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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

3 August 2014

Big ship

27th July 2014

It started sunny and ended sunny, but right in the middle of the day was an astonishing torrential downpour that brought down branches, flooded roads and buildings, darkened the sky and flashed lightning across the city. Luckily we were in the Vasa museum at the time…

This gigantic war galleon, dredged up from the waters near Stockholm after three centuries in the mud, is nothing short of epic. There’s something deep, deep and ageless about the black and gnarled appearance of oak timbers more than three hundred years old. The most eye-opening aspect of the ship for me was the sheer amount of exhuberant and detailed carving with which it had been covered – every opportunity had been taken to decorate every available spot on it. Nelson would have been deeply unimpressed, given that for all the artistry the basic seaworthiness of the vessel was screwed up and it sunk within an hour of launching. The museum around it is full of interest but this vast ship is ever-present and eye-catching. I don’t bother with museums very often, but I’m glad we did this time.

The rest of the day was spent finding that the main part of the city centre north from the waterfront is dull chain store modernity. The architecture is soulless, which even manages to step it down a notch in contrast to London – at least the brash consumerist crap back home beckons from handsome old buildings. Nevermind, we didn’t linger. In the evening we found by contrast that Sodermalm is a friendly district full of unusual shops and inviting restaurants, especially the hipster patch called So-Fo (actually, I’m sure So-Fo has been on the beaten track long enough that there are far newer hip and edgy districts that haven’t yet reached the ears of guidebook writers). The garden terrace of Sodra Teatren gives great views over a drink, and after window-shopping a bunch of places we ended up eating at Urban Deli. Which was good, although if you’d told me I would enjoy a plate of cheesy sausage, crayfish mayonnaise, salmon roe and pickled chanterelles I might have been skeptical.

Wow, is it expensive drinking in Stockholm. We’ve struggled to find a glass of wine for less than a tenner. Mind you, it has tended to be good wine – I guess if you’re having to charge so much to cover the booze tax you might as well spend a tad extra and make it good plonk.


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