Wednesday, September 20, 2017

your garden

I spent most of the day exploring the royal island of Djurgården, a public park in Stockholm filled with museums, amusement parks, castles, and great views in every direction.

You can get out in the water in a tour boat, a paddle boat, a solar boat, or as I did, a public ferry.
First stop for any Vassar girl is the Vasa museum, Sweden's biggest attraction besides Princess cake.
The Vasa is a 17th century war ship built for the King in a hurry.
On its maiden voyage in 1628, it capsized and sank in Stockholm.
Even at the time, there was a post-mortem on what went wrong.
Divers were sent to recover munitions from the ship using this diving bell, which provided a slight bubble of oxygen.
But the ship stayed underwater for 333 years until 1961. Since then, it has been painstakingly restored, a process that continues to this day.
You can watch some of the work.
The ship had incredibly detailed sculpture.
Mythological figures and the seals of Swedish royalty.
It's hard to capture the scale of the vessel. And perhaps it's fortunate it sank right away rather than farther at sea, when the entire crew would have died too. Fascinating work. The museum includes sections on shipbuilding, showing the tools that would have been used 400 years ago.

The brutalist building containing the Vasa, half of it below ground, is meant to look like a ship. I found it so uninviting, I almost skipped the museum.
The nearby Nordic museum has a Hogwarts feel.
A graveyard adds to the spook factor. It's not an old graveyard though. Many of the tombstones are recent.

The walk across the island is bucolic, surrounded by parkland, joggers, and strollers.
My destination on the Rosendals way is a greenhouse cafe that epitomizes the Scandinavian philosophy of hygge: coziness. And also harmony with the natural environment.
You can tell by the soup and carb heavy diet and the plaid throw blankets casually draped over the chairs. Bottles of water left on the table for you to hydrate and help yourself. No one rushes you out of a Scandinavian cafe.
Bring home flowers and vegetables if you're so inclined. Or just admire their skill. 
Take home a hearty bread, or ten. But bring a credit card, because like Fotografiska, Rosendal doesn't take cash.
Across the way is a palace, with quite a nice lawn.

A reminder that not all Swedish history is peaceful and happy. The mythology of Swedish kings frequently celebrates brutality and dominance, as the statue of the goddess or nymph looks on.

Stockholm really is architecturally blessed.
After the rain in Riga, I really appreciated the sunshine.
Who wouldn't want to rent an ice cream colored bicycle?
Tomorrow I'm off! Stockholm definitely deserves more than 48 hours. I didn't even get to check out all the art in the subway stations.
Thank goodness Norwegian flies nonstop from Oakland to Stockholm...

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