Posted by: ilanasmith | August 24, 2007


To sew up my Scando-Summer series, I set off for Stockholm.

On the Expectations-o-Meter, Stockholm did rather well.  I was thinking I’d be bored, but it’s a lovely city with plenty of stuff to see.  It’s got some great architecture (my fascination with such should be clear from my photos) spread out over eighteen big islands.  So like Venice turned up to 11. 

It turns out that Sweden is not just ABBA, Ikea and Absolut, but also Astrid Lindgren!  So I went to an exhibition and now know what "Pippi Långstrump" looks like in about thirty different languages.

A Stockholm highlight was the Vasa Museum. Turns out back in sixteen something, the King o’ Swedes needed a big ass ship with which to scare the Poles, so he had one built.  He wanted it extra big and extra frightening, so he had them add an additional gun-deck (and shitloads of scary Black-Pearl-esque carvings), which they did…without otherwise changing the general design in any appreciable way.  You can see where this is going.  They launch the thing, a gust of wind comes along, she tips….then rights herself.  A little bit later, another gust, water comes in the lower gunports and over she goes.  30 minutes, 1300 metres.  Suck on that, Titanic.

The thing about the Baltic is that it’s too cold and too brackish for the little wood-eating bugger that munches on sunk ships.  So 333 years later, they locate the Vasa, haul her up, dust her off and build a museum around her.  And it’s awesome.

The ship rocks, all the stories about it rock, the skeletons and all their belongings rock.  And that fact that it was once considered unlucky for sailors to be able to swim?  That rocks too.

In Stockholm, I also discovered the origin of a red wooden horse I got from my grandparents when I was a kid.  I’d never actually previously wondered – obviously, it came from Nanny and Pa Land.  Turns out they must have picked it up in Sweden, where one or two of these horses are available for purchase.  I am pretty sure that they got me the toy llama in Argentina, but I should probably go there too, to check.


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