t feel entirely helpless. Eventually I made it back on the metro, and back to the boat.